Ram Meadow, Bury St Edmunds
Attendance: 300 (estimate)
Match Rating: 2
For my final game during my stay in Suffolk, I drove to Bury St Edmunds to visit a ground that I had always wanted to explore having heard good reviews. with an interesting looking game between two very local teams. It turned out that while the ground certainly did not disappoint, the game rather did.
Ram Meadow is less than a ten minute walk north east from the town centre, handily adjacent to a large car park. One enters through the turnstile behind a goal, there is a greenhouse housing the club shop, followed by a long building housing the clubhouse and tea bar, with overhang allowing a covered area to watch the game from. Straddling the half way line is a very unusual looking stand, which is small, only containing three short rows of seating, and has a roof painting out at a sharp angle and supported by diagonal wooden timber beams. Straddling the half way line on the opposite side is a shorter but much longer stand with three rows of bench seating, whilst behind both goals are stands covering a couple of steps of terracing. Behind the entrance goal, the town's cathedral makes for an interesting backdrop, whilst behind the other, a sugar factory makes less of one, although it is mainly obscured by trees. All in all, Ram Meadow is an attractive ground with a lovely non league feel to it.
Bury Town are in the process of some rebuilding after a disastrous season, finishing eight points adrift and twenty points adrift of safety in the isthmian League Premier Division, and now have a campaign in the Division One North to look forward to. Walsham-le-Willows finished in 15th place in the 20 team Eastern Counties League Premier Division, but only three points clear of a relegation place.
On a warm, sunny afternoon, this match started evenly, Bury probably looking the better and more threatening side, but after both sides exchanged good chances, it was the visitors who took the lead on 25 minutes. The keeper managed to save from Clarke's far post header from a corner, but Josh Curry managed to stab home the loose ball from close range. It was Walsham who looked the better team for the rest of the half, having a couple of great chances to extend their lead, but they will have been happy at half time with a performance that was well organised, whereas Bury were very slow in their place and lacking inventiveness in their play.
Into the second half and, although Bury had a close range header tipped over by the keeper a couple of minutes in, Bury still failed to impress and on the hour mark, Walsham extended their lead with a goalkeeping howler. Receiving the ball from his own player, he tried to dribble around Charlie Webb but failed, allowing Webb to walk the ball into the net. Walsham wrapped up the win on 63 minutes when a ball down the right wing sprung the offside trap, Call eventually crossing low to Andrew Wood, who took plenty of time to compose himself before smashing the ball into the net despite a couple of defender having made it back to cover. It wasn't until deep into added on time that Bury scored a consolation goal when, following some good passing into the box, Sam Reed poked the ball home diagonally low past the keeper.
There was much for Walsham-le-Willows to be encouraged about today, as they looked disciplined and organised, whereas it is difficult to imagine that Bury Town will have learnt much from a lethargic and tepid performance - but at least they have several weeks to prepare for the season ahead.