Ashford Town (Middx) FC
Robert Parker Stadium
Ground Number: 111
Tuesday 13th September 2005
Ashford Town (Middx) 0-2 AFC Wimbledon
FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round Replay
ASHFORD TOWN - A BRIEF HISTORY
The club was established in 1958 as Ashford Albion, changing their name to Ashford Town in 1964 and then Ashford Town (Middlesex) in 1990 to avoid confusion with the (then) Kent club of the same name. They joined the Hounslow & District League upon formation and were an immediate success, earning promotions in their first 2 seasons. They then went on to play in various local Surrey leagues before joining the Combined Counties League in 1990. They were incredibly successful, never finishing lower than 6th, runners-up once and winning the league five times in their ten seasons there. It was after the last of those league wins that they made the switch to the Isthmian League, Division 3, winning it in their first season. The next few seasons saw lots of reorganisations to the league structure and sideways moves for Ashford, but in 2006, 2nd place in the Southern League D1 West was good enough for them to gain promotion after they finished behind Clevedon Town. Four seasons were spent in the Isthmian Premier, the club enjoying a record high of 6th in 2008. It wasn't to last and following relegation in 2010, they've neever really threatened to return. 2013-14 was especially poor, a basement finish in the Southern D1 Central saw them return to the Combined Counties League. Ashford would bounce back within two seasons and now play in the Southern D1 East, finishing 12th last season.
In the FA Cup, the club has reached the 4th Qualifying round twice - losing 4-0 to Hayes in 2004 and 4-0 to Forest Green Rovers in a replay after holding them to a goalless draw at home. 2010/11 saw the best run in the FA Trophy as Ashford beat North Greenford United, Bury Town, Bishops Stortford and AFC Hornchurch before a narrow 1-0 defeat to Dartford in the 2nd Round. In the FA Vase, they reached the 4th Round in 2001 before a defeat to Oadby Town. Local cup wins include the Combined Counties League Cup (1999), Isthmian League Cup (2007), Surrey Senior Cup (2009), Surrey Premier Cup (1990) Middlesex Senior Charity Cup (2000, 2012 & 2017) and the Aldershot Senior Cup (2003 & 2012). The club's most famous player to progress to the Football League was Dannie Bulman who signed for Wycombe Wanderers in 1998 and netted on his debut.
MY PREVIOUS VISITS
My first visit came during my (failed at the semis, but enjoyable) mission to see a game in every round of the FA Cup. This was the 4th match that I had seen in this run, the previous ones coming at Stourbridge, Holmer Green and Dartford. I drove to the game with my mate Paul, who wanted to go and see AFC Wimbledon play. We arrived in good time, but there wasn't much around the ground so we went straight in. The original game was a 2-2 draw at Wimbledon, but this game was not as close. AFC Wimbledon were the better side and were ahead within 11 minutes thanks to Richard Butler's tap-in. The hosts hit the bar and forced a few good chances and AFC Wimbledon would have a goal ruled out for a foul with the score remaining 1-0 at the break. Lee Passmore, playing for Ashford against his former club was sent off, though it took time for the visitors to take full advantage of this. It wasn't until the final few minutes that AFC Wimbledon wrapped the game, Barry Moore with an excellent free-kick following a foul on Butler.
My next visit came in 2014. As a fan of the early FA Cup rounds, I was pleased when ground-sharers Staines Lammas had a Friday night game against Barton Rovers. I also needed to get a programme from the ground, though for some reason, I wasn't in the habit of updating my old blogs then, hence the need for this latest visit. I got to the ground with around 45 minutes, so went into the bar for a pint of Strongbow while I read my programme. After that, I went in and bought a decent hot dog for the great price of £1.50. It was a comfortable win for the visitors who won 8-1. They were 5-1 up at the break, Nat Peacock helping himself to a four-goal salvo and Dale Tunney amongst the other scorers.
VISIT 3: SOUTHALL 0-1 LEVERSTOCK G (FAC EP 12/8/18)
For my second FA Cup game of the season, I’d selected Southall v Leverstock Green for my Sunday game. It would mean that I’d seen three different home sides host an FA Cup game at Short Lane, but I justified this one as I’d not updated my blog on my previous visits. The hosts Southall might not have got past the 2nd Qualifying Round since 1966 but they’d enjoyed some good times before that. Back in the 1935/36 season, they got as far as the 3rd Round, beating Enfield, Swindon Town and Newport County before a 4-1 home defeat to Watford. Visitors Leverstock Green were relative newcomers to the FA Cup, but they had a recent record that stood up to the hosts. In 2015/15 they beat Newport Pagnell Town, Harefield United and Biggleswade United before defeat to Staines Town in the 2nd Qualifying Round. The hosts had faced a mixed start to the season with a 2-0 win over AFC Hayes on Tuesday preceded by a 2-0 defeat to Balham. Leverstock Green had also opened their season with a 2-0 defeat, in this case to London Conley. On Tuesday, they’d rescued a draw against Tring Athletic thanks to a last minute goal by Jon Lacey.
The day of the game came and I was pretty tired when I woke at 4 am, having stayed up for Match Of The Day the previous evening. Originally, I'd planned on going straight from work, but it was such a quiet day that I ended up leaving at 12 and going home for a couple of hours. I left at 2 with the journey being a good one and I was there 40 minutes later. Entry was a reasonable £6 and as it was raining I took cover in the small terrace on the halfway line. There had been a small area of cover added behind one goal since my last visit, but apart from that, it was the same as ever. It was disappointing not to see the samosas on sale that Southall had when they played at Hanwell as it’s always nice to have something different. There were just the standard burgers and hot dogs on sale, prices have gone up since my last visit. I got a bit peckish at halftime and so had a hot dog that was pretty decent for £2.50.
The game started with chances for both sides, but it was fairly even in terms of play. Leverstock Green took the lead on 18 minutes when a ball was played to the right-hand side of the six-yard box and Chris Blunden finished from a tight angle. The rest of the half saw the visitors dominating, with Southall relying on chances on the break. They came close to equalising just before halftime when a goalmouth scramble saw a shot cleared off the line. The second half saw Southall take control of the game and apply real pressure to the visitors. Especially impressive for them was Ricardo Faux-James who looked a useful player. Leverstock Green keeper Arvydas Kacinkevicus kept his side in the game on more than one occasion. Luke Preedy was booked for a heavy challenge for Leverstock Green as the game got quite physical. Southall probably deserved a draw, but their finishing was wayward at times and in the end, the visitors saw the game out. There was a short delay on the M25 on the way home, but I still got home by 5.35, getting most of my blog done before my dinner.
The ROBERT PARKER STADIUM was renamed from Short Lane in 2010 in honour of Bob Parker, who served as chairman for 28 years and who is still a life member of the club. The ground originally opened in 1986 and is a smart and practical venue for the club. On the dugout side is a small 100 seater stand with the club initials picked out in blue and white seats. Behind both goals is open flat standing, with a few steps of terracing and cover at one end. The other side has 2 stands - a seated stand for 100 (this was a terrace on my first visit) and another smaller terrace, again with a 100 capacity.
There's a well-stocked club shop at the ground, this sells merchandise and a decent range of old books and programmes. The bar is outside the ground and offers a basic range of drinks and has lots of football related stuff on the walls. There's a tea bar inside the ground, this does burgers, hot dogs and bacon rolls at reasonable prices along with drinks and snacks. The ground is quite a walk from anywhere from what I remember, so if you fancy anything more substantial, you are better stopping en-route.
The above stand, as a terrace, in 2005.
Additional cover behind the goal for my 2018 visit.