Ground Number: 91
Wednesday 4th August 2004
Berkhamsted Town 2-1 Wycombe Wanderers
Pre Season Friendly
BERKHAMSTED FC - A BRIEF HISTORY
The original club were formed in 1919 and were initially known as BERKHAMSTED COMRADES. They changed their name to BERKHAMSTED TOWN in 1922 and competed in various leagues such as the Spartan, Athenian and Delphenian during their early history. They joined the Isthmian League in 1983, initially in its third tier. They won promotion to Division 1 in 1991. Despite a few seasons back in Division 2 at the turn of the century, they stayed at this level, latterly in the Southern League until 2009. Their best finish came in 2003 when they came 7th in the Isthmian D1 North. Despite this, they struggled for the rest of their time at this level, especially once increased travelling costs from their transfer into the Southern League hindered the club financially. Following their relegation to the Spartan South Midlands League, they went bust in January 2009 as the debts became too much, resulting in their record being expunged.
The old club reached the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round on a number of occasions, the last time coming in 2001 as they lost 2-1 at Burton Albion. During their time in the FA Trophy, Berkhamsted Town managed to reach the 2nd Round in 1998, losing to Weston Super-Mare. In 2001 the club got all the way to the FA Vase Final and despite a notable 5-1 aggregate victory over Bedlington Terriers in the semi-final, they lost out 2-1 to Taunton Town in a game played at Villa Park. Local honours included listing the Herts Senior Cup in 1953 and 2003.
BERKHAMSTED FC were set up in advance of the 2009/10 season to take the place of their financially troubled predecessors, they changed from a black and white kit to a striking yellow and blue strip. The club's first couple of seasons were certainly bright, winning the Spartan South Midlands Division in 2010 and then Division 1 the following year to return to where the old club left off. They've enjoyed their best ever finish of 5th in the Premier Division twice since reforming with a small chance of bettering that this season if results go their way.
The club reached the FA Cup 2nd Round in 2012, losing to Met Police and the 5th Round of the FA Vase in 2016 where they lost to eventual winners Morpeth Town. Local honours include the SSML Premier Division Cup in 2015 and the St Mary's Cup in 2014. Their record win of 11-0 came in a SSML Premier game against Hatfield Town during the 2013/14 season whilst the record attendance of 327 came for the FA Vase game against Morpeth Town.
VISIT 1: BERKHAMSTED T 2-1 WYCOMBE W (PSF 4/8/04)
My first visit to Berkhamsted came in the pre-season of 2004 when Wycombe had a friendly away to the then Southern League side. It was arranged as part of the deal that had taken Charlie Mapes to the Chairboys the previous summer and was generally a youthful side that travelled for the game a few days ahead of the new season. We included a couple of trialists - former Real Sociedad striker Jean Ugarte was the one I was impressed with but we didn't take up the option to sign him and he went on to score 6 goals in 7 games for non-league Dorchester Town before signing for Wycombe's divisional rivals Wrexham where he scored 16 times in 30 appearances. Injuries later curtailed his career, who knows how different it could have been if we had taken the plunge.
The other trialist was former Arsenal striker Dean McDonald and he would go on to play for Ipswich Town, Gillingham and Hartlepool United before drifting into a career in non-league football. Despite a bright start where we took the lead through Ugarte, before the same player hit the post, a Scott Marshall error allowed Wes Lewis in to score. The second half was not as good and Ben Cowen grabbed a winner for Berko when his close range finish was put in at the far post. Funnily enough, the thing I remember about the game was trying Thatchers Gold for the first time. It tasted amazing at the time and was several years before it became widely available.
VISIT 2: BERKHAMSTED 2-0 SUN SPORTS (SSML 18/4/17)
I'd been wanting to revisit Berkhamsted Town for a while but without any second teams and the fact that they played mainly on Saturdays and Tuesdays where I was otherwise occupied, meant that opportunities were limited. I did spot that they were at home on the next couple of Tuesdays though when perusing the Football Traveller and had them in place should I be wanting a game on my own. It would be a revisit, but I've always found the standard in the Spartan South Midlands League to be very entertaining, plus I wanted to improve on my initial blog which was very basic.
The opportunity turned out to come on the first of the two Tuesdays and was only finalised the previous night whilst I was watching a game at Knypersley. I text fellow hopper Anwar and he said he was staying local. I was pretty pleased with this, as having done 600 miles and 10 games in little over 3 days I needed a rest and time to catch up before my return to work the following day. It was nice to be back in my own bed, and I got a good night's sleep, waking up around 9.30 on the day of the game. Rather than my usual walk down town which would have been useful given that I'd had an unhealthy weekend, I chose to stay in and update some of my blogs for my time away. I also had to go down town and get an estimate to repair some damage that a fox had done to my car last week and so I was pretty busy all day. I'd still not come anywhere near to catching up, but I was glad to have steak and chips for dinner. Though I like my steak rare, I actually mean the cooking style rather than the frequency that I have it and I think this is my first since last summer. With an estimated travel time of just over half an hour, I left it until 7 to leave. It was a simple journey across and I was parked up at the ground by 7.30, using an overflow car park as the main one was full. After getting some pictures of the outside and the bar, I went in the ground.
Entry was a very reasonable £6 and a decent programme was purchased for £1.50 which was nice as I didn't get one on my last visit, at least I couldn't find it when I searched this afternoon. I took my place on the far side, standing near the halfway line. As per usual for the SSML, the entertainment level was very good but it was scoreless at the break, with both sides having had good spells during the first half. The first incident of note in the second period came five minutes into the second half when Berkhamsted's Jack Stevens was sent off for a second bookable offence. It was a surprise as it wasn't an especially dirty game, though both teams did give the referee plenty of stick though he generally got things right, though Berko's Ashley Campbell was unlucky to be booked. The ten men had the better chances and they took the lead on 77 minutes through Matt Bateman's lobbed shot. They sealed the game a couple of minutes from time when there was a foul in the area and Dan Jones stepped up to convert the spot kick. It had been another entertaining game in the Spartan South Midlands League which never disappoints. It was also an easy journey home with me back at 10.10 and in bed by 11 - a good thing with me up at 4 for work.
The BROADWATER STADIUM is set in a nice park like area by a local river. Despite its rural location, the town is nearby and this includes a train station and several outlets including a Wetherspoons, though I've not yet been to the latter. There is a reasonable amount of parking at the ground thanks to an overflow car park as well as a smart bar with a reasonable range of drinks.
Well-priced merchandise is available at the turnstile including badges for £3 and hats and scarves for £6. There's also a tea bar at the ground, although I didn't use it on my latest visit. The ground itself is very good, with covered seating for 200 and covered standing behind both goals. It's certainly a nice place to watch football with you being able to watch trains go by during the game. The one remaining side is probably the best place to watch the game from, with clear views, although it is quite narrow compared to other grounds I've been to.