East Grinstead Town FC
Ground Number: 512
Tuesday 25th August 2012
East Grinstead Town 0-1 Peacehaven & Telscombe
Isthmian League D1 North
I'd be without Anwar, my regular groundhopping pal for my football this week, as he was away on his annual visit to see his Aunt in Ipswich, so I was looking for something as near as possible. The nearest mileage wise was Broxbourne Borough v Leverstock Green at 37 miles away. But I decided to save it as I could do it as a nearby one when Anwar would be in attendance. Usually when I am on my own I will head south as it's usually uneconomical to do so when I have to go via Aylesbury. That said, though I've not done many recently, I've ticked a fair few of them over the years. For that reason, Dorking v Banstead Athletic in the Combined Counties League was next nearest at 53 miles. However, that game was being played at Horley Town while Dorking's own ground was being refurbished and so I decided to save it for when the host club are at home.For that reason I settled on East Grinstead Town v Peacehaven & Telscombe in the Isthmian Division 1 South. At 63 miles away it was a bit further than I had hoped for, but all things considered I felt this was the best option.
EAST GRINSTEAD TOWN were founded in 1890, but they did not play their first competitive game until 10 years later. Playing in the Mid Sussex League until 1920, they were founding members of the Sussex County League, where they have spent almost all of their history. Flitting between it's 2 Divisions over the years, they won the Division 2 Championship in 2007/08 to win promotion to it's top tier. For the first time since the 1970's the club enjoyed an extended run at this higher level and in 2014 they finished as runner up behind East Preston. As the Champions' ground was deemed unfit for step 4, they were offered promotion and accepted it. They struggled a bit in their first season, finishing 22nd. For the second season in a row fortuned smiled on them, and they were saved by a reprieve due to other goings on in the pyramid. Form in the league so far has been patchy - despite a win at Whyteleafe they have suffered defeats to Molesey, Tooting & Mitcham and the latest reverse came on Saturday as they lost 4-2 at home to Worthing. This left them in 19th place in the table, after 4 games played.
In the FA Cup they have reached the 2nd Qualifying Round on 2 occasions. The latest came in 1971 as they beat Ringmer before losing 3-0 to current football league side Crawley Town. It was also the 1970's that saw their best FA Vase run when they reached the 3rd Round. Whitehawk and Shoreham were beaten in the first 2 rounds, but Tunbridge Wells bought an end to their Cup run in the 3rd Round. Last season saw their first appearance in the FA Trophy and despite getting a decent 0-0 draw at Walton Casuals they crashed 6-1 in the replay on their own ground. Local Cup success came in the form of the delightfully monikered 'Sussex Royal Ulster Rifles Cup' which they won in 2004 and the 'Baldwin Cup' which was captured in 1952.
Since my groundhopping exploits up north last week, I had been taking a bit of a rest, mainly because I was waiting for payday to come up. On Saturday my own team Wycombe had a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to bottom side Dagenham & Redbridge. That was only obtained after a last minute equaliser. That goal resulted in jubilant celebrations, even involving ballboy Taylor Hunt. The incident has received attention from all over the place, and a TV crew from Norway even came over to interview the little lad. Closer tonight's destination, we were reminded that football is just a game. At the Shoreham Air Show a pilot lost control of his plane, smashing into the adjacent dual carriageway and killing 11 people. 2 of those happened to be Worthing United players on the way to their club's game with Loxwood and the resulting tragedy has been felt across football, not least at the clubs local to them in Sussex. The loss of Matt Grimstone & Jacob Schilt will be felt for a long time and my thoughts go out to all concerned, as they do with the other people involved in the incident.
I made reasonable time getting to the game. Of course there was the delay near the 'ugly bridge near Heathrow' on the M25 around Chertsey. The traffic always slows to a crawl round there and the wait is not made any better by having to look at that monstrosity. There were a few other slow spots but in the end around half an hour delay was reaonably acceptable, which really illustrates what low expectations I have when using that motorway. Once I got off near Redhill it was 'A' roads all the way to the ground and I even passed Lingfield FC, who play in the Southern Combination. I got to the ground around 7, going straight in. I paid £8 for entry and £2 for a well presented programme. After taking some pictures of the ground I sat in the stand and caught on Facebook. As kick off was about to get underway I was very surprised to see my mate Eddie, who is a Grimsby fan that lives in Wakefield. He was down in the south for a few days and had come along to the game.
There was a minutes silence for the Worthing United players who died on Saturday before the game, which was impeccably observed as you would expect. As for the game Peacehaven had the better of the opening 10 minutes but the hosts soon got back into it and both sides came close. The visitors were always the most dangerous in the final third and it was the number 11 Jamie Brotherton who was making it all happen. On 23 minutes he hit the bar with a curling cross and a couple of minutes later the same player forced a good save from East Grinstead keeper Chris Winterton. It wasn't all one way traffic though and the home side shot just wide on 28 minutes. Five minutes before the interval they were awarded a penalty after an infringement in the area. Trevor McCreadie stepped up and struck the ball low to the keepers' right but Amadou Tangara puled off a great save to tip the ball round the post. A couple of minutes later they were made to pay when Layton Schaaf rose highest to head home to give Peacehaven the lead.
In the second half the visitors again started the stronger side, going close a couple of times. On 55 minutes East Grinstead came close to an equaliser as their shot was tipped over the bar. The resulting corner was cleared as well. They had another good chance to draw level from a free kick 3 minutes later after the visitors Stacey Freeman was booked for holding back his opponent but the attempt was wasted. That turned out to be the last clear cut chance for the hosts but Peacehaven still had a few chances and were unlucky not to double their lead around 70 minutes when a succession of chances were well saved. In the end East Grinstead's failure to win their aerial battles and their lack of cutting edge in the final third was the difference between the sides.
There was around 9 minutes of injury time due to a number of players receiving treatment earlier on. The game ended amidst home fans arguing with each other. A couple of blokes in the terrace behind were criticising players for their lack of application and an irate lady told them in no uncertain terms that they should not come if they are not going to get behind the team. In the end it was just before 9.30 when I left. Initially I tried to listen to Radio Kent to try and find out how Tonbridge Angels had got on as I knew my mates Joe & Tristan had gone to the game and were keen fans. However they were not even doing sport coverage that night so I was out of luck. Instead I listened to coverage of the League cup games on the way home and it was an exciting night with plenty of goals going in.The highlight was Luton taking Stoke City all the way to penalties but sadly losing in the shootout. I got home an hour and 10 minutes later and after watching a bit of TV went to bed just before midnight.
EAST COURT is a smart and well kept venue that I initially visited around 2009 on the way to Eastbourne Borough v Wycombe. It was a well kept venue and as such was ready to go when they won promotion to the Ryman League a year or so ago. Since I last visited quite a bit of black and yellow has been added to give it a colourful and imposing presence. All the covered accommodation is one one side with 2 stands comprising of around 200 seats and 200 terrace spaces. Both stands are up on a bank and it's nice to see that they are proper structures rather than the increasingly popular metal flat pack stands. The elevation also gives fans a decent view wherever they sit or stand.
The rest of the ground is open flat standing. I didn't try the bar and tea bar or clubhouse but they both seemed pretty decent. Also there was a good range of merchandise all at good prices. A particular favourite was scarves at a fiver and it was only lack of space on my ceiling that stopped me indulging. The ground is tucked up a long narrow road and it's a bit of a walk to the nearest amenities, so it's just as well the facilities at the ground are pretty good.