Sunday 22 April 2012

AFC Telford United - The New Bucks Head

AFC Telford United
The New Bucks Head
Watling Steet

01952 640064

Ground Number: 200
Saturday 21st April 2012
AFC Telford United 0-0 Grimsby Town
Blue Square Premier


I had decided I would be visiting Telford today quite a few months ago. I was aiming to complete all grounds in the Blue Square Premier and Telford was one of those left. When my Grimsby supporting friend John Darsley asked me if I wanted to meet at a game, we looked at the fixture list and picked this one out as the one to do. As it had been planned well in advance I could get cheap train tickets, paying a fiver each way to Birmingham, then by a stroke of luck getting the Birmingham to Telford (or Wellington Salop to be more precise) part of the journey for nowt by way of an offer in the paper. This was going to make it as cheap as a ticket to see Charlton v Wycombe for both travel and ticket to this game and with the prospect of a meet with a good mate and a good pub called the Cock Hotel near the ground, it was a trip I was looking forward to for some time. On the day I set my alarm for 8.50am and after getting washed and dressed I parked about 10 minutes from the town centre I walked into town, getting myself a Subway for breakfast and getting a paper and some snack for the journey. I caught the 10.24 train from High Wycombe and was in Birmingham shortly before 12.

Whilst in Birmingham I sampled the delights of The Wellington, a real ale pub that also served cider. I got to try something new, a pint of Bennetts Hill cider, which at 5.8% was a nice relaxer for the onward journey to Telford. I got the 13.04 from New Street but wished that I had allowed myself more time in the pub to sample some of the other ciders. Getting to Wellington, the nearest station to the ground, just before 2, I was met by torrential rain, and so decided to take shelter in a nearby cafe. Black pudding and chips was very welcome and good value at just over 2 quid. After that, it was nearly 2.30 so I made my way to the ground and attempted to sneak in for an under 18 to save me a bit of cash!! The ploy worked and I got in for a fiver. Maybe that was all I deserved to pay as the game was a fairly dull 0-0. OK, so there were a few chances for each side, but neither really excelled. The Telford keeper Young won man of the match, despite dropping anything and everything. His opposite number in the Grimsby goal was much better, looking solid and making a number of good saves. The club didn't issue tickets at the turnstiles, and so after the game, I managed to grab one of the last few programmes on sale, despite them being "sold out" just about everywhere

The real bonus of the afternoon and the real reason I came, of course, was meeting my mate John and his little brother Thomas. Both were cracking lads and their Uncle was a great bloke too. After the game, I went to the Cock Hotel for a pint before making my way to the train. At this point, everything was going well, I got my train into Birmingham on time and made my way back to my pre-match haunt for another pint. I left on time and expected to be getting out of Birmingham by 19.09, with a change at Leamington to get back to Wycombe. But this was not to be the case. I arrived at Birmingham Snow Hill with no sign of the train on the departure boards. Then making my way to Moor Street, the next departure appeared to be 20:45 and needed the toilet.  It was whilst on the toilet that I found out that there was actually a 19.45 service. But sadly I arrived back at Moor Street and saw it leaving, just as I crossed the bridge to the other platform. Even worse, the 20.45 was now cancelled, meaning I had to go back to the pub for another pint. I made sure I left in good time to get back for the 21.20 service, arriving just before 9. But even this had complications. The driver had disappeared on so we had another 55-minute delay while they found a replacement. I was seriously brassed off my now, but at least we got moving, just before 22.15. I was now tired and was not looking forward to getting up at 5am for work. Plus I missed some 1970 nostalgia shows on BBC, plus Match Of The Day. Eventually arriving back into Wycombe just before midnight, I still had a 15-minute uphill walk to my car, and arrived home at half midnight. Luckily John and co had made it a worthwhile trip, otherwise, it would have been a bad day. I tweeted some choice words to Chiltern Railways, I can tell you!


THE NEW BUCKS HEAD is a cracking ground for the Blue Square Premier, and probably the best in the league in terms of being fit for purpose. The main stand holds around 2000 and has executive boxes and corporate facilities. The 2 ends are covered terraces, holding around 2000 each. The terracing is of a good height, so you should always get a good view. The final side is uncovered terracing, which may be a pain if it rains, but attendances rarely get big enough for this to present a problem. Away fans get one of the terraces behind the goal, and alcohol is also served in the ground, which is quite rare at this level. There are quite a few pubs near the ground, the pick of which is the Cock Hotel which does real ale and ciders. The town of Wellington is 15-20 minutes away, but there are a sprinkling of takeaways en route. To be honest, though, the food in the ground is pretty decent and good value - I had sausage and chips for a couple of quid

Thursday 19 April 2012

Metropolitan Police FC - Imber Court

Metropolitan Police FC
Imber Court
Ember Lane
East Molesey

0208 398 1267

Ground Number: 199
Wednesday 18th April 2012
Hendon 2-0 Kingstonian
London Senior Cup Final


Metropolitan Police FC was established in 1919. For the first 9 years of their history, they only played friendlies before joining the Spartan League, winning the D1 East in their first season. They won the Spartan Premier Division the following season after they were promoted and went on to be champions seven more times. In 1960 the club moved to the Metropolitan League, struggling at first but having two 4th place finishes in 1969 and 1970. When the Metropolitan League folded in 1971, Metropolitan Police joined the Southern League D1 East, having a best-ever finish of 5th in their debut season. In 1977, the club joined the Isthmian League, finishing as runners-up to Epsom & Ewell in Division 2 in their first season. Promotion to Division 1 followed but despite a 3rd place finish in 1982, they were relegated back to Division 2 three years later. Promotion was won back from Division 2 South in 1988 after they finished as runners-up behind Chalfont St Peter, but relegation followed in 1991. This time, their spell in Division 2 lasted a lot longer, with Met Police staying there until 2001 when reorganisation saw the club placed in Division 1 South. They were champions in 2011, earning promotion to the Isthmian Premier. 2014/15 saw a 5th place finish, but they lost to Hendon in the playoff semis. Their 41-year spell in the Isthmian League ended at the start of this season as they were transferred to the Southern Premier South. As a result of the extra travelling, manager Jim Cooper who had been at the club for 15 years stepped down with the playing budget being halved. Gavin McPherson, Cooper's assistant took over and lead them to an excellent 3rd place finish with Salisbury City being defeated 3-2 on Wednesday to set up today's final.

The FA Cup 1st Round has been reached on five occasions. The latest of these came this season with Cray Wanderers, Needham Market, Tiverton Town and Conference Premier side Havant & Waterlooville beaten to set up a game with Newport County which they lost 2-0 after having a man sent off. The FA Amateur Cup Semi Final was reached in 1934 before a 2-0 defeat to Dulwich Hamlet. The Quarter Final stage was their best effort in the FA Vase where they suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat to Belper Town in 1995. Local Cup wins include the London Senior Cup in 2010, the Surrey Senior Cup in 1933 and 2015 and the Middlesex Senior Cup in 1928. Though for much of the club history, the side was mainly made up of police officers, this started to cease in the late 1990s due to trouble with getting time off work to play. The last officer to play for the club was Craig Brown who retired in 2013 and now the club is made up of players with normal day jobs. They still get funding from the Police Lottery though and still has officers working behind the scenes.

Metropolitan Police actually played a big part in my own club, Wycombe Wanderers history, having their best ever FA Trophy run at the same time during the 1989/90 season. Folkestone and Whyteleafe were beaten before the 'Old Bill' were awarded a 1st Round game at our former home of Loakes Park. Despite Wycombe being in the bottom half of the Conference, they were expected to beat a team still primarily made up of serving Police officers who sat in mid-table in the Isthmian Division 1. But Wycombe suffered a shock 3-1` defeat with the Met's goals coming from record goalscorer Mario Russo and a brace from Dick Oliver. As a result, manager Jim Kelman resigned from Wycombe and manager Martin O'Neill was appointed in his place. He enjoyed an incredible 5 years at Wycombe, taking us to 6th place in the third tier of the Football League following two promotions, winning two FA Trophies and a number of local cups. There are a couple of players who have gone on to play for the Met Police after playing for Wycombe - former youth team midfielder Jerome Federico and Paul Barrowcliff who is the team's current physio and who works as a personal trainer for the force.


As I was short of a game in midweek and was at home on my own, I decided to go to the London Senior Cup Final between Kingstonian and Hendon, being played at Imber Court, home of Metropolitan Police FC. On the day of the game, I left home at around 5.20, popping into Morrisons for a snack and a drink before going to the game. I expected the M25 to be its usual frustrating self for a midweek evening. And it turned out to be true with nearly an hours delay meaning that I only just made kick off. Luckily there wasn't much to do around the ground that I could see, so I didn't miss much. And I had no problem paying the £10 entry and getting a free programme thrown in as well. Almost immediately after getting into the ground, the game started, so I had to take pictures of the ground as I made my way round to my seat. Hendon were appearing in their fifth final in seven years but they'd not won it since 2009. The first half was a pretty dull affair and it was goalless at the break. Former Wycombe player Darren Currie opened the scoring with a great goal on 56 minutes and 15 minutes later, Jack Mazzone lobbed the Kingstonian keeper to make the game safe. After the game, it was a much easier journey home, and I was back at my house by 10.15, a 45-minute journey, compared to the 2-hour trek to the game. Overall I enjoyed the evening and it was well worth the effort.


With me having visited Imber Court fairly early on in my groundhopping career, my blog was not really up to the standard that I wanted to be. The photos that I'd taken were also not the best, being from a 2012 mobile phone. With that in mind, I was keen to revisit there. There were a couple of games that I fancied going to before this one. Firstly, their FA Cup game against Newport County but I decided against it due to it being a bit of a bind on the train and the lack of decent pubs. Then there was the League Cup game against Hendon a few weeks previously, a competition where most clubs put out much-changed sides. Despite that, they were charging the full £10 admission, so I decided against it. With little else on this Bank Holiday Monday, I was hoping for the results to go for me in the playoff games. I needed Met Police to win first, and that they did, triumphing over Salisbury. I also needed Poole to overcome the odds away to 2nd place Taunton and thankfully, they won on penalties. I did the research for my blog the day before, watching a few episodes of The Bill too, to get in the mood. The day of the game came and it was one of the Bank Holidays I’d volunteered to work. I was hoping for an easy day, but it was anything but and I didn’t get out until 12. I came home and had a bath before getting dressed and getting my things together and leaving at 1.

First stop was a cash machine where I withdrew £20. Then on to Home Bargains where I got some chicken for lunch and some other bits that I needed. For once, the M25 was behaving and so I was at the ground and parked up by 2.15. After having a quick look in the bar where I saw a couple of hoppers that I knew, I went in the ground, paying £10 entry. The first half was pretty cagey, Poole Town having the better of the early stages as they were roared on by some good support, whilst Met Police were the better side later on. It was goalless at the break, but the second half followed much the same pattern - Poole having plenty of possession but not really doing anything with it. Met Police opened the scoring around the 70-minute mark. They'd already forced Poole keeper Luke Kearney into a great save when he tipped the ball around the post. From the next attack, Jack Mazzone caught the keeper out of his goal and despite a frantic clearance by one of his defenders, the referee adjudged that the ball had crossed the line.  From then on, the hosts stayed well on top with Poole's only real chance coming around 10 minutes from time when Jack Scrimshaw fired narrowly over when the ball fell to him from a corner. It hadn't been the best of games for the 1,025 in attendance but the hosts had defended well and taken their chances. I left just after 5, with me having another good journey home, getting in at 5.50.


IMBER COURT is s smart ground, probably good enough for Conference South football. There is a decent sized main stand, raised above pitch level, so you get a good view of the action on the pitch. This covers about half of one side of the pitch, the same side as the tea bar and toilets. Behind one goal is a few steps of covered terracing, while the rest is the same as this, only open to the elements. There is no club shop to my knowledge, and I am unsure about the clubhouse, but I'd imagine there is one there. I'm not sure what is nearby, as I arrived in a bit of a rush, but it looked mainly residential housing around the ground.