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


1  The club was established in 1932 and was a result of the merger of two clubs - Tooting (founded 1887) and Mitcham Wanderers (founded 1912) 

2  After playing in the Athenian League from 1937 until 1956 (champions in 1955), they joined the Isthmian League and remain there to this day. They were Isthmian League Champions in 1960 whilst it was a single-tier league. Since the league expanded, their best finish has been 4th in the top tier in 1975, their worst 11th in the third tier (at the time step 4 of Non-League) in 1998.

3  My own team Wycombe Wanderers and Tooting were regular opponents back in the 1970s and 80's. The last competitive meeting was back in March 1987 where the two sides played out a drab 0-0 draw. The result was a good one for Tooting, who finished 19th against eventual champions Wycombe.

4  In the FA Cup, Tooting's best run came during the 1975/76 season. That year they beat St Albans City, Stevenage Athletic, Addlestone, Southall & Ealing Borough, Romford and Leatherhead to reach the 3rd Round. They then beat football league side Swindon Town 2-1 after a replay before going out 3-1 at Bradford City in the 4th Round. They last reached the 1st Round in 2009, losing 5-0 at Stockport County.

5  In other national cup competitions, Tooting & Mitcham United reached three FA Amateur Cup Finals, the FA Trophy Quarter-Final in 1976 (losing 1-0 at Scarborough) and the FA Vase Semi-Final in 2001 (losing 3-0 at Taunton Town)

6  Locally, the club has won the London Senior Cup on seven occasions, the latest win coming in 2016 with a 2-0 win over Hendon.

7  Tooting & Mitcham United played at Sandy Lane until 2002 when they moved to their current home at Imperial Fields.

8  Famous former players include Alex Stepney who went on to play as a goalkeeper for Manchester United after spending a couple of years at the club and making 35 appearances for the club.

9  Despite their name, the club is actually based in Morden which has a population of 48,233. A few minor celebrities come from the area, the clubs most well-known fans are Bog End Ant and Hackbridge Harry.

10  Tooting was made famous by the comedy show 'Citizen Smith', written by Only Fools and Horses creator John Sullivan. The main character was Wolfie, famous for his black and white scarf. However, he was not a fan of the Terrors, but Fulham, a fact that Mishi, a fan of their arch-rivals Dulwich Hamlet took great delight in pointing out in a letter to the Non-League Paper back in the day.


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.

VISIT 2: HANWELL TOWN (0-1 - 16/11/19)

With Wycombe having no game on this Saturday, due to being away at Tranmere on the Sunday, I knew that I'd have a Saturday free. Public transport would be my favoured method of travel and so it boiled down to a choice of two destinations - either Birmingham or London. With Peckham Town at home I opted for London, the long term forecast not looking too wet, although as it turned out, it was quite wet in the build up. Peckham's pitch was dodgy at the best of times, so I had a range of backups lined up. It was a venue that had frustrated me many times, firstly on 1st December 2018 when Peckham Town v Bexley was lost to a waterlogged pitch. Another attempt on the 9th February was also thwarted to a waterlogged pitch and so I planned in a visit on 25th May. But Chagos Islands v Cascadia was switched to Whyteleafe and with me at a beer festival that day, I missed out. Attempt number four came last month against AFC Croydon Athletic, but once again it was postponed due to the weather, the game eventually played last week at the third attempt. I revisited Raynes Park Vale on that occasion, but was keen to do a new ground. This time I planned in backups at Frenford Reserves and Rochester United, plus a number of other options.

I'd had a few drinks with the England game on Thursday night, so it was a sober Friday for me and an early night. I was in bed and asleep by 9, but that did have the knock-on effect of me waking up at my normal work time of 4 am. After lying in bed for a bit watching TV, I got up around 7 and started checking up on news of any pitch inspections or postponements. There was no news at such an early hour and so I left home at 9, picking up a few bits from Tesco en route to Amersham station. I caught the 9.36 train, making the usual journey to Borough Market and more specifically, the New Forest Cider stall. I was not the least bit surprised when Peckham Town announced that their game was off, what with the miserable weather we'd had all week. Coupled with a dreadful pitch, it was inevitable that this would be the case. I started looking at alternatives, tweeting Rochester United first of all, though it was frustrating to hit the underground when I needed the Internet most of all. When I got to Borough Market, there was still no news. Even worse, my intended stall was closed, in the process of moving to a new stall, something they neglected to mention on their website or social media. I made my way to The Harp in Covent Garden and it was brilliant as usual though I did see some more fixtures fall at Frenford and Stonewall. A couple of pints later, I went to Five Guys for a delicious but pricey lunch. With no confirmation from Rochester, I decided to head to a revisit at Tooting and Mitcham who were offering a fiver entry to season ticket holders of other clubs for their game against Hanwell. I finally had a response from Rochester at 1.25 whilst I was at Kennington station, but it was too late to change my destination. I got to Morden, using the toilet at KFC, then got a bus partway to the ground. I thought it was strange that it went a different way but the morons at Merton Council had completely blocked off the road and footpath. No one working of course and despite trying to get through a housing estate, it was impossible. I eventually got a lift around from some friendly fans. I got to the ground at 2.45, paying a fiver to get in. I also got a pen from the club shop, expensive at £2 but after cheap entry, I was happy to pay.


Hanwell had the better of the first half, taking a 4th-minute lead through a penalty. The visitors were well adept at closing the game out and they came closest to scoring the next goal, hitting the left-hand post with ten minutes to go. They hit a good free-kick over with a few minutes to go and to be honest, Tooting were largely disappointing, having a lot of the ball but not really testing the Hanwell keeper. It was then a three-mile walk to the Sultan pub in Wimbledon, across all sorts of terrain. A pint and a half of cider later and I had made peace with the Rochester United Twitter account and also caught up online. From there it was a train to King's Cross where I went for a nice pie at Piebury Corner and soaked up the gravy with some fries from McDonald's. I decided to skip Westminster and was hoping to get a train all the way back to Amersham. However, this was not possible due to engineering works, so after changes at Green Park and Finchley Road I had under ten minutes wait for a train to Amersham. That went OK and I was back at Amersham by 9.30. Twenty minutes later I was back home, having a couple of drinks before going to bed around midnight. It had been a great day and I'd enjoyed my revisit to a decent club, even if I was disappointed not to visit a new ground.


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 to 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 a 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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