Monday, 30 January 2012

Windsor FC - Stag Meadow

Windsor FC
Stag Meadow
St Leonards Road

Ground Number: 74
Saturday 7th December 2002
Windsor & Eton 0-0 Lewes
Ryman League Divison 1 South


The original WINDSOR & ETON FC were formed in 1892 after a merger of WINDSOR ST ALBANS and WINDSOR PHOENIX. They played in various leagues for the early parts of their history including the Corinthian, Athenian and Metropolitan and District. The early 80's saw them join the Isthmian League and they were a great success here, earning two quick promotions to reach the Premier Division. 1984/85 was their best season, finishing 5th in what was then the second tier of non-league. The 1991/92 season saw them celebrate their centenary, but the early 90's were not a good time for the club, with three successive relegations seeing them start 1995/96 in Isthmian Division 3. They'd go on to bounce back up to Division 2 that season before promotion back to Division 1 was earned in 2001. The new millennium saw them spend a couple of seasons in the Isthmian Premier, before relegation and geographical changes saw them placed in Southern D1 South & West for the 2006/07 season. Their last full season of 2009/10 saw them crowned champions and earn promotion to the Southern Premier, but financial issues meant that they would not complete the following season, being wound up in the high court in February 2011.

A new club was formed, WINDSOR FC and they were accepted into the Combined Counties Premier for the following season. They managed to get 96 points and score 124 goals in their inaugural season, but that was not enough as champions Guildford City earned a point more and took the promotion spot. That remains the new club's best finish so far with them having more moderate, but still top half finishes in the season since after the removal of their budget. The Berks & Bucks Senior Trophy has been lifted twice, while their best FA Cup run came in 2012/13 as they reached the 1st Qualifying Round before losing to Didcot Town. The FA Vase 2nd Round was reached in 2015/16 before a defeat to Hartley Wintney.

The former club had some good cup runs too and I was glad to see the culmination of their best ever FA Trophy run (see below). The FA Cup also provided many highlights too with Windsor & Eton taking AFC Bournemouth to a second round replay in 1983/84 before losing 2-0. Bournemouth went on to beat Manchester United by the same scoreline in the next round in a real fillip for their then manager Harry Redknapp. The FA Vase semi-final was reached in 1980/81 before a narrow defeat to Whickham. 


The vast majority of my visits to Stag Meadow came during the 2003/04 season when myself and fellow Wycombe Wanderers fans used to make regular trips down to Stag Meadow to see former Wycombe player Dennis Greene manage a whole host of former Wycombe players including Keith Scott, Jason Cousins, Dave Carroll and Chuck Martini. Despite being fully committed Wycombe fans at this point, we went to every single game, home and away and still managed to make 8 Windsor & Eton home games and a few away ones as they challenged for a place in the soon to be formed Conference South. They fell just short, losing out to eventual league champions Lewes, who ironically provided my first opponent at this ground for a dour 0-0 draw.

There was a good buzz around the club at the time, but it was a game the previous season that had me drawn in. I made my way on my own for my second visit, an FA Trophy 5th Round replay that drew a crowd of 577 and meant that I had to park down the road due to the number of people attending. This was the year of the underdog in the FA Trophy with Burscough eventually beating Aylesbury United in the semi-final before going on to beat Tamworth 3-1 in the final at Villa Park. The two sides had drawn 2-2 at Buckingham Road the previous Saturday and a sizeable contingent from Bucks made their way to the game, including, unknown to me at the time, my fellow hopping partner Anwar.

There weren't any ex-Wanderers in the Aylesbury side, though future Wycombe trialist Fiston Manuella did play in midfield for them. My side for the night, Windsor & Eton had a host of ex-Chairboys including Trevor Bunting, Ryan Parsons, Dave Carroll, Matt Brady and Dennis Greene. The first half was a pretty quiet affair, though the game did get better in the second. Both keepers made good saves before on 76 minutes Joe Baker's cool finish looked to have won it for the visitors. Aylesbury had Adam Campion sent off for a late challenge before Dave Carroll equalised with a brilliant goal right on full time. There were no goals in extra time, so it went to the drama of penalties. James Heeps was the hero for Aylesbury, saving penalties from Craig Connor and Leon Townley as his side triumphed 4-3 on a night of high drama.

My latter visits to Windsor mainly consisted of pre-season friendlies for Wycombe. In the 2010 clash, goals from Lee Angol, Olly Taylor and Jesse Kewley-Graham saw the Wanderers triumph 3-1. Trialists for Wycombe included Karlton Watson, who went on to sign for Leicester City and Boston United as well as midfielder Mahrez Bettache who went to Fulham, Corinthian Casuals and Hendon. A 4-0 victory in 2009 saw former Wimbledon & Wolves striker Carl Cort fail to impress before going to USA side Tampa Bay Rowdies. Defender Dwayne Campbell features, before making a short-term move to AFC Wimbledon. 


I'd been meaning to revisit Windsor for a while, and the discovery of the Allied Counties YouthLeague games made it possible. With the first team playing Saturdays and Tuesdays, I was busy elsewhere and so the opportunity never came up. Although I'd been to the ground several times before, it was before I became a 'proper' groundhopper. I had been considering visiting the week before, however, I had a lot on and missed out on a 9-2 win for the home side. With me all pretty much caught up this week, I pencilled in a visit, with it being close enough to home that I could leave with under an hour until kick-off.

On the day of the game I was at work until 11.45, although it was a pleasant day with the boss being off. I had a sleep when I got home in the afternoon and was glad when I woke up and saw confirmation that the game was on. I almost finished my Dudley Sports blog from the previous night before getting my things together and leaving at 6.45. The journey was kind to me and I was at the ground five minutes before the 7.30 kick off. I was annoyed that I'd forgotten my camera, although thankfully my phone did a good job in it's absence. I took my place on the halfway line for the game as it kicked off. I was glad to see Windsor's new kit in the flesh and it was as good as it looked online and has to be one of my favourite kits of the moment.

Windsor made all the early running and they took the lead after three minutes when Joe Zemantis low shot went in from 12 yards despite Knaphill keeper Adam Hobbs getting a hand to the shot. The visitors fought back well and both keepers made good saves to prevent any further goals.I was especially impressed with the Windsor right sided player Keaton August, who was the best player on the pitch by some distance. He got his name on the scoresheet on 19 minutes, and it was a real rocket into the top corner from outside of the area. Despite some good chances, it took until the hour mark for Windsor to wrap it up. It was the impressive August again, this time his neat touch and control allowed him to cut in from the right and finish tidily from 10 yards. The whole match was played in a tremendous spirit with not a booking all game in my memory and with the referee doing a great job to make sure the game was played in the right way. The majority of the 71 in attaendance would have been happy with the result on the night.

I was glad to obtain a teamsheet at halftime as it gave me a chance to put names to the players on the pitch. The whole atmosphere was nice and friendly and made for a good evening out. I left at 9.25 and the radio made interesting listening on the way home and it made interesting listening with Barcelona making an incredible comeback against Paris St Germain. 4-0 down from the first leg, they triumphed 6-1 on the night to complete an amazing turnaround. I got home at 9.55, going to bed around an hour later having really enjoyed my latest visit to Stag Meadow.


STAG MEADOW is a cracking non-league ground and a must visit for any self-respecting groundhopper. The main stand is of a fair size for the level, holding 450 fans under cover. Opposite this is a lengthy cover with capacity for another 1000 under cover. There is also plenty of covered terracing and this gives the ground an overall capacity of 4,500. There's also an excellent club shop with a wide range of old programmes for sale as well as well priced club merchandise.

The bar looks decent and shows BT Sport as well as serving real ale and Strongbow for cider drinkers. The tea bar was not open on my latest visit, but it looked to do the usual range of burgers, hot dogs and drinks. Near the ground is a pub, the Stag & Hounds, that also does food. There's also a local shop, called Premier, that does snacks and drinks. Overall, well worth the visit for a very friendly club. 

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