Saturday 27 July 2013

Walton Casuals - Waterside Stadium

Walton Casuals FC
Waterside Stadium
Waterside Drive
Walton on Thames
KT11 2JP

01932 621626

Ground Number: 284
Saturday 27th July 2013
Walton Casuals 4-0 Woking XI


There was hardly any fixtures that took my fancy scheduled for today. I spent the whole week looking for inspiration, some ground near a town or a Wetherspoons so I could complete the cider festival that they were holding. It got to Saturday morning and I had to make a choice. In the end, I plumped for the shortest trip available out of the grounds I had still left to do at step 1-4 of non-league. The game was Walton Casuals v Woking. It would only be their reserves too, as the first team had a game, but a game is a game. 
During the previous week, I had been taking a break from groundhopping and watching Wycombe play instead Firstly a great 2-2 draw with Premiership side Aston Villa on Saturday, where we played really well and should have beaten them. Then on Wednesday, I set off for Burnham, expecting the game to go ahead. But it was called off about five minutes after I left home, not that I found out until I got there. It was due to the poor state of the pitch, totally understandable that it was called as there was a huge pothole on the pitch that could have caused a nasty injury. Finally, on Friday night I travelled to Oxford City for our final preseason game. We didn't play particularly well, and in the end, the 1-1 draw was a fair result.

On the day I had decided to set off early and go to Staines for a bit of shopping and to see if I could complete the cider festival at Wetherspoons (I had done 15/16 so far). I left just before 12 and it took me just under an hour to get there with traffic. First stop was the town's Wetherspoons but I had tried all of the ones that they had so I left it. I had a quick look around the shops, buying nothing apart from a duck spring roll and some chicken thighs for my lunch. After a 30 minute drive, I got to Walton Casuals at 2.10. I settled down in the bar and got myself a cold pint of Strongbow to cool me down while I sat in the bar and looked through Facebook and Twitter. A fiver to get in was not too bad, but I was disappointed that there were no teamsheets or programmes as is often the case with these small friendlies. The game was advertised on their website as a Woking XI, but when I got to the ground it said Kingston Academy. It amounted to pretty much the same thing anyway, basically a load of players trying out for Woking. In any case, I didn't have a clue who was playing for each team, as there were no announcements either.

Walton were easily the better side, with them being more experienced. But it took them until 17 minutes to score their first when big midfielder Scott Day headed in from a corner. And it was Day who set up the second on 38 minutes as his hard work set up Graeme Purdie for a simple finish. Woking started the second half a lot better and I was impressed by their blonde-haired number 10 who worked hard all afternoon, showed some good skill and went closest to scoring for his side when his free-kick forced a good save out of the Walton keeper. But it was 3-0 14 minutes into the second half when David Francis scored from outside the area. The game died down a bit after that as both sides made mass changes. There was just time at the end for Scott Day to get his second, he was easily Walton's best player on the day. It took me around an hour to get home, apart from going near Walton town centre the traffic was fine and I got in just before 5.45, having had a good day.


WATERSIDE PARK is set amongst lovely green scenery, and as the name suggests, by a river. It certainly makes for a nice place to be on a warm summers day. The ground is fairly decent, as with many teams who have come up from step 5, they have had to upgrade their ground and have opted for metal stands to get as much value as possible. There is still a small area of the old cover right in front of you as you go through the turnstiles. Opposite that is the only seating accommodation in the ground, covered and holding around 200. Behind each goal, there are areas of cover, whilst the rest of the ground is open hard standing.

There was a club shop at the ground, which was closed when I went. This was a shame as it looked quite big and claimed to do old programmes too. The bar was nice and modern with plasma screens and Sky Sports. I didn't have anything from the tea bar, but it looked to have a good selection of stuff.

Friday 19 July 2013

Winslow United - Winslow Sports Club

Winslow United FC
Winslow Sports Club
Elmfields Gate
MK18 3JA

01296 711039

Ground Number: 283
Friday 19th July 2013
Winslow United 2-1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds


The club was formed in 1890, though information about their early years is hard to come by on the web. They joined the South Midlands League in 1968, initially in the second tier. Finishes were always good, never lower than 8th, but it was not until 1975 that they'd be promoted as champions. They'd stay in the Premier Division for 17 years, finishing as high as 5th on three occasions, but being relegated back to Division 1 in 1992. The second tier would be renamed the 'Senior Division' a year later and Winslow United would remain here until 1999 when they were relegated again, this time to the Spartan South Midlands Division 1 as the leagues had merged two years previously.  The 2001/02 season saw Division 1 become the second tier but Winslow only lasted one season before being relegated to Division 2. They'd spend two seasons here before gaining promotion back to Division 1 after finishing as runners-up to Old Duntablians. Despite a credible 6th place finish, Winslow generally finished mid-table until, in 2009, they took a year out of senior football to concentrate on their youth sides. The following season, they rejoined the Spartan South Midlands League, this time in Division 2. A 7th place finish in 2012 was good enough for promotion to Division 1, where they've remained ever since. a 3rd place finish last season was their best since returning and as a result, they are eligible to play in the FA Cup for the first time.

Winslow United have had a number of campaigns in the FA Vase, the best coming in 1983 when they beat Ware and Royston Town before losing to Tiptree United in the 2nd Round. Locally, the club won the 2011 SSML Division 2 Cup when they defeated 'The 61 FC' 2-0 in the final at Ampthill Town. 'Famous' faces to turn out for the club include actor Ayden Callaghan - best known for appearing in Hollyoaks and Emmerdale. The town of Winslow is a fairly small one, with 4,407 residents according to the 2012 census.


I have said before on this blog how much I prefer Friday night football, as opposed to a few drinks on a Friday night. Especially this week with my birthday being on the Thursday. I had a great time, loads of nice gifts and great messages from friends and family. And in the evening a nice meal at the William Robert Looseley pub in town. It was curry night, so I opted for the hottest thing on the menu - the dragon curry. I also carried on my participation in the Wetherspoons cider festival, getting up to 12 out of the 16 on offer. I now only have 4 to go, and 9 days to complete it. One of the nice gifts that I got was a selection of ciders from all over the world, but I will be savouring these, and be saving them for future weekends.

Thankfully I would have company again, in the shape of usual traveller Anwar, negotiated the evening before after a few pints. Work the day after was a pain, as it was on my birthday. I've been totally knackered this week, and will be glad of a good nights sleep tonight. After work I watched the Australians collapse again in the Ashes. I'm not a huge fan of cricket, more a casual one, but it's something nice to have on in the background, and Test Match Special on the BBC is the ideal soundtrack, as the Sky Sports commentary is a bit dull. After a dinner of Chilli Con Carne, I was on my way at 6.15, picking Anwar up in Aylesbury at 6.45. On the way I tested out my new Pure DAB Highway Radio for my car. Results were excellent, only losing signal on a small part of my journey. I listened to the end of the cricket and then put Absolute 80's on. We got to Winslow at 7.15 and parked in the Royal British Legion opposite. Entry was just £3 to a friendly gateman, good value for a nights entertainment. Sadly there were no programmes or teamsheets, but I wasn't expecting one for such a low key friendly. I checked Facebook and took a few pictures of the ground.

The game was a pretty decent one. The first half was all Rushden and they took a deserved lead through Ben Morgan who coolly chipped the keeper. At halftime we chatted to the Rushden photographer, recalling many meetings between the Diamonds and Wycombe over the years. Rushden started the second half well again and could have had another goal. But hesitancy in the visitors defence allowed Winslow in for an equaliser and from then on they had the better of the game. They got their reward when right at the death they scored an absolute screamer from 40 yards that flew in the top corner. A goal worthy of winning any game, but a bit harsh on Rushden, given the balance of play. It was Shrieves that got both of the goals for Winslow and did the damage, right at the death. All in all, it had been a good game, on a really pleasant evening for watching football. The club was really friendly too, thanking us for our visit as we left. It was a quick drive home and after dropping Anwar off, I was back home by half ten.


I'm a huge fan of the FA Cup, especially in it's earlier rounds. I always try and make a point of trying to see a game on the opening night, even if it is a revisit. It's something I've managed in the previous 4 seasons and tonight I had options further afield at Ascot United and Thetford Town. It was, however, Winslow United's game against Easington Sports that I chose and it would mean my first visit to Winslow since 2013, despite them only being based 25 miles from home. They'd been a really friendly club to visit last time out, as had Easington Sports, so I was happy with my choice. I was still awaiting my first competitive goal, with my last two matches being 0-0, albeit both a decent watch. I was up at 4 am on the day of the game, but work was finished by lunchtime. I came home and relaxed in the afternoon, using the time to scout out potential replays for Tuesday amongst other things. After a dinner of Hunters Chicken, I left home at 6.15, meeting fellow hopper Anwar at 6.45. It was a reasonable journey over and after paying £6 to get in, plus £1 for a programme. I spent pre-match catching up online and getting some new photos of the ground which hadn't really changed since my last visit.

Both clubs were making their FA Cup debuts, so there wasn't really a lot to go on with regards to previous form. Winslow United played in the step 6 Spartan South Midlands Divison 1 and enjoyed a very credible 3rd place last season. Despite this, they'd had a poor start to the season, following up a 4-1 opening day defeat to Harefield United by losing 3-2 at Buckingham Athletic on Tuesday. Easington Sports were also at step 6, finishing 3rd in the Hellenic Division 1 West last season. They'd opened the season in style, hammering Pewsey Vale 4-0 at home. They also had the benefit of extra rest having not played in midweek due to being in a 14 team league. Personally, I'd seen Winslow twice - as well as their 2-1 home win against Rushden, I'd also seen them crash 5-1 at Codicote in October 2016. Scorer of a hat-trick that night was one Alfie Barker who would hit national headlines the following year for mocking the death of Bournemouth footballer Harry Arter's baby on Twitter which resulted in him being disowned by the club.  Easington Sports' 2-1 local derby defeat to Banbury remained the only time I had seen them play.

The game started with chances for both sides but it was Easington who had the better of the early exchanges. Gradually, the home side worked their way into it and they took the lead on 41 minutes. Kieran Schmidt forced visiting keeper Adam Rimmer into a great save following a long-range shot and from the resulting corner, Aaron King headed powerfully home. Right on halftime, it was all square, a looping free-kick was put in by Callum Convey and Henry Rose headed home from close range at the back post. The second half saw the hosts on top and they took the lead on 66 minutes. It was another strike for Aaron King, a volley from the edge of the six-yard box that flew into the top left-hand corner. King had lived up to his name and been the best player on the park. Back as a youngster, he was playing for Rushden & Diamonds in 2009 when Liverpool saw fit to offer him a two-year scholarship. Since then, he has played for a string of non-league clubs. The visitors equalised on 79 minutes when Henry Rose played a ball across the 6-yard box and Andrew Stidder drilled home. Winslow had a late penalty appeal via King, but referee Jon Panconi who had a decent game turned it down.

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It had been a physical but highly entertaining game. It was certainly better than staying in and watching Manchester United scrape victory over Leicester City. There had been a few hundred fans at this game and in the other FA Cup ties tonight Ascot United beat Camberley Town 2-1 and Thetford Town edged out Fakenham Town 1-0. We left around  9.40 and made good progress to Aylesbury. It was looking good for a 10PM drop off but thanks to a small road closure half a mile from Anwar's we had to go on a 3-mile diversion that added 10 minutes to the journey. I got home myself at 10.30, listening to The Two Mikes on TalkSPORT while I typed my blog. It was a rare sober Friday for me, but I'll more than make up for that tomorrow as our coach is stopping at a cracking pub before Wycombe's game at Doncaster Rovers. Tonight had been good, costing me just £11 for entry, petrol and programme once my passenger's contribution had been taken into account.


WINSLOW SPORTS CLUB is quite basic but has all you need for a step 6 club. Apart from one small stand, it's all uncovered. There is a clubhouse at the ground which is compact and modern, but as you would expect, no club shop. The town is nearby and offers a wide range of places to eat and drink, overall a nice club to visit and a good day out. Parking is a bit limited, but there's a fair amount of street parking available.