Friday 20 January 2012

Harrow Borough - Earlsmead

Harrow Borough FC
Earlsmead Stadium
Carlyon Avenue
South Harrow

020 8422 5221
Official Website

Ground Number: 85
Tuesday 24th February 2005
Harrow Borough 1-1 Maidenhead United
Isthmian Premier


The club were founded in 1933 as ROXONIAN, changing to HARROW TOWN shortly after. They adopted their current name of HARROW BOROUGH in 1967. They played in the Spartan, Delphenian and Athenian Leagues prior to joining the Isthmian League in 1975. Starting in Division 2, which was subsequently renamed Divison 1, they gained promotion to the Premier Division in 1979 after finishing as runners-up to Harlow Town. They've remained in the Isthmian Premier ever since with varying levels of success. The high point came in 1984 when they won the league, turning down promotion to the Conference over fears of the financial costs of extra travelling. The late 80's saw a decline in fortunes, although 2001/02 saw their lowest league finish of 21st, but they escaped relegation. 2004 saw the club miss out on promotion to the Conference South after defeat to KIngstonian on penalties. Since then league success has been hard to come by, with a 5th placed finish in 2011 being their only top half finish since the turn of the century. Things didn't appear to be changing any time soon with Harrow 5 points adrift at the bottom of the league. They did have a substantial number ofgames in hand over most of their opponents though, so survival was a strong possibility.

In the FA Cup the best run came in 1983/84. After defeating Ware, Aylesbury United, Addlestone & Weybridge Town, Fisher Athletic and Yeovil Town, they faced then football league side Newport County in the Second Round. A narrow 3-1 defeat to the third tier side was a good showing by the soon to be crowned Isthmian League champions. The previous season had seen them reach the FA Trophy semi-final. Despite winning 2-0 up in the first leg in Shropshire, they lost the home leg 5-1 to the eventual winners. In local competitions, success has been seen with wins in the Middlesex Senior Cup, Middlesex Charity Cup, Harrow Senior Cup and George Ruffell Memorial Shield.

A large number of players have gone on to reach a higher level after playing for Harrow. These include current MIllwall keeper Jordan Archer, Middlesbrough forward Albert Adomah, strikers Steve Claridge and David Speedie as well as veteran manager Dave Bassett. There have also been a large number of celebrities born locally including Peter Andre, James Blunt, Todd Carty, Elton John, Billy Idol, Stuart Pearce, Simon Le Bon and Pam St Clement.


The first of my 2 visits to Earlsmead was a midweek game against Maidenhead United in the Isthmian Premier. I would go on to do 117 games that season, which although seeming a lot of games then, is nothing compared to what I do most seasons now I have started groundhopping> harrow Borough were on mixed form, having started 2004 unbeaten, but having only scored one goal in the previous 4 games. The visitors took the lead through an 11th minute Brendan Gallen penalty, awarded after Dean Marney tripped Joe Flack in the area. Harrow got their equaliser on 84 minutes when new signing Allan Crosby tapped home at the back post

On the second occasion it was an FA Cup game against Welling United which the away side won 1-0 in a dull encounter. This was a couple of seasons later and was part of trying to see a game in every round of the FA Cup, something that I managed up until the Quarter Final, after which ticket availability became a big issue.Fairly impressive when you consider that I was supporting Wycombe full time that season, seeing every game home and away which severely restricted when I could see other games. On this day Welling United grabbed a 1-0 win in a tight game with Matt Bodkin getting the goal. The game kicked off at 1PM due to the England v Austria game at 5.30. Nowadays I'd go and see another game at 3, but then I went straight home to see the England game, with the Three Lions winning 1-0 thanks to a Frank Lampard whilst David Beckham was sent off for a second yellow card.


Originally I'd been planning to go to Cinderford Town v Hitchin Town on this day. It had been a long term target, however, I'd always been thwarted by pitch issues. I'd been doing a lot of strange hours at work, and so had slept the previous afternoon and woken up feeling like dirt with a cold. Not that that was going to stop me getting my football fix though, and I was glad to get my usual day off on the Tuesday. However a spanner was thrown into the works the night before when fellow hopper Anwar was ill as well, and was making strong noises about crying off. A backup plan of a revisit to Harrow Borough v Tonbridge Angels was put in place, as all the grounds I had yet to visit were well out of the way. This turned out to be a decent move, as my fellow hopper was indeed unavailable. I'd not visited Earlsmead since 2005 and so this would represent a good opportunity to update my blog.

On the day of the game I woke at 9am, following a rare good nights sleep. I was still feeling a bit under the weather though, but after a bath, a lemsip and a walk down town, I felt a bit better. I spent the afternoon updating my blog whilst watching Auf Wiedersehen Pet from my DVD collection. After having a dinner of pork chops and another lempsip, I made up a flask and left at 6.30. It was a lot chillier than I'd expected when I left at 3 degrees, so I changed into footwear more appropriate for the conditions. The journey over there was decent, though the last couple of miles was a bit slow due to congested roads. I arrived at the ground at 7.15, and after taking some pictures outside paid £10 to get in, getting a free Santa hat at the turnstile. There were the standard Christmas tunes playing for this time of year and there was a nice feeling about the place. As with so many grounds that I'd revisited lately, the ground was a lot better than I remembered and so it was almost like a new ground it had been that long.

I got some chips during the first half, at £1.60 these were decent value and freshly cooked. Harrow started the half in complete control and although Tonbridge came back into it later on in the half, it was still scoreless at half time. The second half was fairly equal, with the winner for Harrow Borough coming on 70 minutes. Visiting keeper Seb Brown couldn't prevent David Taylor's low shot from just inside the area going in, though he did get a hand to it. Up the other end his side did have their chances, but didn't seriously threaten an equaliser. It had been a reasonable contest, if not a classic, and I'd enjoyed my night. I made my way home, getting in at 10.20. After catching up online and watching TV I went to sleep just before midnight.


EARLSMEAD is a classic non-league ground and more than good enough for the clubs needs at their current level. Both sides are pretty much covered with the far side comprising of a 350 seater stand. There are no supporting pillars in this, so views are good. This is flanked by a couple of smaller covered terraces. Opposite is a covered terrace which is larger and runs almost the entire length of the pitch. Total covered standing capacity given on Wikipedia is given as 1000, though it looks more than that. There are uncovered terraces at either end to give an overall capacity of 3000.

The ground is situated in a residential area, so there's not a huge amount around in terms of pubs or takeaways. There is plenty of street parking though, as well as a decent sized car park at the ground, with the option to pay out of your car window and park in the ground. The tea bar at the ground is decent, offering a range of burgers as well as chips and drinks at reasonable prices. The bar looked spacious when I popped in for a look, whilst the club shop was closed on my latest visit.


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