Match Details: Worcester City 0 – Chester 1 (Conf North)
FAREWELL TO ST.GEORGE’S LANE
Pre-Match Build Up: And so to the last of my end-of-season trio of farewells to much loved football grounds. Having visited Cambridge City’s Milton Road a few weeks ago, and attended the final match at Barnet’s Underhill stadium the previous week, today it was time for a bittersweet journey to St.George’s Lane in Worcester, home to Worcester City for the previous 108 years, and soon to be yet another housing development which had once payed host to the hopes and dreams of the local community via a football team. Worcester’s ground is/was a lovely 15-minute walk from the town centre, with a choice of either a canal path route to get you there, or else a main street with terraced-house style hostelries every few dozen paces – a perfect combination of picturesque and pubesque. On this occasion the canal approach was chosen for the outbound treck, and the main road for the return after the game. Arriving outside the ground at soon after 1pm, already the travelling Chester hordes were starting to arrive and mixing with local fans down early to soak up the atmosphere, which was set to be an uneasy mix of party and wake. With City’s future looking very uncertain once they depart their current home, it was with fond memories and a heavy heart that most homesters bid farewell to their old location today.
Destination: St.George’s Lane, Worcester, WR1 1QT.
Admission: £14 (Main Stand) / £12 (Terracing)
Programme: £5 (Special edition – brilliantly put together!)
Off The Pitch: In the run up to this game I’d read one person’s description of Worcester City’s home for the past 108 years as a quintessential classic English non-league ground. So that got me thinking as to what that meant, and whether it deserved such a tag. Hmm, probably along the lines of the following ingredients then:
Must have at least one old stand which can shows signs of upgrading in order to fit in with ground grading requirements, but still contains a good amount of wood, dust and bird feathers.
Must have a structure somewhere which looks brilliantly out of place, yet fits in perfectly to the stadium.
Must have something such as a clock, scoreboard, etc. which last worked pre-decimalisation, but has never needed to be replaced.
Must have a ridiculously cramped office/shop/changing room/bar (etc) building somewhere within the ground.
Must have at least one feature which you reckon the ground graders have quite sensibly turned a blind eye to, but would firmly shake their heads at if found in a new-build stadium.
Must have some traditional-style terracing, and an overall capacity which can just about hold a First Round Proper FA Cup tie against a league side when fit-to-bursting.
Must have at least five items of signage which you reckon would look fab in the back garden if you could get it past her indoors.
And Worcester City certainly ticks all the above boxes, anyhow.
Just to expand for anyone who’s never been, once walking through the turnstiles past the big metal gates, on the left is what looks like a small house that contains on the ground floor, the kit/laundry room, and upstairs various sponsor rooms. Opposite this, across the forecourt is a social club, outside toilets, and a club shop.
The stadium layout pitchside then comprises of the Main Stand which runs most of the near side and also contains a small amount of terracing in front of it; two stepped end terraces; and a far side with a mixture of covered and uncovered stepped terracing. The latter is known as the Brookside/Shed area, where next to ‘The Shed’ another seated stand once stood but is now long gone.
No-one would ever design a stadium with this kind of layout, which makes it brilliantly unique and yes, a marvellous example of what an English Non-League Ground looks like at its best.
On The Pitch: Before the match kicked off, we were treated to a military-sytle band and guests including a surviving member of the Worcester team which beat Liverpool 2-1 in the FA Cup Third Round in 1959 (see above). Then Chester spoiled the party somewhat, when their captain George Horan scored from a header after meeting a cross inside the box within 10 minutes. Worcester performed valiantly, and gave the game against the champions a right good go, playing some good football throughout. Sadly though, they were never quite able to get a goal back, which would have at least given the home fans something tangible to celebrate on this last day. And so the curtain fell on St.George’s Lane, and English football lost another great football ground, but one that will live on forever in the memory of those who visited it. I can only conclude by wishing the club and its fans all the best in their search for a new home, and hoping that a brighter future is not far round the corner.
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PS Also just to give a quick mention for a post-season farewell match which is being staged at St.George’s Lane on Sunday June 2nd 2013. This will feature a visiting ‘Liverpool Legends’ team, and more details can be had at the link below: