Tuesday 28 September 2021

Wingate & Finchley - Harry Abrahams Stadium

Wingate & Finchley FC
The Harry Abrahams Stadium
Summers Lane
N12 0PD

020 8446 2217
Official Website

Ground Number: 208
Wednesday 1st August 2012
Wingate and Finchley 2-0 Wycombe Reserves
Pre Season Friendly


The club was established in 1991 as a merger of Wingate FC and Finchley FC. Finchley was the most prominent of these, having reached the FA Cup 3rd Round in 1953, the FA Amateur Cup Semi-Final in 1965 and the FA Vase 4th Round in 1985. They were in the Isthmian League Division 2 but the new club took Wingate's place in the South Midlands League. The club finished as runners-up behind Arlesey Town in 1995, winning promotion to the Isthmian League Division 3. Another runners-up spot, this time to Ford United saw the club promoted to Division 2 in 1999 but they only lasted a season at the higher level before being relegated. League reorganisation saw them placed in 2002 and aside from a couple of seasons when they moved sideways to the Southern League Division 1 East, they remained here until 2011. After failing in the playoffs the previous year, a third-place finish behind East Thurrock United and Needham Market, followed by victories over Harlow Town and Brentwood Town saw Wingate & Finchley promoted to the Isthmian Premier. The club remains there to this day, their best finish of 5th coming in 2017.

In the FA Cup, Wingate & Finchley have twice reached the 3rd Qualifying Round - losing 5-0 to Ilkeston Town in 1999 and 2-0 to Havant & Waterlooville in 2015. At the time of updating this blog, they have a chance to match or better that when they travel to Corinthian-Casuals on Saturday. In the FA Trophy, the 2018/19 season saw the club's best-ever run. That season they beat Sittingbourne, Tiverton Town, Chippenham Town and Dulwich Hamlet prior to a 4-2 defeat at Hemel Hempstead Town in the 2nd Round. In the FA Vase, 1994/95 saw their best run as they beat Welwyn Garden City, Bowers United and Leighton Town, prior to a 2-1 defeat to Basildon United in the 3rd Round. In local competitions, the club won the Isthmian League Cup in 2011 and the London Senior Cup in 1995 & 2011. The club record attendance of 528 came for the Brentwood Town playoff game in 2011 whilst their record win of 9-1 came in a South Midlands League game against Winslow United in November 1991. Marc Morris is the club's record appearance holder and goalscorer with 650 goals in 720 games.

The club is based in Finchley in the London Borough of Barnet. They play on Summers Lane. The ground was known as the Harry Abrahams Stadium from 1994 until 2016, named after a long-time supporter of the club. Since 2016, it has been known as the Maurice Rebak Stadium, named after the co-founder of the club that died earlier that year. The district of Finchley has a population of around 65,000 and is made up of three main towns - East Finchley, North Finchley and Finchley Church End. It has five train or tube stations - East Finchley, West Finchley, Finchley Central, Woodside Park & Whetstone. There is another football team in the area, Old Finchelians play in the Southern Amateur League at the basic Old Finchelians Memorial Ground. There is also a rugby club - Finchley RFC who play adjacent to Wingate & Finchley with their stands backing onto each other. Famous people from Finchley include politician John Bercow, singer George Michael and Spice Girl Emma Bunton. It is twinned with Jinja in Uganda, Le Raincy in France, Monthclair in the US and Siegen-Wittgenstein in Germany.


The club was established in 2016 by the former Brimsdown management team of Marvin Walker and Aaron Archer. Their ethos was to create a safe environment for people in the area at the risk of social deprivation who might otherwise fall into criminal activity without an outlet for their talent. They joined the Spartan South Midlands Division 2 upon formation and in their inaugural season finished 3rd behind Thame Rangers and Totternhoe. This was good enough for promotion to Division 1. They were moved to the Combined Counties Division 1 this summer and have generally finished around mid-table since their elevation to step 6.  Their best run in the FA Vase came in their debut season of 2017/18. That year they beat Canning Town, Woodbridge Town and Newmarket Town before a 4-2 defeat to Berkhamsted in the 2nd Round.


When Wycombe's pre-season fixtures were announced, this was the only one that would be a new ground for me. The day before I was most dismayed to find that I would be charged £10 for entry, the same as for league games. In my opinion, some Non-League clubs are taking the mick with their prices in Pre-Season games, for what is basically a training session against a youth team, it is too much, even if it's not a huge amount in the grand scheme of things. It would certainly affect how much I spent in the ground later, normally I would get something from the tea bar, bar and shop, but would be considered carefully on this occasion. On the day, I was working till 3 and so decided to go straight from work as I had a parcel to drop off in Uxbridge en route, and would also go into the town of Finchley itself, to see what it was like and to grab a bite to eat and drink. After dropping the parcel off and getting my money, I headed over to Home Bargains in Southall to pick up some of the remaining cans of Fiery Irn Bru. It's not very popular so is only a limited edition, so I got myself 8 cans at 19p each - bargain! I then had a not very nice commute to Finchley, it took ages in traffic jams for about 10 miles until it finally cleared up about five miles from the ground, ironically at peak time in 'rush hour' Getting to the ground at 5.20, I walked into town and bought myself a Samosa and a can of cider before heading back to the ground. As well as the £10 entry, I was also charged £2 for a pretty thin programme. The car park was inside the ground but I was glad of this as my phone battery was dead and it needed charging. I was pleased to have a brief chat with Mike Bayly, a Kidderminster Harriers fan who was a community officer at the club. He later told me that the club had reduced prices for the remaining pre-season games. After the game, I had a good journey home but ended up staying up until 1 and getting three hours of sleep before work the next day. A brief summary of the game is below.

Looking back retrospectively at the Wycombe lineup, it's interesting to see what became of the players, especially with the closure of the youth academy just before this game. It was hailed as a 'Development Squad' but as far as I can tell and remember, this was the last game for such a squad until the development squad was reintroduced in 2020, following the takeover of the club by the Couhig family. On the pitch, it was men against boys quite literally. Wycombe played some neat stuff but lacked an experienced head or two to control the play. Wycombe were second best all game and goals from Murat Karagul and Liam Smith won the game for Wingate & Finchley.

Matt Ingram - 125 appearances for Wycombe, currently at Hull City
Kortney Hause - 23 apps for Wycombe, currently at Aston Villa
George Ehui - 2 sub appearances for Wycombe, now at Marlow
Jesse Kewley-Graham 21 apps for Wycombe, last at Walton & Hersham (2018)
Josh Scowen - back at Wycombe via Barnsley, QPR & Sunderland
Max Kretzschmar - 73 apps, 8 goals for Wycombe, now at Woking
Emmanuel Ighorae - no apps for Wycombe, last club Dartford (2018)
Olly Taylor - 6 apps for Wycombe, last club Dorchester Town (2018)
Matt McClure - 110 apps & 24 goals for Wycombe, now at Gloucester City
Junior Morias - 25 apps for Wycombe, 106 apps & 18 goals for Peterborough United, Northampton Town & St Mirren, now at Kings Lynn Town.
(plus three unknown trialists)


A Tuesday would usually see me do a new ground with fellow hopper Anwar and indeed, he was keen to see a game on this day. Under normal circumstances, we would have been choosing between Wisbech Town, Saffron Dynamo & Thornbury Town would be considered. But these were not normal times. Lies, scaremongering and half-truths had been peddled by the media about a fuel shortage that initially only affected a couple of companies. They knew what they were going to create - that the significant minority of pea-brained morons that infest the country would go out and panic buy. That proved to be the case, all rational thinking was out of the window and people were queueing at petrol stations on Sunday and Monday. Despite intense pressure, the two petrol stations I go past on the way to work were still operational when I drove home on Monday afternoon. The queues were just the tip of the iceberg - on the news there were reports of fistfights, peoples fuel tanks being drilled into as fuel was stolen and even some stupid woman buying bottles of Evian, tipping the contents in the bin and filling them up with petrol. Working in retail for 24 years, I've long known how repulsive the British public can be and knew exactly what would happen. I had half a tank of fuel left and wasn't prepared to queue for ages to fill up, so on Sunday, I decided to revisit Wingate & Finchley for the game between Enfield Borough & London Lions. It was a ground that I'd not been to for over nine years and I felt that my blog could do with an update.

Sunday saw the last of my days off from work and was spent slightly hungover after five days of excessive drinking during my five days up north. I visited Hillingdon Borough for  third time as British-Somalian side Hilltop overcame Broadfields United 3-1. Monday saw me back at work and this, perhaps because of the idiots panic buying fuel, the place seemed more tolerable than usual. On the day of the game, I woke around 6.30am and caught up on YouTube videos. Normally, on Tuesday, it would be a walk to town and back but today I stayed in. This was mainly due to me wanting to give my blistered feet a rest, but also because it was raining on and off. I spent the morning doing research for tonight's blog before having lunch. My computer was playing up, with it freezing and shutting down randomly. I'll probably just wait until Windows 11 is released on 5th October and do a clean install of that. I switched to my Chromebook which I've always found more stable, though not as good at things like editing photos quickly. The afternoon was spent watching TV and looking at potential future games. Sadly, the options for this Friday are looking rather sparse with the nearest new ground at AFC Stoneham being 80 miles away for a FA Youth Cup game, the nearest first-team game being a massive 169 miles away at Briton Ferry. After a pleasant dinner of chicken and chips, I left at 6.20, trying to balance up potential traffic issues with the chances of a late postponement due to a waterlogged pitch. The journey over was good and I arrived an hour later. I parked next door at the rugby car park as the usual car park was full. I heard two petrol related stories - one of a stupid woman who queued for an hour to buy £8 fuel and another from an NHS worker who can't fill up for love nor money. 

Enfield Borough were in 13th place and had won 3, drawn 1 and lost 6 of their ten games so far. They'd lost their last three games - 3-2 to London Samurai Rovers, 2-1 at Eversley & Califonia and 4-3 at Whitton United in an enthralling FA Vase game. Prior to that, they'd won 6-0 at Cove and beaten Kensington & Ealing Borough 3-2. London Lions were in 3rd place having played a couple of games less. They'd won 7 and lost 1 of their games. In their last game, they have overcome Haverhill Borough in the FA Vase on penalties after a 2-2 draw. Prior to that, they'd won 2-0 at Woodley United, beaten St Panteleimon 2-1 and Langley 4-1. Their only defeat had come on Bank Holiday Monday as they lost an enthralling game 4-3 to Rayners Lane. Just eight miles seperated the two sides home grounds. Enfield Borough lined up in a two tone blue kit with London Lions in white shirts and blue shorts. It was a decent open game with both sides having chances. The first real chance came on 22 minutes for London Lions as a shot from outside the area heading for the top right corner forced the keeper into a smart save. The visitors took the lead on 39 minutes, Felix Shalom got away down the left, stripping the home #4 for pace and strength. He crossed in and although the first shot was parried, it was followed up by Austin Lipman. It was probably deserved on the balance of play but there wasn't a huge amount between the two sides. There was a break in play to cope with the monsoon conditions around five minutes into the second half and I thought it might be game abandoned, but they carried on. The break seemed to give Enfield Borough an extra spring in their step and they equalised with a long-range effort around 52 minutes in. They then came close a few minutes later with a goalmouth scramble but it was eventually cleared wih the London Lions keeper requiring brief treatment for an injury picked up in the melee. London Lions retook the lead on 78 minutes, Levi Levenfiche finishing from a tight angle into the top corner. The same player completed his brace a few minutes later, capitalising on a mix-up between goalkeeper and defence and finishing into an empty net. On 85 minutes, Enfield Borough made it interesting, pulling a scrambled goal back. But London Lions sealed the win a few minutes from time, Lipman getting his second with a chip over the keeper on the break.

I came out of the game having had a good evening and in a decent mood with Wycombe winning. However, my good mood was soon spoiled when I saw the gates to the rugby club locked and my car still in there. It had been full when I'd left my car and after ringing a number for the club, I was told that it wouldn't be open until tomorrow morning. I got absolutely drenched walking to the nearest station. It was a pretty miserable journey with no headphones and no internet for most of the journey but at least I was able to get home on the night. I could have saved a tenner going back via Amersham but it would have been an extra hour wait. I made contact with the club and they had very limited opening hours but at least they were helpful. It was my error after all, even if it was an innocent mistake. I had to go back the next day, all being well or wait until Saturday which would mean potentially missing the Wycombe game. I was back at Wycombe at 11.45 and home shortly after. I was very tempted to have a few drinks but I'd promised myself I wouldn't indulge until Friday at the earliest.


THE HARRY ABRAHAMS STADIUM is a pretty decent ground in pleasant surroundings. The main stand holds around 400 and is raised above ground level so that you get a nice elevated view of the game. In front of that is some uncovered terracing, should you wish to get closer to the action. There is a decent-sized covered terrace to the left, behind the goal. Opposite is another covered terrace, but this time narrower and only a few steps. Finally at the other end is hard standing but uncovered. There is a basic bar at the ground, underneath the stand as well as a tea bar.

There are good public transport links, but parking at the ground is a bit limited. Learn from my mistake and don't park in the rugby club, there is a fair amount of street parking nearby if needed, though check regulations obviously


1 comment:

  1. A very fair review.

    The club took on board comments from the day and have reduced prices for the remaining pre-season friendlies.

    Scant consolation for your good self, but the management do try and take note!


    (Football In The Community Manager - WFFC)