Sunday, 27 July 2014

Amersham Town - Spratleys Meadow

Amersham Town FC
Spratleys Meadow
School Lane

Ground Number: 388
Sunday 27th July 2014
Amersham Town Veterans 0-3 Watford Legends
Dave Bewley Memorial Cup

Amersham Town were one of the more local teams that I had not seen a game at. I had been to the ground to take pictures though, when I was in the area and on the way to meet Anwar for another game at Nuneaton v Luton in March last year. Anyway, when I rocked up at the ground to take some pictures, I was met by a really grumpy bloke who asked what I was doing. Eventually he gave in and let me take pictures, but it meant I was in no rush to return for a game, especially when Anwar told of a similar experience when he went. I had already attempted the ground a couple of time previously for a game, but was thwarted by the wet weather. But then I saw on Twitter that they had a game on a Sunday against Watford Legends, so with games scarce on that day, I decided to go for it.

Out of the Amersham Town line up, the only person I recognised was Roni Joe. I remembered him playing for Thame United and he in fact scored the only goal of the game on my only visit to their old Windmill Road ground. The club themselves played in local leagues until 1953 when they were founder members of the Hellenic League. In 1964 they won the Hellenic Premier, straight after promotion from the Division 1 the previous season. They transferred to the Spartan League in 1972, and had a torrid first 3 seasons, only winning twice in that trio of awful seasons. In fact in the 1974-75 season they lost all 30 games in the league. They have struggled in recent times too, and last season's 16th place was an improvement on previous seasons. They haven't played in the FA Cup since 1970 - in their first game they lost 13-0 to Wycombe in 1950. FA Vase wise, they had a decent run to the second round - beating Henley, Carterton and Flackwell. Then they came up against Rye United, winning 1-0 but being banned from the competition for fielding ineligible players under assumed names, something which also cost them 7 points in the league.

Watford were a lot more familiar name wise. Most recognised to me was Tommy Mooney. The talismanic striker joined Wycombe from Oxford in 2005 and went on to play 100 games, scoring 32 goals. He was a real fans favourite, but left for Walsall due to him believing that Wycombe had not strengthened their team enough to make a bid for promotion. Another well known name was Gary Phillips, the keeper who made his name at Barnet, and is well known for being on the own goals and gaffs videos for a mix up with a defender. I met him when doing work experience at Aylesbury United and he seemed a decent bloke, and in fact did a good job with the Ducks, getting them doing as well as they had done in a while. Other well known names included former Gillingham & Dover manager Andy Hessenthaler, former Carlisle player Rod Thomas who played against Wycombe in their first game in the football league. Last but not least, Northern Ireland international Gerry Armstrong who played in their heroic 1982 World Cup performance when they beat Spain on their own patch.

On the day I was working as our usual for a Sunday. Although I finished just before noon, I was still quite tired and so bought myself a 2 litre bottle of Diet Irn Bru to perk me up. I went home, and after having a bath and getting some lunch, I was ready to set off. I left around 2.15, arriving in a side street near Amersham's ground around 20 minutes later.

I was pleased to see that there were plenty of programmes left upon my arrival, and that they were included in the entry price of £5. After taking some pictures of inside the bar and a couple of other bits that I missed last time, I took a seat in the stand, read my programme and made a start on my blog. Soon enough though, kick off was upon us, and before kick off, they had a minutes silence for Dave Bewley, who also had the cup that they were playing for named in his honour.

The minutes silence was observed by most, apart from a couple of little kids who made noise. The game kicked off 15 minutes late in the end, due to the late arrival of some players. The early stages of the game saw Watford asking all the questions, but the Amersham defence was good and strong, even out muscling a tank like Tommy Mooney. Amersham did see a decent amount of the ball, but generally third forward players were unable to hold it up top and the ball went straight back down the other end. The weather had cooled off by now, and this was good for the fans, but also good for the players as it allowed the pace  of the game to be fairly reasonable. As a few of them looked the only sessions they did were at the pub as opposed to the gym, I wondered whether this would continue.  It was Amersham who had the first real chance on 32 minutes when they forced a smart save out of keeper Gary Phillips. A few minutes later however, Watford were in the lead, a defender deflecting Tommy Mooney's shot into his own net.

That was how it remained at the break and after a 10 minute half time break, it was Amersham who looked slightly stronger at the start of the second half. Despite this Watford extended their lead on 64 minutes with a well worked goal. There had been a lot of changes at half time, and this slowed the game down considerably and the game got quite dull. Even so Tommy Mooney got Watford's third with a decent strike from range. From then on, it was pretty much all Watford with Amersham having the occasional chance on the break. That was how it ended, and although the quality of the game had varied in patches, it was still well worth a fiver entry, and I had a good day.

SPRATLEYS MEADOW is a good ground for step 6, and would be fine for the next level up.  The only stand in the ground seats around 50, and probably twice that amount standing behind. View from this is very good, thanks to one side of the ground being on a bank. The rest of the ground is uncovered, but is in pleasant surroundings, and was nice to visit on a summers day.

The bar and tea bar did the usual range of drinks and food, all at reasonable prices. The programme was a bit of a generic cover design, and quite thin, but you can't complain for free, and the print quality and layout was good. Despite my initial experience, the club were really friendly on match day, and I'd say they were well worth a visit for a game.

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