Thursday 19 April 2012

Metropolitan Police FC - Imber Court

Metropolitan Police FC
Imber Court
Ember Lane
East Molesey

0208 398 1267

Ground Number: 199
Wednesday 18th April 2012
Hendon 2-0 Kingstonian
London Senior Cup Final


Metropolitan Police FC was established in 1919. For the first 9 years of their history, they only played friendlies before joining the Spartan League, winning the D1 East in their first season. They won the Spartan Premier Division the following season after they were promoted and went on to be champions seven more times. In 1960 the club moved to the Metropolitan League, struggling at first but having two 4th place finishes in 1969 and 1970. When the Metropolitan League folded in 1971, Metropolitan Police joined the Southern League D1 East, having a best-ever finish of 5th in their debut season. In 1977, the club joined the Isthmian League, finishing as runners-up to Epsom & Ewell in Division 2 in their first season. Promotion to Division 1 followed but despite a 3rd place finish in 1982, they were relegated back to Division 2 three years later. Promotion was won back from Division 2 South in 1988 after they finished as runners-up behind Chalfont St Peter, but relegation followed in 1991. This time, their spell in Division 2 lasted a lot longer, with Met Police staying there until 2001 when reorganisation saw the club placed in Division 1 South. They were champions in 2011, earning promotion to the Isthmian Premier. 2014/15 saw a 5th place finish, but they lost to Hendon in the playoff semis. Their 41-year spell in the Isthmian League ended at the start of this season as they were transferred to the Southern Premier South. As a result of the extra travelling, manager Jim Cooper who had been at the club for 15 years stepped down with the playing budget being halved. Gavin McPherson, Cooper's assistant took over and lead them to an excellent 3rd place finish with Salisbury City being defeated 3-2 on Wednesday to set up today's final.

The FA Cup 1st Round has been reached on five occasions. The latest of these came this season with Cray Wanderers, Needham Market, Tiverton Town and Conference Premier side Havant & Waterlooville beaten to set up a game with Newport County which they lost 2-0 after having a man sent off. The FA Amateur Cup Semi Final was reached in 1934 before a 2-0 defeat to Dulwich Hamlet. The Quarter Final stage was their best effort in the FA Vase where they suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat to Belper Town in 1995. Local Cup wins include the London Senior Cup in 2010, the Surrey Senior Cup in 1933 and 2015 and the Middlesex Senior Cup in 1928. Though for much of the club history, the side was mainly made up of police officers, this started to cease in the late 1990s due to trouble with getting time off work to play. The last officer to play for the club was Craig Brown who retired in 2013 and now the club is made up of players with normal day jobs. They still get funding from the Police Lottery though and still has officers working behind the scenes.

Metropolitan Police actually played a big part in my own club, Wycombe Wanderers history, having their best ever FA Trophy run at the same time during the 1989/90 season. Folkestone and Whyteleafe were beaten before the 'Old Bill' were awarded a 1st Round game at our former home of Loakes Park. Despite Wycombe being in the bottom half of the Conference, they were expected to beat a team still primarily made up of serving Police officers who sat in mid-table in the Isthmian Division 1. But Wycombe suffered a shock 3-1` defeat with the Met's goals coming from record goalscorer Mario Russo and a brace from Dick Oliver. As a result, manager Jim Kelman resigned from Wycombe and manager Martin O'Neill was appointed in his place. He enjoyed an incredible 5 years at Wycombe, taking us to 6th place in the third tier of the Football League following two promotions, winning two FA Trophies and a number of local cups. There are a couple of players who have gone on to play for the Met Police after playing for Wycombe - former youth team midfielder Jerome Federico and Paul Barrowcliff who is the team's current physio and who works as a personal trainer for the force.


As I was short of a game in midweek and was at home on my own, I decided to go to the London Senior Cup Final between Kingstonian and Hendon, being played at Imber Court, home of Metropolitan Police FC. On the day of the game, I left home at around 5.20, popping into Morrisons for a snack and a drink before going to the game. I expected the M25 to be its usual frustrating self for a midweek evening. And it turned out to be true with nearly an hours delay meaning that I only just made kick off. Luckily there wasn't much to do around the ground that I could see, so I didn't miss much. And I had no problem paying the £10 entry and getting a free programme thrown in as well. Almost immediately after getting into the ground, the game started, so I had to take pictures of the ground as I made my way round to my seat. Hendon were appearing in their fifth final in seven years but they'd not won it since 2009. The first half was a pretty dull affair and it was goalless at the break. Former Wycombe player Darren Currie opened the scoring with a great goal on 56 minutes and 15 minutes later, Jack Mazzone lobbed the Kingstonian keeper to make the game safe. After the game, it was a much easier journey home, and I was back at my house by 10.15, a 45-minute journey, compared to the 2-hour trek to the game. Overall I enjoyed the evening and it was well worth the effort.


With me having visited Imber Court fairly early on in my groundhopping career, my blog was not really up to the standard that I wanted to be. The photos that I'd taken were also not the best, being from a 2012 mobile phone. With that in mind, I was keen to revisit there. There were a couple of games that I fancied going to before this one. Firstly, their FA Cup game against Newport County but I decided against it due to it being a bit of a bind on the train and the lack of decent pubs. Then there was the League Cup game against Hendon a few weeks previously, a competition where most clubs put out much-changed sides. Despite that, they were charging the full £10 admission, so I decided against it. With little else on this Bank Holiday Monday, I was hoping for the results to go for me in the playoff games. I needed Met Police to win first, and that they did, triumphing over Salisbury. I also needed Poole to overcome the odds away to 2nd place Taunton and thankfully, they won on penalties. I did the research for my blog the day before, watching a few episodes of The Bill too, to get in the mood. The day of the game came and it was one of the Bank Holidays I’d volunteered to work. I was hoping for an easy day, but it was anything but and I didn’t get out until 12. I came home and had a bath before getting dressed and getting my things together and leaving at 1.

First stop was a cash machine where I withdrew £20. Then on to Home Bargains where I got some chicken for lunch and some other bits that I needed. For once, the M25 was behaving and so I was at the ground and parked up by 2.15. After having a quick look in the bar where I saw a couple of hoppers that I knew, I went in the ground, paying £10 entry. The first half was pretty cagey, Poole Town having the better of the early stages as they were roared on by some good support, whilst Met Police were the better side later on. It was goalless at the break, but the second half followed much the same pattern - Poole having plenty of possession but not really doing anything with it. Met Police opened the scoring around the 70-minute mark. They'd already forced Poole keeper Luke Kearney into a great save when he tipped the ball around the post. From the next attack, Jack Mazzone caught the keeper out of his goal and despite a frantic clearance by one of his defenders, the referee adjudged that the ball had crossed the line.  From then on, the hosts stayed well on top with Poole's only real chance coming around 10 minutes from time when Jack Scrimshaw fired narrowly over when the ball fell to him from a corner. It hadn't been the best of games for the 1,025 in attendance but the hosts had defended well and taken their chances. I left just after 5, with me having another good journey home, getting in at 5.50.


IMBER COURT is s smart ground, probably good enough for Conference South football. There is a decent sized main stand, raised above pitch level, so you get a good view of the action on the pitch. This covers about half of one side of the pitch, the same side as the tea bar and toilets. Behind one goal is a few steps of covered terracing, while the rest is the same as this, only open to the elements. There is no club shop to my knowledge, and I am unsure about the clubhouse, but I'd imagine there is one there. I'm not sure what is nearby, as I arrived in a bit of a rush, but it looked mainly residential housing around the ground.


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