A trip to Stalybridge gave me the chance to tick another ground off my list, and I have to say Bower Fold scores favourably.
Initial impressions weren’t great. It’s not well signposted and even the ground’s entrance is slightly overshadowed by signs for the gym built in the club’s car park.
There’s also an Indian restaurant built into the main stand. Although you wonder what sort of corporate money-grabbing monster Stalybridge might be, you also realise that this is a non-league club making sure it’s making the most out of available revenue streams. Besides, they’ve got a bloody curry house IN their ground!
The stadium itself is very, very tidy. Four reasonably new stands, all in seemingly great nick and generally spotless. And surrounded by greenery and hills. If the game gets dull the view won’t! It has old school charm but isn’t run down.
Of course there’s some nonsense. Despite four beautiful stands, there’s a clubhouse with paint peeling off the side of it. Someone’s also had the daft idea of advertising the next game outside of the ground. By which I mean, once you pull off the main road and into the club car park, opposite the main entrance. If you’ve managed to get that far the odds are you’re there for the game anyway! That feels like a minor gripe though, considering how impressed I was with the rest of the ground.
Bower Field is almost too perfect, you want something slightly more run down, or jaded. And with all the corporate nonsense going on you wonder what’s going on behind the scenes. Money-grabbing maniac at the helm or someone who absolutely totally loves their club, to the point of having a spotless home for it? I suspect with it being (I think) the only ground so far home to a blue plaque (Hibs had their own green one but that’s cheating), that this might just be a home full of love and care.
I’m being cautious to not go over the top, but Bower Field definitely gets a thumbs up from me.