Chessington & Hook FC
Ground Number: 344
Friday 21st March 2014
Chessington & Hook United 0-1 Cove
Combined Counties League - Premier Division
I always live going to see Friday night football, is it's a lot better than staying in and having a few pints, or going out on the town. So I was really pleased when it was announced that there was a game on this Friday. I had seen lots of games in the Combined Counties League during AFC Wimbledon's 2 seasons there and had seen both of tonights teams in action during that time or since. I had seen Chessington & Hook walloped 6-0 and 7-0 by AFC Wimbledon in the 2003-04 season. Cove had fared even worse, getting smashed 8-0 which is still the biggest thrashing that I have seen handed out, and the most goals I have seen scored by one team in a game. I'd also seen them win 2-1 at Marlow United in the Bucks team's only season in the FA Cup. The game had been played at Flackwell Heath and was really good from what I remember.
Chessington & Hook were founded in 1921 and after various mergers and the like with regards to the junior teams, they joined the Combined Counties League in 1997. They achieved their best ever finish of 3rd in 2004/05. They have reached the first qualifying round of the FA Cup on 3 occasions, whilst in the FA Vase, they got all the way to the last 16 in 2004/05 before losing to now Evostik League side Cammell Laird. At the time of the game, they were in 21st place and in danger of relegation, though they did have a fair few games in hand.
Cove meanwhile were in 9th place and on a good run of results. They were founded in 1897 but it was not until the 1980-81 season that they joined the Combined Counties League. A 3rd place finish was enough to earn promotion to the Isthmian League during the 1989-90 season. Despite finishing 5th in Division 3 of the Isthmian League the 1992-93 season, the last 2 years in the league were a struggle on and off the field and they rejoined the Combined for the 1996-97 season. They were league and cup double winners in 2001 as they also beat Walton Casuals 2-1 in the final of the Premier Challenge Cup. They have reached the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Cup on several occasions, most recently this season where they lost to Hungerford Town 4-0. FA Vase wise, they reached the quarter finals in the double winning season of 2001/02 where they were unclucky to lose to Tiverton Town by the score of 3-2.
The day started off with a hugely busy day at work, probably one of the hardest of the year so far and that was really the last thing I wanted with only a few hours sleep. I finished at 2 and went home, having a bath and then updating my blog before having dinner and leaving just before 6. I'd have preferred more time to chill but with the roads inevitably proving to be difficult on a Friday night I maybe could have done with going even earlier.
And that was to prove to be the case. My sat nav ummed and arred before sending me through London as the M25 was knackered both ways. After avoiding traffic on 2 journeys so far last week, my luck was about to run out. I joined the south circular near Hanwell Town FC and for a few miles everything was going swimmingly. However as soon as I hit near Chiswick and Brentford the problems mounted up. The traffic was crawling if it was moving at all and it wasn't till the A3 that I got moving at any pace. Even then I had to watch myself as there were multiple speed cameras along that road. I eventually got to Chessington at 8.10, grabbed my bag out of my boot and rushed into the ground.
I was shocked to be charged £8 for entry and a single sheet of A4 for a programme, especially as I was 25 minutes late. I didn't say anything as I wouldn't want to offend someone who may be a volunteer working on the gate. But inside I was fuming, it later transpired that I had only been given the programme cover for full price - I later got given one for free by a fellow groundhopper and Leeds United fan which restored my faith in humanity. As it turned out, it was not a bad programme with everything you need to know and a bit of reading material too. He saw my Wycombe badge and said hello and gave me a couple of bits of interesting news. I found out that the club no longer use Paul Dennis, our club photographer for many years in a bid to cut costs. It's a shame as Paul is a really nice bloke and came on the train from Maidstone every week, so he was making a big effort. But the club have to think of any way they can to cut costs, and it was the right if a slightly disappointing decision.
As for the game, or what I saw of it, Cove pretty much bossed it. One interesting name in their lineup was Neville Roach, the former Reading striker. He was also a transfer target for Wycombe in the late 1990's but for whatever reason we didn't sign him. There were plenty of appeals for both sides and the linesman who was on the side that Cove were attacking seemed especially keen to raise his flag for offside at any given opportunity. The only goal of the game came from an uncommon situation. Chessington were penalised for a pass back to the keeper, which you don't see punished that often. The free kick was fired straight at the wall but from the resulting corner a Cove player headed in to give them the victory. They had a late chance to double their lead but the free kick was well saved by the Chessington keeper. It hadn't been the greatest of games but I was glad to see a goal in it.
The journey home wasn't much better. I was delayed 25 minutes on the M40 as they had closed all but 1 lanes to carry out a small section of roadworks. I was starving and wanted to get home as I certainly wasn't going to spend any more money at the football ground. If they had played fair, they'd probably have sold me a few quid worth of food, a pint, a bovril and maybe something else. But because they charged me £7, the highest I have paid at step 5, and because they ripped me off my charging me full price for the programme when they knew full well it was only the cover, there was no way I was going to put my hand in my pocket again. I eventually got in at 10.45 and after a couple of bottles of cider, some food and a browse on the internet I went to bed just before midnight.
CHALKY LANE is your usual step 5 type ground. There is the obligatory arena type stand, though it is bigger than most, holding 200 according to the programme. One interesting and nice part of the ground is a wooden bit of cover behind the goal. It's only flat standing but looks like it;s made of bamboo and is a nice looking and unique touch to the ground. The rest of the ground is open flat standing. Luckily I had been here before, so I got some better pictures in daylight.
The tea bar looked to have a decent selection of stuff looking at the sign, but the clubhouse looked pretty shabby and unloved. I'd not recommend visiting here after my experience, that is unless you go and see Epsom Athletic who groundshare there. The ground is near Chessington World of Adventures but I didn't see anything in the way of takeaways or pubs when I was driving. I really don't like giving a negative report on any groundhop, apart from Franchise FC, but feel I had to on this occasion.