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.


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