Sunday 21 August 2011

Wembley - Vale Farm

Wembley FC
Vale Farm
Watford Road

020 8904 8169
Official Website

Matchday Number: 164
Saturday 2nd July 2011
Wembley 3-2 Feltham
Pre Season Friendly


WEMBLEY FC were formed in 1946 by local people who thought that it was wrong that the area that was populated by the national stadium, did not have it's own football team.They spent their formative years in the now defunct Delphenian, Corinthian and Athenian leagues before joining the Isthmian League in 1975. Thery stayed in it's second tier for over 20 years with their best ever finishes being 2 3rd placed efforts in the early to mid 80's. These were indoubtably their best years league wise - at the time they were at level 3 of the non league pyramid. They spent the late 1990's flitting between the Isthmian's 2 lower tiers and following reorganistation with the establishment of the Conference South, joined the Combined Counties League in 2006. They finished 3rd in that first season, and reamianed there until 2014 when they switched to the Spartan South Midlands League. They will be hoping to progress in their 3rd season in the league, with 7th and 11th placed finishes so far.

Wembley are a team that many groundhoppers and FA Cup enthusiasts start their road to the final one, by virtue of the final being played a couple of miles down the road. There was even a sponsorship deal a few years back by drinks manufacturer Budweiser that saw the ground rebranded and some famous ex-pros play a few games for the club. They crashed out 5-0 to Uxbridge in a Preliminary Round replay. They've reached the 1st Round on one occasion, that being in 1980/81. After beating Leytonstone-Ilford, Letchworth Garden City, Chelmsford City, & Dover, they travelled to Enfield, then of the Conference, where they lost 3-0. In the other FA Competitions, the FA Trophy saw them reach the 2nd Round in 1995/96 where they lost to Northwich Victoria. The FA Vase 3rd Round has been reached twice.

Local cup honours include the Middlesex Senior Cup (twice), Middlesex Senior Charity Cup (on 7 occasions) and Combined Counties League Cup as well as many others. Their ground was used as a base for England's 1966 World Cup winning team, whilst famous players to play for the club include Martin Keown & Brian McBride. Terry Venables was also a technical advisor at the club for a time, whilst the record attendance came in 1952 when 2,624 attended the local derby against Wealdstone.



After the close season break (which for me turned out to be little over a month between my 2 games) I was desperate to get back into the groove and see any football match. Wembley v Feltham had been announced a few weeks earlier and so I decided to take the plunge and visit a ground I had only previously taken pictures at.

Wembley is well known for it's poor road system, getting out of the stadium after international matches and cup finals is a nightmare. Though you don't expect that on a normal Saturday afternoon. However, it seems to take ages to get to the ground once I had taken the turn off on the A40. The traffic was quite busy and with traffic lights impeding you every few yards as you slowly make your way through the Asian suburb of Alperton, it does not make for a pleasant journey.

The kick off was originally planned for 2PM according to the websites I looked at, though upon arriving at the ground I found out it was actually the more traditional time of 3PM. So after a quick drink in the club bar, I went for a walk to see if I could find anything for lunch. There was a chippy nearby that was advertising Lamb Burger and Chips for £1.99, good value and very nice it was too.

Arriving back at the ground at 2.40 I picked up a programme for 50p, a photocopied job with not much to read, but you can't complain at that price. Entry to the game was also free, making for a cheap day out. The game was actually played on the pitch out the back of the ground, rather than in the stadium itself. Sadly the game wasn't up to much, despite the misleading scoreline. The standard was poor and was summed up with a goal after just 17 seconds, the Feltham defence appearing to fall asleep, giving Wembley an easy chance to score. It was a typical pre-season friendly really, sloppy and neither side really getting out of first gear.


Lately, I'd been doing a fair few revisits where and when I felt my blog needed an update. This was the case for this one, as it was the first entry in my blog, with me catching up on the previous 163 grounds with short blogs over time. This would also represent a chance for me to see a game in the actual ground - my last visit had been an early and low-key pre-season friendly played on the pitch outside the ground.

On the day of the game, it was my day off work as usual and it was the normal process of a walk down town, followed by getting a lift back with my Dad. I caught up on my blog entries for my 2 games yesterday and the busy day was another reason why I was staying local. It would mean I'd be able to eat at home and save money - also avoiding the temptation of a pub dinner, which made sense after a fairly heavy bank holiday weekend.

The main talk on Twitter was about tonight's Checkatrade Trophy games, which is the new name for the Football League Trophy, which was a pretty pointless trophy even before the latest changes. The bone of contention with most supporters was the inclusion of selected Premiership & Championship academy sides, which was seen as back-door way to push through the full proposals which will see the extension of the football league to bring them into the lower 2 leagues. Happily, there were many boycotters who would not be attending any games, and that included me for the Northampton Town v Wycombe clash. I was hoping that as few fans would attend as possible, and whilst I would not criticise fans for going, I'd advise against it. It was a similar sort of situation when we first played Milton Keynes, with several urging a boycott. Sadly I went to a few of the games, something that I regret now, but I was in the midst of a 7-year run without missing a game home or away, so I totally understand why people would not want to 'break' their run.

I spent the last part of my afternoon starting my research about Wembley FC to add to this blog. After a decent dinner of chilli burgers I left around 6.10. Good time was made initially with me doing the first 23 miles in around 30 minutes, then taking another 30 to do the final 2 miles thanks to the sub-standard road system. Parking was a pain with barely any spaces so I ended up parking in the nearby leisure centre which was part of the same complex. When I did get in at 7.15 all the programmes had sold out. I lay the blame fairly and squarely at the feet of Brent Council whose facilities for drivers were not up to scratch. I wasn't too fussed as I had a copy from the last game I went to here, albeit one that didn't have very high production values in terms of print quality. It was produced by the Soccer Swap Shop club and did at least ensure that people got a bit of paper for their visit, which is something that hoppers like to have. It's still a shame that a friendly club missed out on a bit of extra revenue though, as there were plenty of people asking for one. I spent the last 20 minutes before kick off getting some pictures of the ground and catching up on line. For the first half I stood on the near side of the ground, near the halfway line.

The home side were ahead within 5 minutes of the game starting. A well-worked corner routine set up Yassine Femi-Gil who fired a shot into the bottom right-hand corner from just inside the area. Wembley continued to dominate, but Cockfosters were not without chances. Around the half hour they had their best effort of the game so far when they struck the bar from around 30 yards out. They had a very strong claim for a penalty a couple of minutes earlier when a Cockfosters player appeared to be tripped in the area. The referee initially didn't give it but after consultation with his linesman he changed his mind and Ioahms Varlouxakis made no mistake from the spot, hitting it low and hard to the keepers left. The hosts retook the lead around 5 minutes from the half-time interval when a square ball was fed across the area and a Wembley player chipped the keeper from close range. Not to be outdone, the visitors when on an attacking spell of their own and on the stroke of half-time Ioahms Varlouxakis equalised with a towering header from a great cross.

It had been a brilliant first half, something I was glad of after a hat trick of mediocrity in my last 3 games. It continued into the second half with Wembley taking the lead early on through another lobbed shot, though this would be the last time they would lead on the night. Cockfosters equalised for the third time through Jay Rolfe's header. Wembley seemed to have a real issue dealing with high balls, which eventually proved to be their undoing. The visitors went ahead with another header as John Cush headed home before Varlouxakis completed his hat trick, curling into the corner from a tight angle after some fancy footwork to make it 5-3. Wembley scrambled a late goal to set up a frantic final few minutes The visitors blotted their copybook with bookings for time-wasting and diving late on, something that I am well used to watching Wycombe and although the Wembley Twitter feed called it 'a controversial game; I felt the referee did a great job in letting it flow. Certainly, it was an enthralling match and the best I have seen for a long time. I've had to sit through a lot of dross to get to it, and after 3 mediocre games previously, it was nice when the always good to watch Spartan South Midlands league served me up another good game.

After the game, I left for home, leaving at 9.40. On the way home I tuned into BBC Three Counties to see how Wycombe had got on at Northampton.Happily and surprisingly, they had won 3-0 at Northampton, who had been unbeaten at home since January which will do wonders for team morale, having been on a bad run for a long while. In a competition that is supposed to be about young players, it was amusing to see that Wycombe's forward pairing was aged 79 with 43-year-old manager Gareth Ainsworth setting up 36-year-old Garry Thompson for our final goal, with the manager only playing due to a severe injury crisis. Attendances were also very encouraging, boycott wise with sub-500 attendances at Fleetwood and AFC Wimbledon, whilst the Milton Keynes manager being proud of their high attendance tells you all you need to know about the two clubs. I got home at 10.20, staying awake for a couple of hours watching TV, before going to sleep.


VALE FARM is one of the better grounds in the Combined Counties League and has plenty of nice touches. It's location in a built up area has its plusses and minuses - you won't go hungry, with a large range of takeaways and a few pubs too within walking distance. However, the roads around the ground cannot cope with the sheer volume of traffic, even outside of peak hours. Parking can be a pain too, so it might be worth looking on Google Street view to suss out street parking before you go. Facilities at the ground looked good, with a decent range at the tea bar with wallet-friendly prices and a swish sports bar which shows all the TV games. I only popped my head around the door, so can't comment on the drinks offering.

The ground has an overall capacity of 2,450, with around 300 seats. The bulk of these are in the newest looking stand which is on the far side of the ground. There are a few more areas of cover including an area in the corner of the ground, whilst there are also various steps of terracing around the ground.

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