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 Barry Grossmith to introduce us to the wonders of Felixstowe & Walton United.
The Seasiders 'Beer Terrace!'
How long have you been a Supporter?
I started following Felixstowe & Walton United very recently, in March 2017. I had just moved to Felixstowe and had to decide which football team to go and see on a Saturday. Would it be Ipswich Town, Colchester United or Felixstowe & Walton. It was Felixstowe & Walton.
What attracted you to the club?
I went along to my first game, at home to Gorleston, and from the minute I walked through the turnstile I felt at home. There seemed to be a very friendly atmosphere and by the time I left both Carole, my wife, and I were hooked. We heard great banter, chatted to people from the start and watched a convincing home win!
Seasiders Barry in full regalia!
What is it that keeps you there?
The support for a club who were playing at step 5 last year is phenomenal. An average of 400+ with one top of the table clash attracting 1541 fans!! What’s not impressive about that?
The support is seriously loyal, too. You never hear fans criticizing the team, fans gather by the tunnel to applaud both teams off and this is even done away from home, clapping the opponents off when their own fans have left the ground!
I could go on and on but it’s all about how close the coaches and players are to the fans, how hard the many volunteers work and how friendly everyone connected to the club is. And the club runs more that 22 juniors sides as well as the first team, reserves and under 18s, including girls’ teams. The club is a major player in the community and is supported by local people who wouldn’t ordinarily call themselves football fans.
The Seasiders Shop
What does a typical home matchday look like for you?
I tend to get to the ground early to meet up with a whole bunch of people in the impressive new clubhouse that opened just over one year ago. The new forecourt outside the clubhouse is pitchside and it almost feels like being in a beer garden right next to the field of play.
There’s usually time and opportunity to exchange a few words with one or two of the players and the coaches before the game and after the game the clubhouse is normally very busy and it’s there that fans, players and coaches share a drink and discuss the day’s game.
Personally, I can be quite busy after the game as I am now The Press Officer at the club and together with Carole we also run Seasiders TV. We will get an interview with one of the joint coaches or a player, including opposition players and coaches and will go off to edit the footage normally getting the clip online Saturday evening or Sunday Morning.
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?
Being a “new kid on the block”, I went to some of the stalwarts and old timers at the club who have been working behind the scenes in some cases for around 50 years.
There are two standout moments really. The first is the erection of floodlights. It took some time negotiating with the local council and establishing good relations with local residents before permission was given to get floodlights installed. The deal was that the pylons would have to be lowered after each game. This was a mammoth job for volunteers but now the club is allowed to keep the floodlights up during the season only needing to lower them during the close season summer months.
In more recent history a standout moment is the building of the new clubhouse, which, it has to be said, is quite impressive. But such is the progress being made at the club that plans are under way already to add an extension to it.
For the benefit of those who haven’t visited before, describe your ground.
The Goldstar ground is surrounded on three sides by trees that form a boundary between the pitch and local residents’ back gardens. To get to the ground you walk past the fine old Pavillion- which used to be the clubhouse before the new one was built in 2017. It is due for demolition, making way for increased car parking.
Along the fourth side of the pitch is the new clubhouse and club shop stretching from one corner to the half way line. Just past the tunnel is a covered seating for around 100 people and next to that a covered hard standing area.
A new covered stand with at least 50 seats is to be built behind one goal as is a new hard standing area.
As well as the bar inside the clubhouse there is a food and drink area accessible from the pitchside “beer garden”.
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.
There is a regular train service from Ipswich and the walk from the station to the ground takes just over 5 minutes to walk. There are also regular buses from Ipswich too.
If you are coming by car from the south the best route is to to take the A12 northbound to junction 33 with the A14. Coming from the west, on the A14 continue on that road towards Felixstowe, turning off at Junction 60 heading toward the Town Centre.. Leaving the A14 you will now find yourself on the A154 (Candlet Road). At the first roundabout go straight on into Grove Road. At the next roundabout turn right on to Beatrice Avenue and Dellwood Road is the first on the left. From the end of the A14 to the ground on Dellwood Avenue it takes no more than 5 minutes to drive.
There is free parking in the street outside the ground but please remember you will be in a residential area. It can get quite busy on matchday and we want to keep good relations with our neighbours. There is plenty of parking just a few streets away and this will allow the local residents to park outside their own homes.
Are there any local sights or amenities you’d recommend they visit? Tourist attractions, pubs etc?
Felixstowe is a delightful seaside town and the walk from the ground to the promenade would take around 10 minutes. If you are coming to Felixstowe when the weather is fine then a stroll on the prom or a visit to the refurbished pier is well worth considering.
If you have a little more time on your hands you might consider a short drive to Felixstowe Ferry by the River Deben and try the fresh fish at The Ferry Boat Inn, or,in the other direction, to Landguard Fort right next to Felixstowe Port where you can see some of the massive container ships from up close. Check out the Viewpoint Café there.
Finally, pie, burger or pint? What would you recommend, and why?
You’ll find an excellent range of beers and wines and some decent spirits if you’re that way inclined. Alongside the obvious teas and coffees, soft drinks and a decent hot chocolate you’ll find a very good burger and for those who don’t like meat, check out the fish finger burgers. If you’re in Felixstowe early there’s always the community café which is open Friday’s between 8 and 3 year round as well as Saturday mornings during the season with an excellent matchday menu.