Sunday, 28 December 2014

Cove - Oak Farm

Cove FC
Oak Farm Stadium
Squirrel Lane
GU14 8PB

01252 543615

Ground Number: 448
Saturday 27th December 2014
Cove 2-6 Farnham Town
Combined Counties Premier Division

After discovering the Alresford Town v Winchester City game at midday on this day, I was looking for another game to go to at the more traditional kick off time of 3PM. There was nothing practical in the Isthmian Division 1 South that I could do, so I looked at the Combined Counties League. This was for 2 reasons - firstly I needed to get back to a family gathering as quickly as possible, and also the CCL is one that I am well over halfway to completing, in the case of it's Premier Division anyway. There was 2 options - a game at Knaphill, which was eventually called off, and my choice of game for the day - Cove v Farnham Town.

COVE at the start of the game were clear at the top of the league. 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 Counties 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 last 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 unlucky to lose to Tiverton Town by the score of 3-2.   

FARNHAM TOWN meanwhile were just below halfway in 13th place. They were founded in 1912 and have been in the Combined Counties League since 1980, that was apart from one potential season in the Isthmian Division 3 in the 92-93 season. However it was not to be, as the required ground improvements were not carried out, and they were left in limbo without a league to play in for that season. They had won the league in the previous 2 seasons, but when they returned they tended to struggle and as a result were relegated to the Combined Counties Division 1 in 2006. After a 5 season exile they returned to the Premier and have stayed there ever since.

Their best run in the FA Cup came in 1999 when they reached the 2nd Qualifying Round before losing in a second replay to Herne Bay. They've not had a huge amount of success recently in the FA Vase but in 1977 they reached the 4th Round before a heavy defeat to Farnborough. The last cup they lifted came in 1996 when they lifted the Combined Counties Challenge Cup.

After the game at Alresford, I was keen to get to Cove as quickly as possible, but was not helped by a member of the fairer sex taking around 3 minutes to reverse out of a parking space. Once on my way, I took a left out of the ground when I should have taken a right, but this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Fellow hoppers that followed the prescribed route got there 20 minutes after me, as the M3 was knackered due to roadworks. I got there at 2.30 and after paying £7 for entry and a programme I went in the bar as it was freezing. I had myself a pint of Strongbow for £3.20 and read the programme and checked my phone before going out at 2.55. I got myself some chips in the first half and a Bovril in the second to try and keep the cold out as well.

I'd not seen the league table or done my research before todays game, but I was surprised when I finally did look. Farnham dominated throughout and took the lead early on, which they held until half time. They had several other chances to extend their lead and it looked to have cost them as Cove scored 2 quick goals to take the lead shortly after ha;f time. Justice was done, at least in terms of the game when Farnham ran riot, eventually winning 6-2. The scoreline reflected the balance of play as leaders Cove looked like they really didn't want to be out there.

It was a shame for what seemed a nice club, but the team are at the top of the league for a reason, and will no doubt have better days than this. After the game I had a nice drive home, getting in just before 6. I had a few drinks, some nice food and time with the family, as well as hearing the amusing story of my Auntie's dog urinating down my brothers leg. I took it easy though, knowing that I had to be up at 4am the following morning for work.

OAK FARM is showing it's age, but is still a decent enough ground. All the covered accommodation is on one side, with seating for 100 and covered standing for around 300 fans The rest of the ground is open hard standing.

The tea bar is decent enough and the bar is warm and cosy with the usual range of drinks. They also sell scarves hats and badges in there too, and though it's not as modern as some clubhouses, the atmosphere is nice and friendly. Plus, any bar that shows 'Only Fools and Horses' and plays 'My Old Man's a Dustman' during the half time break is OK by me.


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