Ground Number: 787
Tuesday 7th August 2018
Arundel 0-0 Crawley Down Gatwick
Southern Combination Premier
ARUNDEL FC - A BRIEF HISTORY
The club was formed in 1889, becoming founder members of the West Sussex League in 1896. They stepped up to the Sussex League in 1949. Their best spell came during the late 1950's when they were twice champions of the top tier. For the vast majority of their time here, they've remained in Division 1, with four spells in Division 2. In all but one of these, they've bounced back within one season, the exception being the latter occasion at the end of the 1990's when they took two seasons to get back up. Continuous members of the top tier since 2000, the league rebranded as the Southern Combination in 2015, with Arundel playing in the Premier Division. Though Arundel were within two points of the title in 2009 (finishing behind Eastbourne United Association), lately finishes have tended to be more mid-table. Last season's 17th place was especially disappointing, just two points above the relegation zone. No doubt the club will be hoping for better this time around.
Arundel first entered the FA Cup in 1950 and have been ever-present since 1978. Their best progress has been the 2nd Qualifying Round, reached on six occasions. The last of these was as far back as 1987 when they lost 3-1 at home to Herne Bay. In the FA Vase, the club's best progress came in 2003 when they beat Hassocks, AFC Wallingford, Erith Town & Whitehawk before a 3-0 defeat at Bridlington Town in the 4th Round. Local cup wins include the Sussex Royal Ulster Rifles Cup on four occasions, the Sussex League Challenge Cup twice and the Sussex League Divison 2 Cup in 1977. The town of Arundel has a population of 3,475 and sits on the River Arun, hence the town's name. This river is known for its Mullets, which gives the club its nickname. The most famous landmark is Arundel Castle, built 1067 and a regular tourist attraction to this day.
I knew for some time that I'd be groundhopping on my own for this Tuesday. Usual hopping partner Anwar was away and another hopper that I know is rarely available on Tuesdays. So I set about looking for something in the south, as I rarely venture there. I wanted to make it as close as possible, but with the nearest in Lowood v Shoreham being nearly 60 miles away, I decided to put up a poll on Twitter and let the nation (or at least 55 of them) decide. The other options included a ground I've wanted to visit for a while in Arundel v Crawley Down Gatwick as well as options at Horndean v Hamble Club and Crowborough Athletic v Rusthall. Not surprisingly, Arundel was the runaway winner with 47% of the vote, which represented 26 people by my calculations. So on Monday afternoon, I did my research on the club and the town for my blog as well as trying to pencil in some future trips. I was hoping that the game would produce my first competitive goal - despite being by far the better side on Saturday, Wycombe had only managed a goalless draw at home to Blackpool.
The day of the game came and I got a reasonable night's sleep. As it was Tuesday, it was my usual day off, so I walked down town, which was a nice bit of exercise. After lunch, the early part of the afternoon was spent setting up my new phone - a Xiaomi A2 Lite. I was very impressed for the £180 I paid for it off eBay and hope that it will be as good as my now dated Moto G4. What I was less than impressed with, was my Renault Megane. In another of a long list of problems. the fuse for my cigarette lighter went, this was discovered when I checking the tyre pressures before my drive. Any other car I've had, this would be a simple fix, but not with greedy Renault who try and make it as difficult as possible so they can make money from you by getting a dealer to do it. For now, I'd have to sling my power bank in my bag and look at a YouTube video later to see if I could do it myself. In the long term, I hope to get an older Volkswagen Golf or Polo and sell my current car to pay for it. I left home at 4.15, hoping that the journey would not be too bad, with rush hour approaching. There turned out to be the usual delays on the M25, but nothing too serious and a couple of hours later I was parked up near the ground. I walked into the pleasant town and had a look around. All the places were pretty pricey, so I headed for the nearby Trawlers chippy where a healthy portion was had for £1.65. From there it was to the ground, a reasonable £6 to get in, but no programme. Of course, with me outside, it decided to rain for the first time all week, so I took shelter in the stand.
Both teams came into the game having drawn at the weekend. While Crawley Down Gatwick were sharing a goalless draw at home to Lingfield, the hosts were drawing 1-1 at Eastbourne United - a Ben Gray free-kick giving them a 67th-minute lead before they were pegged back 6 minutes from time. The match had a lively start, Crawley Down with the first chance, but the hosts generally dominated and forced a couple of good saves out of the keeper. Seventeen minutes in, the referee heard a clap of thunder and took the players in. After presumably, he’d been given a cuddle by his Mum, the players came out after another 10 minutes and resumed. There were a couple of strikes of lightning as the players returned, ironically after a quiet period while they were inside. The game continued in the same vein, with Ben Gray smashing the bar with a fierce shot for the hosts. Crawley Down Gatwick having a very optimistic claim for a free kick after the home keeper ‘brought down’ their striker. It had hosed it down first half, but it was goalless at the break. The second half bought intermittent showers and a more even game, but it seemed no one could find their finishing touch. It was the visitors who finished the strongest side, though both sides had several chances to break the duck. Particularly dangerous for Crawley Down was their pacy striker who caused problems all night, especially on the break.
So, my second 0-0 in a row, my 3rd in the last 4 games and still awaiting my first competitive goal of the season. It wasn't a bad game though and despite his earlier over-caution, the referee did a good job in letting the game flow and got most decisions right. I checked on my other options that I could have done tonight - Loxwood lost 4-2 at home to Shoreham, Crowborough lost 3-1 at home to Rusthall and Horndean defeated Hamble 4-1. Due to the delay, I didn't leave until 10. The first part of the journey was not the greatest, small, tight country roads and the windscreen kept huffing up and despite my best efforts, it was tricky to clear. Added to that, the radio was terrible, where there wasn't interference there was banal chat or awful music. As soon as I hit the A3, things got better. Decent music thanks to Radio Jackie and decent roads at last. Despite a few spots of roadworks on the M25, I was in by 11.35, though it took me a while to get to sleep, not great when I was up at 4 am the following morning. Next up for me is the FA Cup on Friday - Winslow United v Easington Sports and I was hoping that these two debutants would provide me with my first goal of the season proper.
MILL ROAD is in a very pleasant location, right near the town and in the shadow of Arundel Castle. Facilities at the ground are good and well kept, a couple of stands - one seated and one standing, both holding around 200 each. The rest of the ground is open, on my visit, there was no shop or programme.
Food and drink wise, you are pretty well catered for. The bar sells real ale from the local Arundel Brewery and cider from Thatchers Gold amongst its drinks. The tea bar is reasonably priced, this does burgers, hot dogs, bacon rolls and chips as well as drinks and snacks. Further afield, the town has a few takeaways, mainly Indian, Chinese and Fish and Chips. There are also a few pubs, but my research threw up nothing special.