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What’s the low-down with Retford FC?

By Tony Incenzo

I love the festive football fixtures and there were plenty of Non-League games to choose from over the various Bank Holidays this year. However, I had noticed lots of late postponements due to the weather and players falling ill through Covid. So I wanted to find a match that would definitely take place.

Therefore I was really pleased to receive an early morning message on Twitter from Retford FC manager Chris Woodhead which read:

“Even with a torrential downpour Tony this pitch drains better than any other I’ve seen. It’s sunny here and no rain expected until 10pm tonight.”

That made my mind up and I set off on a 240 mile round trip to Retford. I had been to this market town before for football back on 7th October 2006 when I saw Retford United draw 2-2 against Bolehall Swifts in the FA Vase.

United won the Northern Counties East League Premier Division that season and gained promotion to the Northern Premier League with ambitions to climb even further in the Non-League Pyramid. But they have since endured financial constraints and have slipped right down to the Central Midlands League.

On the other hand, Retford FC were only formed in 2015 and have quickly progressed from the CML to the Northern Counties East League Division One. In doing so, they have swiftly become the most senior club locally.

Where was it played?

I must admit that I feel a great sense of anticipation when I approach a football ground on foot. What made Retford FC special for me is that the entrance is via a narrow pedestrian tunnel under a road bridge. That just added to the aura of mystique! The ground itself has three separate areas of homemade covered accommodation – one alongside the pitch and two behind the goals which include some seating provision. With it being called ‘The Rail’, it was no surprise for me to find that the ground is adjacent to the East Coast Main Line enabling high speed trains to whizz past the touchline every few minutes.

What’s in the programme?

Available at the main entrance for £1 and containing all the necessary reading material. The programme sold out before kick-off so I was glad that I reserved a copy in advance and it was waiting for me in a protective plastic wallet when I arrived.

And the match itself?

A keenly contested affair as the seventh placed hosts faced their opponents in fifth spot. Harry Clapham nodded Selby ahead on 27 minutes. Retford rallied after the break mustering well-taken goals by Zach Casburn (66 minutes) and Liam Bennett (80 minutes). But a real thunderbolt from Luke Balderson for Selby three minutes later tied the scores at 2-2. It was a fair result.

Facts and figures

Score: Retford 2 Selby Town 2

Where: The Rail, Babworth Road, Retford, Nottinghamshire DN22 7NJ

Competition: Northern Counties East League Division One

Attendance: 227

You can follow Tony on Twitter at @TonyIncenzo

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