Ground Guide: Frenchfield Park, Penrith

Northern League Day fixture: Penrith vs Sunderland RCA

Formed in 1894, Penrith originally joined the Northern League in 1947. After spells in the North-West Counties and Northern Premier, and a 1981-82 FA Cup first round victory over Chester City in front of a record crowd of 2,100 fans, they rejoined the League in 1999-2000 and having been promoted twice as Division Two champions are currently 17th in Division One, five places and six points worse off than their visitors from Wearside. With only one win in their last five games, the Cumbrians are seven points ahead of third-bottom West Allotment Celtic, and with a trip to Bedlington Terriers looming joint-managers Graham Anthony and Alan Gray will be hoping their young side have enough points to keep themselves out of the drop zone. Despite last weekend’s home loss to Spennymoor, RCA travel in good spirits, having recovered from an awful start to the season and made it into the semi-final of the League Cup against Spennymoor on Monday 11th April. In this season’s first meeting between the clubs, RCA thumped the Cumbrians 3-0 with three late goals in the middle of November. Familar faces in the Sunderland squad include ex-Sunderland, Sheffield United and Huddersfield Town midfielder Martin Smith, nicknamed ‘Son of Pele’ when he broke into the Sunderland and England Under-21 squads as a teenager, ex-Spennymoor captain Carl Beasley, and Marc Ellison, once of Hartlepool and Swedish side Ope. Ex-Clyde and Sunderland midfielder George Herd, who won five caps for Scotland in the late-1950s, is the team’s head coach under experienced manager Neil Hixon.

Frenchfield Park is located to the east of Penrith, a short distance from the A66 and a mile and a half walk from Penrith railway station. If you’re travelling by car, take the A6108 exit off the A1 toward Brough/Penrith/A66/Richmond and then the fourth exit at the roundabout onto the A66 forBrough/Penrith. At the Kemplay Bank Roundabout, take the fourth exit again onto Carleton Ave/A686 heading towards Alston. Take two rights and the second left will lead you straight to the ground, where you’ll find free parking spaces. The postcode is CA11 8UA.

Thanks once again to Liam Dufferwiel of Sunderland RCA who also contributed this excellent ground guide for his own club. You can read an account of groundhopper Shaun Smith’s visit to Penrith here.

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