Sunday 31 August 2014

Worthing - Woodside Road

Worthing FC
Woodside Road
West Sussex
BN14 7HQ

Ground Number: 404
Saturday 30th August 2014

Worthing 2-0 Guernsey
FA Cup Preliminary Round


Worthing FC was formed in 1886. They spent their early years in the Sussex, Corinthian and Athenian leagues before joining the Isthmian League in 1977 and they have remained in and round its divisions ever since. They won the 1st Division in 1983, then has 2 successive runners-up spots in the Premier Division, narrowly missing out on promotion to the Conference. It must have been due to ground issues, or not wishing to take the promotion as in the latter of those seasons, my team Wycombe went up, despite finishing in 3rd place behind the Rebels and champions Sutton United. That was under the management of Barry Lloyd, but he left to join Brighton, and the team slipped down to Division 2. Since then, they have worked their way back, reappearing in the Premier Division from 2004 -2007, but since their relegation they have been in Division 1 South, last season  finishing 15th

Their best year in the FA Cup came in 1982 when they got all the way to the 2nd Round, before losing to Oxford. They last reached the 'proper' stage of the FA Cup in 1999 when they lost to Rotherham. Last season was slightly less pleasing on their part, with them losing 5-1 to fellow league opponents Faversham Town. They had a good run in the FA Trophy in 2004, getting to the 4th Round and not too far from a Wembley appearance. The same could be said of the FA Vase in 1979 when they got to the 5th Round. Cup honours include the Sussex Charity Cup, winning it on 14 occasions, but not since the 1950's. The nickname of 'The Rebels' comes from when they resigned from the West Sussex League over a rule change in 1920, joining the Sussex League instead. Currently in charge is Adam Hinshelwood who was an absolutely brilliant defender for Wycombe, despite only playing 13 games, he is well regarded and could have gone on to be a great.


As with the Friday night, my regular groundhopping pal Anwar would be unavailable due to him going to Derby. I, therefore, needed a game for myself. The Northamptonshire derby between Cogenhoe United and Kettering Town looked mouthwatering, but I decided to save it for when we could both visit, and instead head south to Worthing v Guernsey. This had the added benefit of being already ticked by Anwar, and on a personal note, it would be the ground right next to where I got my favourite dog, or to be more precise my family did. I was really too young to remember our first dog, Cass, an Irish setter. But we got Maisie, a Springer Spaniel, from a pet shop just up the road from the ground, going towards Lancing. She was a great family pet and we had her from 1993 to 2006. I remember the day we got her, and while the paperwork was being sorted, we went and had a look at Woodside Road where Worthing play. I don't remember much about the ground, but I do recall getting a really old Topical Times football annual from a nearby charity shop for 50p, funny how you remember random stuff, isn't it.

On the day I woke up at around 8. I watched some of last nights TV, had a bath and transferred last nights photos onto my PC. Leaving just after 10, my sat nav informed me there would be a short delay on the M25. That turned into half an hour. I wanted to have a bit of time in town, so tried to get a shift on along the A23. There were a couple more delays in built-up areas, but I got to Worthing FC at 12.30. I walked into town to Anchored in Worthing, a very nice micro pub that my prior research had told me served 2 ciders that I had not sampled before. Before I did that though, I needed cash but had to walk all the way up the other end of town before I found a cash machine. Back at Anchored, I had myself a pint of Black Pig Perry, and as the place was so small, sat on the table outside and watched the world go by. It was very pleasant on a warm afternoon and it was nice to chill with a couple of nice tipples. The helpful owner also allowed the use of his free wifi, which helped as the mobile signal was very slow data wise. That meant I was able to watch the Burnley v Manchester United relegation clash on my iPad and it worked perfectly. The second half was JB's Medium Cider, a lot dryer in contrast to the Perry. It was a  really dog-friendly place too. I walked back to the ground, stopping to get some chips. I was hungry, so went to a shop, got myself a Samosa, a box of chocolate fingers and a bottle of Irn Bru. I then paid to get in, £8, plus £2 for a programme. I got some pictures and was still hungry, so I got a Sausage and Chips from the tea bar, before getting some pictures of the ground.

It was a pretty even contest, but overall Worthing merited their win, Guernsey will bemoan some of their finishing, but it was a Trevor McCreadie brace that saw the home side through. They now face a tricky trip to Isthmian Premier side Dulwich Hamlet in the 1st Qualifying Round. 
After the game, I drove home, but not before stopping at the 2 Wycombe cinemas to do some audits on their adverts. It took me a couple of extra hours, but I used the money I earned towards the game, seen as I did it whilst on the football trip. I then went home, had a couple of pints and watched Match Of The Day before going to bed at half past midnight.


WOODSIDE ROAD is one of the better grounds in the Isthmian League. The main stand is huge and offers great views and looks like it seats more than the 500 capacity that the internet tells me. Probably around 1000 of the 4000 capacity is under cover. The bar is nice and modern and has Thatchers Gold cider on tap. The tea bar is good too, although there was no club shop that I could see. Overall, well worth a visit, although I'd have liked more time in town to get something better to eat, after going to the pub. Everyone was friendly and the prices seem standard for the Isthmian 1 South.

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Cockfosters - Cockfosters Sports Ground

Cockfosters FC
Cockfosters Sports Ground
Chalk Lane

0208 449 5833
Official Website

Ground Number: 403
Tuesday 26th August 2014
Cockfosters 0-2 London Tigers
Spartan South Midlands Premier


Cockfosters were founded in 1921 as Cockfosters Athletic, changing their name to their present one in 1968. They played in local leagues up until 1991 when they joined the Spartan League. They stayed in the top division of this league until they were relegated to what is now Division 1. They came back up in 2007 and struggled for a couple more seasons before being relegated again. Last season saw them win promotion back up ready for this season. Their best ever finish came in 1996 when they finished 5th. They had their best ever FA Cup run last season, getting to the 1st Qualifying Round. After beating this seasons league champions Hanwell Town, they beat Hadley too. They then faced AFC Rushden & Diamonds, but that was where the dream ended as they crashed out 8-0 after a replay. The best ever FA Vase run came in the 1991/92 season when they reached the 2nd round. A few local cups have been won, the last one being the South Midlands Floodlit Cup in 2008. Cockfosters were making a good start to the season, unbeaten and top of the table.


I had been meaning to go to Cockfosters last May. In fact, I had actually got to the ground, sat in the bar for half an hour while it rained, only for the referee to give up on the pitch right on kick off. He was going to start the game and saw how it went, which was encouraging, but he changed his mind. It was probably the right decision to be honest, as the game would have been a farce had it gone ahead, with puddles everywhere. We even went to London Colney after, but that too was a victim of the weather, being called off at 8.15. Still, I was still aiming to complete the Spartan South Midlands League by the end of the season,so wanted to get it done as early as possible. Cockfosters had a crazy end of the season, with games on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, so they would have been pretty tired when it came to facing my local side Holmer Green.

I knew from the outset that I wouldn't have Anwar with me, as he was going to Arsenal tomorrow night and only had limited time and resources. I wasn't even sure myself, as it was dependent on weather and traffic. I had a pretty boring day as I was off, and normally I'd be setting off mid-afternoon for football. I reflected on the Welsh groundhop I had missed on the weekend, in North Wales. I thought it would be just fields when speaking to my fellow hopper Chris as he was evasive when I asked about stands and just said that the scenery was nice. In the end, I saw people's pictures from the weekend and there were some quite decent grounds, set amongst the backdrop of Snowdonia as promised. I wasn't too annoyed though, as I'd had a great time at Stevenage v Wycombe instead. I could have done 3 games in one day on Monday too, but Anwar couldn't make it. Instead we went to a wet and fairly dull game at Tilbury.

It turned out to be thumbs up as far as the game was concerned. I had confirmation that the game was on at 6.15 and after checking my sat nav, the traffic appeared fine, so I set off on the 32-mile journey. It turned out to be a good journey apart from some dawdlers on the single carriageways and I was there by 7.05. I went and had a look in the bar, and bought a signed Boreham Wood v Arsenal Programme in return for a small donation to charity. I then went into the ground, paying £6 entry plus £1 for the programme. There was still half an hour till kick off, so I made a start on my blog and checked Facebook while waiting for the game to start.


Ground: 403 (29th of the Season, and 19th out of 22 in the SSML Premier)
Game: 34 of the season (1503 of all time)
Goals: 135 and 136 of the season (average of 4 per game)
Costs: Ticket £6, Programme £1, Fuel £6.80. Total £13.80 (£532 for the season)
Miles Driven: 63 (3184 for the season)


As usual, a good entertainment level. My favourite step 5 league might be the Northern Counties East League, but the Spartan South Midlands is hard to beat for entertainment. The first half was goalless, but both keepers made good saves. London Tigers starting the brightest, but Cockfosters finishing the half well. 2 second half goals won it for the visitors - firstly a goal from close range on 66 minutes, then a really good strike on 80 from some way out that flew in. The referee let a lot go, but tended to favour the defending team, and there were a few complaints from the home side about this. It was an easy journey home, taking the same time as the trip there. I got in, checked Facebook, watched TV and went to sleep at about 11.30.


DACRE FIELD or the COCKFOSTERS SPORTS GROUND as it's sometimes known is set in a pleasant green location. The car parking is not great, with only a few spaces, but you can use street parking or one from one of the other sports clubs on the road.

The main stand is on the side that you come in. Previously it was a smaller stand with benches (that was on my visit to take pictures in 2007. Since then, they have added big white seats, which are comfortable and seem to come from the Olympics in 2012 as there are similar ones at Beckenham Town. They are comfortable in any case. There is further cover on this side, as well as more behind the goal and on the other side.

The clubhouse and tea bar are pretty standard fare, with only Strongbow in cans available for cider drinkers (at least on my May visit anyway) I've not tried the tea bar. The programme is decent, quite thin but full of stats and a few good bits to read, and with minimal advertising too.  The club is nice and friendly, and with Cockfosters Tube station nearby, is easy to do if you don't drive.


Saturday 23 August 2014

Raunds Town - Kiln Park

Raunds Town FC
Kiln Park
London Road

Official Website

Ground Number: 401
Friday 20th August 2014
Raunds Town 0-0 Wellingborough Whitworths
UCL Division 1


Raunds Town were formed in 1946, and have the nickname of 'The Shopmates' due to the local shoe and boot industry workers carrying out their jobs in workshops. They have spent pretty much their entire existence in the United Counties League, apart from a short spell in the 1990s when they played in the Southern League. They finished as high as 6th in 1999 in it's Southern Division, but the geographical boundaries were switched the following season, with them being placed in the Eastern Division and getting relegated after finishing 21st. They never really recovered from this, and despite finishing 3rd and 4th in their first 2 seasons back, they generally struggled back in the UCL Premier. This led to them being relegated to its Division 1 in 2011 and they have struggled since, their finish of 12th last season being their best finish since going down. 

The club has seen some good cup runs in its time. in 1998 they got all the way to the 4th Qualifying Round before losing to Enfield. They went one less round in 1992, but they pulled off a significant giant-killing, beating that season's Conference League Cup winners (beating my own team Wycombe over 2 legs) Northwich in the 2nd Qualifying Round. This is the only time that a United Counties League side has beaten a Conference side in the competition. In their few seasons in the FA Trophy, the 3rd round proved to be their glass ceiling, this coming in 1998 when they lost to Weston Super Mare in a replay.  3 years earlier they had been in the FA Vase Semi Final. They must have thought they were home and dry after winning the first leg 3-0, but they somehow conspired to lose the return leg 5-0 at Arlesey Town.


Once again I was heading out for some Friday night football to reward me for my week at work. The United Counties League are good with this sort of thing - Yaxley have regularly played on a Friday night, and last season I saw Thrapston Town draw 1-1 with Buckingham Town in a fairly decent match. Add the fact that Anwar said he was likely to come, if he got back from Ipswich in time and the fact that it was a local derby and a top of the table clash (for all that's worth at this early stage of the season), and I was sold.

I was working as usual on Friday. But as usual of late, it was a fairly quiet day, and so I was out by 12.45. There was a good feeling in the air as it was payday, and I was glad to have some money in my account. After work, I went home, had lunch and a bath, and sorted out both financial and car breakdown cover stuff before leaving at 4.20. I had a small job to do in Aylesbury before I met Anwar, this netted me £10 which I would use towards tonight's game, thus reducing my expenses for the season. I picked Anwar up at 5.30, and we were soon on our way. There was around 20-minute delay on our trip, but we got there just before 7. After paying a good value £5 including a programme, I went in the bar to get myself a pint of Somersby Cider. The old girl behind the bar had a bit of trouble pouring it, as it was a new barrel, but I was happy to put £3.10 behind the bar to help out the club. It was 7.30 before we got back into the ground. I met Facebook friend Simon Langston who was also hopping this game, having come from Ely in Cambridgeshire. I got myself a Sausage and Chips for £2 and settled down to watch the game.

It was a fairly quiet first half which Whitworths had the better of, their best spell coming around the 10-minute mark. At halftime, I went back to my car and put most of my stuff in the boot to save carrying it around. The second half was not much better, the game was devoid of any real quality in the final third. Frustrations boiled over into a few meaty tackles but it never really got serious enough to be a dirty game. So it had been a disappointing game, far from the worst I had ever seen, but my first 0-0 in a long time. That's the way football goes though, it will make watching the goal fests all the more enjoyable. After the game, we went to get some food to perk ourselves up. Choosing a local pizza place I had some healthy chicken strips, though that was spoilt slightly by more chips. It was 10 by the time we left Raunds, and after dropping Anwar off at 11, I was home myself 25 minutes later.


KILN PARK is an excellent ground for step 6 and you can tell it was used a couple of steps higher. All the covered accommodation is on one side, with 250 seats and around 200 standing spaces. The bar is your usual clubhouse fare, while the tea bar offers a good range of stuff for reasonable prices. As usual everyone was nice and friendly, and the club are well worth a visit, I just hope you see a goal when you visit!