Thursday, 2 February 2012

North Greenford United - Berkeley Fields

North Greenford United
Berkeley Fields
Berkeley Avenue

0208 4228923
Official Website

Ground Number: 87
Tuesday 27th April 2004
North Greenford United 1-2 AFC Wimbledon
Combined Counties League Premier Division


The club was originally formed as a youth club in 1944, progressing to adult football for the 1946/47 season. The vast majority of their history was spent in very local leagues, although they did have a spell in the Spartan League between 1984 and 1994. They have been semi-professional since 2002 when they joined the Combined Counties League. They were a great success here, finishing in the top half for the vast majority of seasons. Following a runners-up spot behind Bedfont Green, the season before, they went one better in 2009/10 when they were crowned Combined Counties League champions. This meant they could make the step up to the Southern League and were placed in Division 1 Central. Two 18th placed finishes in their first two seasons were as good as it got, and after years of struggle on the occasional reprieve, they were finally relegated at the end of last season after finishing bottom of the pile.  This season has seen them return to the Combined Counties League, and it has been a season of consolidation in mid-table.

North Greenford United have reached the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup on three occasions, the last of which was in 2013 where they put up a credible showing as they lost 2-1 at Canvey Island. Their best ever progress in the FA Trophy produced a day to forget - after reaching the 2nd Qualifying Round in 2013/14, they crashed 9-1 at Hemel Hempstead Town. The FA Vase has proved pretty barren too, with a 2nd Round defeat to Daventry Town in the 2009/10 season being their best showing so far. A plethora of local cups have been won, perhaps the most notable coming in 2010 when they defeated Enfield Town in the Middlesex Charity Cup final. Famous names to be associated with the club include former Crystal Palace striker Neil Shipperley, who had two seperate spells as mager and Dave Beasant who came out of retirement in 2013 at the ripe old age of 54, playing in the 2-0 defeat to Chalfont St Peter.


This was yet another AFC Wimbledon game I went to see that season, I must have done about 20 that year. On this occasion, it was North Greenford United. I was actually born in Greenford (or Perivale to be precise) and spent the first 6 years of my life there. Regular visits back there meant that I knew the area pretty well, but I had never been to or heard much about North Greenford United until AFC Wimbledon played them. This match was basically a warm up for the big game on the Friday of the same week - the 2 teams facing each other in the Combined Counties League Cup Final at Woking. I went with my mate Paul and we went for a meal beforehand at the local pub, The Ballot Box. The weather was fine as we came out the pub, but as soon as we got into the ground it started tipping down. Luckily there was still room under cover to save anyone getting wet.

The game was basically a reserve team clash with both sides opting to rest players ahead of Friday's big cup final. AFC Wimbledon had much the better start, with them opening the scoring on 15 minutes when Paul Quinn headed in from a corner, Their lead was doubled on 26 minutes when Shane Small-King nutmegged his marker and sent a curling dipping shot into the net from 20 yards. The deluge had made conditions difficult and no doubt a modern day referee would have abandoned the game, but the hosts used the conditions to their advantage with them having a spell of domination up to the half-time break, with Dons keeper Matt Martin in fine form to keep them at bay. It had been an entertaining, if wet first half on the pitch, but the second half was not so good. AFC Wimbledon used their experience to close the game out but North Greenford got the goal their efforts deserved when Waleed Maisery volleyed home three minutes from time.


Despite it not being one of the most exciting venues in the world, I'd wanted to visit Berkeley Fields for a while and do it justice on my blog. I'd rushed it when I started by blog, completing it in a few lines along with 170 other entries. It was the second closest ground to my first ever home (after Viking Sports), and although I'd only lived there for 6 years and not liked football at the time. Originally, I thought it was going to be a Tuesday on my own, but then I discovered that they had a youth team that played Wednesday nights. With me already having a programme from my first visit and wanting to save money, this seemed ideal. I'd been intending to go the previous week against Sandhurst Town, but it was postponed to a waterlogged pitch, so I always had this one in mind. I was pleased when the weather was slightly improved the following week, and all appeared to be OK. 

It had been a late night the previous night at Alvechurch. I'd been hoping for a short day at work after waking at 4 am, but as luck would have it I had to stay a couple of hours extra due to staff shortages. I still got an afternoon nap in, and so after having dinner, left the house around 6.50 for the game. The journey was good, bar a slow spot on the A40 near the Target roundabout. I got to the ground at 7.30, where there was minor confusion as there were two sets of floodlights on. I soon established the correct set to head for and duly paid my £4 entry at the gate. I had a brief look in the smart bar, before going to the stand on the halfway line to find a spot to watch the game from. I was pretty peckish as I left my biscuits in the car that I'd meant to take in. I went around getting pictures of the ground until I was asked to stop by a polite club official, who informed me I needed prior permission from the club. I wasn't that bothered as I'd completed my circuit of the ground by then and had got all the pictures I needed.

North Greenford were struggling in the Allied Counties Youth League (Premier Division) with only winless Aylesbury keeping them off the foot of the table. Beaconsfield were sitting in 3rd place and this showed early on with them dominating the early stages. They took the lead on 25 minutes when Aiden Higgs converted a penalty following a trip on the edge of the area. The home keeper had to make a couple of smart saves to stop Beaconsfield extending their lead. They did make it two on 39 with Higgs getting his second when he sidestepped the keeper and finished into an empty net. Cameron Gray made it 3-0 just before half-time when he finished from 25 yards into the bottom right-hand corner. Ollie Harris made it 4-0 on 70 minutes when his composed finish ended any hopes of a miracle comeback from North Greenford, as he got cleared and netted a composed finish. Three minutes later Harris got his second, again unmarked after a slide-rule pass, this time blasting the ball into the roof of the net.

It had been a professional performance from SYCOB, who had looked a cut above their hosts. It had been a good night's football in front of 37 spectators, with a decent number making the short journey over from Holloways Park. I can certainly see me watching more games in this league - as well as being an economical and convenient way to revisit grounds, it would also provide rare opportunities to see games at Clanfield 85 and Carterton. I left at 9.45, in a decent mood. On the way home I listened to the radio, where they were talking about Leicester City's decent performance in Europe where they lost narrowly 2-1 in Sevilla. Staggeringly, the next day, the ungrateful Leicester chairman sacked Claudio Ranieri, despite him leading them to a miracle championship win last season. I got home at 10.15, staying up for a while before going to bed around midnight.


BERKELEY FIELDS is typical of a modern ground where the club had enjoyed a rise up the pyramid. There are the standard two arena stands, one seating and one standing, both holding around 150 each. Exciting they may not be, but on the nights I went in inclement conditions, they did their job. There's also another covered terrace, something more solid with concrete steps and again, holding around 150. The rest of the ground is open hard standing and is very well-kept.

The tea bar wasn't open on my second visit, though teas were available from the smart bar, which does a reasonable range of drinks. There were badges for sale at £3 each too. Further afield, there are plenty of pubs and takeaways. If your are driving, then the Punjabi Junction takeaway is just under 2 miles away, which I visited prior to a game at Hanwell Town.

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