Saturday, 3 August 2013

Tooting & Mitcham United - Imperial Fields

Tooting & Mitcham United FC
Imperial Fields
Bishopsford Road

020 86483238

Ground Number: 286
Friday 2nd August 2013
Tooting & Mitcham United 2-1 Crawley Town XI


Up until the day of this game, I was undecided if I was going to go or not. I had spent the few days before emailing and tweeting the club without reply and was ready to save my money, especially as I could get a couple of jobs out of the way on Friday night. But then I was flicking through the local CAMRA magazine and I saw that there was a beer festival in Windsor with a couple of ciders on that I had not tried. I saw that it was not too much of a detour on the way back from the game and that I could have a couple of halves and still be safe to drive home. So I stepped up my quest to find out how much it was to get in. If it was a tenner like the normal league games then it would be a definite NO, as those prices are too much for their step 4 league games, let alone a friendly against a Crawley Youth team. Eventually, I saw a supporters site (listed above) and emailed them. Within an hour they had got back to me promising to find out. And the next morning, they replied telling me that it was £5 Adults and £3 Concessions. Game On! I spent the day working until 12, did some shopping, getting some drinks and snacks for the nights game. I spent the afternoon watching England struggle to get the Aussies out in the 3rd test of the Ashes. I estimated just under 2 hours with traffic on a Friday night but left just after 5. I had a small job to do in Sainsbury's in Beaconsfield and would use the £7 earned to put towards petrol, especially as I was popping by Windsor after. Also, I had no one keeping me company and helping out with costs, so I was glad to do it. As the M25 was so congested, my Sat Nav ended up diverting me off and down the M4. I came off and went near Brentford's ground and through Chiswick for a long and frustrating tour of random parts of London. Eventually, I got to the ground, based in Morden, at around 7.25. I paid my money and went straight in, picking up a programme for 30p. It was only a single sheet of folded A4, but I was happy to pay that as I like to get a ticket or a programme from each ground that I visit. I only wish the other clubs that I had been to in pre-season had done it. It's a small earner for them too, and every penny counts at this level.

It wasn't the greatest of games, but Crawley put out a young side and it showed that experience is all important. The home side had much of the play, but nothing to show for their efforts at half time, with the game still goalless. Crawley took the lead just after the break when their number 9, Cecil Jey scored. This did galvanise them a bit and made them start to play better, but Tooting always had it within them to take control of the game. And that proved to be the case. Shortly after hitting the bar they got the equalising goal from Sol Pinnock, who finished tidily after being put in the clear. Just as it looked as time was running out, they got the winner. A great cross was put in, it found TJ Nkomo who sent the home fans into raptures as he put the ball into the net. It hadn't been the most entertaining of nights, but I was happy. It was another ground done, and a very nice one at that. The people had been friendly and there was a good club shop there, even if I didn't buy anything. It was a 35-minute drive to Windsor and a pub called the Fox and Castle. I had a couple of ciders from the Gwatkin Brewery called Game Cock and Silly Ewe. They were both OK, but a bit sweet for my liking, so I was glad to only have half of each. I was hankering after something dry and so after getting home, I cracked open one of my French ones that I had brought at Sainsbury's the previous week. For the first time in ages, I had a good nights sleep, getting in over 8 hours, before the start of the proper football season and a game against Morecambe.

So, that was the end of my friendlies for this season, and as I had said around a month ago, I wanted to try and spend less this season. I certainly managed that for the friendlies, for 13 games I spent £142, seeing 13 games and visiting 9 new grounds. Cheapest had been Penn & Tylers Green, a few miles from me and free entry. Most expensive was Havant and Waterlooville v Wycombe, where I was a passenger for once, and it ended costing me over £30. On reflection, I wish I'd not bothered, as I had been there before and it wasn't a great game. How do I work out those costs then? Well, first of all, is entry, self-explanatory, the price of the ticket to get into the game. Then travel. When driving, if it's just me and someone else, I will charge them 2/3 of the cost, bearing in mind that I have to fork out for all the expensive bits of car ownership. If it's more that one person, I will make the passengers pay the costs between them, well at least most of them anyway, putting in a small bit myself. Finally, the extras, the meals I have when out, and any drinks in pubs that are not 'new' ciders that I have not tried before. Finally, also the cost of a programme if I buy one, and anything spent in the tea bar on the day.


IMPERIAL FIELDS is a smart, modern non-league ground, built less than 10 years ago. There is a big seated stand from which you can get great views, especially from the back few rows. Opposite is flat standing. At either end, there are matching terraces. These are also pretty big, and are interesting in their design that they are not completely covered. Instead, an artistic looking roof covers just the middle part of the terrace. It certainly looks the part and would keep everyone dry in all but a big cup game. In fact I'd say the ground was not a million miles away from being as good as some in the football league.

There are 2 tea bars in the ground, the most interesting of which is a Carribean Food Shack which must be unique for a non-league ground. From what I can see, it's open during the week too, to cater for the sizeable local Carribean population in the local area. It was a shame I had dinner before I came, as there was quite a lot of nice stuff in there that bought back memories of my holiday to Jamaica. There was a bar that the ground, but I didn't go in as access was from outside only, and I got to the ground fairly near kick off. Finally, the club shop was great too, having a fair selection of league and non-league programmes, as well as huge selection of Tooting home and aways. There was also a good selection of football books, as well as the usual range of club merchandise.

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