Sunday, 8 July 2012

Enfield Town - Queen Elizabeth II Stadium


Enfield Town FC
Queen Elizabeth II Stadium
Donkey Lane
Enfield
EN1 3PL

07903 673487
Official Website
Twitter





Ground Number: 204
Sunday 8th July 2012
Lewes 1-0 Fisher
Supporters Direct Shield







ENFIELD TOWN FC - A BRIEF HISTORY

The club was formed in 2001 by supporters who were concerned about the running of Enfield FC, with the board having sold their iconic Southbury Road home a couple of years previously and having no plans for a new ground. It turned out to be a wise move, with the club's owner Tony Lazarou stalling on a deal to transfer the club to the supporters trust, the £750,000 they got for the sale of the ground soon disappeared and they went bust in 2007. Meanwhile, the new club was making steady progress, finishing as runners-up in their debut season and winning the league in 2003. However, they'd have to wait a couple more years for promotion, due to their temporary home at Brimsdown Rovers not meeting ground grading criteria.

With the ground now up to scratch, 2005 saw them promoted to step 4 of non-league, initially in the Southern League D1 East where they finished a credible 3rd behind Corby Town & Boreham Wood. The season ended in disappointment though, with defeat to Wivenhoe in the playoff semi-final. A transfer to the Isthmian D1 North followed, but the same story - another 3rd place finish and defeat in the playoffs, this time to AFC Sudbury. A couple of seasons in mid-table followed, before more playoff disappointment against Concord Rangers, this time after a 4th place finish during the 2009/10 season. Enfield Town just missed out on the playoffs the following season, but in 2011/12 their hoodoo was finally broken. They finished 2nd behind champions Leiston by just a point but beating Grays Athletic and Needham Market to earn promotion to the Isthmian Premier. They've remained there ever since, with finishes ranging from 19th in 2014 to a club record 4th in 2017, though that season ended in disappointment with defeat to Dulwich Hamlet in the playoff semi-finals.



Enfield Town's best progress in the FA Cup has been the 4th Qualifying Round, which they have reached twice. The most recent of these was this season when they overcame Harrow Borough, Hanwell Town and Phoenix Sports before a 3-1 defeat in a replay to Conference side Maidstone United. In other FA Competitions, the club reached the FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round in 2012, losing 3-2 to Billericay Town. In the FA Vase, they reached the 3rd Round on two occasions. the latter being a bitter exit to swallow as they lost 1-0 at the original Enfield FC. Local cup wins include the Essex Senior League Cup (twice), the Middlesex Charity Cup (twice), the Supporters Direct Cup (three times), the George Ruffell Memorial Shield in 2010 and the Cherry Red Books Trophy in 2002.



The town of Enfield has a population of just under 15,000 although the Royal Borough has a reach of around 330.000. Enfield was the location for the UK's first ever cash machine and was opened by Enfield resident and 'On The Buses' actor Reg Varney, back on 27th June 1967. Other famous events in the town include the Enfield poltergeist, although this actually occurred in nearby Brimsdown and was never actually proved to be paranormal activity, despite several books being written and films being made on the subject. The town was also a victim of the 2011 London riots, with several businesses and shops looted and vehicles damaged.



VISIT 1: SUPPORTERS DIRECT CUP

I was looking through the pre-season fixtures back in June when this one popped up, well at least Enfield Town v Wrexham did. This was a day of two Supporters Direct Cup games and initially I thought I wouldn't be able to make the first game as it kicked off at 1PM and I don't normally finish work will 2 on Sundays. However, I decided to chance my arm and see if I could go at 12. The boss said it was OK as long as everything was done, It was in hope more than expectation though, as Sunday is normally a busy day. I went into work on Sunday to be greeted of my mate Paul on crutches, owing to a swollen ankle. After a bit of mickey taking and banter, I got on with what needed to be done and got everything completed on time. In fact, I got to go at 11.15 as work was aiming to save hours, so it was a win-win situation for both parties.



After dropping Paul off home, I made my way to Enfield, getting there just before 12.20. To my shock, I discovered that my phone was almost dead, despite having it on charge the whole journey. It turned out that the sat nav part had sucked all the juice out of the battery, strange, as that has never happened before. I let it charge to 30% and then went in the ground, around 20 minutes before kick off. First thing I did was go to the club shop and bought a pennant. I have lost all discipline when it comes to buying these. Initially, I bought them at any price and got so many I ran out of space on my walls and sold the lot at a loss on eBay. Then at Tamworth in 2008 I saw one for £1 and started collecting again. From then on I told myself that I would only buy them if they were mega cheap. My intentions started off well, picking them up at Ware for £2 and Folkestone Invicta for 50p. But now I have got into the habit of getting one every time I go to a new ground, today paying £4. I still haven't paid much more than that (I think the most was £5 at Brighton for a special ground opening one. After that, I met my mate Rob, who I had initially met a couple of months earlier when I went with him to Blackburn Rovers the night they were relegated from the Premiership.



The cup was based on clubs that have had financial troubles and have been taken over by supporters, returning the clubs to the heart of the community and safeguarding them from any dodgy dealings again. First up was Fisher, who as Fisher Athletic were in the Conference in the early 90's. Even as recently as 2007 they were in the Conference South and had a smart modern ground in the Surrey Docks. However failed plans to redevelop some of the ground into flats meant financial peril for the club and they moved in with Dulwich Hamlet, initially while plans for development were ongoing, but eventually, they lost their ground and it still stands today, albeit in a highly derelict state. They were up against Lewes who were also in the Conference recently, but overstretched themselves and ended up in trouble. It was the club from the delightfully named Dripping Pan that won it, edging a dull game 1-0, perhaps due to Fisher's lack of strikers more than anything. 



The second game was a lot better to start with, Enfield roaring into a 2 goal lead with a couple of quick goals around the 10-minute mark, through Liam Hope and Mark Kirby. Wrexham's youngsters struggled at first, but in the end, they did pull one back. But before halftime Enfield reclaimed their 2 goal lead, Hope getting his second goal. The second half was a bit of a non-event, and in the end, I was fairly happy to hear the full-time whistle. It has been a decent day though, despite the football, catching up with a mate and ticking off another ground. After a fairly hassle-free drive home, I got back just after 6, really looking forward to my Sunday Roast after not having anything hot at lunch.

VISIT 2: CONIFA WORLD CUP FINAL

Back when the venues for the CONIFA World Football Cup was announced, Enfield Town was one of the few that I fancied revisiting. Though I'd been before, it has been around 6 years ago and back then my blog was more basic and I felt I hadn't done the ground justice. It wasn't one of the best grounds in the competition, but when the final was announced as being there, I knew that would be my game of choice. I'd planned a day out in London, including a visit to Enfield Town's old home at Brimsdown Rovers to see what had become of their original home. But those plans had to be altered when I decided to go an see a placement game at Haringey Borough beforehand, with the ground being a single bus ride away. It was a bit of a lottery finding the correct stop, but eventually, I and Google Maps worked it out and got on at the correct place. It was a half hour bus ride to Enfield again my phone helped me out. I was there at 5.45, as it turned out, 45 minutes before the delayed kick off.


NORTHERN CYPRUS represent the Turkish part of Cyprus, with there being a physical border and security to separate them from the Southern, Cypriot part of the country.  They've been recognised as an independent state since 1983. The Northern Cyprus Football Federation has been in existence since 1955 and they have played in several competitions and have been very successful. Despite only finishing 3rd in the 2016 CONIFA World Cup, they are currently ranked number 1 in the CONIFA Rankings. They've justified that placing,  by getting to the final, but it's not been a cakewalk. They only came through Group B in second place following a win over Tibet and draws against Karpataljia and Abkhazia. The Quarter Final saw a thumping 8-0 win over Barawa before a 3-2 win over Padania in the semis. The team are largely based in Northern Cyprus with the only exceptions being defender Necati Gench who plays for London side Yeni Bogazici and striker Ahmet Sivri who plays in Galatasaray's youth team.


KARPATALYA represents the Hungarian minority in Ukraine, from the region of Zakarpattia Oblast. They were formed as recently as 2017 and despite finishing 5th in the 2017 CONIFA European Football Cup, their lack of activity in recent times meant that they didn't actually qualify for this year's World Football Cup. However, the withdrawal of Felvidek meant that they were invited to the tournament as a 'wildcard' entry. They've made the most of their lucky break so far, coming through on top of Group B thanks to wins over Tibet and Abkhazia and a draw against tonight's opponents Northern Cyprus. The Quarter Final saw them overcome Cascadia 3-1 before a 4-2 win over Szekely Land in the semis. The squad is all based in Hungary, with the exception of goalkeeper Bela Fejer who plays for Sepsi OSK in Romania.


The ground was better than I remembered, with both ends close to the pitch thanks to some good design. It still felt distant along the sides though. The game saw an enthusiastic build up from both sets of fans, but the first half saw few clear-cut chances despite a fair few openings. The second half was quiet too, despite a couple of late half-chances for Karpatalya, most notably former St Mirren striker Billy Mehmet hitting the post. With Karpatalya looking the most likely side to win it, the match came down to a penalty shoot-out after a goalless draw. Gergely Gyurki was first up for Karpatalya and despite Northern Cyprus keeper Hassan Piro guessing the correct way, he converted successfully.  Billy Mehmet stepped up first for the Cypriots but his penalty was too close to Karpatalya keeper Bela Fejer Csongor who dived low to his right and pushed the effort away. With Gyorgy Toma scoring Karpatalya's second, it looked a lost cause when Yasan Kurt saw his shot saved to see the score remain at 2-0. However, the advantage was turned around over the course of the next 4 penalties. Firstly Zoltan Baksa hit the post for Karpatalya before substitute Sandor Szidor reduced the arrears for Northern Cyprus. Piro pushed away Sandor Istvan's spot-kick before Adil Ucar levelled things up. Alex Svedjuk restored Karpatalya's lead before Halil Turan missed the decisive spot kick for Northern Cyprus. Every single penalty had been a decent effort but Csongor had been the hero of the hour for Karpatalya and he went off to join his jubilant teammates as they celebrated winning the CONIFA World Football Cup 2018.


A huge crowd of 2,673 had enjoyed the final game and overall Enfield Town managed it as well as they could have done, even with the limited facilities. It had been a rainy end to my season, but I was in good spirits as I made my way to the bus stop. I met a number of hoppers along the way including Wycombe fan Dave Finch. The bus was absolutely packed as engineering works had cancelled all the trains, so everyone was piling on the underground. It was a slow service, taking half an hour to get to Turnpike Lane station. I got a Peri Peri burger meal as I was hungry and needed a drink which took around 20 minutes as it was freshly cooked. By 9.40 I was on my train, meeting and chatting to another hopper. I also saw YouTuber Groundhopping FC aka Joseph on the train. After changes at Kings Cross and Harrow on The Hill, I got back to Amersham at 11.10, getting home 20 minutes later. I went to bed fairly quickly with me being up at 4 am. For whatever reason though, I barely got a wink of sleep and needed a nap to catch up the following afternoon.



SOME ALTERNATE VIEWS/VIDEOS

PAUL MUZZY



GROUNDHOPPING FC (JOSEPH)


TONBRIDGE FAN TV (MARK)




THE GROUND

THE QUEEN ELIZABETH II STADIUM was opened for football in 2011 after Enfield Town had lodged at Brimsdown Rovers for the first 10 years of their existence. It was a dilapidated Athletics stadium when they first announced plans to move in, but they modernised it and cleaned it up, and now have a place to call home. Although the main stand is set well back from the pitch, the view from it is reasonable, due to it's raised height this has around 200 seats. The rest of the ground is an athletics track and metal 'Arena' type stands. They've made the best they can of it, with the areas behind both goals having covered standing and thanks to clever design, these are close to the pitch. On the other side of the pitch, there are a further 150 seats which are covered. The view from these is not great, however. The rest of the ground is open hard standing, with areas of open metal terracing.

The area around the ground had a few takeaways which seemed good value and this may be a good option given whats on offer in the ground. Sadly, when I visited in 2012, this was very limited, despite the fancy 'CAFE' livery on the outside of the building. I don't recall much about the bar, but the club shop was OK -  a decent range, but no old programmes.My second visit saw the addition of a food van, but I heard from others that the food was mediocre and overpriced.

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