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


The club was established in 1890 at the Crown Hotel, the initial founder was E.B Cooper, headmaster of the local Dr Challoners School. They played in the Wycombe & District League initially, winning the title on three occasions. They then spent time in the Spartan and Great Western Leagues before becoming founder members of the Hellenic League in 1953. They finished bottom of the Premier Division in 1961 before decamping to the London League for a season. When they returned to the Hellenic League the following year, they were placed in Division 1. Amersham Town were a lot more successful this time, winning Division 1 in 1963 and the Premier Division the following year.  In 1971, the club had another bottom-place finish in the Hellenic League and departed for the Spartan League the following season. This was a wretched time for the club, in three seasons they won just two games including the 1974/75 season when they lost all 30 games. Success was hard to come by in various incarnations of the Spartan League, in the 1970s when it merged with the London-Metropolitan League and in 1997 when it merged with the South Midlands League. Highlights include a runners-up spot in the Premier Division in 1980. Various reorganisations saw Amersham Town switch divisions, but it wasn't until 2002 that they were officially relegated, dropping down to Division 2. Despite a second-bottom finish, the club returned to Division 1 in 2004, thanks to expansion in leagues above and them having good facilities. The struggle continued and in 2015, they were once more relegated to Division 2. A sixth-place finish in 2018 saw them promoted back up to Division 1, where they remain to this day.

The FA Cup was not a happy hunting ground for Amersham Town back in the day. They lost 13-0 to Wycombe Wanderers on their debut and have failed to progress in each of their five successive campaigns. A good run to the FA Vase 3rd Round was enjoyed in 1977/78 - Frimley Green, Wantage Town & Kidlington were beaten before they lost out to Buckingham Town. Local cup wins include the Hellenic League Cup in 1954, the Berks & Bucks Junior Cup in 1923, the Wycombe Challenge Cup in 1924 and the St Mary's Cup in 1991. The town of Amersham has a population of just over 14,000 and is known for being the last stop on the Metropolitan Line of the London Underground. Famous people from the town include footballer Simon Church, football manager Eddie Howe and writer Tim Rice.


Amersham Town was 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. Watford was 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 the game started, they had a minutes silence for Dave Bewley, who also had the cup that they were playing for named in his honour. The minute's 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 was really friendly on match day, and I'd say they were well worth a visit for a game.

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