Friday, 20 July 2018

Erith Town - Erith Stadium

Erith Town FC
Erith Stadium
Avenue Road

0845 602 6312

Ground Number: 781
Friday 20th July 2018
Erith Town 0-1 Aveley


The club was established in 1959 and was initially a Sunday League side known as Woolwich Town and had a decent amount of success. The'd not move into Saturday football until 1991 when they joined the Spartan League. Starting in Division 2, 9th place in their first season was good enough for promotion, thanks to restructuring. They coped with the step up well and by 1995 had earned promotion to the Premier Division, having finished as runners-up to Tottenham Wine. They spent a single season in the Spartan Premier before moving to the Kent League. In 1997 they adopted the name Erith Town. They've been in the Kent League (now called the Southern Counties East League) all of that time, finishes ranging from two 3rd place finishes in 2013 and 2014 to a 19th place finish in 1997.

Erith Town have been regular participants in the FA competitions all of that time. In the FA Cup they've reached the 2nd Qualifying Round on three occasions, most recently losing 5-0 at Cray Wanderers in 2011. The FA Vase 3rd Round was reached in 2013 - Lingfield & Hartley Wintney were beaten before they lost out to Norwich United. Local cup wins include the Kent Senior Trophy in 2011, beating Tunbridge Wells 3-1 in a final played at Welling United. The best ever attendance of 325 came for a friendly against Carshalton whilst the biggest win of 9-0 against Sporting Bengal United came on 15th January 2011. Former grounds include Woolwich Barracks (until 1991), Harrow Meadow (groundshare with Greenwich Borough 1991-95, 1998-99), Bayliss Avenue (groundshare with Thamesmead Town (2008-09) and Badgers Sports Ground (groundshare with Cray Valley PM 2013-16) and Oakwood (groundshare with VCD Athletic 2016-18). They will start this season back at Erith Stadium for a third spell, having played there between 1995-98 and 1999-2008.


For the penultimate game of my week off, I was hoping to do one by public transport, having driven to all of my pre-season games so far. Erith Town came up trumps for their friendly game against Aveley. With them having moved back home to Erith Stadium, it was a rare opportunity for me to do a new ground within the London area that was included on a TFL travelcard. TFL is about the only train company who do affordable trains without having to pay well in advance. They are also the only ones that make midweek matches viable - doing a game in Birmingham on a midweek night is impossible seeing as the last train back from Birmingham to Wycombe is at 9.15. It wasn't the greatest stadium as it had a running track and the town of Erith was not great for pubs, but they seemed a decent club, having a reliable and informative Twitter and website.

For once, I'd had a good nights sleep on the day of the game, waking at 10am. It was a bit of a rush with my blogs to catch up on, especially with other jobs to catch up on. I had a bath and a change of clothes before I completed my Retford blog from Tuesday. I also took my Aunt's boxer dog out for a walk, before coming back and updating my Walsall blog. It gave me a good opportunity to catch up on my YouTube videos, though a patchy internet connection frustrated me. I even had time to type out my Cheadle Heath Nomads blog from last night, meaning that aside from my research for tomorrow's groundhop, I was all caught up. I left home at 2.40, parking up at Amersham and getting the 3.10 train into London. Changes at Harrow on The Hill, Finchley Road and London Bridge taken, before my eventual destination of Bexleyheath. The journey time was well utilised researching club histories for future blogs. The last leg of the journey was not the most pleasant on a busy and hot Southeastern train as it had to keep stopping at red lights, preventing much-needed ventilation. Unavoidable obviously, but it made us a tad late, eventually getting to our destination at 5.

My first stop had already been planned. I’d spotted an excellent Micropub called The Kentish Belle. Here I had two lovely ciders - Malvern Magic and Ross on Wye Broome Farm. I even enrolled on their loyalty scheme, though it’s a shame that a return will be unlikely as it is so far away. I would ideally love to return though and so gave up my Wetherspoons tick as further incentive to come back. I ordered a meal - curry samosas and salt and chilli chips from the local Chinese takeaway. Food that’s easy to eat on the move as I’d decided to walk to Erith rather than save 15 minutes by public transport. It was a fair walk, longer than I expected but I was there in plenty of time for kick off. I got a decent spot on the viewing gallery after paying a fiver to get in and waited for kick off.

I got myself the best spot that I could in an athletics stadium, up in the viewing gallery. The on-pitch fare started with Aveley playing some neat stuff and carving out some chances but soon descended into two sides aimlessly kicking the ball around. Aveley started to take control again towards the end of the half, their number 9 getting away from the defence and placing a shot just wide. Generally, though, it was disappointing fare, even if Erith Town ended the half strongly. The second half saw plenty of endeavour but not the greatest end product. The visitors eventually took the lead on 63 minutes, a long ball finding Antonio Martin who finished confidently past the home keeper. It was Aveley who continued to have the better of the game, shaving the bar from a long-range effort and a trialist smashing a free kick against the bar. That was really it for major chances and despite Erith Town trying their best on the break, Aveley always looked in control. It was an attendance of 80 that saw the game and although it wasn’t the best, I was glad there was a goal.

The game finished around 9.40 and I headed back towards town. I wanted to go to Morrisons and got some chicken and a drink. From there I got to the station, getting a train back into London at around 10.10. For once the service went smoothly, with trains to Amersham every half an hour, I’ll invariably miss one by a couple of minutes and have a long wait. This time though, it was to be just 3 minutes wait after a quick dash across the platform. It meant that I got back to Amersham around midnight, having had a decent day. I managed to upload my blog on the night, having typed it on my journey home.


ERITH STADIUM is an athletics stadium, which is not ideal for watching football, but it's not as bad as I thought. The distance from the viewing area to the pitch is not too far and if you stand up on the viewing gallery outside the bar, you can get a great view. There's room for around 50 up there at a push and a number of chairs are provided. There's seating below for around 500, plus standing for another couple of hundred, with all the accommodation being on one side of the pitch. There's basic food and drink facilities at the ground, plus the town is just over 10 minutes walk and has a decent range of takeaways.


Cheadle Heath Nomads - The Heath

Cheadle Heath Nomads FC
The Heath
Norbreck Avenue

Ground Number: 780
Thursday 19th July 2018
Cheadle Heath Nomads 3-1 Chadderton


The club was established as recently as 2004, having been formed as part of a merger between two local clubs - Linotype and Cheadle Heath Nomads, with both clubs having an extensive history in the Mid Cheshire (now Cheshire) League. The Cheshire League would be Linotype Cheadle Heath Nomads home for the next 14 years, with the club staying in the top tier for the entirety of their stay. Finishes ranged from a rock-bottom 16th in 2011 to their only league win so far in 2015. They were also runners-up the following year, but it wasn't until last season's 4th place finish and the expansion of the North West Counties League that they were able to make the step up. Though the new club has not yet played in either of the FA Competitions, former club Linotype were regulars in the FA Vase (reaching the 2nd Round on three occasions). With the facilities now in place for step 6 football, the new club should be able to enter the FA Vase. They appear to have dropped the Linotype from their name this season and are now known as Cheadle Heath Nomads.


With me having an afternoon game at Walsall, I was keen to see something in the evening. I'd initially earmarked the reasonably nearby Malvern Town, but that game was called off after opponents Dudley pulled out. I found another close one at Eccleshall, but again, that was moved to Lilleshall, due to problems with the home club's pitch. Next choice was Middlewich Town, a ground that I'd seen on a Norwegian hopper, Anders' blog. But that too was cancelled due to an unsuitable pitch. I turned out I was going to have to travel over 60 miles to see a game, either Shirebrook Town (v Mansfield Town XI), Wellington (v Kidderminster Harriers XI) and Cheadle Heath Nomads (v Chadderton). With the latter one having a good Twitter and free entry, I decided to go for that and it also had the bonus of a 7PM kickoff, meaning that I'd be able to start heading home earlier. The club was newly promoted to the North West Counties League for this season and looked to have a nice tidy and pleasant home.

From my afternoon game at Walsall, it was just over 70 miles to this game. However, owing to rush hour traffic, it took over 2 and a half hours to get there, with me not arriving until 6.30. I decided against going for food as I wasn’t really hungry. I was slightly disappointed to see that the game was being played on the back pitch, but it was no big thing really. They were hard at work getting the ground ready for the new season, cables were being laid for floodlights and they’d not even got the rail around the pitch yet. It was still a nice place to watch football though, especially on a summers evening. I caught up with things while I waited for kick off, glad that it started at 7 so I could make my way home slightly earlier.

The game started with the hosts on the front foot, hitting the post in the opening minute, albeit for an effort that would have been ruled out for offside. The opening goal game around 20 minutes in. Chadderton keeper Jordan Hadlow made a great save from a shot to deflect the ball around the post for a corner, but he could do nothing to prevent Jack Warren heading home the resulting kick. A couple of minutes later, the lead was doubled, this time it was Kieran Hibert finishing from close range at the back post, following a cross from the left. Chadderton had chances on the break, but it was Cheadle Heath Nomads that were running the game. They were awarded a penalty around half an hour in following a trip in the area, but Rick Tindall, a recent signing from Manchester League side Poynton was denied by a great save from Hadlow. So a dominant first half from the hosts, with their number 10 looking a real handful overall, a team that should cope well with the step up to the North West Counties League. The second half saw a host of changes and the visitors a lot more competitive. They pulled a goal back early on in the second half, triallist Si Muhammed with a low shot following a good through ball. Chadderton came close to equalising on a number of occasions but the game was wrapped up on 75 minutes when Terrence Butler capitalised on some lax defending to fire past substitute keeper Daniel Havern to make it 3-1 and seal the victory.

It had been a really good game, and probably the best that I have seen this season. Before I headed home, I wanted to get home for something to eat and so drove to the nearest takeaway that I could find. This turned out to be Prego Pizza and there I had a Texas BBQ Chicken meal for a fiver. It turned out to be decent enough and prepared me for my journey home. I left at 9.15, getting home three hours later. It had been a tiring day and I only stayed up for 10 minutes before going straight to bed and getting a good 10-hour sleep in.


THE HEATH is a smart set up, with a nice location. The original part of the ground is the smart looking pavilion, this has seating for around 20 and standing for a whole lot more. To comply with ground grading, a standard arena type stand has been installed, holding around 50. The rest of the ground is open hard standing.

There are plenty of pubs and takeaways in the vicinity and the town of Edgeley and Stockport County FC is around a mile away. Back at the ground, there is a bar with a reasonable range of drinks, though I'm unsure of prices as I didn't indulge. Hot drinks are available, and although I didn't see any food for sale, there is a kitchen there.


Retford - The Rail

Retford FC
The Rail
Babworth Road
DN22 7NJ

07766 700536

Ground Number: 779
Wednesday 18th July 2018
Retford 1-0 Cleethorpes Town XI


RETFORD is one of the youngest clubs in football, having been formed as recently as 2015. They joined the Central Midlands League North upon formation and have played there ever since, finishing 7th, 6th and 5th in their three seasons here. The club has not yet entered the FA Cup but did play in the FA Vase in 2016, losing 3-0 at Leicester based side St Andrews FC. Their nickname of the 'Choughs' comes from the pair of birds that are on the town’s badge. For the first time this coming season, they will face local rivals Retford United for the first time in league games, United having suffered a fall from grace in recent times, having played as high as the step 3 NPL Premier. The town of Retford itself has a population of just under 22,000 and has a great range of pubs considering its size. Famous people to hail from the town include Liam Lawrence, the former Portsmouth and Republic of Ireland footballer.


I'd been wanting to go to Retford for some time, although I'll admit my initial interest was in their rivals Retford United, a club that had suffered a fall from grace in recent times, having once played in the NPL Premier, but now sharing a step 7 league with their newly established rivals. Retford FC were playing at the former home of Retford Rail, a pretty good venue and one that was in the town centre. This town had a number of interesting looking pubs and so really, it was one to do when I could sleep overnight. The only problem was, the accommodation was really expensive - £50 a night for a basic B&B. A solution was found with a nearby campsite - Little Oak Camping. They charged a tenner a night for a pitch, together with a £13 tent from Tesco, I had a bed for the night as well as something that could save me money in the future. I planned a game for Thursday afternoon and evening to make the most of my driving up north, whilst keeping an eye on Retford's Twitter in case of any late cancellations.

I'd spent the night before at Wycombe Wanderers v Brentford, not the groundhop I wanted, but a reasonably cheap option. It was nice to catch up with some old faces, even if we were disappointing in the second half, eventually losing 1-0. I woke up fairly early on the day of the game, failing to get the big nights sleep that I wanted on my week off. After having some breakfast I took my Aunt's dog who we are looking after for a walk. When I got back, I opened my birthday presents, including a very nice Sony Smart speaker. I got all the stuff in my boot, leaving at 11, first listening to my new Lancashire Hotpots CD and then Jeremy Vine on Radio 2. About 12.30, I stopped at McDonald's for lunch, having a BLC and fries for under £2.50. It also gave me half an hour rest and a chance to catch up online. I had to pump my tyre up before I went, but soon enough I was on my way. There was a brief delay of around 20 minutes thanks to rubberneckers slowing down to look at an accident on the other side of the road. By the length of the tailbacks, it looked a pretty serious one, but I'll never understand what kicks people get out of seeing someone else suffer misery. I got to my campsite at 2.45 to be greeted by the friendly owner. I soon had my tent up, spending around half an hour at the campsite before walking the mile and a half into town.


It was a pleasant afternoon for a stroll and with bags of time to spare, I was able to undertake a leisurely pace. I stopped for a peek in the estate agents and property was very good value in what was a pleasant town. Though not the cheapest in the country, it was still less than half the price in Wycombe and strengthened my belief that the way forward is a move up north. It would certainly aid my groundhopping ambitions. I stopped at ASDA to get a bottle of Irn Bru before heading into town. Although all of the micropubs were starting to open, I decided that my first stop would be Wetherspoons. The Dominie Cross was my 167th Wetherspoons. Though it might have been a bit worn on the outside, the inside was a gem. 5 real ciders including one of my favourites, Black Dragon at £2.75 a pint. A recipe for carnage potentially, so I decided to stick at a single pint until after the game. Despite its 7.2%, it goes down easier than Neymar, and I really wanted to get to and remember tonight’s game. I would, however, be returning later. Leaving some friendly locals behind, I made my way to Beerheadz, a micropub. This was another great place, where I had another retry, this time a pint of The General from Sandford Orchards at 8.4%. This one was a cider to sup slowly, rather than sling down the neck. So after a brief stop at Aldi for some chicken and a bargain £3.49 England sweatshirt, I made my way to the Beer Shed. A pint of Sandford Orchards Vintage was tried, with it being another strong one, that was my pre-match drinking done.

I was happy to get to the ground, £2 entry was good. It was another £2 for chips which were also decent. Retford came into the game on the back of a decent 1-1 draw against a young Sheffield United side whilst Cleethorpes Town’s second string side had drawn 1-1 at Humber League side Hessle Rangers. The first half saw the visitors dominating but it was Retford, who capitalised on some sloppy defending, who led at the break, thanks to a close-range effort from Adam Scott on 33 minutes. They’d certainly weathered the storm well but were most effective on the break.  Nevertheless, I was pleased for them, as I’d been made to feel welcome. The second half passed without much incident, but the hosts looked comfortable in the lead and were rarely threatened, though the Retford keeper did have to pull off a couple of good saves.

A pleasant walk through the park was enjoyed and 15 minutes later, I was back in Wetherspoons. Another pint of Black Dragon was sampled, whilst I caught up on things. I decided to leave my drinking there and via a pit stop at a local Chinese for some salt and chilli chips,    I made my way back to the campsite, arriving around 10.30. I dropped off to sleep fairly quickly, having enjoyed a good day.


THE RAIL is an excellent venue for a step 7 side. There’s just the one area of cover, this is behind the goal and has a mixture of sitting and standing. The rest of the ground is open hard standing with the far side being out of bounds for spectators.

The tea bar at the ground is a pretty decent effort. There’s a wide range of stuff at decent prices. I didn’t check out the bar, if they did indeed have one, but the town of Retford is around 10 minutes walk away. There are a huge number of pubs here, including an excellent Wetherspoons and plenty of other good places. You’ll also find plenty of takeaways and other facilities too.