With the expansion of our League (and the alterations which the FA have made to the pyramid) we have a number of clubs who are entirely new to us, haven’t been part of our setup for rather a long time, or are returning to us after some time away. We decided that the best way to introduce- or to reintroduce- them to Bostik League supporters was through the eyes of one of their own.
Here's James Partridge to introduce us to the wonders of Coggeshall Town.
The Chapel Inn, Coggeshall
How long have you been a supporter of Coggeshall Town?
Tell us how you became a fan? What attracted you to the club initially?
After a long break from watching professional football at Ipswich Town, I wandered down to West Street one matchday, more out of curiosity more than anything, and was quickly hooked by the (then) free admission, the ability to drink a pint of beer adjacent to the pitch and the quality of football on offer.
And what is it about the club that has kept you there since?
James Partridge, representing Coggeshall Town
The last three years have been very exciting times at the club with the owners investing heavily on and off the pitch, accompanied by a promotion party at the end of each season, with the odd cup win thrown in for good measure. Above all of this though, the standard of the play has been very good indeed, and the team spirit second to none.
It is easy to become passionate about the team when the players and staff themselves lead by example. The introduction of appropriate admission fees was matched by the football on offer and therefore not a problem.
What does a typical home matchday look like for you?
Arrive about 20-30 minutes before kick-off, grab a beer, chit-chat with friends old and new and then take my position behind and to the right of the opposition goal (before changing ends at half time, naturally!) Sadly my work does involve a lot of travel in the autumn, so I can sometimes miss a month or two of games in a season. I make up for this by travelling to as many away games as possible during the season.
West Street Vineyard
Is there a moment in the history of your club that supporters always talk about? What would it be- and why is it important to you all?
I'm not really in a position to answer, given my relatively short tenure as a supporter. However I do think that in ten years time (whatever has happened by then) these last two seasons will be viewed as a very important time.
For the benefit of those who haven’t visited before, describe your ground.
There is a recently refurbished clubhouse with a very friendly welcome and an ever-improving selection of drinks and matchday grub - pies, pasties, sausage rolls etc. Local real ale is often available alongside the bigger brands. Tea, coffee and hot chocolate are on offer of course.
There is a covered standing area behind the clubhouse end's goal (west), a covered seating area on the north wing, flanked by a grassy bank. The south wing has dugouts in front of a netting fence in an effort to prevent lost balls in the riverside scrub beyond. The east end of the ground features another high net to try and prevent abuse of cars in the car park behind, and a concrete walkway in front of a shallow grass bank.
Favourite match-viewing positions for most people are in the seated North Stand and all around the the corner of the North and West stands, including the terrace outside the bar.
If an away fan was travelling to your ground for the first time, how would you recommend they got there? Tell us about parking and public transport.
Parking is coming under increasing pressure with the team's burgeoning fortunes, but just about holding up. On really busy days there is also street parking, to an extent. There is also cheap/free parking at the car park in the town centre, a ten minute walk from the ground. The no. 70 bus arrives in Coggeshall from either Chelmsford or Colchester. The closest bus stop to the ground is 'Nursery' (West Street, Coggeshall), a couple of minutes' walk away. The nearest railway station is Kelvedon (3 miles), and there is also Marks Tey (5 miles) and Braintree (8 miles).
Are there any local sights or amenities you’d recommend they visit? Tourist attractions, pubs etc?
For lovers of the nation's heritage there's the Grade 1 listed Grange Barn, built by the Cistercians in the 13th century to serve Coggeshall Abbey, and Paycocke's House, a stunning Tudor merchant's house. Both are National Trust properties. The large church (St Peter Ad Vincula) is adjacent to The Woolpack pub in Church Street, and is a 15th century build on the site of former Saxon and Norman churches.
There are two central pubs well worth a visit - The Chapel Inn on Market Hill (great beer selection, hearty grub) and The Woolpack on Church Street (a lovely half-timbered character building with good beer and great food). Restaurants - Ranfields Brasserie on Stoneham Street, The Clock House, also on Stoneham Street and Lone Wolves Organics (vegan/organic cafe/juice bar) on Market Hill for a takeaway vegan treat (or you can sit in if one of the two tables is available). The local curry house has recently changed hands but is still excellent by all accounts - Coggeshall Spice, Market Hill. With the exception of The Woolpack, all of these places are no more than 100 yards apart!
The closest hostelry to the ground however is West Street Vineyard, featuring classy food in a modern restaurant vibe, plus local beers, wine from grapes grown on the accompanying vineyard as well as a selection of other great English wines, and gorgeous terrace-views out over the vines.
Finally, pie, burger or pint? What would you recommend, and why?
At the ground I would recommend the hefty, locally-made sausage rolls, which are a meal in themselves. If they've got the excellent Red Fox beer (from just to the east of Coggeshall - brewery tours available), then I'd recommend getting one of those as well.