Category: Game Previews & Reports

Oxford 35 – 14 Ouse Valley | Game Summary



On Sunday 7th May the Oxford Saints claimed a 35-14 victory against the Ouse Valley Eagles. A dominant display, the Saints entertained their home crowd with a much needed win at Tilsley Park.

Defenses for both teams opened the game strong, with George Wright and Martin Fitzpatrick tackling the Eagles behind the line for a loss of yards. With neither the Saints or Eagles able to pick up a 1st down on offense, both sides exchanged punts in their opening drives.
Oxford were first to strike with running back James Walter sprinting across the field on 3rd down for a 44-yard touchdown run. Dean Fuller’s extra point kick was deflected, but the Saints took an early 6-0 lead.

James Walter 44-yard TD Rush


Oxford kicked the ball back to the Eagles after the score and veteran Jonny Dover tackled the kick returner on their own 11-yard line, forcing the Eagles to have a long distance to go for a score of their own.

A veteran player for the Saints who had missed the previous games this season, Dover fitted seamlessly back into the game plan.

Jonny Dover kickoff tackle – Photo by Gareth Brown

On 1st down, the Ouse Valley quarterback Jacob Corbett passed the ball over the middle and was intercepted by linebacker Calvin Holmes, forcing a change of possession and bringing the Saints offense back onto the field.

With good field position, the Saints seemed poised to score until quarterback Ben Denton was chased down from behind for a sack and loss of 14 yards. Another tackle for a loss and a 5-yard penalty against Oxford hampered them further, followed by the Eagles’ Harry Rackham intercepting a pass and returning it a huge 51 yards before being brought down.

With the Eagles back on offense, the Saints needed to hold strong and were aided with 2 tackles from Spencer Duffy for minimal gains.

On 4th down, Corbett looked to the air and hit receiver Richard Batten over the middle for a 28-yard touchdown pass. Mike Turner kicked the extra point through the uprights.

Quarterback Jacob Corbett – Photo by Gareth Brown


The Eagles defense continued to put pressure on the Saints with Ben Denton taking his second sack, this time for a 4-yard loss.

A pass attempt on 3rd down intended for Sam Armstrong was tipped up into the air and snatched by former Saints player Mike Turner, returning it 24 yards and just short of the endzone. Corbett handed the ball off to running back Kalaba Chibwe who charged through the middle for the touchdown from 5 yards out.

Another kick from Turner extended the visitors lead to 14-6.

With Denton side-lined with a possible concussion, 2nd year quarterback Kyle Swann took over. Runs by Walter and Tony Glover combined for a 1st down, but a pitch to Glover was off target and the fumbled ball was recovered by Ouse Valley for a 12-yard loss and change of possession.

Running back Tony Glover – Photo by Gareth Brown

With the Eagles in scoring distance following the turnover, they were unable to take advantage and find the endzone. The Oxford defensive-line continued to be a formidable force with Conor Whitehouse and George Wright landing tackles for a loss of yards on back to back plays.

On 4th down, the Eagles attempted a field goal but Turner’s kick missed to the left of his target.

Oxford’s coaching staff sent in a different formation on their next drive and put Walter at quarterback. The Saints kept the ball on the ground and alternated between runs from Walter, Antonious Athanasiou and Glover.

This was evidently wearing down the Eagles defense and they struggling to find an answer. Picking up multiple first downs, the Saints drove the length of the field before Glover ran over the line for a 22-yard touchdown.

RB James Walter – Photo by Gareth Brown

Looking to tie up the game before the end of the half, the Saints went for a 2 point conversion. Walter passed the ball to tight end Richard Bloomer, who hauled in the catch and kept his feet in bounds for a successful score.


Oxford came out strong to open the 2nd half with another sustained drive across the field. The Saints run game continued to impress and brought them to the 2 yard line, with Glover punching the ball in for his 2nd touchdown of the day.

Fuller added the extra point and the Saints reclaimed the lead.

Kicker Dean Fuller – Photo by Gareth Brown

21-14 OXFORD

The Eagles suffered another setback when the ball was fumbled on the first play of their drive and recovered by Oxford’s Spencer Duffy. Close to their opponents endzone, the Saints had another chance to add a quick score but a pass from Swann was intercepted by Turner, making a one handed grab to reel the ball in before he hit the ground.

Despite the much needed turnover, the Eagles continued to struggle on offense and had made little progress throughout the game so far with most of their big plays coming from turnovers by their defense. The Saints defense meanwhile remained unmovable, with tackles from Wright, Duffy and Dean Bryan.

QB Kyle Swann – Photo by Gareth Brown

Oxford hit back again with their powerful run game as Walter, Glover and Athanasiou moved the ball down the field. After picking up a fresh set of downs, Glover added his 3rd touchdown of the day from 3 yards out.

Fuller’s kick extended the margin.

28-14 OXFORD

With the game now in the 4th quarter, time was running out for the Eagles but the Oxford defense stayed on form. Defensive tackle Johnny Little sacked Corbett for a 2-yard loss followed by Wright and Holmes bringing down Chibwe for another 6-yard loss.

Oxford’s defensive line struck again on their next drive with Great Britain Women’s player Monica Lewinska forcing the ball carrier to fumble in the backfield, which was quickly recovered by Duffy for the turnover.

Calvin Holmes & George Wright – Photo by Gareth Brown

The efforts from the defense gifted the Saints offense great field position again and Swann connected with Walter for a 17-yard gain and another 1st down.

Glover finished off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run for his 3rd score of the day with Fuller remaining solid adding the extra point.

Running back Tony Glover – Photo by Gareth Brown

35-14 OXFORD

With the game closing out, last ditch attempts by the Eagles to get their offense moving and add a consolation score were shut down.

Rookie linebacker Mark Wilkinson gained his first career sack, dropping the quarterback for a 5-yard loss and on their final drive, pass attempts for the Eagles fell incomplete with rookie Leon Byfield narrowly missing an interception.



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A strong performance from the offense, defense and special teams unit saw the Saints claim a much needed win over the Eagles. With Sundays victory, Oxford jump into 2nd place in the conference with a 2-1 record, behind the 3-0 Sussex Thunder.

With miscues in the first half leading to two interceptions, this gave the Eagles good field position and put the pressure on the Saints defense who put on a dominating show. The offense came out firing in the 2nd half with 21 unanswered points.


The offensive unit showed their power with 250 yards and another strong display in their ground game, utilising a range of runners to wear down the Eagles defense. James Walter continued his streak of 100+ yard games and claimed 147 yards with 1 touchdown.

Fellow runner Tony Glover looked on top form and added 3 touchdowns, with full back Antonious Athanasiou also picking up a score.

Tight end Richard Bloomer hauled in a crucial grab for a 2 point conversion to tie the game before the end of the first half.


The defensive unit were the stars this week, with the defensive line continuing to wreak havoc against Oxford’s opponents.

With 2 sacks, 1 interception and 2 fumble recoveries, the defense only conceded 10 rushing yards and 44 passing yards.

Oxford defensive line coach Toby Durant praised the defensive unit’s performance:

The defense were electric all day and but for one play were flawless. We knew we’d have a tough job pressuring the Ouse Valley passing game but we were able to create chaos up front with the play-calling and some strong performances across the defensive line

By holding their ground game in check we really forced their hand, and once they became one dimensional it was a lot easier for our guys to tee off on the quarterback


The special teams unit made it a long day for the Eagles with rookie Dean Fuller repeatedly kicking the ball deep out the back of the endzone several times. Jonny Dover and Travis Folkes delivered key tackles on kickoff to limit return attempts by the Eagles.

Next game

The Saints have a week for training and then travel to the Sussex Thunder on 21st May.

View the full 2017 schedule.

Game Preview: Oxford Saints VS Ouse Valley Eagles – 7th May

Saints Face The Eagles For first time on 7th May

With Oxford playing American Football since 1983, the relatively new Eagles were formed through the merger of the Milton Keynes Pathfinders and the Bedfordshire Blue Raiders in 2013.

In 2016 they ended the season with a 4-6 record in the Division 1 Midlands conference. They were then relocated to the recently created Division 1 Central conference alongside Oxford for 2017.

Season so far

Ouse Valley have had a strong start to the year with wins on the road against both South Wales Warriors and Solent Thrashers.

They claimed a narrow 14-12 win over the Warriors to open their season and then followed it with a 27-19 win against the Thrashers.

Photo from

Oxford meanwhile suffered a 35-8 defeat at the hands of the Sussex Thunder in their first game, who are sitting comfortably at the top of the table with a 3-0 record.

The Saints earned their first victory in a 13-6 contest against South Wales, in a game where defenses dominated and Oxford’s powerful run game secured the win.

This Sunday

Welcoming the Eagles to Tilsley Park, the Saints will be looking to move to 2-1 for the season and give Ouse Valley their first loss.

With Oxford’s coaching staff analysing footage from the Eagles, stopping their spread offense will be a major factor and the Saints defense will likely be tested in the air all day long.

Defensive line coach Toby Durant said:

“It was a long preseason, with a lot of adjustments to make, but I think we’ve got a really good chance of going far this season”

“The first two games were a big test of just how far we’ve come from last season, and while the Sussex game was humbling I think it was exactly what we needed. This season won’t be easy, but we got a good win in Wales and I am confident going into the game with Ouse Valley that we can do it again”

“The players are adjusting well to the step up in competition. There are no more weeks off and easy games. No walkovers. We go to work every Sunday and get a little bit better”

Turner & Dover

Featuring on the Eagle’s roster for 2017 is Saints veteran Mike Turner, being utilised as a kicker and defensive back. Turner had played for Oxford for several years and caught an interception in 2016’s Division II Final against Cambridge, where the Saints completed their undefeated season.

Meanwhile, Oxford’s defense is being bolstered with the return of veteran defender Jonny Dover. A player with many talents, Dover has previously been used at defensive back, kick returner and running back.

Jonny Dover – Photo By Chris Janes

Tilsley Park

Beginning the 2nd year of their partnership with Tilsley Park, the Saints have one of the best venues for American Football in the UK. There will be music, commentary, covered seating and a licensed bar.

The team are also pleased to confirm the return of Buffalo Grill, providing hot food before during and after the contest.

Admission for this game is free, with a 14:30 kick-off.

Tilsley Park
Dunmore Road
OX14 1PU

Saints Home Venue – Photo by Tilsley Park

Oxford 13 – 6 South Wales | Game Summary

Saints Claim First Win Of 2017

On Sunday 23rd April, Oxford took on their old foes the South Wales Warriors and came home with a 13-6 Division 1 victory.

Starting in place of quarterback Ben Denton was rookie Marcus Alphonso, playing his first season of senior football and his first start in a regular season game.

The Saints received the opening kickoff and began with the ball but were unable to make any progress. Running back James Walter was halted immediately at the line for no gain and two incomplete passes forced the offense to punt the ball away.

Rookie QB Marcus Alphonso – By Chris Janes

With quarterback Dean Jackson on the field for the Warriors, they picked up a first down on the ground and a 17-yard pass gave them another. Their drive came to an end after an incomplete pass and a fumble on 4th down.

Towards the end of the 1st quarter, the Saints were moving the ball well with hard running from Walter. The team marched across the field picking up several first downs. Tight end Richard Bloomer nearly hauled in a great pass from Alphonso in the corner of the endzone but failed to maintain control.

The Saints still managed to cap off the drive with a score as Walter charged in from 2 yards out for the touchdown.

James Walter 2-yard TD Rush

Rookie Dean Fuller kicked the extra point which was deflected by a Warriors defender but fortunately stayed on course and went through the uprights.

7-0 Oxford

Defensive units for both teams continued to dominate the momentum of the game, with both holding strong to prevent either from scoring. The Saints hoped to extend their narrow lead with two field goal attempts from 36 and 31-yards out, but both kicks sailed wide of their target.

The 3rd quarter began with neither team’s offense able to move the ball. Incomplete passes from the Saints were hampering their ability to put together a solid drive and the Warriors offense struggled under pressure from Oxford’s strong defensive line, featuring veterans George Wright, Conor Whitehouse and Deke Morton.

LB Graeme Taylor – By Jamie Stancombe

The home team attempted a field goal of their own from 29-yards out to put some points on the board, but Nate Webb’s kick was wide and missed it’s mark.

With both sides being plagued by penalties, it was a back and forth affair for the remainder of the 3rd quarter. The Warriors had several opportunities to score but multiple dropped passes and a touchdown called back for a penalty gave the Saints relief whilst frustrating the South Wales sideline.

George Wright 7-yard Sack on Dean Jackson

The Oxford defense continued to put on a strong display against Jackson and his offense, with George Wright being a dominating force and landing a big sack for a 7-yard loss.

In the 4th quarter, runners Ryan Kingshott and James Walter advanced the ball into scoring distance and Walter hammered it in for his second touchdown of the day, this time from 5-yards out.

James Walter 5-yard TD Rush

Dean Fuller attempted the extra point but the ball was not set in place. The kicking unit scrambled to make a play and pass it to an open player, which would have given them 2 points, but were unsuccessful.

13-0 Oxford

In the final minute of the game, the Warriors were finding success in the air with quarterback Maxime Ayoul now under centre. On 2nd down, he completed a pass to Stewart Bicker for a 24-yard gain and their only touchdown of the day.

Nate Webb lined up for the extra point but it hit the cross bar and floated into the hands of safety Martin Fitzpatrick, who was unable to return the ball to the Warriors endzone for a potential score.

Warriors Receiver – By Jamie Stancombe

To win the game, South Wales needed to successfully recover an on-side kick, score a touchdown and then a 2 point conversion. With only seconds left on the clock, their chances were ended when Saints defender Misha Brooks recovered the onside kick attempt, securing possession for Oxford’s offense.

Not looking to take any chances against the Warriors defense, quarterback Kyle Swann kneeled out the remainder of the game to give Oxford their first victory of the season against a former-premiership opponent.

FINAL SCORE: 13-6 Oxford


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With defense playing a key role, both teams had very different game plans.

The Saints turned to their reliable running game and chose to wear down their opponents on the ground. With James Walter and Ryan Kingshott getting the bulk of the work, with American running back Tony Glover not kitting up for this fixture. Oxford picked up 196 yards on the ground and 2 touchdowns from Walter, with 6 yards on only 11 pass attempts.

Oxford Head Coach Andrew Day was pleased with the win but believed his side had been lucky and committed too many simple mistakes.

“South Wales dropped quite a few passes and on another day they could have easily won it. I’m grateful to get out of here with a victory” – Head Coach Andrew Day – Oxford Saints

The Warriors were a pass-heavy offense which showed with their 45 pass attempts, with only 15 completions. They picked up a solid 208 passing yards and a last-minute touchdown, but suffered from multiple dropped passes and their running backs failed to perform at the same level as the Saints, along with being under heavy pressure from the Oxford defensive line.

Warriors Head Coach Geraint Roberts was similarly frustrated with his team’s performance and an abundance of costly errors.

“We didn’t execute. We thought we had a game plan, it’s just the players didn’t execute” – Head Coach Geraint Roberts – South Wales Warriors

Commenting on the damage done by Oxford’s James Walter, who picked up 156 yards and 2 touchdowns against his defense, Coach Roberts added:

“We knew what he (Walter) had coming in to the game and everyone has seen his highlights and he did well in the Great Britain trials last year. But we tackled poorly.”

Next game

The Saints have a week for training and return to action Sunday 7th May, when they host the Ouse Valley Eagles at Tilsley Park.

View the full 2017 schedule.

Game Preview: Oxford Saints @ South Wales Warriors – 23rd April

On Sunday 23rd April the Saints head to Wales to take on the Warriors

After Oxford suffered a 35-8 defeat in game 1 of the season last weekend to the Sussex Thunder, this Sunday will give the Saints a chance to redeem themselves.

Now competing in Division 1 following promotion after their championship season in 2016, Oxford will be looking to show they can compete against the tougher competition.

It’s been a long time since the Saints took on the South Wales Warriors. The last game was a preseason friendly in April 2012, where the Warriors claimed a 21-14 victory.

Photo by Chris Janes

Warriors Drop Down From Premiership

Whilst the Saints were battling it out in Division 2 in 2016, the Warriors were competing in Premier South but have since requested voluntary relegation. Citing low player numbers and a risk of being able to complete another premiership season, the Warriors made the difficult decision to drop down from the UK’s top tier.

With their relegation approved, it came with the condition that South Wales will have a two year post-season ban. With playoff football impossible for the Welsh side, they will be looking to show that their program is on the mend and that they can still give teams a challenge.

In the first game of their season, they suffered a narrow 14-12 defeat at home against the Ouse Valley Eagles.

Photo by Rob Dummer – From


With a rough start to begin their Division 1 campaign, the Saints are in need of a victory to prove they are here to compete.

With the team studying game film from Oxford’s loss in week 1, they will be striving to fix their mistakes and provide a much sterner test for the South Wales Warriors.

Stay tuned on Saints social media for score updates on Sunday. Kick-off at Llanharan Rugby Football Club is 14:30.

After the game this weekend, the Saints are next in action at home on 7th May against the Ouse Valley Eagles.



Oxford 8 – 35 Sussex | Game Summary

On EASTER SUNDAY, the Oxford Saints opened their division 1 campaign with a 35-8 loss to the Sussex thunder

Following promotion in 2016, this was the first contest of the regular season with both teams having a lot of history against each other.

Expected to be the toughest opponent the Saints will face in their conference this year, the Saints struggled to find the endzone until the 3rd quarter.

Minute silence for Roger Hedges – By Jamie Stancombe

Before kickoff, both teams and spectators observed a 1 minute silence in memory of Roger Hedges. As general manager of the Oxford Saints, Roger was a big part of the club and passed away in 2007.

The game on Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of his passing and his daughter Kelly Hedges was the guest of honour to perform the coin toss.

Video Highlights


Starting with the ball, Oxford’s offense with returning quarterback Ben Denton in charge were halted immediately by Sussex defenders. Running backs James Walter and Tony Glover were both tackled for minimal gains and the Saints were forced to punt on their opening possession.

Oxford’s defense made an equally strong display and forced a punt, following tackles from defensive end George Wright and safety Martin Fitzpatrick.

RB Tony Glover – By Jamie Stancombe

On their next drive, Sussex took advantage of a 15-yard Oxford penalty which gave them good field position. On 3rd down, veteran quarterback Eber Kington made a deep a pass to receiver Adam Fishlock who was in space and reeled in the ball for a 25-yard touchdown. Danny Wallace kicked the extra point.

With Oxford’s offense still struggling to make yards against a tough Sussex defense, they continued to end drives on 4th down with a punt. Towards the end of the 1st quarter, Sussex attempted a field goal from 27-yards out but the kick from Danny Wallace went wide right.

The Thunder extended their lead in the 2nd quarter when running back Ben Chukwu-Onu sprinted up the sideline on the first play of the drive. He ran into the endzone untouched for a 67-yard score and another extra point from Wallace.

14-0 Sussex

Touchdown by WR Adam Fishlock – By Jamie Stancombe

Sussex continued to put pressure on the Saints and on 2nd down, a pass from Ben Denton was intercepted and returned for 25-yards, giving them good field position again.

Shortly after, Eber Kington completed another deep pass to Adam Fishlock who ran across the line for his 2nd touchdown of the day. Extra point from Wallace was good.

In the 3rd quarter, the Saints defense gained much needed momentum when linebacker Calvin Holmes intercepted a ball from Eber Kington and returned it 12-yards.

QB Ben Denton – By Jamie Stancombe

The offense with first year Marcus Alphonso now under centre were unable to capitalise on the forced turnover and gave the ball back to Sussex on 4th down.

Oxford then looked like they were going to force a turnover on 4th down themselves but Eber Kington showed his abilities once more, passing the ball into the hands of Daniel Branch for a 24-yard touchdown. Wallace remained consistent and added the extra point.

28-0 Sussex

Interception by Dan di Lucia – Photo by Jamie Stancombe

With Oxford desperate for a score of their own, first year quarterback Marcus Alphonso was intercepted and Dan di Lucia returned the ball all the way back for a 40-yard defensive touchdown. With another quick score and extra point kick, Sussex pulled ahead with a 35-0 lead.

Late in the 3rd quarter, Oxford rotated in 2nd year quarterback Kyle Swann. Running from Tony Glover and a pass to Sam Armstrong gave the Saints a 1st down. Swann then handed the ball off to Walter who broke through the Sussex defense behind blocking from Antonios Athanasiou and up the sideline for a 43-yard touchdown run.

Looking to cut the deficit, the Saints went for the 2 point conversion and Swann passed the ball to rookie receiver Andrey Kays for the extra points.

TE Sam Armstrong – By Chris Janes

35-8 Sussex

The 4th quarter saw both sides exchanging blows but neither were able to make it to the endzone. The Saints were finding their rhythm with longer drives gaining more yards, including a pass to Armstrong for a 22-yard gain.

Running from Walter and Glover added 1st downs but no scores.

Meanwhile, the Saints defense finished strong forcing back to back punts from Sussex but unfortunately the damage was already done.

Sussex 35-8 oxford – Final Score

LB Sam Stancombe – By Chris Janes


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On the ground, both teams gained similar yardage with the Saints gaining 151 and the Thunder 170. Both teams earned 12 first downs each but the main difference came in the air.

Veteran quarterback Eber Kington was 18-8-1 (attempts/completions/interceptions) on the day with 3 touchdown passes, 2 of them caught by Adam Fishlock. The Thunder added another score on the ground from Ben Chukwu-Onu

The Saints used all three of their quarterbacks who combined for 26-11-2, with 1 interception being returned for a score.

The single touchdown for Oxford came from a 43-yard run by James Walter in the 3rd quarter, followed by a 2 point catch from rookie Andrey Kays.

Despite the heavy scoreline, there were good performances to take away from Sunday and lots to build on for the season ahead.

While Sussex are heavily tipped to take the SFC1 Central title, we know that we can perform better then we did today. We are now fully focused on our trip to South Wales on 23rd April where we aim to prove that we can compete in Division 1 – Chairman Graeme Taylor


Next game for Oxford is on 23rd April away to South Wales Warriors. Next home game is on 7th May when the Ouse Valley Eagles travel to Oxford.

View the full 2017 schedule.

Game Preview: Oxford VS Sussex In Season Opener

ON 16th April Oxford will host the Sussex Thunder at Tilsley Park

Following two preseason games against Farnham and Leicester, the Saints will begin their 2017 season with the first league game on Easter Sunday.

The two sides last met in a 2015 Division II quarter-final. Oxford traveled to Sussex on August 23rd and were soundly defeated 50-13. Following a strong regular season, the team were dealt a major blow when quarterback Ben Denton was diagnosed with leukemia, just a few days before the game.

You can read the report of the quarter-final defeat here

Oxford VS Sussex – 2015 Playoffs

In 2016 Sussex finished their Division I season with a 5-4-1 record, including a tie against the high-flying Bury Saints, who later secured promotion to the UK’s top division.

Oxford had a record breaking season for the club and their first Division Championship since 2006. Following their 13-0 streak, the Saints were promoted to Division I for 2017 after beating the Cambridgeshire Cats in the southern final.

Oxford Saints in 2016 Division II South Final

Fast forward to this weekend, Oxford and Sussex are now in the same conference. Ben Denton’s recovery is going well and he is back under centre for the Saints. Expected to be starting on Sunday, he’ll have a chance to take on Sussex after he missed the 2015 playoffs.

Alongside Denton’s return, the home game on Easter Sunday will also mark the 10th Anniversary of General Manager Roger Hedges, who passed away in 2007.

A big part of the club, the team will be honouring his memory with a minute silence before kick-off led by his daughter Kelly Hedges. You can learn more about Roger here in the Oxford Mail.


Key players to look out for will be Denton in his return at quarterback, along with the dangerous tag-team of running back’s James Walter and Tony Glover. They combined for nearly 1,800 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns.

With Walter getting the bulk of the workload in 2016, Glover joined towards the end of the season and made an immediate impact. Now, he’ll be competing in his first full season with Oxford.

RB Tony Glover – By Gareth Brown

On defense, there is a great mix of veterans and rookies alike. Key players holding down the fort will likely be Dean Bryan (linebacker), Sam Stancombe (linebacker), George Wright (defensive end) and Deke Morton (defensive tackle).

Between them they accounted for 159 tackles in the 2016 season.


Beginning the 2nd year of their partnership with Tilsley Park, the Saints have one of the best venues for American Football in the UK. There will be music, commentary, covered seating and a licensed bar.

The team are also pleased to confirm the return of Buffalo Grill, providing hot food before during and after the contest.

Admission for this game is free, with a 14:30 kick-off.

Saints Home Venue – Photo by Tilsley Park