Simon Wright has provided us with an updated ground guide to Slimbridge, mainly thanks to significant extra input from Tim and Colin at Slimbridge AFC. Simon says “I thought it would be helpful to have all the latest info in one place. If you’re going, do look out for the homemade burgers”.
You’ll find Thornhill Park on the edge of Cambridge, a neighbouring hamlet, off the A38. It lurks down a side road between a tiny business park and a distant farm. ‘The Bridge’ are a small club. Last season was their first at Step 4 and an 18th placed finish was as much as they hoped for. Average gate was 85 in 2015/16, a figure which has risen to 92 this term before our visit, really not bad for a village of just over 1,000 people. Club attendance record is 525.
This is a modest ground, in the Secretary’s own words, with just enough provision to meet minimum criteria. There is a stand on the halfway line with 150 seats and a tiny covered terrace with room for perhaps 50 slim people. Think Peggy Juniors. The club will sell tickets on Saturday until 11 o’clock, with the gates to the ground opening at 11:30. Slimbridge do not benefit at all from the infamous administration fee. The club are aware that the third party ticket provider has had “issues”.
Access for Disabulls looks generally fine other than the Clubhouse. Enter and leave by the front entrance only as the door at the rear has steps behind it.
Slimbridge have a small car park but for officials, players and Blue badge holders only. The latter are guaranteed a prime spot if they contact the club beforehand. For visitors, parking will be in the small business park next door with the option of a farmers’ field if the weather is kind. There is no street parking nearby as roads are so narrow.
Back in July, I met Chairman Barry Gay, Vice Chair Ian Rixson and Secretary Colin Gay who regarded our visit with a mixture of excitement and no little tension. They were keen to show off their smart clubhouse – again shades of Peggy – with its green leather armchairs courtesy of a former Chairman who owned a furniture business. Behind the bar are pumps serving Tetley Smoothpour, Guinness, Tuborg and Carlsberg – an uninspiring collection but fear not. Just for us, The Bridge will introduce Pigs Ear, a 5% real ale on draught from Uley (pronounced YOU – LEE ), a very local brewery with the added incentive of bottled Stowford.
While you are in or near the bar, look out for the countywide famed homemade cheese and bacon burgers. Rated the very best by Radio Gloucester, much nagging by yours truly has led to a megabatch being produced just for Hereford FC. Please indulge if you can. Local volunteers have slaved over hot stoves for many hours to produce these.
Local refreshment options are basically limited to The George in Cambridge, some 500 yards away. It’s a standard Greene King establishment serving food and IPA though there is usually one guest beer. The Tudor Arms is 3 miles away along a narrow lane, close to the canal and the Wildlife Centre. Its big on meals including breakfast and has received multiple CAMRA awards. 6 real ales on offer including HPA, 6x and Uleys Pigs Ear. Accommodation available if you want to celebrate the joy of visiting Gloucestershire.
By Road: Easy 40 miles (GL2 7AF) A40 into Gloucester, then pick up A38. After the George Inn in Cambridge, turn left at roundabout, then immediate first left for the ground.
By Rail: Can be done but its awkward. Change at Worcester Shrub Hill for a journey twice as long as by road. Cam and Dursley station is about a ten-minute walk if you know how to cut across fields. Otherwise by road, the club insists, expect 25 minutes’ exercise. It is a remote commuter station so there are no taxis, buses are limited plus footpaths and lighting may be lacking.
By Coach: See Hereford Away Days Facebook page