Sunday, 31 August 2014

Worthing - Woodside Road

Worthing FC
Woodside Road
West Sussex
BN14 7HQ

Ground Number: 404
Saturday 30th August 2014

Worthing 2-0 Guernsey
FA Cup Preliminary Round

Originally, I had been dead keen to go on a Friday night game. It was between Thetford v Norwich United and Mickleover Sports v Thurnby Nirvana. I was all set to do it, if only on my own, but then I totted up fuel costs and possible overnight stay if I decided to stay up. Seeing as neither game set the pulse racing, I decided against it, as I didn't want to go too mad, spending wise. I did consider the possibility of Staines Lammas v Barton Rovers as it looked a decent cup tie. It was only local too, I had yet to get a programme from a visit to Short Lane (they groundshare with Ashford Town in Middlesex) and it would give me a chance to get some better pictures of a ground I last visited 10 years ago for a game against AFC Wimbledon. It would all depend what time I finished dinner, and also on the traffic situation, as it will inevitably be a right pig on Friday evening.In the end I did go, and shock horror, the M25 was painless on a Friday night. I watched as Barton Rovers destroyed their opponents 8-1, though it could have been all so different had Lammas gone ahead after their equaliser (which was the goal of the night). The attempt forced a fine save from the Barton keeper but a couple of minutes later Barton broke, and a Lammas player made a crude 2 footed tackle and was rightly sent off. It was all over by half time, 5-1 to the visitors, including 3 goals in around 2 minutes just after the sending off.

As with the Friday night, my regular groundhopping pal Anwar would be unavailable due to him going to Derby. I therefore needed a game for myself. The Northamptonshire derby between Cogenhoe United and Kettering Town looked mouthwatering, but I decided to save it for when we could both visit, and instead head south to Worthing v Guernsey. This had the added benefit of being already ticked by Anwar, and on a personal note, it would be the ground right next to where I got my favourite dog, or to be more precise my family did. I was really too young to remember our first dog, Cass, an Irish setter. But we got Maisie, a Springer Spaniel, from a pet shop just up the road from the ground, going towards Lancing. She was a great family pet and we had her from 1993 to 2006. I remember the day we got her, and while the paperwork was being sorted, we went and had a look at Woodside Road where Worthing play. I don't remember much about the ground, but I do recall getting a really old Topical Times football annual from a nearby charity shop for 50p, funny how you remember random stuff, isn't it.

Worthing were formed in 1886. They spent their early years in the Sussex, Corinthian and Athenian leagues before joining the Isthmian League in 1977 and they have remained in and round it's divisions ever since. They won the 1st Division in 1983, then has 2 successive runners up spots in the Premier Division, narrowly missing out on promotion to the Conference. It must have been due to ground issues, or not wishing to take promotion as in the latter of those seasons, my team Wycombe went up, despite finishing in 3rd place behind the Rebels and champions Sutton United. That was under the management of Barry Lloyd, but he left to join Brighton, and the team slipped down to Division 2. Since then, they have worked their way back, reappearing in the Premier Division from 2004 -2007, but since their relegation they have been in Division 1 South, last season  finishing 15th

Their best year in the FA Cup came in 1982 when they got all the way to the 2nd Round, before losing to Oxford. They last reached the 'proper' stage of the FA Cup in 1999 when they lost to Rotherham. Last season was slightly less pleasing on their part, with them losing 5-1 to fellow league opponents Faversham Town. They had a good run in the FA Trophy in 2004, getting to the 4th Round and not too far from a Wembley appearance. The same could be said of the FA Vase in 1979, when they got to the 5th Round. Cup honours include the Sussex Charity Cup, winning it on 14 occasions, but not since the 1950's. The nickname of 'The Rebels' comes from when they resigned from the West Sussex League over a rule change in 1920, joining the Sussex League instead. Currently in charge is Adam Hinshelwood who was an absolutely brilliant defender for Wycombe, despite only playing 13 games, he is well regarded and could have gone on to be a great, had injury not ended his career. Prior to the game, they were 15th, exactly where they finished last season.

Guernsey are the first club from the island to have a club in the English Pyramid. They were founded as recently as 2011, winning the Combined Counties Division 1 at the first attempt. They repeated the trick, promotion wise anyway, for the Premier Division last season and now found themselves in the Ryman D1 South, purely as their base is considered as Gatwick Airport. They have all kinds of conditions attached to them including in this league - in the main paying for teams to visit them as it would break a lot of clubs at this level having to pay for all the air fares etc. They had similar conditions imposed for competing in the FA Cup and seemed to have a lot of money behind them, though a lot of that is financed through the excellent support. They have a number of notable players including former Oxford United keeper Chris Tardiff and Ryan Zico-Black who is a big name in non league football. They also had an amazing top scorer in Chris Allen, who to date has scored 165 goals in 127 starts for his side. 

In their debut season in the Ryman Division 1 South, they finished 4th, but lost out to Leatherhead in the playoff semis. Last season also saw their FA Cup debut - they beat Crawley Down Gatwick and Hastings United before losing to Dover Athletic, played at Lancing FC, just up the road from today's game. There was also the FA Trophy which ended with a 2-1 defat to Billericay in the First Qualifying Round. The season before that, they got all the way to the FA Vase Semi final before losing to eventual winners Spsnnymoor Town. This might have had something to do with an insane fixture backlog - near the end of the season, they were playing almost every day of the week. Before the game, they were in 13th place, which must have been a bit of a let down, and they must have been grateful for the distraction of the cup, even if it was against a fellow league team. 

On the day I woke up at around 8. I watched some of last nights TV, had a bath and transferred last nights photos onto my PC. Leaving just after 10, my sat nav informed me there would be a short delay on the M25. That turned into half an hour. I wanted to have a bit of time in town, so tried to get a shift on along the A23. Sadly there was a scamming pickpocket (AKA speed camera van) which may have caught me being a naughty, but perfectly safe, boy. Hopefully I slowed down in time though, There was a couple more delays in built up areas, but I got to Worthing FC at 12.30.


I walked into town to Anchored in Worthing, a very nice micro pub that my prior research had told me served 2 ciders that I had not sampled before. Before I did that though, I needed cash, but had to walk all the way up the other end of town before I found a cash machine. Back at Anchored, I had myself a pint of Black Pig Perry, and as the place was so small, sat on the table outside and watched the world go by. It was very pleasant on a warm afternoon, and was nice to chill with a couple of nice tipples. The helpful owner also allowed use of his free wifi, which helped as the mobile signal was very slow data wise. That meant I was able to watch the Burnley v Manchester United relegation clash on my iPad and it worked perfectly. The second pint was JB's Medium Cider, a lot dryer in contrast to the Perry. It was a dog friendly place too.


I walked back to the ground, stopping to get some chips. I was still hungry, so went to a shop, got myself a Samosa, a box of chocolate fingers and a bottle of Irn Bru. I then paid to get in, £8, plus £2 for a programme. I got some pictures and was STILL hungry, so I got a Sausage and Chips from the tea bar, before getting some pictures of the ground.


A pretty even contest, but overall Worthing merited their win, Guernsey will bemoan some of their finishing, but it was a Trevor McCreadie brace that saw the home side through. They now face a tricky trip to Isthmian Premier side Dulwich Hamlet in the 1st Qualifying Round.


Ground: 404 (30th of the season)
Game: 36th of the season (1505 of all time)
Goals: 146 & 147 of the season (just over 4 per game)
Costs: Ticket £8, Programme £2, Other costs minus my earnings: £8.60
Miles Driven: 162 (3398 for the season)


Wycombe gained an excellent point in a 0-0 draw up at York, though reports say it was a pretty dire contest. That matters nowt however and we have continued our good start to the season. My Barrow mates enjoyed an epic 4-3 win at Solihull Moors, a long trip for them.

In the FA Cup, my local side Holmer Green had an excellent draw at AFC Hayes and replay next Tuesday. Aylesbury FC beat Aylesbury United 3-2 in the battle of that town's 2 clubs. They will be rewarded with a home game against Kettering who won 4-1 at Cogenhoe in the Northants derby. Atherton Colleries gained a draw at Radcliffe Borough, a decent result considering they ply their trade 2 levels lower. Finally, Staveley Miners Welfare won 3-0 at Rainworth Miners Welfare, it couldn't happen to a nicer club and was another giantkilling of sorts.


I drove home, but not before stopping at the 2 Wycombe cinemas to do some audits on their adverts. It took me a couple of extra hours, but I used the money I earned towards the game, seen as I did it whilst on the football trip. I then went home, had a couple of pints and watched Match Of The Day before going to bed at half past midnight.


Missing Wycombe Wanderers v Coventry City in the Johnstones Paint Trophy to go and see my local side Holmer Green take on AFC Hayes in an FA Cup Preliminary Round replay. Groundhop wise, 405 should be at Welwyn Garden City v Saffron Walden Town in another FA Cup replay.

WOODSIDE ROAD is one of the better grounds in the Isthmian League. The main stand is huge and offers great views and looks like it seats more than the 500 capacity that the internet tells me. There is cover on all 4 sides, probably around 1000 of the 4000 capacity. The bar is nice and modern and has Thatchers Gold cider on tap. The tea bar is good too, although there was no club shop that I could see.

Overall, well worth a visit, although I'd have liked more time in town to get something better to eat, after going to the pub. Everyone was friendly and the prices seem standard for the Isthmian 1 South.

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