Sunday, 16 October 2011

Bromley / Cray Wanderers - Hayes Lane



Hayes Lane
Bromley
Kent
BR2 9EF

0208 460 5291 



Matchday Number: 178
Saturday 15th October 2011
Cray Wanderers 1-2 Dartford
FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round


As Wycombe were playing up at Hartlepool, which would have cost me a considerable amount in travel as well as the ludicrous £25 entry, I decided to try and visit a new ground for a game. A few days before the game, all of the football league grounds that I wanted to visit had either sold out, or were too far away, so I turned my attentions to the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup. Ryman League side Cray Wanderers play at the home of Conference South side Bromley, and as I have nearly completed that league, that was the game I opted for.

I had planned to get into London early and have a look around, however, a late night after coming back from a night out and then staying drinking and chatting on Facebook, meant that I did not get to bed till well after 4am!. I woke on the Saturday morning at around 10.30, and after having a bath, something to eat and generally farting around and not feeling like doing much, meant I did not leave home till just after 12.




I had opted to take the train from Amersham, as it worked out cheaper than petrol and also I wanted to take advantage of the Wetherspoon's Ale and Cider festival that was being held this month. I went to Tesco to get a paper and an snack. The snack turned out to be a mistake however. I got some chicken bites off of the rotisserie counter. They were the most tasteless garbage I had ever eaten, totally bland. After that I went and parked up in a road near Amersham Station and got the train just before 1. The journey down was fairly painless and I was in Bromley at around 2.30. After some chips I walked the just over 10 minutes to Hayes Lane, arriving at around 2.45.

I for some reason expected the opponents to be Havant and Waterlooville. When I got in and saw a load of Black and White shirts, I thought I'd come to see Bromley by mistake. However it turned out that the opponents were in fact Dartford, a real local derby. Their fans turned out in force, providing 550 of the 690 crowd. It was a big attendance to Cray, and to put this into perspective, their previous home attendances had all been under 200. It was a shame then, that they had not opened their club shop at all. There looked to be a decent selection of programmes in their and it seemed like a missed opportunity what with the large crowd. It was also a deciding factor in me picking this game in the first place - my other possible choice at Eastleigh had no firm details on their shop. As it was, all they got out of me was £10 entry and £2 for the programme - which to be fair was one of the better ones I have seen this season, with quite a bit to read in it.

Luckily, it turned out to be a fairly decent game too. Cray Wanderers had much of the first half play and were unlucky to go in level at half time. The home side got a deserved goal on 47 minutes through leading scorer Tommy Whitnell. They continued to press for a second, but Dartford's fitness and skill that they gained from being a league higher was beginning to create them some chances. They were having several attempts on the break and 20 minutes from time it paid off. Ryan Hayes hit a free kick from 40 yards, it evaded everyone and flew past Cray keeper Andy Walker and into the net. By now the visitors were the better team and they took further advantage on 82 minutes when Danny Harris drilled the ball home from just outside the area. A tad harsh on Cray, who had had bossed large spells of the game, but the Dartford equaliser really knocked the stuffing out of them. That was how it finished, both sides having half chances to add to their respective tallies, but not doing so.



After the game, I went into Bromley Town Centre which had a fair few shops and looked pretty decent. After picking up some stuff for the way home I called in at the Wetherspoons by the station as intended. I had a pint of Black Dragon cider, 7.2% ABV from a Welsh brewery. It didn't disappoint, though I prefer something around the 4% mark. I had to change trains at Victoria and so called into the Wetherspoons there to sample another tipple. This one was even nicer, Two Trees cider, 4.5% and a lovely delicate flavour. At this time I text my mate Jordan who had been to Bristol City v Peterborough to see if a meet in London was possible. I was annoyed to hear that some braindead yokel had tried to start on him, luckily trouble was averted by a fellow Posh fan. Normally I would have got to Victoria before him, but thanks to stupid engineering works, the Victoria to Paddington journey that should normally be quick, took over an hour via a combination of trains and buses, which left me waiting and frustrated. Insult was added to injury when a bus driver gave me a right roasting for getting on in the middle of the bus and was really rude about it. As the bus crawled round London, my mate had already reached Paddington miles before me, and had to get his next train, leaving my big detour proving to be a right disaster. Ironically, if I had gone my normal route, I could have seen him at Baker Street. Main thing, he was OK, just a bit shook up. To add another insult to injury, I arrived at Marylebone, near Baker Street, just after 8, but had to wait nearly an hour for my train to Amersham, due to more engineering works on the Metropolitan Line. It was a frustrating end to a good day out, not completely ruined by London Transport's half arsed service, but certainly tainted. I eventually got home just after 10 and watched Match of The Day before going to bed.

HAYES LANE is a traditional non league ground and one of only a few of these type left around. The main stand is the John Fiorini stand, with seating for around 400, albeit on pretty uncomfortable seats. To the left is a covered terrace behind one goal, whilst the other end has wooden benches for seating, again under cover. Opposite is the only completely open area - a medium sized terrace area. There is also a bar, which is pretty big and had lots of football memorabilia on the walls. There is also a club shop for Bromley FC, presumably it opens when they are the home side.



























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