Sunday, 6 November 2011

AFC Hayes - Farm Park

AFC Hayes
Farm Park
Kingshill Avenue

0208 845 0110
Official Website

Ground Number: 181
Saturday 5th November 2011
AFC Hayes 2-2 Burnham
Southern League - Division One Central


The club was formed in 1974, initially as Brook House, up until changing their name to AFC Hayes in 2007. They initially started out as a Sunday League team, playing in the Hayes Sunday League before switching to Saturday football in 1982. After spells in the South West Middlesex League and Middlesex County League, they joined the Spartan League in 1988. Despite only finishing 6th, they were promoted to the Premier Division in their first season. They stayed here for a while, during which time it was renamed the Spartan South Midlands League after a merger in 1997. They were champions of the Premier Division South in its only season and after a couple more runners-up spots, they joined the Isthmian League Division 2 in 2004. Two third-placed finishes saw them promoted to the Southern League D1 South & West in 2006. They remained at this level for nine seasons, making the sideways step to the Southern D1 Central around halfway their tenure. Their record finish in the current pyramid came in 2009 with a 9th placed finish, although those two third-placed finishes in Isthmian Division 2 remain the best overall. Since being relegated in 2015, they've played in the Combined Counties Premier Division. Since their return, it has not gone well, with 16th and 17th placed finishes so far. Its been even more of a disappointment this season, with them sitting in 20th prior to my latest visit.

In the FA Cup, the club's best ever run came in the 2005/06 season. They started out in the Extra Preliminary Round, defeating Leiston after a replay. Next up was a trip to North Greenford United in the Preliminary Round and in a local derby, AFC Hayes won convincingly 6-1. An even bigger victory followed in the 1st Qualifying Round, as they hosted Clacton and thumped them 9-1. This set up a tasty local derby against Hayes. Despite drawing 1-1 at Church Road, they lost the home replay 4-0. The season before had seen the club's record FA Vase run as they beat Haverhill Rovers, Sawbridgeworth Town, Long Melford and Pickering Town prior to a 3-0 defeat at Frome Town in the 5th Round. The FA Trophy had no such runs, with four 1st Qualifying Round appearances being their best efforts.

Locally, the club were winners of the Middlesex Senior Cup in 2009, three years after they won the last ever Isthmian League Associate Members Trophy. Famous former players include Neil Shipperley and current Portsmouth striker Nicke Kabamba. The town of Hayes has been home to big companies such as EMI, Heinz and Nestle. Famous people to be born or grow up in Hayes include footballers Glenn Hoddle and Ray Wilkins as well as actress Anne-Marie Duff.


I had visited Notts County several times before, and as I was unable to raise anywhere near a full car of passengers, I decided to go and see a local game instead. My mate Corey said he fancied going to AFC Hayes, so that was the one I went with. It was one of the ones that I had to tick off for a game in their league, which I am well over halfway towards completing.

I set off just before 2, and had a fairly easy journey, arriving at the ground around 2.35. I met up with Corey and we chatted about all manner of things before setting up my phone to give notifications of the games we wanted to know about... the Wycombe game (for me), the Hayes and Yeading game (for Corey), games on my bet and a few others that we had interest in. It was a very reasonable £8 to get in for me and a cheap £1 for the programme, though to be honest, that wasn't up to much, but it was only a pound after all.

AFC Hayes started 3 points from the top of the table in 6th place, while Burnham were 4th from bottom, just a point from being rock bottom. Both sides had former Wycombe youth players. Lewis Ochoa for the home side and Dave Reading for the visitors. Before the game had even kicked off, I had a notification to say that Wycombe were already 1-0 down up in Nottingham, ex Brentford and Blackpool striker Ben Burgess scoring. Burnham bossed the first half. A mistake from the AFC Hayes keeper Simon Grant allowed former Hayes and Yeading striker Kieron Knight to put the visitors in front after 10 minutes. And the same player doubled the lead after 25 minutes with a great volley. Burnham continued to dominate but had a set back when Ashley Smith (who also works at Wycombe's football in the community scheme) was sent off for a second bookable offence after 39 minutes. So a cracking first half. Whilst all this was happening, Hayes and Yeading had taken the lead up at Stockport, before falling to a 2-1 deficit at halftime, and Wycombe were still 1-0 down thanks to a goal that came after 49 seconds.

The second half was a different story though. The extra player advantage fired up AFC Hayes and they quickly started to dominate like their league position suggested. Matty Woods reduced the arrears with a goal after 52 minutes and it was all square on 77 minutes as Woods struck again. AFC Hayes continued to press and hit the woodwork twice in the closing stages. All in all, it had been an entertaining game, and a good chance to catch up and chat with a mate. And we both had last-gasp equalisers to celebrate.... Joel Grant made it 1-1 at Meadow Lane, whilst up at Stockport, Louis Soares stuck twice to make it a 3-3 draw with  Hayes and Yeading. Sadly another equaliser put pay to my bet, as Chesterfield chucked away a lead to draw 2-2 with Yeovil. Still, I went home happy, having had a good day, a pity there was only 62 people there to see it, as it deserved a bigger crowd. I was home within 30 minutes and after thinking I probably wouldn't bother with a pint, I ended up having a few whilst playing Football Manager.

VISIT 2: AFC HAYES 2-4 STAINES T (MSC R2, 7/11/17)

With the weather starting to turn for the winter, options were becoming fewer for midweek games. Both fellow hooper Anwar and I wanted to keep costs down if possible and so I selected the 4 nearest games that I could find - Desborough Town, Kirby Muxloe, St Andrews and Anstey Nomads. I texted Anwar the options on Sunday, as usual, he text back with his usual indecisive reply of 'OK, I'll let u no' With the weather looking pretty grim, I thought he was gonna give it a miss, but luckily he was still up for a game. We both agreed, that despite Desborough being the best option, the sensible thing to do would be to head to the Leicester area, where the latter three options were located, due to there being lots of rain. Kirby Muxloe was Anwar's preferred option, but with their reserves game falling victim to the weather, I decided against doing my usual thing of researching the club history before the game, as it would take a while.

That was the plan anyway, but when I woke on Tuesday morning, I found a text from Anwar pulling out due to him being ill. To be honest, with the weather being what it was, I wasn't too bothered. I decided to limit myself to grounds within 60 miles, as I didn't want to spend any more than around £15 in petrol. This threw up just two options in terms of new grounds - Broadbridge Heath v Eastbourne United and Alton v Bagshot. Despite the latter being a 'safe' option of a 3G pitch, neither game appealed to me, so I started to look at revisits. AFC Hayes v Staines Town looked a decent game and it was only 21 miles away. Though I'd done a reasonable blog at the time, I decided that the entry could do with a bit of a tidy up, so I decided to plump for it. Checking later, I found that entrance was only £6, another good reason for choosing the game. The reported absence of a programme was no issue, as I'd got one on my last visit. After getting dressed, I did the usual walk down town, as is standard on my day off. After buying a few things, I got a lift back with my Dad. After lunch, I spent the afternoon watching YouTube videos and starting some work on my blog, as well as keeping up to date online. I checked the weather forecast for the game, and although there was nothing that was likely to affect the game being on, I'd certainly need my wet weather gear. After having dinner, I left home around 6.45, which would hopefully allow enough time to compensate for it being the tail end of the rush hour.

My journey started well enough, even the usual slog to get out of Wycombe was virtually non-existent. It was all going well until a slowdown near the Swakeleys Roundabout. The delay wasn't too bad, the real delay waited until I got off the A40, with the last few miles taking around 25 minutes. I got to the ground just before 7.40 with the car park pretty busy. The teams were already coming out to a light drizzle as I went in, but despite this, the game started brightly with both sides having chances in the opening few minutes. Despite Staines edging the opening spell, it was the hosts who took the lead on 14 minutes when Marrad Jarraz got away from the defence before sidestepping the keeper and slotting into the empty net. A minute later, it was all square when a ball was put across the six-yard box and former Hayes & Yeading man Mo Bettamer poked home from close range. Staines had bought a healthy support with them, despite the poor weather forecast and they would have been pleased as their team continued to dominate, having a shot cleared off the line. The visitors took the lead ten minutes before the break when a curling cross from the right was headed in from 5 yards by Bettamer for his second goal. 

AFC Hayes were defending well though and they were just the one goal behind at the break. On 50 minutes, the visitors thought they had another, however, it was offside, with the whistle having gone before the ball went in the net.  The game began to lose its pace, the linesman joked that he wasn't being paid enough and that the showers in the referee's dressing room were crap! The hosts started to get back into it, and they had an equaliser on 67 minutes. A corner was put in from the left and only partially cleared. The follow-up cross came in and it was headed home by Dean McDonnell. AFC Hayes nearly took the lead shortly after with Staines keeper Liam Driscoll producing a great save to tip the ball over the bar, following a speculative shot from 20 yards. However, Staines saw their earlier dominance rewarded on 78 minutes and it was probably the best goal of the night with Dan Brown drilling home a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner from 15 yards. From then on, the result didn't really look in doubt with the visitors getting a late 4th when a header hit the bar and Jonathan Hippolyte followed up from close range with a shot on the turn. The game finished promptly, just after 9.30 and I drove straight home. I was in by 10.05, watching Dave Gorman's Modern Life is Goodish before going to sleep at 11. I didn't have the best nights sleep, very annoying with me having a 4 am start the next morning.


FARM PARK is a small, basic and compact ground, but is in quite a nice setting, surrounded by trees and fields. AFC Hayes used to be called Brook House, named after the local pub of the same name but changed their name in the late 2000's to give themselves wider appeal. There is a clubhouse at the ground, but sadly no club shop. As for the ground itself, the best part is a covered terrace that stretches the whole length of behind one end. There is seating for 100 and another small covered area of standing on the opposite side. The rest is just open flat standing. The tea bar is fairly good, selling a very welcome cup of Bovril on a cold day for just 80p. The Hot Chocolate comes highly recommended too, so I am told. And both at half the price of what I'd be paying at Wycombe.


1: Ground facilities & condition (for the level)
Bland, but plenty of cover for the wet weather and nice surroundings (6)

2: Area around the ground (parking, food/drink, public transport)
A bit out in the sticks, but enough parking (5)

3: Welcome / Club Friendliness
Decent welcome on both occasions (6)

4: Value for money (2017)
£6 was good value for a game of this magnitude (7)

5: Social Media & Website (2017)
Both updated regularly and had relevant info (7)

6: Programme (2011)
An attractive cover and a reasonable effort for £1 (7)

7: Game entertainment
Have seen two good games here (8)

8: Tea Bar
Don't recall food details, but drinks were good value (6)

9: Bar / Clubhouse
Only nipped in, but looks OK (6)

10: Club Shop
N/A (-)



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