Sunday, 13 July 2014

Kings Langley - Gaywood Park

Kings Langley FC
Gaywood Park
Hempstead Road
Kings Langley

Ground Number: 379
Saturday 12th July 2014
Kings Langley 2-5 Hemel Hempstead Town

Initially I wasn't planning on going to Cheshunt v Wycombe Wanderers in our pre season friendly. I had been there and wanted to do a groundhop instead. But then the game was put back to 1PM, due to the home side needed the clubhouse for a function in the evening. Anwar wanted to do Cheshunt as he had not been there before, and we could rush off and do another 3PM kick off that was close by. Of the 3 options on offer, Kings Langley v Hemel Hempstead Town looked the most attractive, and it would also give me the chance to tick another ground in the Spartan South Midlands League, which I was close to completing. It would also be nice to see the many new faces that we have signed in action for Wycombe.

Kings Langley were founded in 1886, making them one of the oldest clubs in the county of Hertfordshire. They played in local leagues till 2001, when they joined the Spartan South Midlands League. They were demoted a couple of season later due to ground grading issues, These were remedied a couple of seasons later and so they took their place back in Division 1. After a few near misses, they finally gained promotion at the end of last season, and will take their place in the Premier Division for 2014/15. In the FA Cup, they have got to the 1st qualifying round twice, most recently last season when they bowed out 6-1 to Wealdstone. They have lost every single FA Vase game they have played, and must be hoping that their promotion remedies that.

Hemel Hempstead Town were formed in 1899, and joined forces with Hemel Hempstead United in 1971, for a brief while becoming plain old Hemel Hempstead. They were in local leagues until 1977 when they joined the Isthmian League. After varying degrees of success, they switched to the Southern League in 2004, due to the geographical boundaries switching, with the introduction of the Conference North and South. They were put into the Southern Premier initially, relegated after one season, but gaining promotion back straight away.  After mixed fortunes in the following years, they gained promotion to the Conference South at the end of last season, gaining automatic promotion after a really good season. Last season also saw their best FA Cup run, getting to the 4th Qualifying Round and taking Conference South side Sutton United to a replay. The FA Vase 5th Round and FA Trophy 1st Round have been as good as it has got for them in the other silverware.

The last 2 days beforehand had seen me sample a fair few ciders, what with my West Country expedition on Thursday, and then the start of the Wetherspoons Cider Festival on the Friday night, which I walked to, a whole 9 mile round trip once I had got lost on the way back after following random footpaths. On the plus side I sampled 4 or 5 of the ciders, and had a decent night, even though I went out early and was back home just after 9. I didn't get much sleep though, and so wanted to leave it as late as possible before leaving. I left at 11, picking Anwar and his 2 kids up at 11.30. Though it was slow getting out of Aylesbury, we soon made swift progress along the A41 and M25 into Hertfordshire. I got chatting to all the usual faces, having a pint of Strongbow in Cheshunt's club house to help me relax for the game. I then realised that I only had a few quid left, and so a half time dash to the cashpoint, nearly a mile away, was needed, luckily I only missed a few minutes of the game after jogging there and back.

Anyway, the game was a mixed bag, with Wycombe controlling the first half, but fading badly in the second. In fact we surrendered our 2 goal lead and let them back in with a bad 5 minutes of defending. We won the game thanks to a late own goal. None of the new signings looked impressive, with Peter Murphy the pick of the bunch, looking solid like a defender should do. However I won't read much into this, as I was impressed with our signings on paper, and think they will come good. There were also a number of trialists - namely:

ARRON HOLLOWAY - A Welsh forward who was released by Newport County at the end of the season. He has also played for Bath City, Bristol City and the Wales U17/U19. With no goals in 18 games, his track record is hardly good, but he showed some nice play in patches and was one of the better players going forward.

JAMIE TANK - A former Walsall youth player, the defender moved to Wolves for a £20,000 fee, but failed to make an appearance with Wolves. Was partly at fault for the defensive mess in the 2 goals that we conceded.

ADAM NDITI - The Tanzanian full back/attacking midfielder looked the best of the trialists, having a fair bit of pace and coped well with what was thrown at him. Got forward on occasion too, and is worth another look. Has good pedigree after coming from Chelsea U21.

LEON MANNION - A striker of unknown origin, save for a video on Youtube, he looked anonymous and will probably not be asked back.

So with 2 of the trialists worth a second look, we shall wait and see how things develop. With that game completed, it was time to make our way to Kings Langley. With the Wycombe game finishing bang on time, and the Kings Langley game kicking off 4 minutes late, we arrived at 15:11, missing only 7 minutes of action, though in that time Hemel had taken the lead.

The visitors continued to be the better team, but it was Kings Langley who got the next goal. They was awarded a penalty for a foul in the area and it was duly despatched. Lewis Toomey's neat finish after a really decent through ball saw Hemel retake the lead, right on the halftime whistle. In the second half, it was much the same story. The lead was extended to 3-1 with a goal from Hemel's number 14 who looked a very useful player. The arrears were reduced with the best goal of the game, the Kings Langley player was almost at the halfway line when he scored, hitting the ball over the keeper's head. 2 further goals from Hemel, both decent strikes made the final score 5-2, which was probably a fair reflection of the play.

It had been a good day, with 2 decent games, even if the pace wasn't really there in the games. I dropped Anwar off, before stopping at a shop to get some ciders for the World Cup 3rd place playoff final. Holland won that 3-0, to make it a pretty dismal end to the World Cup for Brazil, after their 7-1 defeat to Germany on Tuesday. I went to bed around 11, happy in the knowledge that the following day would be my last day at work for a whole week, for the first time in 4 months.

GAYWOOD PARK is a pleasant enough venue for Spartan South Midlands League football. There is just the one stand though, holding around 150 seated supporters under cover. The rest is open. The tea bar was good when I went, offering a bacon cheeseburger for £2.50, which was nice enough. There is a clubhouse too, or if you fancy something more, pubs and food places are within walking distance.

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