Wednesday 31 October 2012

Eastleigh - Silverlake Stadium

Eastleigh FC
Silverlake Stadium
Stoneham Lane
SO50 9HT

023 8061 3361

Matchday Number: 224
Tuesday 30th October 2012
Eastleigh 3-1 Bath
Blue Square South


As part of my mission to go to all the grounds in the Blue Square South, I had to visit Eastleigh. This tied in nicely with my plans to meet my Bath supporting mate Louis Mancini, who also has a blog, which you can see here. It was also a chance to see a couple of ex Wycombe players, namely Charlie Griffin and Joe Burnell. Both had solid rather than spectacular careers at Wycombe. Charlie Griffin was a striker who scored 3 goals in 21 appearances for Wycombe, though I remember him being a good player. My main memory of him was sustaining a nasty head injury in a preseason game at Oxford City and having to be taken away in an ambulance. Joe Burnell was a right-back or central midfielder in his injury-ravaged time at Wycombe. He was another player who gave his best and it was appreciated so much that he was even cheered when turning out for rivals Oxford. Given the state of the current team, I reckon that they would walk into the side at the moment.

On the day I left home at about 3.20, planning to go into Eastleigh for a short time and check out what the local Cash Converters was like, especially with regard to retro games consoles. But owing to an unusually small delay on the M25 and mainly Eastleigh being full of traffic, I arrived there around 5.20. 
After a brief look in the laces that were still open, I went and got some chips and nipped into Sainsbury's and got myself some drinks, grapes and chocolate cornflake clusters for the game. It was around 6.50 by the time I returned to my car. By the time I had navigated the short journey to Eastleigh's ground it was just after 7.05. After a quick sort out of my car boot, I went in the ground. My first port of call was the Club Shop, where I was delighted to bump into my mate Louis, recognising him straight away through his distinctive mop. He turned out to be just as great as I'd imagined and we had a good chat throughout the game. The club shop had a small selection of 10p programmes, but nothing that I fancied. And no pennants either sadly. Though given how choc full my wall is, it was a blessing in disguise. After taking some pictures of the ground, I got some chips and took my place behind the goal that Bath were attacking, along with Louis and the other Bath fans, enjoying the delightful west country brogue of some of the fans. The pre-match entertainment was excellent, thanks to a really good matchday announcer, who had enthusiasm for the job that he was doing, played some feelgood music and had some nice features including a quiz between 2 opposing fans which the Eastleigh one won. But the Bath supporter got his score prediction right, backing his team to lose 3-1! The announcer also must have broken the world record for mentioning that their stadium was sponsored by Silverlake, a local car dealership, name dropping them at every opportunity.

As for the game, it was a fairly one-sided affair. All the goals came in the first half with Damien Scannell opening the scoring on 11 minutes when he got clear of the defence and finishes past Bath keeper Glyn Garner. It was 2-0 on 15 minutes when Craig McAllister followed up past Garner after the keeper had saved an initial shot. Bath City reduced the arrears on 33 minutes when Chris Allen blasted into the roof of the net after the initial shot was saved. Six minutes later Eastleigh restored their two-goal lead when Jai Reason converted a Scannell cross from 8 yards. The rest of the game petered out and although Bath City had a penalty appeal turned down, there was no further goals. 
In the second half they announced the attendance as 525, though everyone agreed that was rather dubious as there looked to be little over half that in the ground. After the game, I shook hands with Louis and we made concrete plans to meet at the Hayes and Yeading v Bath City game in January, where we would be joined by Hayes fan Corey (who I have met before on several occasions) and Bath fan Andy (who I haven't met yet). I got out of the car park pretty quickly and after programming my Sat Nav, I was on the way home. On the way I put my phone on loudspeaker and had a good long chat with my mate William, who is a Grimsby fan. All manner of subjects were discussed, as long as the topic was football. There was certainly plenty to talk about, what with Arsenal's stunning comeback from 4-0 down to beat Reading 7-5 after extra time. But more pleasingly in my eyes, Bradford City's victory over Wigan in the League Cup. I would know all about great giant killings in this competition having followed Wycombe all the way to the semi-finals in 2007 where they lost to Chelsea. Bradford are now just one game away from matching that, having qualified for the Quarter Final. Although it would make Wycombe's achievement a little less exclusive if they were to match it, or even go one better, I really hope they do it. In these days of over-inflated egos and even more inflated wages, us lower league fans of proper football have got to stick together. Anyway, it was a far easier journey home, and after an hour and a quarter journey, I was back home by 11PM. I stayed up for an hour extra before attempting to sleep, but I hardly got a wink all night, luckily I was fine the next morning though.


THE SILVERLAKE STADIUM is a smart modern non-league ground. There is flat covered standing along the side of the pitch, though the cover is set back from the pitch, and most people just lean against the pitch surround. Behind one of the goals is seating to meet ground grading requirements, whilst behind the other goal is open standing. However, the most impressive feature is the large main stand. It is elevated and so offers a great view of the action. I don't recall seeing anything near to the ground, as it's a bit out in the middle of nowhere. There is however a nice bar at the ground which has Sky TV and you can also get all the usual grub from the tea bar. As mentioned before, the club shop has a small selection of cheap programmes and also other club merchandise. The pictures in the light are from a previous visit just to take photos when ironically the opponents for the next game are the now-defunct Team Bath, who shared Twerton Park with City during the last few years of their existence.

Thursday 18 October 2012

Swindon Supermarine - Copse Hunt

Swindon Supermarine FC 
Webbs Wood Stadium 
Copse Hunt
Supermarine Road


Ground Number: 223
Wednesday 17th October 2012
Swindon Supermarine 0-1 Shortwood United

Red Insure Cup 1st Round


I had previously been to see Swindon Supermarine play at Witney Town in pre season, and had a really great night, thanks mainly to their fans. In particular one lady who had baked some nice bread pudding and rice crispy cakes and was handing them out to all the Supermarine supporters that I was standing with. And they were delicious. They say the best way to a man's heart is through his stomach, which might be foolhardy advice for a surgeon, but was true in my case as I made a mental note to visit Swindon Supermarine this season. The opportunity arose to do so in a midweek, so me and my mate Anwar decided to go. It would mean a short detour through Aylesbury, but it would be worth it as I would get help with petrol. On the day I had Dentist at 4pm, but sadly they were running late. I didn't get to go in till 4.25PM and they faffed around for ages meaning it was 5 o'clock by the time I'd finished, and that was the time I'd arranged to meet my mate in Aylesbury. A quick text informed him of the revised plan. It could have spelt trouble had the traffic been bad, but thankfully it was fairly clear apart from a few slow cars on single carriageways (how dare they obey the speed limit!) and I was picking Anwar up at 5.40. We drove to Swindon via Oxford and the A420 and arrived at Supermarine bang on 7 o'clock as I had hoped for.

We parked up and as I was taking pictures a man approached us and asked us if we were groundhoppers. When I said yes, he said he might be able to get us a discount. In the end, we both ended up paying a fiver, nice in comparison bearing in mind it was a couple of quid more at Aylesbury United a few weeks previous. It turned out that my mate Sean had told them we were coming. So we got a really friendly welcome and I saw some of the people that I had seen previously at the Witney Town v Swindon Supermarine game in August. The infamous cake lady was there, but sadly she wasn't distributing her wares. So I had to make do with going to the tea bar. Not that it was bad, in fact the chips were very nice, especially at £1 a portion or £1.50 with Curry Sauce. After trying both varieties through the night, I was impressed. A far cry from their local team, nicknamed Swindle Town by many, as they were charging £21 entry as far back as 2002 for League 1/2 footy - 10 years later and most clubs still haven't caught up with that. Supermarine offered good common sense value and everyone was so friendly too. After chatting to Sean briefly as he was doing the tannoy for the evening,  and taking some pictures of the ground, we settled down in the stand ready for the game.

Shortwood started the better side for around the first 15-20 minutes, forcing some good saves out of home keeper Kent Kauppinen. But from then on Swindon Supermarine dominated pretty much throughout. The Shortwood keeper Tom King was in inspired form against his old club, pulling off several good saves to stop the home side at bay. With all this going on, you had the feeling that there was a twist in the tale and so it proved to be the case. On a rare attack Shortwood's number 8 Jamie Martin finished past the keeper to give the visitors the lead on 72 minutes. This was shortly after Supermarine's keeper Kauppinen had been down injured for 10 minutes and was obviously feeling the effects of the knock as he went off to be replaced by Jon Beeden straight after the goal. From then on the game petered out and sadly the home side never looked a serious threat from then on in. I was disappointed that they were unable to make it through to the next round of the Cup as I fancied seeing them at another ground, but for the time being that will not be happening. After saying our goodbyes, we were on our way and driving back home through the now torrential rain. After dropping Anwar off at 11 I was back home by 11.30, getting to bed around an hour later after watching some TV. Not the best preparation when you are up at 5am really!



The WEBB'S WOOD STADIUM or COPSE HUNT as it is traditionally known is a smart non league ground in pleasant surroundings. Instead of a mind boggling roundabout and a pub named after their rivals as you would get at the local league 1 team, the ground is surrounded by pleasant woodland. All the seating is on the side where you come in. There are 2 stands, firstly the older main stand that was OK for Hellenic League level. But following Supermarine's rise up the pyramid, they needed more seats, so a second, more modern, metal stand was added. Behind the goal to the left is an area of cover which I was told was actually built by the fans themselves. It's certainly of a decent size and looks to hold a fair few people. There is a small area of cover opposite but apart from that it is open standing.

There is the bar which is nice inside but does a fairly standard range of drinks. As mentioned the tea bar is good value and tasty. There is also a club shop selling a fairly decent range of souvenirs and old programmes, especially for this level.  The ground seems miles from anywhere, but with nice clubs like this, I don't mind eating and drinking at the ground. I'd certainly recommend visiting Supermarine, you will be assured of a good welcome and they have everything you need to ensure a nice day out.

Saturday 13 October 2012

Canvey Island - Park Lane

Canvey Island FC
Park Lane
Canvey Island

01268 682991

Ground Number: 222
Saturday 13th October 2012
Canvey Island 1-1 
Bognor Regis Town
Isthmian League Premier Division


As I had had a few days up north earlier this week with plenty of travelling, I was planning on keeping fairly local for this Saturday's game. Initially, I was planning on going to Banbury v Weymouth to meet a mate, but he couldn't make it, so I looked for an alternative. I was considering Whyteleafe or Corby Town but when I saw that Canvey Island was offering free entry for all Premiership and Football League season ticket holders, I decided on that, even though it wasn't my first choice. It was Non-League day, an idea thought up by a QPR and Harrow Borough fan to promote the non-league game during international weekends. There were all kinds of special events going on, including a 3 match hop in Cheshire and various ticket offers including gaining free entry if you dressed up as a pirate at Bexhill United of the Sussex County League!

I set off around 1PM after watching Soccer AM and getting ready. Well, I say getting ready, I faffed around for ages trying to download a Youtube video to listen to in the car, a random waffle about computers. But after several attempts and half an hour later I gave up and got on my way.  I went straight to the ground for once, arriving just before 2.30. As had been promised on the website, I showed my Wycombe season ticket an got in for nowt. So to put a bit of money in the club coffers I bought a programme, a couple of portions of chips, a Bovril and a pennant to add to my collection.

I had seen Bognor Regis Town fairly recently, in an epic 4-4 draw against Godalming Town in last seasons Ryman League Division 1 South playoff semi-final, which eventually went to penalties. Bognor won through, then went on to beat Dulwich Hamlet to progress to the Ryman Premier. The last time I saw Canvey Island was way back in 2006 when they played at Burnham in an FA Cup tie, progressing through in a competition they have a lot of history in, having famously beaten Port Vale and Wigan Athletic in recent years. There was one former Wycombe player for the sides, former sub keeper Ashlee Jones played for the home side, he was with Wycombe in our 08/09 season under Peter Taylor as we won promotion up to League 1 in unconvincing fashion. He went onto deputise at Darlington and Braintree Town amongst others but now seems to have found his level at Ryman Premier. He went on to make some good saves throughout the afternoon.

The game itself started well and Bognor had a lot of the first half. They deservedly took the lead early on, but about 5 minutes later Canvey equalised. Bognor continued to have the better of the first half but it was still level at the break, having been a good first off. I went and got some more pictures of the ground at halftime and also went and got my coat from my car as it was getting pretty chilly. The second half was a different kettle of fish. It was not as open as the first half and Canvey Island had the better of it. There were chances for both sides to win it near the end, but in the end, it stayed 1-1. I'd had another enjoyable day out at a new club and after a fairly simple journey, I arrived home at 6.30. I worked out how much I had spent on my 39 games this season, and it turned out to be £653 - and we are only a couple of months into the season. Still, I have enjoyed it, so I guess it's worth the money.


PARK LANE is a traditional non-league ground and has hosted Conference Football in recent years. I had actually been there before when on the way to a Southend v Wycombe game. The main seated area is at one end of the ground, along the side and reaches the halfway line. Opposite there are a couple of small covered terraces whilst the rest of the ground is open standing. One end of the ground has a very big terrace for this level, and although open offers the best view in the ground The ground certainly has a lot of colour to it and the yellow and blue gives the place a bright and homely feel. The tea bar is pretty decent whilst being unspectacular, same with the bar which has a load of Canvey Island history on the walls and also Sky Sports. The club shop is good as well, I got a pennant for just £3 and there was a large selection of old Canvey programmes at cheap prices.