Ground Number: 796
Tuesday 31st July 2018
Harrow Borough 2-1- Egham Town
MIDDLESEX FA - A BRIEF HISTORY
The Middlesex FA was established in 1893. Over the years, they have grown and now have 12 affiliated leagues which encompasses over 2,000 clubs. Higher up the non-league pyramid, they have a number of clubs who have made a significant contribution to the history of football. Their highest ranked club, Brentford play in the Championship, the second tier of English football. Their biggest county cup, the Middlesex Senior Cup is currently in its 125th year, with current holders Hendon being the record winners with 15 titles. One of the biggest supporters of football in Middlesex is celebrity astrologer Russell Grant who mentioned his love for local football when he appeared on the BBC show 'Fantasy Football League' in the 1990's and is currently writing a book about the history of football in the county.
There was a real lack of options on this Tuesday, presumably with quite a lot of teams starting their season on Saturday, they were looking to rest up ahead of the big kick-off. There were only about two options for fellow groundhopper Anwar & I to do and neither of those was especially enticing. For some reason, the step 3 & 4 leagues had decided to kick off later, a strange decision considering they also pack up early and end up with some teams playing 3 or 4 games a week in some cases due to bad weather. Still, their decision at least led to me finding a game - a friendly between Harrow Borough & Egham Town was being played at the new Middlesex FA facility. It was thanks to fellow hopper Luke that I found this game, as I'd not have spotted it without him informing me. With it being only just over 20 miles from home and free entry, it would hopefully provide a reasonably priced night's entertainment. I was a bit concerned when another hopper, Andy informed me that some cars had been broken into there the other week, so I was going to be careful not to leave anything on display, having already had an expensive week, thanks mainly to paying over £400 for my car insurance renewal.
I had a reasonable, if not brilliant night's sleep the night before the game. Waking around 8, I had breakfast and did my usual Tuesday thing of walking down town. After picking up a few random things, I got a lift back with my Dad. I'd also had my new Windows tablet delivered, which was a bit of a mixed bag, with it randomly restarting for no reason at all. At least with it being from the Argos store on eBay, it could get sent back if needs be, but it was not what I wanted. After having dinner around 5.45, I had half an hour to play with, so I spent that double checking that everything was OK for tonight's game. I left just before 6.30, the journey there being OK for the most part. I got in the vicinity of the ground around 7.10, though Google Maps had me in slightly the wrong place. This corrected, I drove another mile, though in truth, the ground was a few hundred yards down a footpath. I was pleased to see fellow hoppers Laurence and Luke (who recommended me this game). I had a brief chat before going in. There were two games going on adjacent pitches, the majority opting for my choice as it had the stands. Some hoppers went for the other game though, which turned out to be Potters Bar v Heybridge Swifts. Their reasoning was that there’d been a match by Tony Incenzo organised on the main pitch and they were intending on doing that. For me though, I was counting the whole complex as one ground.
As with every pre-season game I've been to, team lineup information was very thin on the ground. With both teams having red as their usual home colours, both opted to use their change kits - Harrow Borough who had finished mid-table in the Isthmian Premier last season has been transferred to the Southern Premier South were donning an all blue strip whilst Egham Town, a step lower having finished 16th in the lower tier Southern League East were in a luminous green number. Harrow showed their higher status in the first half and took the lead after a couple of minutes. A corner was not cleared properly and the lucky recipient poked home from close range. The next two goals were very similar, firstly the Egham equaliser on 6 minutes and what turned out to be the Harrow winner on 10 minutes. Both came from decent through balls which found the goalscorer faced with a fairly easy chance with the goalkeeper out of his goal on both occasions. Harrow continued to dominate the first half, having a number of chances before the defences tightened up and restricted shots at goal. It was certainly a competitive game, with keen tackles flying in from both teams. The second half saw Egham improve greatly and they had a number of chances to equalise in the latter stages of the game, though Harrow had chances to add to their tally too.
The game had been a pretty decent contest, though it was a shame there were no further goals after a hectic opening. I spoke to Laurence on my way out, as he'd opted to watch the Potters Bar v Heybridge Swifts game. It was 2-2, with Heybridge Swifts scoring a winner a few minutes later. He'd been lucky (or wise) enough to see the three goals in my game before his one kicked off and then what seemed like another good contest from the brief glimpses I'd seen of it. I made my way home, having a good journey and getting in at 10. It had been a fairly cheap evening for me, costing just over a fiver in fuel. It was the end of pre-season for me and after 15 matches I was pretty happy with my spend of £220, which worked out at under £15 per game, including travel and extras. This included a night away, this contributed to my 1,879 miles driven (125 miles per game). I'm certainly hoping to trim this figure down by using public transport whenever possible. I took ages to get to sleep, not drifting off until 1, something that is common when I wake up later. A few glasses of Irn Bru saw me OK the next morning at 4 am. Next up for me, barring a highly unlikely visit to Hamble ASSC on Friday will be Wycombe's first league game against Blackpool the following afternoon.
RECTORY PARK is a newly built facility and is the new headquarters on the Middlesex FA. I'd very much a facility for players rather than spectators, though both of the two 3G pitches have plenty of accommodation for fans. It is restricted to one side of the pitch though, with the main pitch having a couple of the standard 'Arena' type stands, seating around 150. Probably 500 fans in total could watch from this side. It's very similar to the back pitch at Aylestone Park and also Haverhill Borough, reasonable enough, though not a venue you'd fancy visiting every week.
There is little in the way of food or drink that I saw at the venue, though there were a few shops in the vicinity, which was mainly a residential area. So, if you are after something substantial, you're better off eating en route. The car park is a bit restricted if both pitches are being used, but there is plenty of free street parking around. On public transport, Northolt tube station is within walking distance.