Sunday 3 February 2013

Carshalton Athletic - War Memorial Sports Ground

Carshalton Athletic FC
War Memorial Sports Ground
Colston Avenue

020 8642 8658

Ground Number: 239
Saturday 2nd February 2013
Carshalton Athletic 1-2 Hendon
Ryman Premier


The club was established in 1905 as Mill Lane Mission. A merger of sorts with local side Carshalton St Andrews saw them adopt the name Carshalton Athletic. Early years were spent in local leagues such as the Croydon & District and Suburban. Following the end of World War 2, they played in the Corinthian League, winning it in 1953 and 1954.  In 1956, Carshalton Athletic joined the Athenian League. The league expanded to two divisions for the 1963/64 season and although the team finished 4rd in their debut season in the top tier, they were relegated to Division 1 in 1966. In 1973, they joined the Isthmian League, starting in it's second tier. By 1977 they finished as runners-up to Boreham Wood and won promotion to the Premier Division. Carshalton Athletic would remain here for several years, finishing as high as 4th in 1992/93, which is to date their best ever finish in the non-league pyramid, being at the time a step 2 league. They were relegated to the second tier in 2001 but bounced back within two seasons when they were Isthmian D1 South champions in 2003. They earned a promotion of sorts the following season, a credible 7th place finish in the Isthmian Premier saw them admitted to the newly formed Conference South for the 2004/05 season. A couple of seasons struggle saw the club relegated back to the Isthmian Premier. Despite a 4th place finish in 2009, when Carshalton lost in the playoff final to Staines, they generally struggled and in 2014, they were relegated to Isthmian D1 South. Results took a while to pick up, but this season they have bounced back in style, winning the league with 102 points and gaining promotion back to the Isthmian Premier.

Carshalton Athletic have not reached the FA Cup 1st Round since the 1997/98 season. That year, they lost out to Stevenage Borough in a replay, with their opponents going on to take Premiership side Newcastle United to a 4th Round replay. Their best progress remains the 2nd Round when in 1982 they lost 4-1 at Torquay United. The club are also twice Quarter Finalists of the FA Amateur Cup and in its replacement, the FA Trophy, their best progress has been the 3rd Round, last reached in 2012 they lost 4-0 at Newport County. Local cup wins include the Surrey Senior Cup on three occasions as well as a host of lesser cups including the London Challenge Cup in 1991. Record goalscorer for the club is Jimmy Bolton who netted 242 times in seven seasons whilst their record win of 13-0 came in a February 1991 game against Worthing in the Isthmian League Cup. The record attendance of 7.800 came for a London Senior Cup game against Wimbledon in the London Senior Cup, a game which Carshalton won 2-1.

The town of Carshalton has a population of just under 30,000 and famous former residents include Cliff Richard, former Prime Minister John Major and Les Gray, lead vocalist of the pop group 'Mud'.  Famous former players for Carshalton Athletic include former England manager Roy Hodgson who ended his playing career at the club.  In addition, former top-flight players Boncho Genchev and Peter Fear wound down their careers at the club. The club's record outgoing transfer is Ian Cox who moved to Crystal Place for £40,000 in 1994 before going on to play many games for Bournemouth, Burnley and Gillingham.


Wycombe were not playing until the Monday and so with mates being at other games, I had free choice of where to go. I had fancied going to Carshalton for some time and combined with the fact that there was a retro games shop in Croydon that I fancied visiting, this seemed like the ideal choice. Also in the week, Hendon, today's visitors had taken Wycombe youngsters Junior Morias and Lee Angol on loan, to add to their ever-growing list of players to have played for both clubs.

On the day I woke up at 8, before having a bath, lazing about for a bit and watching Soccer AM. Eventually, at 10.40 I left and after navigating the M25 and Croydon's slightly confusing road system and signposting I was parked up as intended by 12.20. I went round various shops, getting some grapes, some deodorant, some aftershave and 3 games for my Sega Dreamcast. By the time I got back to my car, it was 1.15 and it was just a short drive to Carshalton, arriving just after 1.30. I had done my research pub wise and found 'The Hope' which was brilliant. I tried a couple of new ciders - Gwatkin Stoke Red and Crisp Moonshine. But after a half of each, I needed some food and so searched for local takeaways on my phone. A local cafe did the job with black pudding and chips for £2.20 which was just what I needed.

After paying to get in and getting a programme for £2 I took a look around and got some pictures. Carshalton were bottom of the table and it showed in the opening half with Hendon going 2-0 up pretty early on. It was Wycombe loanee Lee Angol who opened the scoring after a defence-splitting pass left him with a fairly easy chance to score. The lead was doubled on 19 minutes when more poor defending left Sean Sonner unmarked to give Hendon a commanding position. This seemed to spur Carshalton into action and they ended the half the strongest. They got their reward when Nathaniel Pinney pulled one back from the penalty spot. 
At halftime I went to a local shop to get a paper and some chocolate popcorn, returning just as the teams were kicking off for the second half. The second half started brightly with former Wycombe youth team Elliot Braithwaite heading narrowly wide from a free kick and loanee Junior Morias game close as well. Earlier I had chatted to a Hendon official who said that Morias and Angol had done really well in their short time at the club. The last half an hour of the game petered out without much incident and in the end, Hendon ran out deserved winners, pushing them up the table. After the game, it was a nice clear drive home and I was back by 6.15 in time for a Chinese meal with the family.


Back earlier in the season when the CONIFA World Cup was announced, I was looking forward to seeing some football over the summer. I waited a while for the fixtures to be announced and was disappointed, but not surprised that all the intended stadiums were ones that I had visited previously. Most I had been to within the last couple of years, but I'd not been to Carshalton Athletic or Enfield Town for over 5 years. There was also Haringey Borough that I'd not been to for a while, but I wanted to save that for a Haringey game, having only visited for an Enfield v London Tigers game before. Choosing what fixture to go to for my revisit to Colston Avenue was easier than I'd anticipated. With the England v Nigeria game later on that evening, I worked out that I could go to the game, get park way home watching the first half and be back in time for the second. Pre match was also sorted, I'd been to an excellent pub called The Hope last time and was looking forward to a revisit.

I was very pleased in the week to win a Cascadia shirt on Twitter. A bit random and worth little, but it would have sentimental value for me. It was a quiet Friday night, with me catching up with various tasks and I was in bed fairly early. Typically, I woke around my usual work time, so just watched TV for a few hours before leaving at 9.45. After buying a paper and getting cash out, I parked up near the station and got the 10.17 train from Amersham. Changes at King's Cross and Victoria saw me arrive at Carshalton at 12.10. It was a couple of minutes from The Hope, which was still excellent. I had a pint of Hecks Farmhouse Dry and a large portion of chips, both being excellent. My second pint, Bootleg Moonshine was a new try for me and a lot better than I expected. Sweet, but not unpleasant and with a taste of Perry about it. It had been a good pre-match but at 1.15 I headed for the ground. I got there less than 10 minutes later and was pleased that it was as good as I remember. I got some new pictures of the ground, before having a decent burger for £2.80.

BARAWA is a team representing the Somalian people of England and as a result, they qualified as the host nation for this tournament. The name comes from a port town in the south-west of Somalia, which has a population of 32,800. There are around 98,000 Somalians living in the UK, the vast majority coming over in the 1990s and 2000s when their home country was afflicted by war. The vast majority reside in London, hence the location of the stadiums for the tournament. The most famous Somali-born UK resident is Mo Farah, who has won a host of medals while competing for the UK in the Olympics as a runner. The Barwawa football team was only formed in 2015, playing their first competitive games a year later in the World Unity Cup as they lost 5-0 to Tamil Eelam in their first game. They followed that up with a spirited 3-2 defeat to the Chagos Islands. This year's Friendly results include a win over the Chagos Islands, draws against Hashtag United and Carlton Cole Select XI and defeats against Surrey and Yorkshire. Their most well-known player is midfielder Aryan Tajbakhsh who has made 21 appearances for Crawley Town in the Football League but spent this season on loan at Wealdstone. Other players come from the youth sides of Millwall and QPR as well as various non-league sides. Barawa started their Conifa World Cup in fine form on Thursday as they defeated Tamil Eelam 4-0 thanks to goals from Soloman Sambou (x2), Shaun Lucien and Gianni Critchlow.

Cascadia, or at least the proposed country represents some 16 million people and is comprised of the Canadian province of British Columbia and the US states of Washington and Oregon. Though the idea of a Cascadia football team was suggested as far back as 2011, they have yet to play any competitive matches and were invited to the CONIFA World Cup as the sole representative of North America. Their 23 man squad consists of players based mainly in the UK and USA non-league football, the most well-known being Calum Ferguson who has made 31 appearances in the Scottish Football League, most recently for Elgin City. Their campaign got off to a disappointing start against Ellen Vallin (the Isle of Man) with a 4-1 defeat, though Jack Doughty did have them level at one point.

The opening stages of the game saw a fairly equal contest. Barawa opened the scoring on 10 minutes when a Gianni Critchlow cross from the right was headed home by former Hayes & Yeading man Mo Bettamer. Cascadia rallied and got a deserved equaliser on 35 minutes, a cross from the right saw Jack Doughty convert from a few yards out. Just before halftime, they were ahead, Hector Moralez heading home from a corner to give them a deserved lead. The second half passed without much incident for the 203 crowd, but after the final whistle, there was a scrap which resulted in a player being sent off for each side.

I got back to the station with 5 minutes to spare, getting the 16:05 train back home, making the exact same journey I had in the way, only in reverse. The journey home started well enough, with someone bringing an adorable puppy on the train. On my Metropolitan line though, there was a horrible bloke who sat on a woman's stuff and then started shouting abuse at her, calling her 'a fucking wench' and 'foreign' also threatening her with violence. Luckily, the horrible pig was pulled off, but not before a delay which inconvenienced everyone. I started out watching an online stream but then had to switch to radio after I kept losing signal. I got back to Amersham at 6, getting home 15 minutes later, just in time for the second half.  Typically, after an exciting first half where England were 2-0 up, the second half was a damp squib. Still a reasonable performance and result against a team that is probably our equal in Nigeria. I was pleased to have a nice dinner and also receive the Cascadia shirt that I won in a competition on Twitter. Later on in the evening, I listened to the phone in on TalkSPORT while I typed my blog, going to bed around 10.


The WAR MEMORIAL SPORTS GROUND is one of the more traditional venues in non-league. There is cover on all 4 sides with one end and a side completely covered. At the other end is a small area of covered standing with the rest open. Completing the ground is a seated stand holding around 400. I'd imagine this would be enough for Conference South standard, sadly the club looked to be exiting the Ryman Premier in the opposite direction on my first visit.

There is a tea bar that does a good range of food, up there with the better ones. The club shop has a decent range of stuff, but sadly no programme shop as was the case a few years back. The clubhouse is of a decent size and shows live sports on big screens. There is plenty to do nearby, a brilliant pub called The Hope and a good cafe nearby which are better than what is on offer inside the ground. This makes for a good day out, and it's just a short walk from the train station too, as well as plenty of free parking in the ground.


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