Sunday 28 December 2014

Cove - Oak Farm

Cove FC
Oak Farm Stadium
Squirrel Lane
GU14 8PB

01252 543615
Official Website

Ground Number: 448
Saturday 27th December 2014
Cove 2-6 Farnham Town
Combined Counties Premier Division


COVE at the start of the game were clear at the top of the league. They were founded in 1897 but it was not until the 1980-81 season that they joined the Combined Counties League. A 3rd place finish was enough to earn promotion to the Isthmian League during the 1989-90 season. Despite finishing 5th in Division 3 of the Isthmian League the 1992-93 season, the last 2 years in the league were a struggle on and off the field and they rejoined the Combined Counties for the 1996-97 season. They were league and cup double winners in 2001 as they also beat Walton Casuals 2-1 in the final of the Premier Challenge Cup. They have reached the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Cup on several occasions, most recently last season where they lost to Hungerford Town 4-0. FA Vase wise, they reached the quarter-finals in the double winning season of 2001/02 where they were unlucky to lose to Tiverton Town by the score of 3-2.   


After discovering the Alresford Town v Winchester City game at midday on this day, I was looking for another game to go to at the more traditional kick off time of 3PM. There was nothing practical in the Isthmian Division 1 South that I could do, so I looked at the Combined Counties League. This was for 2 reasons - firstly I needed to get back to a family gathering as quickly as possible, and also the CCL is one that I am well over halfway to completing, in the case of it's Premier Division anyway. There was 2 options - a game at Knaphill, which was eventually called off, and my choice of game for the day - Cove v Farnham Town. After the game at Alresford, I was keen to get to Cove as quickly as possible but was not helped by a member of the fairer sex taking around 3 minutes to reverse out of a parking space. Once on my way, I took a left out of the ground when I should have taken a right, but this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Fellow hoppers that followed the prescribed route got there 20 minutes after me, as the M3 was knackered due to roadworks. I got there at 2.30 and after paying £7 for entry and a programme I went into the bar as it was freezing. I had myself a pint of Strongbow for £3.20 and read the programme and checked my phone before going out at 2.55. I got myself some chips in the first half and a Bovril in the second to try and keep the cold out as well.

I'd not seen the league table or done my research before today's game, but I was surprised when I finally did look. Farnham dominated throughout and took the lead early on, which they held until halftime. They had several other chances to extend their lead and it looked to have cost them as Cove scored 2 quick goals to take the lead shortly after ha;f time. Justice was done, at least in terms of the game when Farnham ran riot, eventually winning 6-2. The scoreline reflected the balance of play as leaders Cove looked like they really didn't want to be out there. 
It was a shame for what seemed a nice club, but the team are at the top of the league for a reason, and will no doubt have better days than this. After the game I had a nice drive home, getting in just before 6. I had a few drinks, some nice food and time with the family, as well as hearing the amusing story of my Auntie's dog urinating down my brother's leg. I took it easy though, knowing that I had to be up at 4am the following morning for work.


OAK FARM is showing it's age but is still a decent enough ground. All the covered accommodation is on one side, with seating for 100 and covered standing for around 300 fans The rest of the ground is open hard standing. The tea bar is decent enough and the bar is warm and cosy with the usual range of drinks. They also sell scarves hats and badges in there too, and though it's not as modern as some clubhouses, the atmosphere is nice and friendly. Plus, any bar that shows 'Only Fools and Horses' and plays 'My Old Man's a Dustman' during the halftime break is OK by me.

Alresford Town - Arlebury Park

Alresford Town FC
Arlebury Park
The Avenue
SO24 9EP

01962 735100
Official Website

Ground Number: 447

Saturday 27th December 2014
Alresford Town 2-4 Winchester City
Wessex Premier


ALRESFORD TOWN FC was founded in 1898 as Alresford FC, but the present incarnation of the club was reformed in 1987. They joined the Hampshire League in 1990 and spent all but one season iits's various divisions. In 2004, the Wessex League expanded, and Alresford, along with many of the other clubs opted to join up. They spent 3 seasons in it's second tier before winning promotion to the Premier Division in 2007 when they finished as runners up behind Hayling United. They have stayed there ever since, and despite struggling at first, they have been runners up in the past 2 seasons. This season they were way down the table in 16th, but were well clear of relegation.

The club only started playing in the FA Cup in 2008, and equalled their best ever finish in the competition this season. They beat Christchurch after a replay, but were knocked out by Sherborne after another replay in the Preliminary Round. In the FA Vase, they got all the way to the 4th Round last season, before losing to Hallen. They had a Cup treble in the 2012-13 season, winning the Hampshire Senior Cup, the North Hants Senior Cup and the Wessex League Cup. That season also saw their record attendance of 193 achieved against Blackfield and Langley.


I was originally planning a Spartan South Midlands Division 1 double for this date, with Wodson Park at 1PM and FC Broxbourne Borough at 3PM, that was when I thought Anwar would be coming with me. But then he informed me that he was going to Aylesbury FC instead, and so I thought about saving these 2 local ones for when we could do them together. It was a blessing in disguise, that I had seen, around 15 minutes earlier I had seen my friend and Fareham Town secretary Paul 'Splodge' Proctor post details of another potential double. The local between Alresford and Winchester kicked off at 12PM, and with a large range of games scheduled at 3PM, I opted for Cove v Farnham game, should it be on. My main reason for going to football on this day was that we had family around. It wasn't that I didn't get on with them, they are all great, but our usual gatherings involve large amounts of alcohol, and with me up for work at 4am the following morning, I wanted to limit my intake, plus the fact that I had over indulged over the festive period already.

I woke a lot later than expected, getting up at 9.20 on the day, which meant I was a bit tight for time. I had a bit of breakfast, took a shower and got my things together, before leaving at 10.10. I had tried to strike a balance between checking that the game was still on and getting there in time to get a programme. Luckily, the roads were clear and I was there before 11.30. 
I parked up and went in, paying £6 entry and £1 for a programme and went and had a look around the ground. I went up to the bar and saw Paul,  a Wycombe fan who runs one of our websites and Robert, a Blackburn & Winchester fan who were both doing a bit of groundhopping for the day. I went and sat in the warm bar for a bit and checked Facebook, but didn't bother having a pint as it was only Strongbow. Later on I met a Bournemouth fan who knew someone from our independent supporters club and someone who reads (and enjoys this blog) Most of these would have had a shorter trip than me, but trumping them all by some considerable distance was my Facebook friend and fellow groundhopper Uwe who was over on one of his many trips from Germany.

The game was a very local derby with the 2 teams a few miles apart and as a result, there were plenty of players who had played for the opponents. Alresford made a lot of the early running and the game was just 2 minutes old when Dan Fox headed in a cross. They continued to press for a second, but it was Zach Glasspool who scored the next goal for Winchester as his shot went underneath the home keepers dive. It was another header that gave Alresford the lead just before halftime as Andy Turner nodded home a free kick. It looked as if Alresford would have a deserved half time lead but a low cross into the box hit the post and Winchester's Stuart Green followed up to bring his side level for a second time. If the first half had belonged to the home side, then it was a different story for the second and I'm guessing that the half time team talk fired Winchester into action. Warren Bentley gave them the lead with a low drive soon after half time and on 70 minutes it was 4-2 as Chris Mason headed home. It could have been more to be honest, but Alresford held firm and in the end, the result reflected the game. It had been an entertaining encounter and a really good advert for the Wessex League and I was hoping that my later game at Cove would be as good as this.


ARLEBURY PARK is a smart venue and is an example of a council helping it's local team for once. There is only one area of cover and very nice it is too, being a 2 tiered structure. On the lower deck are some wooden benches under cover, as well as some standing. On the top, there is more standing and sitting space under cover, and from the upper deck, you can get a great view of the action. Both ends have hard standing while the 3rd side is fenced off, and as it is only mesh, you see plenty of local dog walkers having a sneaky free view of the action.

The bar is pretty decent, offering 3 real ales but only Strongbow on draught for cider drinkers. It's of a very decent size, especially for this level, and even with one of the biggest crowds of the season, there was still plenty of space for anyone who wanted to sit down, to do so. There was no shop unsurprisingly and no hot food that I could see, though you could get hot drinks and snacks from the shed that also doubled as a turnstile. The ground was very well kept and a nice place to watch football and with the friendly people at the club, it makes it well worth a visit.

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Edgware Town - Silver Jubilee Park

Edgware Town FC
Silver Jubilee Park
Townsend Lane

Official Website

Ground Number: 446
Monday 22nd December 2014
Edgware Town 0-6 Hemel Hempstead Town


The original Edgware Town FC was established in 1939 and lasted until 2008 when the loss of their ground led to them folding. They were known as Edgware FC for a 15-year spell between 1972 and 1987. Their formation was interrupted by the Second World War, but once peacetime commenced they played in now-defunct leagues such as the Corinthian and Delphian. In 1984, they joined the London Spartan League, the forerunner to the modern-day Spartan South Midlands League. After a 14th place finish in their first season, they never finished outside the top half, winning the league in 1988 and 1990, the latter occasion being promoted to Isthmian D2. A 14th place finish in their first season here was achieved, but they dropped down to Division 3 following a restructuring. They bounced back, winning the title at the first attempt. They'd finish 6th in 1997, their best ever finish in the Non-League Pyramid as it was step 4 at the time. A couple more restructures later saw them change division with them winning the Spartan South Midlands Premier in 2007. Their final season saw an 8th place finish in the Isthmian D1 South, but the loss of their excellent former home saw them fold. Sadly I never got to visit other than on a non-matchday. Notable cup achievements during the first club's spell saw the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round reached in 1978 before a narrow 1-0 defeat to Barnet. They were also notable for producing future England keeper Dave Beasant, most famous for saving a penalty in Wimbledon's 1988 FA Cup Final win over Liverpool.

The upcoming availability of a groundshare at a refurbished Silver Jubilee Park, the former home of Kingsbury Town, saw the club revived in 2014. Spending the early part of the season playing at Barnet's Underhill ground, they started out in the Spartan South Midlands League D1. After a 9th place finish in their first season, they lifted the title in 2016. A couple of mid-table finishes (17th and 10th) followed in their first two seasons in the SSML Premier. This season had started fairly well, Edgware Town sitting 10th at the start of play. Their best cup achievement since reformation is reaching the FA Vase 3rd Round in 2016 where they lost 3-0 at home to Ipswich Wanderers. The town of Edware has a population of just over 76,000 and famous people to hail from there include TV celebrity Max Bygraves, Radio DJ Pat Sharp, former Wycombe player Ben Strevens and TV personality Vanessa Feltz.


Originally on this day, I was supposed to be doing Barkingside v Grays Athletic in the Ryman League Cup with Anwar. But at 10am on the day of the game he text me to say that he couldn't make it as he was looking after his kids as his mum had been called into work. Resigning myself to a night in, I struggled through a very busy day with little motivation, though I knew that at least I had 5 days off for Christmas. After starting at 3.45 in the morning, I finished 10 hours later and drove home. Normally I’d have a bath and lunch, but I wasn’t hungry, and in any case, my Dad was going up our local brewery. I went to see what ciders they had got in from other producers, as though Rebellion is only a beer maker they do get in some ciders from other local places. I had myself around half a pint of samples for stuff that I had tried before. I got myself a couple of bottles of stuff that they were not sampling, including an award-winning one for Christmas lunch. I came home, expecting to play a night of Football Manager, but then I noticed on Twitter that there was a game at Edgware Town that night. I was going to save it for worse weather as they have a 3G pitch. But with me having lost my night out earlier, free entry to a Friendly against Conference South team Hemel Hempstead Town sounded decent. I would also get to eat at home as it was such a short journey, meaning it would be a cheap night out.

I left around 6.15 expecting lots of traffic, but there was none at all and I arrived at the ground an hour later. There was a bit of confusion finding the ground at first as the postcode was for some way away, but after following the floodlights I was there. I had about half an hour to get some pictures of the ground and check out Facebook. The game itself was very one-sided. Hemel were in the lead within 10 minutes when the number 7 who was the best player on the pitch put a good ball across the box after some good footwork for someone to tap in. It was 2-0 on 37 minutes although I didn’t see the goal as I was replying to a message on my phone. On 52 minutes it was 3-0 with a cracking 30-yard shot that flew in the top corner. 2 penalties and a goal that was down to poor defending completed the rout, though it could have been many more if it wasn’t for some last-ditch tackles and good saves by the keeper. In the end, though, 6-0 was a fair reflection of Hemel’s dominance. After the game, I had a good journey home again and got in just after 10. I spent the rest of the evening playing Football Manager and watching Coronation Street while chatting on Facebook. Next up will be another local game, a revisit to Flackwell Heath v Oxford City Nomads as I still do not have a programme from my previous 2 visits there.


The choices on what was going to be potentially my last groundhop of the year were extremely limited. There were just three viable options with fellow hopper Chris - Anstey Nomads v Birstall United, Wolverhampton Casuals v Abbey Hulton United and Ellesmere Rangers v Shifnal Town. By far the favourite was Anstey Nomads as it was closest, but we would have to keep an eye on the weather as once again it was going to be wet. There was also the backup of Leicester City v Manchester City, but neither of us really fancied it. The night before, I got all of the information together, including phone numbers for the secretaries and food options so as to avoid a wasted journey. The morning came and I had a productive day off, getting my haircut and virtually completing my Christmas shopping. I came back in the afternoon and watched as the fixtures fell, one by one, including our planned trip to Anstey. With just the two backups in place (both of which eventually fell) we decided against the game. I looked at options nearer home and it boiled down to 4. Bedford Town v Aldershot Town was the best option but also the priciest and furthest away. There were three revisit options within a similar distance - Hanworth Villa v Guildford City fell early and Welwyn Garden City were showing little enthusiasm for their game against Hadley, not even a tweet to promote the game. So I opted for the safe 3G option of Edgware Town v Wembley, last visited almost exactly 4 years to this day. I'd only been there for a friendly before and the Spartan South Midlands League had never let me down for a good game. Plus my blog needed a tidy up and I wanted to get some better pictures of the ground. It was a real local derby too, with less than 4 miles between the two grounds.

After having dinner and researching the club history, I left at 6.40. It's not the nicest of journeys at the best of times, but the incessant rain made things worse. I got to the ground at 7.35, a little later than I'd have hoped. I paid £6 to get in, which I reckon is the perfect price for this level. No programme was offered, so I didn't ask, but I did see others with one, but with me running out of space, I wasn't bothered. I got some pictures of the ground before taking a place under the metal cover on the far side. Edgware featured former Wycombe striker Scott McGleish. He lined up in defence at the grand old age of 44 and looked competent and assured all night, later moving into midfield. I learned from a Hendon supporting friend that he had also signed on for them as a dual registration player. It was the visitors though, sitting firmly in the lower reaches of the table that had the better of the opening exchanges. They had a number of chances before taking the lead on 40 minutes. A free-kick from captain Massine Fehmi-Gil was only parried and Adrian Dinham was there to follow up. Wembley continued to have the better of proceedings but Edgware did have a few bright spells, their best chance coming when McGleish got down the right, crossed and narrowly missed a sliding Calvin Osborne. The points looked to be heading the way of the visitors until the final minute. But then a powerful run down the left by Tyriq Hunte was capped off by a good finish to give Edgware a share of the spoils. I left at 9.40, setting up my phone to play the Blackpool v Solihull Moors game through the car audio. In the end, the non-leaguers were screwed over by a very poor refereeing decision, bravely going out 3-2 and gifting a most unpleasant owner a big payday. Due to a fire around Wembley and road closures my journey home had a big diversion, but even so, I was home by 10.35. As per usual, it took me a fair while to get to sleep, but I dropped off eventually. 

A post shared by Russell Cox (@russ_wwfc) on


SILVER JUBILEE PARK used to be the home of Kingsbury Town, and then (Kingsbury) London Tigers. Though the former no longer exists, the latter play around 5 miles away in Greenford. Edgware Town moved into the newly refurbished ground midway through the season of my first visit after starting it at Underhill, the former ground of Barnet FC The ground has a 3G pitch, which is great for the bad weather. The biggest stand is along the side and is all seated, holding around 150. Although it is elevated, it has several pillars blocking your view. A lot had been added upon my second visit - a seated stand for just over 100 behind one goal and three further covered standing areas meaning that the ground has at least some cover on all sides.

You can see some old pictures that I got on both my previous visit and a visit in the mid-2000s to get snaps of Kingsbury Town's ground at the bottom of this blog. Back to the present day, the bar had been refurbished and offers a reasonable range of drinks plus basic food such as pies and burgers. I didn't see an Edgware Town club shop but I know that Hendon have one and there was also signs of a bigger tea bar outside. Being a built-up area, there are a fair few options within walking distance of the ground, but I didn't try any.