Wednesday 29 February 2012

Abingdon Town - Culham Road

Abingdon Town FC
Culham Road
OX14 3HP

01235 521684
Official Website

Ground Number: 191
Tuesday 28th February 2012
Abingdon Town 3-3 Windsor (Abingdon Town won 4-2 on penalties)
Berks & Bucks Senior Trophy - Semi-Final


The club was established in 1870 as Abingdon Football Club, changing their name to Abingdon Town in 1928.  They placed in local leagues in their early years such as the Oxford & District, Berks & Bucks, West Berks, Reading Temperance, North Berks and the Reading & District. 1953 they became founder members of the Hellenic League. They were champions three times in the late 1950s but would suffer relegation from the Premier Division in 1966, spending a season in Division 1 where they bounced back as league winners. Another Hellenic League title followed in 1987, then another title was lifted in 1989, this time in 1989 for their sole season in the Spartan League. This was a highly successful period for the club with them taking the step up to Isthmian Division 2, winning the title there in 1991 and winning promotion to Division 1. Abingdon Town would achieve their best-ever finishes in 1992 and 1993, finishing 6th in what was then a step 3 league.  They would suffer a decline in the late 1990s, being relegated two seasons in a row and finding themselves in Isthmian Division 3 by 1999. Restructuring of the Non-League pyramid saw the club placed in the Hellenic Premier where the team continued to struggle. A decision was made to drop down a couple of Divisions to the North Berks League in 2014 and the club spent the 2016-17 season inactive. They'd return to the Hellenic League in 2017, albeit in the step 7 Division 2. Despite only finishing 7th, they were elevated to Division 1 East for last season where they finished second-bottom. They've fared little better this season and currently sit bottom of the league.

Abingdon Town have reached the 4th Qualifying Round on three occasions, the last of which in 1992 saw them take the then Conference side Merthyr Tydfil to a replay before a narrow 2-1 defeat in Wales. The same season saw a run to the 1st Round of the FA Trophy where they lost 4-0 at Farnborough Town. They've also reached the FA Vase 5th Round on three occasions, lastly in 1990 where they lost out to Hythe Town after a replay. Local cup wins include the Berks & Bucks Senior Cup in 1959. Well known players to have played for the club include former Oxford United winger Joey Beauchamp and former Wycombe striker Jermaine McSporran. The town of Abingdon has a population of just over 33,000 and has another team, Abingdon United, who play in the same league. Famous people to come from Abingdon include TV's Kate Garraway and David Mitchell whilst the band Radiohead was formed by pupils attending Abingdon School.


I had previously been to Abingdon United's ground (a mile down the road) for a game v Chesham in 2005 and also visited this ground to take pictures. I didn't really have any intention of going back for a game, as it wasn't in a league I was looking to complete. That was until my mate Reece mentioned that he would come down and meet me if ever I saw a game at the ground, as he only lived close by. From then on, I kept half an eye on the fixtures, and after a while, this one came up.  It was also attractive to me due to the fact that it was Windsor who were the opponents. I used to watch the old club, Windsor and Eton a bit before they went bust in 2009, as there were several ex Wycombe players on the books at one point. The new club reformed the season after, and still had Wycombe stalwart Keith Scott in charge, as well as a few players who had played for the youth team. As it was, Reece couldn't make it on the night. But another couple of mates - Matty and another Reece could make it. I got on well with both over Facebook and so was still happy to travel the 40 odd miles over to Oxfordshire to see the game. I left about 6.20 and despite there being traffic, arrived little over an hour later. After paying a very reasonable £5 for a programme and entry, I waited around for the others to arrive. By then it was nearly kick off and all the programmes had sold out - I was lucky to get one of the last. That was not the only thing that sold out during the night. At half time I fancied a Bovril and a Mars Bar - both sold out, as had soup and burgers.

It was a really good game too. Windsor fielded former Wycombe Youth teamers Ryan Parsons and Leeyon Phelan, as well as a host of other players I recognised. And they shot into a 2 goal lead, first by Ryan Ashe on 3 minutes, then 10 minutes later Pheelan doubled the lead. Corey Forbes grabbed one back on 20 minutes before Michael Chennels restored Windsor's 2 goal advantage on the half hour. Abingdon got another back through Adam Lovegrove just before half time, to reduce the arrears to 3-2. At this point, despite it being a really open game with chances coming for both sides, it looked as if Windsor would add more in the second half. Windsor had looked solid at the back up until just before half time, but maybe it was the withdrawal of Windsor's experienced centre back, Dave Tilbury that made the difference. He was booked just before half time, perhaps that was the reason for manager Keith Scott taking him off Tilbury had played loads of games for the old Windsor club too, and the supporters had a unique chant for him, referring to his day job:

We've got Dave Tilbury
He'll paint your house for free
He paints and decorates
He quotes and estimates

The second half was a bit tighter than the free-flowing first. But Abingdon were the more positive side, and they got their rewards when they equalised on 72 minutes through Jamie Munday. I wasn't really looking forward to extra time, as I had to be up early the next morning, but no further goals were scored, meaning it would be a late night for me. Extra time bought no further goals, though Abingdon did have a perfectly good one chalked off right at the death after they scored directly from a corner. So after 120 minutes of good football, it was down to the lottery of a penalty shoot-out to decide who would go through to the final. After what seemed like ages, the teams finally got underway. Both sides converted their first 2 sets of penalties with ease - Warne and Munday for Abingdon as well as Fagan and Ashe for Windsor. Janes put Abingdon back in front before Gareth Walker saved Chandriham's penalty for Windsor. Harris gave Abingdon a 2 goal advantage again before Gareth Walker confirmed Abingdon's place in the final by saving Ryan Parsons' penalty. You can see most of the penalty shoot-out on Youtube here, sadly I missed the first goal, due to my phone being slow to start recording. 
By now it was 10.35, but it has been a great night with me meeting 2 smashing lads off of Facebook, having a good chat and seeing a good game too. I got back home after a hassle-free drive at around 11.20. After a drink and a bit of time on my laptop, I eventually got to bed just before midnight.


With me having had a busy week last week and an expensive Tuesday for Blackpool v Wycombe next week, I decided to stay local on this night. It would have to be a revisit and although I'd already done a decent-ish blog on the ground, my photos were not great. I was pleased when fellow hopper Anwar said he would come with me, as it would help out with fuel costs. The day of the game came and I was enjoying my day off work, having enjoyed a few cans the previous night watching England hammer Bulgaria. Sadly the headlines were all about the despicable racist chanting by a section of the Bulgarian fans. I was glad when the game was confirmed on by both clubs twitter feeds as although the weather had been fine, the 180-mile round trip for a minor cup on a Tuesday night was not the easiest for the visitors to endure. After a nice dinner of pasta, I left at 6, picking Anwar up at 6 and Thomas five minutes later. It was a cross country journey on small unlit roads but we were at the ground by 7.20. Entry was a very reasonable £5, though there was no hot food as they were short-staffed. I got some pictures of the ground, a real cracker that I'd not appreciated last time. The attendance was very sparse, what with the other Abingdon team playing.

Looking at the form book, Abingdon Town were really struggling. They'd started the season well winning at Woodley United but had lost their other six league games including a 9-1 defeat to Milton United, an 8-1 loss to Chalvey Sports and a 5-0 hammering at Marlow United. They'd also gone out of the Bluefin Cup and Berks & Bucks Trophy at the first hurdle but had recorded a 3-2 win over Holmer Green in the Banbury Litho Cup to set up tonight's clash. Hereford Lads Club were sitting 4th in Hellenic D1 West. They'd enjoyed some big wins this season including a 10-0 win at Tytherington Rocks and a 7-1 victory at Bourton Rovers. They'd got to this round of the cup thanks to a 4-1 win at Newent Town. I was predicting a 4-0 win for Hereford Lads Club, Thomas going for 2-1 away win and Anwar going for a 2-1 home win. Last time I'd seen the hosts, they'd crashed 17-0 at their local rivals Abingdon United's Reserve team. It was a similar tale of woe tonight as they lost 15-1 to a rampant Hereford Lads Club. James Fennessy got four goals, Adam Hockey notched a hat trick, Brad Williams and Ashley Lear got two each whilst there were also goals for Alex Lancett, Kiea Cowley-Hair, Jamie Cuthbertson and an own goal. Ironically the goal of the game came from the hosts, a brilliant 30-yard lob over goalkeeper Steven Bell but they were already 14-1 down at this point with a few minutes to go. We stood with some Hereford Lads Club fans including Adam Hockey's dad. It wasn't much fun to watch with the visiting side having 80% possession but at least no Abingdon players walked off this time, although they did go at least a player short due to injuries and having no replacements. We left at 9.40 and made good time on the way back. After dropping off the guys, I was home at 10:50, staying up an hour before going to sleep.


CULHAM ROAD is an excellent ground for Hellenic League Level. With cover along 3 sides and seating for around 250, it would be good enough for several levels higher. 2 sides are completely covered - the main stand has covered terracing either side of it which extends right along behind one goal. There is a small area of cover on the tea bar side which also houses the dressing rooms and a decent club bar. The town centre is nearby and offers more choice if you fancy a bite to eat and a pint. There is also no sign of a club shop at the ground, which is a shame, but it's well worth a visit if you've not been.


Sunday 26 February 2012

Stoke City - The Britannia Stadium

Stoke City FC
The Britannia Stadium
Stanley Matthews Way
Stoke On Trent

0871 6632008
Official Website

Ground Number: 190
Sunday 26th February 2012
Stoke City 2-0 Swansea City
Premier League


Stoke had been on my to do list for quite a while, as it was one of the ones I needed to complete the 92. I had previously been there in around 1998ish just to take photos. It had also been the last game that I missed before I went 7 years without missing a Wycombe game home or away, in fact, it was the last time that Wycombe played at Stoke - ending in a 5-1 victory for the home side. So I was delighted when the opportunity arose to visit - mainly due to me using the "floating day" that I got from work for working over the Christmas period - normally I would be working every Sunday. I ordered my ticket back in January - even then they had sold quite a few already - surprising for what was one of the more low key fixtures in the Premier League Season. On the day, I left about 9.40, so as allow myself to pop into ASDA to get the Non-League Paper and some food and drink for the day. I left Wycombe at 10.10 and after a trouble-free journey got to Stoke about 2 hours later. Before I went to the ground, I stopped off at an Oatcake shop to have one of my favourite foods that is native to the Stoke on Trent area and that I had discovered on a previous trip to Port Vale. I left there at 12.30 and then it was only a short drive to the ground.

I parked up in the local Harvester, paying £5 for the privilege. I was surprised to find that they didn't have Sky, which was a bit annoying as I wanted to watch the first half of the North London Derby between Spurs and Arsenal. Luckily there was a local sports centre called Power League that was showing it. It might not have been the greatest of pubs/bars but it was showing the game and £2.70 was pretty reasonable for a pint of Gaymers. I watched pretty much all the first half, in which Spurs took and threw away a 2 goal lead to make it all square at half time. After that, I made my way to the ground after taking some pictures and going back to my car. I got in with 30 minutes to go before kick-off. The game was, to be honest, pretty boring. Stoke played their usual agricultural style and despite Swansea having the better of the early exchanges, took the lead through Matty Upson on 24 minutes. From then on, they took control of the game and grabbed a deserved second through Peter Crouch on 39 minutes. After that, the game fizzled out and it looked like both teams were going through the motions. A bit like the fans really. Despite Stoke having the prior reputation of turning their ground into an intimidating bear pit, they didn't really sing much apart from short bursts, which was sad as I was looking forward to a few renditions of "Delilah". As the game wasn't up to much, I left with just over 5 minutes to go, so as not to get caught in too much traffic. It turned out to be a decent decision, I was back home by 7 after another hassle-free journey, most unusual for me. Overall the day was pretty average, but it was nice to tick off the Britannia.


THE BRITANNIA STADIUM, like quite a lot of other new grounds, is pretty bland but functional. The Stoke fans are well known for getting a great atmosphere going inside the ground, but I didn't see it on my visit. With a capacity of just over 28,000, it is of average capacity for a Premier League stadium. There are 3 separate stands - one stretches along one side and joins in the corner and runs along behind one goal, while there are separate stands for the 2 other sides. Away fans are given part of the Marstons Pedigree Stand, behind one goal. There is very little in the way of pubs around the ground, but the Power League one was OK for watching the Sky game, and despite reports to the contrary, away fans were made welcome and there was no animosity from the Stoke fans, which is the way it should be.

Thursday 2 February 2012

Beaconsfield SYCOB - Holloways Park

Beaconsfield SYCOB FC
Holloways Park
Windsor Road

Ground Number: 88
Friday 9th July 2004
Beaconsfield SYCOB 2-1 Wycombe Wanderers


BEACONSFIELD SYCOB were established in 1994 as a result of 2 local clubs - Beaconsfield United and Slough Youth Club Old Boys merging. They took Beaconsfield United's place in the Spartan League and although results were mixed at first, they soon found their feet. The league soon merged with the South Midlands League in 1997 which saw an upturn in results. They were Champions in 2001 and 2004, the second of these occasions saw them promoted to the Southern League's second tier. After 2 mid-table finishes, they had a season to forget in 2006/07, finishing rock bottom and returning to the SSML. A third league title saw them bounce back straight away and in their first season back in 2008/09 they achieved their best finish to date, finishing 4th in the Southern League Division 1 South & West. They reached the end of season playoffs, losing out to AFC Totton in the semi-final. Since 2008/09 they have been in Division 1 Central, having 2 further unsuccessful playoff ventures in 2012 and 2013.

In the FA Cup, their best progress has been the 2nd Qualifying Round which they have reached on 7 occasions. The last time being 2014 when they lost 3-1 at home to Greenwich Borough. The FA Trophy has not been a happy hunting ground, with just one win in 11 seasons, this came in 2009 as they beat Aylesbury United 2-1. The FA Vase was a similar story, with a 2nd Round replay defeat to St Neots Town in 2003 being their best progress as they went out 6-5 on penalties. Local cup wins include the  SSML Challenge Trophy in 2002, the SSML Premier Division Cup in 2008, the Berks & Bucks Senior Trophy on 2004 and 2008, and most recently the Berks & Bucks Senior Cup in 2013.



My first visit to Holloways Park was a Friday night friendly game when Wycombe were under the leadership of Tony Adams. It was a hugely experimental side that took the field for Wycombe, but nevertheless it was very disappointing to lose 2-1, thanks to an Adrian Sear brace. Wycombe replied through trialist Laurence Hall who had been released by Stoke City. He went on to have a career in non-league with Gresley, Matlock Town, Leek Town, Ilkeston and Belper Town. We signed up Clint Easton, who went on to have a good career with us. The other trialists were:

SHAUN BYRNE: Former West Ham midfielder who went on to play for Dundee United, Dublin City, Bristol Rovers and Swansea City before falling into non-league.

CRAIG DOBSON: After playing for Cheltenham, the winger came on trial with us and went on to have a journeyman career. The highlight of his career was 14 goals in 62 appearances for Stevenage Borough. He would return to Wycombe under Peter Taylor whilst on loan from Milton Keynes with the only time he was seen being a 2-0 FA Cup defeat at Eastwood Town where he was an unused substitute.

ALAN JULIAN: The former Brentford keeper went on to have a decent career with the highlights being 73 appearances for Gillingham. He currently plays for Bromley in the Conference.

JON FRENCH: Played for Bristol Rovers, Hull City and Barry Town before coming to us on trial. At the latter he played in their famous 3-1 win over Portuguese side FC Porto. After his failed trial with us, he dopped into non-league, playing for Weston-Super-Mare and Mangotsfield United


VISIT 4: SLOUGH 0-3 WYCOMBE (B&B CUP, 5/11/13)

My next 3 visits were for games where Slough Town, who were tenants at the ground acted as the home team. Two were Berks & Bucks Cup games where Wycombe put out a scratch side of reserves and youngsters, having not taken the competition seriously since the 1980's. On both occasions it was not the greatest of games on the field, but there was some good natured banter between the 2 sets of fans whose teams had been serious rivals back in the early 90's. The other visit was for a tenant v landlord playoff semi-final on a Thursday night. Landlord won, but they went on to lose 3-2 to Bedworth United in the final.


As regular readers of this blog will know,  I love the FA Cup. I am also revisiting some of the grounds I've not done for ages to update my blog. Therefore I was really pleased when the local derby between Beaconsfield SYCOB and Marlow was scheduled for the Sunday as it meant I could attend. It also meant that I could tick Wetherspoons in Beaconsfield Services before the game and enjoy a nice lunch into the bargain.

On the day of the game I was working and was happy when I was out by 11.30. I went home and had a bath before doing some research on Beaconsfield SYCOB for my blog. At 1.30 I left home,  due to delays due to roadworks at Hazlemere Crossroads I didn't get to the ground until 2. From there it was a surprisingly long 10 minute walk to the Hope and Champion Wetherspoons, which initially appeared to be across the road. Prices were a bit more than usual and they didn't do alcohol in the meal deals but even so I had a gourmet chicken burger and a pint of Thatchers Gold for just over £11. I left the pub just after 2.40 and walked back to the ground, getting back at 2.50.

After paying £8 to get in, I discovered the programme had sold out, though I wasn't bothered as I already had one from this venue. I stood along the side for the game. The game took a while to get going, but it was visitors Marlow who took the lead on 10 minutes through Chris Ovenden who netted from around 10 yards, following a decent ball across the box. Just before half time, the hosts equalised when Oliver McCoy headed in a hanging cross. Marlow had a chance to retake the lead on 56 minutes, following a foul in the box. However the penalty was blasted well over and the chance was wasted. They very nearly got their goal straight over as the Beaconsfield keeper allowed the ball to roll through his grasp, though luckily for him it drifted wide. All these missed chances looked to have cost Marlow when the hosts went ahead. Charlie Lossaso's 30-yard free kick took a nasty bounce in front of the keeper to give them the lead, and indeed the home side had a couple of chances to make it safe. They looked to have it won until the last minute. A long throw was put in, someone hit the bar and it bounced out right to the feet of Anaclet Odihambo who stabbed home from around 6 yards.

The result was a fair one, given the balance of play, though both sides will have regrets that they didn't take their chance to win. They will now replay at Marlow in the week for the right to travel to Wantage Town in the next round. The attendance of 204 was around 3 times the usual home attendance, with a sizeable following from Marlow so it looks like having the game on Sunday did the club good, with a few groundhoppers and other local fans in attendance. I drove home cross country to avoid the roadworks, getting back around 5.15. I had dinner and spent the evening completing my blogs and watching Only Fools & Horses.


HOLLOWAYS PARK is a fairly modern ground with them moving here in 1971 due to the government needing the land that there old ground stood on to build the M40. The entrance is from behind the goal, where the clubhouse is located, this is a fairly large bar which serves a decent range of drinks including Thatchers Gold and real ale from local brewer Rebellion. For food there is a burger van which serves standard looking fare. There is a motorway services across the road, it's a lot better than most with Mexican & Indian restaurants and even a Wetherspoons pubs. You will pay a premium though, as I imagine you would in the well-to-do town which is around 15-20 minutes walk away.

The football ground itself is not a classic, it is however well kept and functional. There is a smart terrace behind one goal with a capacity of around 300. Other cover is provided in the form of seats - along the side is a fair sized stand that holds 200. In addition, on my latest visit, a new metal stand had been placed behind the far goal, adding another 100 seats. There's plenty of uncovered standing too, including a couple of bits of stepped terracing, either side of the main stand.