Wednesday 8 June 2011

Farnborough - Cherrywood Road

Farnborough Town FC
Cherrywood Road
GU14 8UD

01252 541469
Official Site

Ground Number: 3
Farnborough Town 1-3 Wycombe Wanderers
Saturday 4th April 1992
GM Vauxhall Conference


The original club, FARNBOROUGH TOWN, were established in 1967. The club started out in the Athenian and Spartan leagues, prior to joining the Isthmian League in 1977. Starting in Division 2, a 3rd placed finish was a great start and they followed that up with the title the following season. They would remain in Division 1 until 1985, when another title earned them promotion once more. Again, a 3rd placed finish was a great start to their Isthmian Premier days and they would remain here until 1989 when a runners-up spot behind Leytonstone & Ilford was enough to earn them promotion to the Conference. Their fortunes here were mixed and they would suffer the lows of relegation back to the second tier on 3 occasions, and the highs of their best ever finish of 5th in 1991/92, thanks in no small part to the goalscoring effors of prolific marksman David Leworthy.

They'd spend all but four seasons here prior to their last relegation in 2005, when they went down to the Conference South. They've never had it so good since, with some tough financial times. The most notable of these occured in May 2007 when they were expelled from the Conference, but reformed as FARNBOROUGH FC for the following season. They had to drop a couple of levels, starting the following season in the Southern D1 South & West. Winning the title at the first attempt, they were promoted to the Southern Premier, then followed it up a couple of seasons later with promotion to the Conference South, after they had finished as runners-up and lost in the playoffs in the season in between. Season 2010/11 saw the new club have their best ever finish of 2nd in the Conference South, but they lost out to Ebbsfleet United in the playoff final to deny them promtion back to the Conference Premier. The next few seasons saw them suffer points penalties due to financial issues, and they suffered relegation to the Southern Premier for the 2015/16 season. Last season saw them finish in lower mid-table, but not in a relegation spot. Further financial issues meant that they started this season in the step 4 Southern D1 Central. The team are comfortbaly in the playoffs, but have very little chance of catching leaders Royston Town, who hold a 17 point lead at the top.

FARNBOROUGH TOWN first reached the FA Cup 3rd Round in 1992 under long-serving manager Ted Pearce. After beating then Football League side Torquay United,  they took top-flight side West Ham United to a replay, before losing narrowly 1-0 in the replay at Upton Park. In 2003 they went one better, reaching the 4th Round although this occasion would have bittersweet memories. They beat Darlington in the 3rd Round and were drawn at home to Arsenal. However, with the club opting to switch the tie to Highbury to make more money they lost 5-1. Manager Graham Westley left the club just three days after, taking 7 players with him to new club Stevenage Borough. Westley had been a controversial figure at the club, changing the clubs strip from the traditional yellow and blue to a red and white outfit. The stadium was renamed the AIMITA Stadium (Attitude is More Important Than Ability) after Westley's company. Thrown in the fact that there was an attempted merger with Kingstonian (a club located nearly 30 miles away) and question marks over where the £500,000 FA Cup windfall went, you can see why some fans were upset.

In other competitions Farnborough Town reached two FA Trophy Quarter Finals, losing out to Witton Albion in 1993 and Tamworth in 2003. They also reached two FA Vase Semi finals in 1976 and 1977, losing to Billericay Town on both occasions. Locally, the club have won the Hampshire Senior Cup on seven occasions.


My first visit to Cherrywood Road was in April 1992. It was the year that Wycombe lost out on the league title to bitter rivals Colchester United.Wycombe were top of the table at the time, but Farnborough were not far behind in 3rd place and had led the league for a while earlier in the season. After my previous away game where we lost 1-0 at Yeovil, I knew this was going to be no easy encounter.

The Wycombe players had obviously not read the script, and roared into a 2 goal lead within the first few minutes. Not that I saw any of the action – 2 roars of the crowd were heard while I was queuing up to get in! It was certainly a large crowd that day and the ground was far from the pretty picture they printed on the front of the matchday programme. For a start, Wycombe's manager Martin O'Neill had to ask the visiting fans to get out from under one of the covered areas as they thought it was going to fall down due to overcrowding. And the plush training pitch that was featured in the airbrushed photo? Not a chance! It was covered in rubble and other assorted rubbish. But at least it served one purpose – as a half-time urinal for the vast support!

My next visit was in 2002. Wycombe's season had finished the previous week and so I travelled to Farnborough to see their game against Leigh RMI. The home side won 3-0 and the game was notable for featuring 2 keepers that would have been well known to Wycombe fans. Former keeper Mark Westhead was in goal for the visitors, whilst his opposite number was Mark Osborn, the youngster on loan at Cherrywood Road. The then Wycombe manager Lawrie Sanchez was in attendance to keep tabs on Osborn, who eventually left the club and drifted into non-league football.

The next couple of visits were for pre-season friendlies involving Wycombe. The first in 2010 saw a crowd of 334 see Wycombe triumph 4-2 in our final game of pre-season. Goals from Kevin Betsy, Ben Strevens, Matt Phillips & Jon-Paul Pittman were enough to beat Farnborough whose goals came from Bradley Bubb & Anthony Thomas. We were the visitors again a couple of pre-seasons later in what appeared to becoming a regular fixture at the time. This time out, the soon to depart Stuart Beavon grabbed a couple of goals, with Phil Page replying for Farnborough in between the double.


I was on my week off from work and looking to see some games on this drizzly Monday. My week off had been much altered due to various factors, mainly the other commitments of my fellow hoppers who I was going to give a lift to, but also due to some games being moved. I was always going to be on my own for this afternoon's game, though, and with both Anwar & Chris pulling out of games at New College Swindon and Knyppersley Victoria respectively for evening clashes, I had free reign of where I could go. My initial choice was for QPR v Hull, a good chance to visit a ground that cost £37 for away fans to get in, even with the restricted views from the away end. However, my plans were messed up by the fact that the game was rearranged for Thursday when I'd be away up north.

I initially thought that I'd be without an afternoon game, and was questioning whether I'd even be going to footy at all, given that there was a decent night's TV on. But after walking from a decent sleep, I was looking around various social media platforms and noticed that Farnborough v Bashley in the National League U19 Academy League was a 2 PM kick off, and free entry. After thinking about it for 30 seconds, I decided that I fancied this and so a couple of hours before kick off, I'd found myself a game. I'd noticed on Instragram that Farnborough were always really good at publicising their youth teams games, a refreshing change to most clubs, whose updates are sporadic, if not non-existent. After a quick sandwich for lunch, I left at 12:40. The journey was generally good and I was at the ground an hour later. As promised, entry was free and I was given a friendly welcome and directed where to go, with the main stand open for supporters to watch the game from.

Hosts Farnborough were 6th in the National League U19 Alliance, whilst visitors Bashley were in second place, with the chance to go above leaders Eastleigh on goal difference. The points difference between the sides was only 5 points and so I expected it to be a close game. The game kicked off a few minutes late, but Bashley seized the initiative early on, heading in from a cross as Farnborough failed to clear their lines. The visitors were well on top and the Farnborough keeper had to be in smart form to tip a shot over the bar. The respite was only temporary, though, as the visitors made it 2-0 after around half an hour. A good through ball was played and a Bashley striker nipped in to finish past the onrushing home keeper. For the final third of the first half, Farnborough improved to have a good spell and on the brink of half-time they got a goal back when the slightest of touches carried the ball over the line from close range. With them forcing a couple of good saves from the Bashley keeper, I wondered if a second half comeback was on the cards. It turned out not to be the case, as Bashley regained control of the game. Though they were nearly caught out with an equaliser on the break, they added a couple more goals in the second half. The first was the goal of the afternoon with a rifled shot into the top corner from the edge of the area and the second when the visitors number 9 nodded in from a cross in which was almost a carbon copy of the first goal.

The game had seen all kinds of weather - drizzle, heavy rain, chilly wind and at one point baking sunshine and I was glad to have a seat under cover. Bashley had been good value for the win, and on this form, you wouldn't bet against them going on to be champions. I'd enjoyed my visit, however, and left at 3.50. The journey home went well, apart from the M25 being very slow for the entire time I was on it, and I knew that two hassle free journeys in one day were asking too much. I got in at 5.10, and decided to have a night in. To highlight my earlier point, neither CB Hounslow nor Oxford City were tweeting about their games tonight, and I found out from the FA Fulltime that the Oxford City game was off. presumably due to a waterlogged pitch. At least it would give me time to update this blog in time for my next game tomorrow evening, which is as yet, undecided.


CHERRYWOOD ROAD or THE RUSHMOOR COMMUNITY COMMUNITY STADIUM as it is currently known is much changed from my first visit. All 4 stands have been renovated or replaced. The ground is a bit in the middle of nowhere, with nothing that I recall being nearby. The food and drink options are standard football fare, with a smart bar that does real ale, as well as Thatchers Gold for cider drinkers. Food is priced in line with most stadiums, though I've noticed the club have been offering a free burger and chips with any drink purchase in some games recently, which is a great deal. Below are some pictures of the individual stands, showing pictures from around about my second visit in 2002, when the team had changed their strip to red and white, 2010 when the Prospect Road end was in the process of being revamped and my latest couple of visits. With a capacity of 7000, and over 2000 seats, the ground is ready for league football.





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