The Non-League Football Blog for Cads of the Most Unscrupulous Kidney
The Non-League Football Blog for Cads of the Most Unscrupulous Kidney

Portland United – A Rock of Wessex Football

The island of Portland - described as a ‘500ft rock that sticks out into the English Channel’. Strategically important for centuries, it’s now home to one of Dorset’s finest non-league clubs - Portland United.

Trek up the ‘rock’ and upon the top you’ll find New Grove Corner, their humble, yet delightful ground.

As the name suggests, New Grove Corner has not always been their home. The original Grove Corner was used for 72 years until 1994 when it was sold for quarrying. Portland’s stone is used around the world and many London properties are made from it. For the majority of their time at Grove Corner, they’d been unknowingly playing on an unexploded wartime bomb beneath the penalty area, only discovered when excavating began. Such a threat caused the whole island to be evacuated! It lends new meaning to the expression ‘explosive in the box’.

The ‘new’ stadium, Now named after a local business is a delightful little ground, full of charm and warmth. The clubhouse is impressive and affords great views from its first floor patio windows and balcony. There’s two covered stands and one side has a large grassy bank, overlooking another quarry. There’s benches up the top, allowing folk to watch from an excellent vantage point. From the far end, up upon the bank, there’s even a sea view. On a warm, summer’s day, it’s a delight but you would be a hardy soul to brave it in the depths of winter. 

Visit New Grove and you’re likely to find more local ‘celebrities’ in attendance... the Codfathers

United’s preparation for the season was questioned when they were resoundingly-thumped 14-1 by Poole Town in a pre-season friendly in August 2020, just prior to the opening day of the season as seen here against Bashley – a 2-1 defeat. By Christmas, they’d amassed just eight points. It’s a difficult time on the pitch in the Wessex League.

Former Sheffield Wednesday man Jimmy Daily is possibly the club’s most famous name, though the Scot isn’t necessarily a name you’ll know, having never won a cap for his country. He managed the Blues after a career with the aforementioned Wednesday, Birmingham City, Exeter and Rochdale, amongst others. As it happens, the island’s most notable footballing name is not one of a player or manager, but that of a referee – Paul Durkin, the former Premier League official who hails from the area.

Visit New Grove and you’re likely to find more local ‘celebrities’ in attendance. The Codfathers (pictured) are a couple of older, passionate supporters who sponsor the stand behind the goal in which they can often be found within. They run the local chippy and everyone recommends it for post-match grub. Also noteworthy is the excellent programme – just 80p for an edition crammed with fact, stats, stories and jokes. Bravo! 

Is Portland United a recommended visit? Absolutely. Just make sure it’s in the warmer months or prepare to wrap up extremely well!

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