Walton on Thames
Ground Number: 284
Saturday 27th July 2013
Walton Casuals 4-0 Woking XI
There was hardly any fixtures that took my fancy scheduled for today. I spent the whole week looking for inspiration, some ground near a town or a Wetherspoons so I could complete the cider festival that they were holding. It got to Saturday morning and I had to make a choice. In the end, I plumped for the shortest trip available out of the grounds I had still left to do at step 1-4 of non-league. The game was Walton Casuals v Woking. It would only be their reserves too, as the first team had a game at home to Woking, but a game is a game. During the previous week, I had been taking a break from groundhopping and watching Wycombe play instead Firstly a great 2-2 draw with Premiership side Aston Villa on Saturday, where we played really well and should have beaten them. Then on Wednesday, I set off for Burnham, expecting the game to go ahead. But it was called off about 5 minutes after I left home, not that I found out until I got there. It was due to the poor state of the pitch, totally understandable that it was called as there was a huge pothole on the pitch that could have caused a nasty injury. Finally, on Friday night I travelled to Oxford City for our final preseason game. We didn't play particularly well, and in the end, the 1-1 draw was a fair result.
On the day I had decided to set off early and go to Staines for a bit of shopping and to see if I could complete the cider festival at Wetherspoons (I had done 15/16 so far). I left just before 12 and it took me just under an hour to get there with traffic. First stop was the town's Wetherspoons but I had tried all of the ones that they had so I left it. I had a quick look around the shops, buying nothing apart from a duck spring roll and some chicken thighs for my lunch. After a 30 minute drive, I got to Walton Casuals at 2.10. I settled down in the bar and got myself a cold pint of Strongbow to cool me down while I sat in the bar and looked through Facebook and Twitter. A fiver to get in was not too bad, but I was disappointed that there were no teamsheets or programmes as is often the case with these small friendlies. The game was advertised on their website as a Woking XI, but when I got to the ground it said Kingston Academy. It amounted to pretty much the same thing anyway, basically a load of players trying out for Woking. In any case, I didn't have a clue who was playing for each team, as there were no announcements either.
Walton were easily the better side, with them being more experienced. But it took them until 17 minutes to score their first when big midfielder Scott Day headed in from a corner. And it was Day who set up the second on 38 minutes as his hard work set up Graeme Purdie for a simple finish. Woking started the second half a lot better and I was impressed by their blonde haired number 10 who worked hard all afternoon, showed some good skill and went closest to scoring for his side when his free-kick forced a good save out of the Walton keeper. But it was 3-0 14 minutes into the second half when David Francis scored from outside the area. The game died down a bit after that as both sides made mass changes. There was just time at the end for Scott Day to get his second, he was easily Walton's best player on the day. It took me around an hour to get home, apart from going near Walton town centre the traffic was fine and I got in just before 5.45, having had a good day.
WATERSIDE PARK is set amongst lovely green scenery, and as the name suggests, by a river. It certainly makes for a nice place to be on a warm summers day. The ground is fairly decent, as with many teams who have come up from step 5, they have had to upgrade their ground and have opted for metal stands to get as much value as possible. There is still a small area of the old cover right in front of you as you go through the turnstiles. Opposite that is the only seating accommodation in the ground, covered and holding around 200. Behind each goal, there are areas of cover, whilst the rest of the ground is open hard standing.
There was a club shop at the ground, which was closed when I went. This was a shame as it looked quite big and claimed to do old programmes too. The bar was nice and modern with plasma screens and Sky Sports. I didn't have anything from the tea bar, but it looked to have a good selection of stuff.