Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Potters Bar Town - Parkside


Potters Bar Town FC
Parkfield
Watkins Rise
Potters Bar
Hertfordshire
EN6 1QB

Official Website



Ground Number: 317
Monday 25th November 2013
Potters Bar Town 2-1 Aylesbury
Southern League - Division 1 Central







POTTERS BAR TOWN FC - A BRIEF HISTORY

The club was established in 1960 and were originally known as Mount Grace Old Scholars, changing their name to the present one in 1991. The team was established by Ken Barratt, a PE teacher at Mount Grace school who formed a side for former pupils of the school. They initially played in the Barnet & District League which became the North London Combination when it merged with the Finchley League. Mount Grace were champions in 1968, after which they moved to the Hertfordshire League. They won Division 2 in their first season, earning promotion to Division 1. The 70's and 80's were spent in Division 1 and the Premier Division. They won the title in 1991 after which they joined the South Midlands League. This merged with the Spartan League in 1997 and Potters Bar were champions in 1997 and 2005, plus runners-up twice. After the latter title win, they made the step up to step 4, playing in the Southern League Eastern Division, the Isthmian Division 1 North and the Southern Division 1 Central. They finished 2nd in Isthmian D1 North in 2018 and were promoted to the Isthmian Premier. They finished 16th in their first season at step 3 and were in 14th place when the season was cancelled last time out.

Potters Bar Town enjoyed a brilliant FA Cup run last season, though it was the third time that they have reached the 4th Qualifying Round. In 2006 they lost narrowly 3-2 at Woking, in 2016 they went out 1-0 at Chesham United and last time out, they took Barnet to a replay before going out 3-1 after the original game had been screened live on BBC Red Button and attracted their record attendance of 2,011. The FA Trophy has not been a great competition for the club with them only reaching the 2nd Qualifying Round. They enjoyed a notable run in the FA Vase in 1997/98 beating Potton United, Fakenham Town, Whitstable Town, Bridport, Stamford and Great Wakering Rovers before a 2-0 defeat at Kidsgrove Athletic in the Quarter Final. Local cup wins include the SSML Floodlit Cup (1998 & 2006), the Herts Charity Shield (2003, 2005 & 2007), the Potters Bar Charity Cup (1996, 2004 & 2005) and the Auberry Cup (1991). The town of Potters Bar has a population of just under 22,000 and has been home to musician Acker Bilk, golfer Tony Jacklin and actor Thomas Law who played Peter Beale in Eastenders from 2006 - 2010.


MY VISIT


Last season, I completed the Southern League Division 1 Central, finishing off with the one I was least looking forward to in Guildford City. The reason - the running track around the pitch. As it turned out, it wasn't so bad and was a decent game against Biggleswade Town, who subsequently went up through the playoffs. But changes to the league due to restructuring, promotions and relegations meant that 3 new teams were entered into the league and I wanted to complete it again. Kettering and St Ives could wait, for tonight it was the turn of Potters Bar Town, a ground that I had seen the outside of when passing through, but obviously had not seen a game at.

Tonight's opponents were Aylesbury, which was the main reason we were going tonight. My regular groundhopping buddy Anwar lives in the town and supports them - it's them I have to thank for getting him back into non-league football and being company for random games, as well as the obvious help with fuel costs. Talking of Aylesbury, last season they had a faint hope of the playoffs for some of the season, but this season they had struggled and were in 19th place before tonight's game. Potters Bar were a few points better off in 16th place and would be slight favourites for tonight's game, but it was by no means a foregone conclusion. I hadn't seen Potters Bar play before, but I was glad when they started scheduling matches on a Monday night as it was an easy tick with no other competition for matches, well not much anyway. It was a good night for TV though and we always had a good dinner on Monday, but with my folks away and having Sky Plus, it was the ideal time to go there. Aylesbury, on the other hand, I had seen twice before. Back in 2009, they faced Wealdstone in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round and despite taking the lead, they ended up losing 4-1 to the Stones. Wealdstone went on to face Rotherham in a decent tie in the next round, where they lost but made a good show of themselves. The other time was last season, when they played out a dull 0-0 draw at Daventry, the highlight of the game being a penalty save from the Aylesbury keeper.

I was working on the day of the game and had a meal lunchtime to save me having to spend too much later on. I left home at 5.45, meeting Anwar in Aylesbury at 6.20 after hitting a bit of traffic. Despite this, we made good progress to Potters Bar arriving at 7.15. I had read about the small amount of parking at the ground and there were already cars dotted around everywhere as the main spaces were full. I still found a space easily enough though. 
We both went straight into the ground, buying a programme each as per usual. I checked what had been happening on Facebook since I left home before taking some pictures and reading some of the programme. It wasn't the most exciting of grounds but it did its job OK. I found out that one of my Facebook friends, Splodge, was also at the game. He is secretary of Fareham Town FC in the Wessex League and has done over 1300 grounds which makes my total of 317 as of tonight's game look tiny.



Aylesbury had just been taken over by former Slough manager Steve Bateman and he had bought in plenty of players. The most notable of which was Dan Burnell who will always get you plenty of goals at this level. But it was winger Aston Goss who opened the scoring on 8 minutes after he slotted home from a low ball into the box. Aylesbury were pretty much always in command but just lacking in the final third. Goalscorer Goss, in particular, made several good runs down the left side but was unable to put a decent cross in on more than one occasion. It was still 1-0 at the break and if anyone was going to score it was going. The second half saw Aylesbury have the lions share of the possession. It was around 59 minutes that Splodge commented 'Potters Bar will never score in a month of Sundays'. On the hour mark, Potters Bar get a break and the ball is put on a plate for Tobi Akin to score. Aylesbury had further chances to score but nothing really clear-cut. It was Akin again who got the winner when a corner was touched on for him to get his second. Aylesbury had a late chance to equalise but former Grays keeper George Kamarusi just managed to grab the ball in time to prevent the follow-up. It hadn't been the greatest of games and a draw would have been a fair result. We said goodbye to Splodge who had a 2-hour journey home back to Fareham. On the way home, we were planning our future hops. On Saturday, all things going to plan I will be dropping Anwar off at Leicester before heading on to Coalville Town v Grimsby Town. With Anwar still having a lot of the 92 to do, I can see similar situations in the future as there are plenty of non-league ones that I'd like to do around the country.

MY SECOND VISIT

I only decided I was going to revisit Potters Bar at around 12PM on the day of the game. I thought it would be nice to revisit and get better photos and update my blog, but upon checking, I had done pretty well on both counts, albeit not researching the club history when I visited in 2013. The admission fee was a tad steep at £12 but I'd forgotten they'd been promoted to step 3 last season. The tie had been reversed from Concord Rangers where it had been supposed to take place yesterday but had been called off due to a waterlogged pitch. The autocratic FA had decreed that if games had not taken place by the end of Monday, then both teams would be kicked out of the FA Cup - utterly ludicrous on one of the wettest weekends of the year. But the madness didn't stop there, they had also put a ban on away fans of Conference North and South clubs attending, meaning that a lot of clubs missed out on revenue and fans missed out on seeing their team, just because they were considered 'elite'. Imagine if they said only white people could attend because of the spread of the virus being worse in the BAME community - there would be an outcry and rightly so. But it seems the bigoted FA are happy to discriminate against you for the colour of your football shirt as opposed to the colour of your skin. Normally, I'd have offered Anwar the chance to come, but as time was tight for getting back for dinner, I offered it to Colin, a hopper that had wanted to come with me for some time, but I'd not offered him the opportunity yet as I'd always had other hoppers coming and the detour would have been too much. I left just before 1.30, picking up Colin at Amersham college at 1.45. It was around 35 minutes to Potters Bar. The streets were packed around the ground and had lots of restrictions, though luckily none applied on Sunday as the club car park was busy. We paid our money and went in, though it was drizzly I stood out in the open for most of the game. At half time I treated myself to a Chilli Sausage Hot Dog which was excellent, as it was something special, I didn't count it towards my football costs.


Potters Bar had got this far by beating East Thurrock United 1-0. In the league, they had started slowly with defeats at Carshalton Athletic (0-3) and to Corinthian-Casuals (1-2). They'd won their last game 3-0 against Cheshunt to get off and running. Concord Rangers were playing their first game of the season but last time out, they finished 17th in the Conference South. It was the hosts with the first real chance on 7 minutes, a good through ball found Bern Ward-Cochrane but his chip went narrowly over the bar. Callum Ellesley too had a chance a minute later but he shot straight at the Concord keeper. Potters Bar finally took the lead on 21 minutes when Samson Esan finished with a low shot from the edge of the area. Potters Bar dominated the first period but ina classic game of two halves, Concord came out a reinvigorated team after the break. They had a number of chances before they equalised on 55 minutes. A free-kick was put in, the Potters Bar keeper could only parry a header away and Alex Wall followed up from point-blank range. The hosts tried to get back into the game and they were unfortunate when Esan hit the bar. The visitors were still on top and Wall got his second when he deflected home a cross on 72 minutes. Potters Bar threw everything forward and had the better of the later stages of the game. Concord substitute Femi Babiola was sent off for two quick bookings and a player for each side - Concord's Tom Hanfrey and Potters Bar's Keiron Cathline were sent off for a fairly minor scrap as tempers boiled over late on. It had been an enjoyable contest to watch but it was 5.05 by the time we got back to the car. We listened to the Non-League show on the way home with me dropping Colin off at 5.40. I was home myself 15 minutes later and watched the end of the TV game as Spurs won 6-1 at Manchester United. After my dinner, I listened to the 6-0-6 phone-in on Radio 5 whilst I typed my blog.


THE GROUND

PARKSIDE is a fairly decent ground for the level 
. As you come in there is a smart newish stand in front of you, this holds around 150 and offers good views of the action. To the right is a small covered area for around 100 people behind the goal. Opposite is what looks like the original main stand, it has a couple of rows of benches with room for standing behind it. The rest is just open hard standing.

I saw club shop stuff advertised in the programme, and assume it is on sale behind the bar. Talking of the bar, although it's not the most well furnished or modern I have seen, it does have Sky on the big screen. And even better they do a couple of real ciders which is very rare in any club bar. I had tried both before so I didn't indulge but it was excellent to see nonetheless. The tea bar sold burgers and bacon and sausage rolls, but sadly no Bovril which would have done me nicely on a chilly night.



2020 GROUND UPDATE

The ground had changed a fair bit since my initial visit. The club had changed colours since my first visit and so the main stand had been given a facelift and new seats. A smaller stand has been erected to the side of it and also a new terrace had been added behind the goal. Although they were metal ones, they are pretty good quality. The benches had been taken out of the stand on the far side, but the rest of the ground was as it was in my initial visit. The food was great on my second visit - gourmet hot dogs and burgers with the prices not much higher than you pay for bog-standard fare at other grounds.

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