Monday, 31 August 2015

Tower Hamlets - Mile End Stadium

 

Tower Hamlets FC
Mile End Stadium
Rhodeswell Road
Tower Hamlets
London
R14 7TW






Ground Number: 514
Monday 31st August 2015
Tower Hamlets 1-5 Cockfosters
FA Cup Preliminary Round Replay




Originally on this day I was planning a double with a Combined Counties League game at Farnham. It would depend on work though and although I finished in time to get there, albeit cutting it fine, I decided to initiate my backup plan. That had been formulated yesterday and involved the FA Cup replay between Tower Hamlets and Cockfosters who had played out an exciting 3-3 draw on Saturday. It would mean a game at an Athletics Stadium, but I was pleased to be able to go and see another FA Cup game, and this one with the potential of extra time and penalties too.

Tower Hamlets FC are a fairly new club, having been formed in 2000. Originally called Bethnal Green United, they changed their name in 2013 to represent their borough as a whole. They played in various local leagues for the first 9 years of their history, winning the Middlesex Counties League in 2009 and gaining Senior Status. For the 2009-10 season they joined the Essex Senior League and have been there ever since. The highest they have finished is 4th, which they did do in 2011 and 2013. A sharp decline in fortunes followed and they finished 17th last season. A similar pattern has followed this season with them winning one and losing two of their 3 league games so far.

In the FA Vase the club had a great run in the 2011-12 season, reaching the 5th Round. It all started with a game v Hoddesdon Town in the first round. A 3-1 home victory saw them progress to a tricky trip to Felixstowe & Walton United. Not that this fazed the players - they triumphed 7-0 in East Anglia to set up a home tie against Sporting Bengal United who they share the Mile End Stadium with. Another high scoring game - a 5-2 victory saw them safely through. A win in the 4th Round at Oxfordshire side Old Woodstock United set them up with a trip to Dunston UTS up in the North East. The tie proved too much for them, and they lost 3-0 to the side who would go on to win the trophy after beating West Auckland Town in the final.

FA Cup wise the 1st Qualifying Round was the best they had ever achieved and today would see them equal that record. That mini run came in the 2010-12 season. Basildon United and Kentish Town were beaten before they drew Ryman League side Harlow Town.  Despite drawing 1-1 on the higher placed teams ground they crashed 4-0 in the replay at home. Other cup successes include winning the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy when they beat Burnham Ramblers 4-1 in 2010, their first season at senior level.  

On the day of the game I was working. I was hoping for an easy day after getting lucky yesterday but it proved to be a pretty busy bank holiday. Even so, I was still out of work by 10, not even taking a break, safe in the knowledge that they would be paying me until 1PM, as per the terms of my contract. I decided pop into town on the way home to get some drinks for the game. I got back home just before 11, doing my research for todays game and keeping a beady eye on Twitter and the weather forecast. It had already proved a wise decision to skip the first game as it had fallen victim to a waterlogged pitch. I kept an eye on both clubs Twitter feeds but all appeared fine so I had lunch and left just before 1PM.

The journey down was a bit of a mixed bag. It started off well enough but then got really clogged up once I got on the A40. At least the slow traffic gave me the chance to read the tweet that the referee had confirmed the game as being on which I was very pleased about. While I was driving down I was keeping a mind on possibilities should my first choice game be postponed but in the end I didn't need to worry. The roads really clogged up around London and the last 10 or so miles took an hour with me getting to the ground at 2.30. I was dismayed to see that only pay and display car parking but at least it was only £2. I had to get change though and popped into the club to buy a programme. The friendly and helpful gateman sold me my programme and informed me that I could park for free in a nearby road. Any other match I could have, but with restrictions to residents only running from 9-5PM Monday to Friday I wasn't going to risk it, even if it was a bank holiday.


So I drove back to the pay and display. £1 would have taken me up to full time, but I decided to pay an extra pound in case it went to extra time or there was lots of injury time.  I paid my £6 at the gate which was very reasonable. After taking some pictures of the ground and catching up on Facebook I took a set in the stand for the game.


Cockfosters started on the front foot, and they were ahead within a couple of minutes of the game starting. Gary Simmonds fierce low shot giving them an early advantage. It was a good competitive game with end to end football. The hosts got their equaliser on 33 minutes when an excellent corner was put in, the keeper flapped at it and it was headed home. Cockfosters were edging it though and they retook the lead just before half time through Shane Reid.


At half time I went and got myself a snack pack of Oreos from the vending machine as I was getting peckish. The visitors started the second half as they had the first with Jacob Kalonda scoring in the opening couple of minutes. A low cross was put in from the right and he had the simple jon of poking it over the line. There were strong protests of offside from Tower Hamlets and the restart was delayed while there was handbags between the 2 sides. The Tower Hamlets number 6 was sent off and he had to be pulled away from the Cockfosters bench as he walked around the pitch.  A couple of other players were booked too and it was a good 5 minutes before the game restarted. On 78 minutes the visitors sealed the victory making it 4-1. Great work by the right back Bradley Stylianou saw him pull the ball back for Shane Reid to slot the ball home.  They added a 5th a couple of minutes from time as the tiring home side were caught out of position and Ben Andreos capitalised.


There was still time left for another Tower Hamlet's player to get his marching orders as their captain was sent off for a second bookable offence. Overall Cockfosters deserved the win, but the margin was harsh on the hosts who showed a lot of spirit. Sometimes too much as a fair few cards were handed out, but you couldn't fault the commitment. Cockfosters will now face Isthmian D1 North side Bury Town in the next round but will hope for a better result than the last time they reached the 1st Qualifying Round where they lost 8-0 to AFC Rushden & Diamonds.


The journey home was a lot better than the one there. Only minimal delay was encountered and I was back home by 6.15. I spent the evening chilling, safe in the knowledge that I had the following day off and yet another FA Cup game on the horizon as I'm off to Holwell Sports v Kirby Muxloe tomorrow night.




MILE END STADIUM is another athletics stadium, and unlike the one at Ilford yesterday, has a pretty wide track and other space separating you from the pitch. Luckily the elevated stand makes up for this and you get a reasonable view of the game. There's little else in way of accommodation with the rest of the ground being open flat standing. The tea bar was basic, with just a few vending machines and tea and coffee available.

There was no club shop or clubhouse that I could see, but there are a fair few shops and takeaways around the ground. It's still worth a visit though, with the club being nice and friendly and it being well located near Mile End train station. 



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