Around the Grounds: Stowmarket Town's visit to Biggleswade FC's Langford Road
PUBLISHED: 13:55 11 January 2019
Football writer Carl Marston dons his anorak to visit clubs in the region (and beyond) in his quest for good football and a good cup of tea. Here he heads to Biggleswade FC’s Langford Road
Biggleswade FC do not actually play their home games ON the busy A1 – that would be carnage – but they’re not far away from it.
If you were to throw a stone from the Carlsberg Stadium on Langford Road, the home of Biggleswade FC, it would probably land short of the A1, but again you wouldn’t miss by much.
Such is The Greens’ proximity to the UK’s longest numbered road, which travels 410 miles between London and Edinburgh – I know this road all too well, both from my student days at Edinburgh University in the second half of the 1980s, and more recent decades journeying northwards to report on the fortunes of Colchester United.
While on the subject of ‘proximity,’ visitors Stowmarket Town were very ‘close’ to being in the hat for the last 16 of the FA Vase last Sunday, which was the prime reason for my first-ever visit to Langford Road.
Club: Biggleswade FC
Ground: Langford Road
Managers: Dave Northfield and Mark Inskip
Biggleswade is a growing town but, with a population of just over 16,000, it is very impressive to be home to three senior football clubs, all of them in rude health.
Biggleswade United, who received a boost when Spanish football journalist and Sky Sports pundit Guillem Balague became Director of Football in 2014 – he is now the current chairman – ply their trade in the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division.
That’s the same division as Biggleswade FC, the youngest of the three clubs in the town, and the opponents of Stowmarket Town last Sunday. They were only formed back in 2016, emerging from the successful Biggleswade Town’s Under-18s set-up.
The Greens won promotion from the Spartan South Midlands Division One in their very first season, going up as champions, and last season they consolidated with a fifth-placed finish in the Premier Division.
They reached the last 32 of the FA Vase that season, and they repeated the feat this year for the right to hosts The Old Gold & Blacks at the fourth round stage.
Biggleswade FC groundshare with the more established Biggleswade Town, who operate at a higher level at Step Three, alongside the likes of Leiston and Needham Market in the Southern League Premier Central.
The Waders left their old Fairfield Road home in 2006, and eventually moved to an impressive new ground at Langford Road, which has a capacity of 3,000, for the start of the 2008-09 season.
Sun, Jan 6, 2019: v Stowmarket Town (1-0 home win).
I reported on this big FA Vase fourth round tie – the furthest Stowmarket have ever reached in this competition – while milling around in a sea of splendid Gold hats (worn by visiting supporters).
It was a very tight game, and Stowmarket certainly deserved a replay and another crack at making the last 16. But alas, with just four minutes remaining, Pat McCafferty rose to head home a free-kick and so send Biggleswade through to round five, and a home tie against Windsor.
It could have been so different if home keeper Dan Child had been sent off for handball outside his box, on 34 minutes, although even video evidence was inconclusive.
However, Stowmarket look well set for the rest of the season, as their manager Rick Andrews told me after the match.
Andrews said: “We have to lick our wounds and regroup.
“We still have a lot to play for. We are third in the league and we have two cup quarter-finals to look forward to, so we are just going to have to get on with it.
“We had a good run in this competition, and we have a good taste for it, so if we are to remain in this league for next season then one of the silver linings is that we have another crack at this competition.”
Good luck to Stowmarket, and the ‘youngest’ of the three Biggleswades!