Sunday, 3 July 2011

Cack-Handed Away Guide XIII: HINCKLEY UNITED FC.


Hinckley United FC
Leicester Road
LE10 3DR

The Knitters

But we call them

Stinckley, The Stinck

Billy basics

Manager: Dean Thomas
Founded: 1997
2010/11: 15th, Conference North
2009/10: 7th, Conference North
2008/09: 10th, Conference North
Highest position: 2006/07: 4th, Conference North
Average attendance 2010/11: 433

Who are The Stinck?

Hinckley United was an amalgamation of Hinckley Town and Hinckley Athletic, two probable pub teams that no doubt never got the slightest whiffs of playing real, proper League football. Throughout the mid-'90s Athletic were aiming for promotion from the Southern League whereas Town were in the league below, before arrangement was struck to merge the two teams. Athletic's Conference National hopes after merger for the 1997/98 season must've taken an own goal then, because Hinckley United dropped Athletic down to Town's league. After year-on-year improvement, FC United of Stinckley gained promotion back to the Southern League, earning election for the Conference North in 2004.

In the meantime, Stinckley earnt themselves a couple of cup runs. Bowing out in the 2nd Round of the FA Cup at home to Cheltenham in 2001/02, in their first season of Conference North football they held Brentford to a replay in a 2004/05 2nd Round fixture, losing out 2–1 at Griffin Park. Ambitious as ever, The Stinck saw the Conference North as just another hole to escape from and immediately aimed for promotion again. Their 2006/07 season was the closest they got, but early on in the season, tragedy entered the playing field: centre-half Matt Gadsby died on the pitch during an away game at Harrogate. United adjourned for a month, suffering fixture congestion for the remainder of the season and finishing 4th, losing the play-off finals in the last minute at home to Farsley Celtic.

Things also picked up pace elsewhere. In March 2005 more avenues were opened for the Stinck when the building of their new super-stadium was finished. This slightly-out-of-town-but-loaded-with-facilities-and-training-pitches-and-conference-rooms-and-cantilever-roofs-and-even-the-odd-floodlight ground, De Montfort Park, was financed from the selling of Stinckley's old Middlefield Lane and not much else, as the seasons that followed Stinckley's promotion push were tough ones. Accumulated debt got within a few straws of breaking the Stinck's back, but a winding-up order was avoided and Stinckley enter the 2011/12 season without any I.O.U.'s stuck on the communal fridge.

The ground

Sources 1 2 3
 De Montfort Park, aka "The Greene King Stadium," has been declared a work-in-progress. Like planning out a massive shit, the ground is to be developed in "phases." The first phase brought the town a completely useable, three-stand stadium, with the second introducing the 3G and junior pitches. The third phase will be an extension of the West Stand to include seating, with the fourth and vaguest phase seeing stand extensions bringing the capacity to above 6,000. A name as silly as de Montfort could have only come from the 6th and final Earl of Leicester, an opponent to Henry III who died in battle in 1265. That should help you in your next pub quiz.

Of course, this means nothing to us Shaymen when we'll probably only visit Stinckley once. It should be our duty to breathe life into an identikit stadium.

The town

Hinckley itself is a pleasant little market town on all accounts. The first place of interest its Wikipedia page lists is its "award-winning public toilets." So, go there. I won't plagiarise on the pub front, just give a glance at any of the pubs featured on this away fans' rough guide. Hinckley's not that small of a town, but Leicester's also close, of course.

Trains are a nightmare. From Halifax you'll have to make a few changes as no trains go straight from Leeds/Manchester to Leicester, with Leicester trains going direct to Hinckley. From Halifax, trains to Manchester, over to Birmingham New Street followed by Hinckley verge on four hours. To get from Leeds to Leicester, changes can be made at Nottingham, Sheffield, Doncaster etc. You'd be much better off getting the supporters' coach.

Will we need to segregate?



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