Monday, 20 June 2011

Welling United - Park View Road

Welling United FC
Park View Road
DA16 1SY

020 8301 1196

Ground Number: 6
Welling United 2-2 Wycombe Wanderers
Saturday 2nd January 1993
GM Vauxhall Conference


The club was formed in 1963 and started out as a youth team, playing in the Eltham & District Sunday League. In 1977, they took up residence at Park View Road, the ground vacated by the defunct Bexley United and this allowed them to take the step up to senior football. Spells in the Spartan and Athenian leagues followed before they joined the Southern League in 1981. An 8th place finish in the Southern Division was good enough for them to be admitted into the Premier Division after the league was reorganised. They did very well at the new level, which at the time was a step 2 league. A 3rd place finish in 1983 was good, but in 1986 they won the title and promotion to the Conference. The first couple of seasons were tough, with a reprieve saving them in their debut season. Their best season came in 1989/90 when they finished 6th, thanks in no small part to the goalscoring exploits of Terry Robbins who was top goalscorer for five seasons in a row. They remained in the Conference until the turn of the millennium when they were relegated back to the Southern Premier, but only by a difference of three goals to Forest Green Rovers, who survived. They remained in the Southern Premier until 2004 when they were transferred to the newly-formed Conference South. Aside from a trio of seasons back in the Conference between 2013 and 2016, they've remained there since. Last season, they finished 3rd, losing out in the playoff semi-finals to Woking.

The club has enjoyed a number of FA Cup runs over the years, the best coming during the 1988/89 season. That year, they beat Hinckley Town, Bromsgrove Rovers and Bath City before bowing out to Blackburn Rovers, losing by just a single goal. The following season they beat football league side Gillingham and took Reading to 3 replays, prior to a narrow 2-1 defeat. In the FA Trophy, their best progress has been the Quarter Finals with them losing out to Macclesfield Town in 1989 and Grays Athletic in 2007. Local cup wins include the Kent Senior Cup (three times), the London Senior Cup (twice) and the London Challenge Cup in 1992. The district of Welling has a population of 41,000. Famous people to come from the town include singer Kate Bush and idiot Anjem Choudary.


My first visit to Park View Road was on the second day of 1993. Wycombe were flying at the time, top of the Conference and on their way to the Football League. A visit to Welling though, always provides a tough test and at the time they had a prolific strikeforce of Terry Robbins and Gary Abbott who were firing in the goals on a regular basis for a fair few seasons. I remember the day being really foggy and the match was in danger of being abandoned at one point. I also remember my brother feeling ill and when my Dad said we may have to leave early and me saying that we should wait till it's finished. The final score was 2-2 and I can't remember much apart from, what I did see of it, was a good game. My records tell me that Dave Carroll and Glynn Creaser scored in front of a crowd of over 2800, way above Welling's average. Looking back I think Wycombe must have taken around 2000 fans that day, we had a good following back in the day. Perhaps that would explain the painfully long tea bar queues, about 40 minutes I waited for a Bovril!. I found a picture of the game on Flickr, you can see the old covered terracing that has long since been replaced.

My second visit was on a Sunday in the 2006-07 season. It was an FA Trophy Quarter Final game against Grays Athletic and it kicked off at 1PM due to Welling's floodlights being damaged in a recent storm. It was mainly to see former Wycombe keeper Paul Hyde who was deputising for their normal custodian who was out with an injury. Welling also included future AFC Wimbledon hotshot Danny Kedwell in their line-up, while in the Grays side was soon to be Wycombe Wanderers player Gavin Grant. The visitors were a league above their hosts in the Conference Premier, while Welling were going well in the Conference South. Hopes of a giantkilling in Kent were high and it looked to be going that way when Chris Moore gave the Wings the lead after just 5 minutes. But it was not to be. The aforementioned Gavin Grant got the equaliser on 34 minutes. Although Welling could have regained the lead and actually did hold out until the final 20 minutes, three late goals from Grays sent them through 4-1 on the day. I made a third visit in 2015, meeting pals as Welling played Grimsby, but did not update my blog then for some reason.


A couple of months ago, it was announced that there would be three cider festivals in London on this day, with a choice of over 150 across the three events. This was a real bonus for me, with me having sampled around 1300 already, it was getting harder and harder to find ones that I’d not tried yet. I decided to go to 2 of them and go to a game in between. I’d really have liked to have gone to Peckham Town, but they were away. That was about the only ground I’d not been to in London, so a revisit it would have to be. I decided that one where I’d not done a proper blog at would be a good idea and with my Welling entry in need of an update, I decided to head there, subject to them not taking the mick with prices. The night before, I discovered they were asking £10, which was just about acceptable. I also went out for my birthday meal at a very nice pub and had a few to drink, getting a fairly early night. As ever, I woke at my normal work time, meaning I only got around 6 hours of sleep. I watched TV for a bit and as I was in no rush to go out, researched the club history for my blog. I’d probably have preferred to save my revisit for an Erith & Belvedere game so I could visit their club shop, which came recommended by Dulwich fan Mishi, but I remembered the Welling one being decent too.

I left home just after 9.30 and knowing there was a bus at 9.44, jogged to the bus stop. I was there with a couple of minutes to spare, paying £5 for a return to Amersham station. I stopped at a little Tesco for a drink and a paper and was glad of only a two-minute wait for the train. My journey was a well-rehearsed one, as I often go to London Bridge, but this time it took longer than usual, due to part of the Metropolitan Line being out of action. I was still at London Bridge by 11.15 though and with time to kill, had a look around the science museum. It wasn’t really my cup of tea, but it was visually impressive. I got to the Ciderdog Festival 20 minutes before opening, catching up online before it kicked off. There was drizzle in the air, but nothing too major. It was good to try four new ciders (in half-pint form) and meet up with some of the London Cider Drinkers group. It was a disparate group, all from different walks of life and with different cider tastes. I represented the dry cider, whilst the others went for something sweeter or even with different fruits. It meant that each of the 100 boxes got love. I stopped at 4 halves, as I was trying to be sensible. I just missed a train to Welling by a matter of seconds and so with time to spare, I went to Greggs for a BBQ Chicken and bacon baguette. This filled me up and so I caught the 13:21 train from platform 1. Getting to Welling at 13:45, I unexpectedly found a Wetherspoons on the way to the ground. The New Cross Turnpike was fairly average but was good for a pint of Old Rosie. I’d been listening to the commentary of Hayes & Yeading v Slough Town, very random, but then that’s what I like. I got near the ground about 30 minutes later, stopping at a local Cafe for black pudding and chips.

This filled me up and so I paid £10 to get in, Dover ahead on 3 minutes, thanks to a close-range finish by former Welling man Nassim L'Ghoul. The first half was dull nondescript fare and there was further disappointment in the club shop at half time. It had moved to a smaller premises, gone were the old programmes, but still there was a decent range of merchandise. Welling started the second half in much better fettle, forcing the Dover keeper into a smart save, but putting the rebound wide. They equalised through a penalty around the hour mark Dover got an 86th-minute winner, a well-taken goal from Oscar Gobern. A finish from the edge of the area into the bottom left-hand corner and it was well deserved on balance of play. The game was not the best and the attendance of 125 was all it deserved. So I made my way towards the station, stopping at Tesco for some Irn Bru and cakes. It was a fair trek across London, but I wasn’t going to change plans at this point. Changes at London Bridge and Tulse Hill saw me get to Streatham at 6.30 and a short walk to the pub. It was good to meet more fellow cider enthusiasts, including Cider Mike and people from DuckChicken, one of my favourite producers. A good time was had, with some new friends made and a few ciders sampled. I stayed later than intended, leaving just before 9. The journey across London took longer than expected and it wasn't until 11.30 that I got back to Amersham. Luckily, there was a bus at 11.38 and that saved me having to pay for a taxi. I was back home at 12.10, going straight to bed as I had to be up for work at 4 am the next day.


PARK VIEW ROAD is a fairly decent ground for the Conference South and wouldn't look out of place in the League above. Both ends are uncovered terraces while each side is covered seating plus more terracing. The original stand is just in front of you as you come in and is emblazoned in Welling colours. In the 2000s Erith and Belvedere moved in as permanent tenants and built their own stand. This structure is a lot more modern and due to it being slightly taller than the Welling one, offers a better view. This also contains the Erith and Belvedere offices and shop, as well as a bar.

There used to be a club shop with a decent selection of programmes just as you walked into the ground, though that is now restricted to souvenirs. For food, I recommend the excellent Cafe opposite the ground which has a wide selection and all reasonably priced too. It's in a very busy area, so there's plenty of choice food and drink wise. The Door Hinge is an excellent micropub if you like real ales and ciders. There's enough street parking to go around, while Welling train station is nearby.


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