Tuesday 30th January 2018
Rocester Football Club 0-0 Stafford Rangers Football Club
Stafford Rangers won 5-4 on penalties
Admission: £6 (programme included)
Competition: Staffordshire Senior Cup
Another Tuesday night game and I thought I’d pay a visit to Rocester so I could tick off both the grounds in the Uttoxeter area. Hillsfield is found a good few miles past Uttoxeter in the tiny village of Rocester and the ground itself is just past the JCB Academy Sixth Form. Parking is free and on a huge car park which is probably used by the sixth form during the day and the turnstile is on the right corner of the ground.
History: It’s a very long history that the Romans possess dating back all the way to 1876 where they played multiple friendlies against neighbouring sides. They had various successes in local competitions until the outbreak of war led to the club disbanded. After they were reformed in the post war years they started to climb the Staffordshire leagues. They entered the FA Vase for the first time in the 1986-87 season and reached the last sixteen, knocking out holders Halesowen Town in the process in front of their record crowd of 1026. They moved to their current ground in 1987 and this is where they adopted their nickname the ‘Romans’ as the ground was built on an old roman fort. They were founder members of the Midland Alliance and their ground was renamed to Hillsfield in memory of previous chairman, Don Hill.
Stadium: It’s actually quite a big complex once you get past the perimeter fence that surrounds the pitch, there is lots of empty space around the pitch which is mainly just grass which is not much good for standing on at this time of year. The first building on your left is a small hut where the tannoy man was sat and throughout the game he would have, I presume, read out goalscorers if there were any!
At half-time he took us through the scores from different matches being played that evening. Just beyond him is the clubhouse which looked very warm and welcoming and had a bar. Along the clubhouse there is a little window which was the home of the catering and then the tunnel into the changing rooms followed. The main structure of the ground topped off this side of the pitch which was the main stand which had a decent number of seats (previously seats at Fellows Park the old home of Walsall) and this was a good size for this standard. Behind both goals there is hard standing and then on the far side of the pitch is a small stand which looks like a bus shelter, which apparently is the old disabled stand from Fellows Park. There was a raised bank to the right of this which if it had not been so wet and cold may have supplied a good view for the match. Overall, a good little ground for this level of football although it was not in the best condition and maybe could do with some maintenance.
Catering: Can’t fault the catering it was very nice and they had a decent range. I chose a sausage roll and chips and it was very filling as the sausage roll was huge. Along with this I had a hot chocolate which was served in a mug and was tasty. Altogether this cost me £4.50.
Programme: Two weeks in a row the programme has come free with admission and although tonights effort was very basic it is hard to complain when you don’t have to pay for it. It supplied a good amount of information and a nice gesture to get it for free.
The match itself: This is a fairly short match report as the match remained goalless throughout so I’ll just outline the patterns of the match. Stafford Rangers were much more present going forwards and created a large number of chances in both halves, but the Romans defended valiantly and a special mention to their goalkeeper, Charlie Wood who was absolutely fantastic and my man of the match. In the second half it was a similar tale but Rocester did have a few breakaway chances when Rangers had thrown everything forward but the pitch wasn’t great and the ball got held up easily. The penalty shoot out saw some good penalties and the save that was the difference was top quality by the Boro keeper. For a 0-0 very entertaining and good luck to Stafford Rangers in the next round.
Overall: A nice little ground hidden behind the JCB Academy, I think Rocester played especially well but their league form has not been great at all this year so maybe if they could replicate these sort of performances in the league they might be able to string some points together and lift themselves off the bottom of the table.