Thursday, 29 September 2016

Bedfont Sports Club - Bedfont Recreation Ground

Bedfont Sports Club FC
Bedfont Recreation Ground
Hatton Road
TW14 9JR

0208 831 9067 or 07967 370109
Official Website

Ground Number: 624
Wednesday 28th September 2016
Bedfont Sports 1-2 AFC Hayes
Combined Counties Premier Division


BEDFONT SPORTS are a fairly new club, having been formed in 2002. They joined the Hounslow & District League upon formation, winning it at the first attempt. In 2004 they joined the Middlesex League, having great success during their 5-year tenure there. In 2009 they joined the Combined Counties League at Division 1 level. 3 seasons were spent in the lower tier before a runners-up spot behind Guernsey in 2012 was enough to earn them promotion to the Premier Division. They've been there ever since and although they've never been close to being relegated, they've not managed a top half finish yet either. Last seasons placing of 13th represents their joint best-ever finish. They are currently having an excellent season, sitting in 5th after the weekend fixtures, while opponents AFC Hayes were struggling in 20th place.

In the FA Cup the record progress has only been the Preliminary Round, a feat that they've achieved on 3 occasions - the latest of which came this season when they lost 3-0 to Slimbridge. It's also a trip of appearances in the FA Vase 1st Round, though they are still in with a chance of matching or bettering that this season as they won 2-0 away at Wellingborough Town in the 2nd Qualifying Round at the weekend. In terms of local cup honours, the Middlesex Premier Cup was won in 2010.


I'd only arranged to go to this clash on the afternoon of the game. I'd searched for local games in my Groundhopper app and it had thrown up Bedfont Sports v AFC Hayes. I'd initially thought they shared at Bedfont FC, but I was wrong as they played next door. It would be a nice reward as I'd had a hard day at work, though the previous nights football had cheered me up. After going on a long run without much success, we absolutely trounced 5th placed Crewe 5-1. It was our best performance and the first time we had scored 5 in a game since the late 1990's. We moved up to 19th place as a result,which emphasises how much of a shock result it was. I'd had to park a while away from my house and so it was 6.10 by the time I left. Amazingly the roads were pretty perfect, even the dreaded M25 and I was there by 6.50.

After finding a spot to park I want and waited for the turnstile to open along with a number of other hoppers. I met 'Lesta Blew Hopper' that I know from Twitter and we had a brief chat before going in. Entry was £7 including my programme which was pretty much the standard rate for this level. I got some pictures of the ground and caught up online while I waited for the game to kick off. Bedfont Sports started the strongest but both sides had chances. It was the visitors who took the lead on 25 minutes - a long kick from the keeper found a visiting forward who chipped the home custodian and had the simple job of finishing into an empty net. It was slightly against the run of play but it stayed that way until the interval despite the hosts having a couple cleared off the line. Again they started the second half on the front foot but the visitors extended their lead with a chance on the break, around an hour into the game. It was a lovely strike too,  Jordan Berry's low shot from outside the area clipping the left-hand post on the way in. More often than not Bedfont were found lacking in the final third,  but Paul Johnson did grab a late consolation from close range after a square ball was played across the 6-yard box following a drop ball that had been keenly won on the left.

So for the second night in a row, the 5th placed team in the league had gone into the game as clear favourites, but had come out defeated. Though this wasn't as convincing as Wycombe's win over Crewe and Bedfont Sports had had a lot of domination, AFC Hayes had done a good job on the hosts. They'd defended stoutly and their keeper had made several food saves, but they'd also finished very well, especially for their second. It was 9.40 by the time the game had finished and so I made my way home. It was another good journey home and I was back home in 35 minutes. I watched TV for a bit before going to sleep just before midnight.


I wasn't expecting much when I made my way out to the ground, as most clubs that have progressed from local leagues have just plonked a metal 'Arena' type stand at the side of the pitch, and no solid structures. Though there was one of those said stands at one end of the pitch, there was also cover on all 4 sides. That metal stand holds just over 100 fans and is the only cover at the left hand end. Opposite is a mixture of seating and standing, with around 70 seats and 200 covered standing. The seats, as with man other clubs around this way have benefited from the closure of a lot of the olympics venues and this stand features seats from the Aquatics centre. Letters saying 'WELCOME TO BEDFONT SPORTS' have been added on the bottom of the seats to add a personal touch. The other goal has covered standing for around another 200 whilst the remaining side is the one that you come in through the turnstiles. This has what looks to be an original seated stand, situated down one end and holding 50 fans. There is also cover via an overhang at the front of the clubhouse, adding another 100 under cover.

The facilities at the ground are pretty good too. The tea bar offers hot food such as burgers and hot dogs at reasonable prices, along with drinks and snacks. The clubhouse was doing a brisk trade when I visited and was showing the live football from Sky. They had a fairly standard range of drinks including Stowford Press though I'm unsure of prices as I didn't indulge. The programme was well priced at £1, but didn't have a lot to read in it. This friendly club is well worth a visit, especially as they have the good sense to play on Wednesday nights, therefore attracting a decent number of hoppers on a fairly quiet night.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Slough Town - Arbour Park

Slough Town FC
Arbour Park
Stoke Road

Ground Number: 623
Saturday 14th September 2016
Slough Town 3-0 Biggleswade Town
Southern Premier



Since leaving Wexham Park in 2003, Slough Town have led a nomadic existence. Initially ground sharing with Windsor & Eton up until 2007, they moved in with Beaconsfield SYCOB for the rest of their exile which was ended in late August this year when they returned to the town for the first time in 13 years, recording a victory over Hayes and Yeading United on their homecoming. Times have been understandably tough during their period of exile and they've flitted between steps 3 & 4 during this period - a far cry from their best days in the Conference. The worst season came in 2007/08 when they were lucky to escape relegation to step 5 after finishing second bottom in the Southern League Division 1 South & West - this despite having 3 internationals - albeit from Anguilla. The previous season had saw their worst ever defeat - crashing 9-0 to AFC Wimbledon. Though performance at step 3 was mediocre during exile, they've been in the Southern Premier since 2014 and currently sit top of the table. Former local rivals of Wycombe or not, I'd love to see them back at the top of the non-league tale, and steps are certainly being made in the right direction at present.

The FA Cup has bought a couple of moments of glory during exile. In 2012 they took football league side Mansfield Town to a replay, taking them to a penalty shoot out before losing 4-1. In 2004/05 they went one better - beating Walsall 2-1 before a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Yeading in the 2nd Round. This saw them lose out on a home tie against Premiership giants Newcastle United. That same season saw another great cup run - reaching the FA Trophy 5th Round before losing to Gravesend & Northfleet. Local honours include the Isthmian League Cup, won in 2005.

Famous people to come from or to have lived in the town of Slough include engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, singer Geri Halliwell, comedian Jimmy Carr, politician Alan Johnson, radio host Iain Lee, musician Gary Numan, actress Una Stubbs and footballer Lloyd Owusu. Due to its location close to Heathrow airport, several businesses are based here including Burger King, Blackberry, McAfee and Lego. The town has always been a haven for immigrants, right back to the 1930's when unemployed Welsh migrated here, in more modern times the majority of new arrivals have come from India, Pakistan and Poland, making it one of the most diverse towns in Britain.


I was on my own this Saturday, so I was looking for something fairly local. An inital search threw up league games at Slough, Finchampstead and Sheerwater as grounds that I had not visited, but I really fancied an FA Vase game. However I changed my mind when I saw that the nearest ones were over 60 miles away and were awkward to tie in with a pub lunch. I'd initially dismissed Slough as I wanted to save them in case of an FA Cup game in later rounds, but with not a lot of choice elsewhere and the ground so close to Slough town centre, I decided that this would be my best option. I'd be able to tick the Slough branch of Wetherspoons and also look around their town centre, which was a pretty decent one from what I remember. In the dim and distant past my own team Wycombe and Slough were big rivals, and although I loved it when we beat them, I felt no malice towards them and always enjoyed my visits to their old ground Wexham Park, even for neutral games.

On the day of the game I awoke around 8am and spent the morning relaxing and looking at possible European destinations for my week off in November, without much success. I left home at 11.45 and drove to the ground, parking in a nearby side street and walking into town. After a look around the shops I went to my 110th Wetherspoons, which was called the Moon and Spoon. It was pretty average for the chain, but with the ever friendly pricing that Wetherspoons employ. I had a BBQ Chicken Panini with chips and a bottle of Hazy Hog for a fiver. From there I walked back to the ground, paying £10 to get in and £2 for a programme. I got some pictures of the ground before taking up a spot near the halfway line and waiting for the game to start. The match report from the non-league paper is below.

So it had been a good game, with Slough worthy winners and in truth they could have had more. Biggleswade did start brightly for the first 5 minutes and had they stuck an early chance away then it may have been a different story. The only blot on the landscape for Slough was the injury of Lee Barney who left the field on a stretcher. As a result, there was a fair bit of injury time and I didn't get back to my car until nearly 5. I was dismayed to see that both of my bets had lost, as had Wycombe, though in truth we ran Carlisle close up in Cumbria, and 1-0 isn't the end of the world in terms of results. It was a good drive home and I was back by 5.40. I spent the rest of the evening doing my blog and catching up on other things before watching Match Of The Day and going to sleep.


ARBOUR PARK is in a great location around 20 minutes walk away from the town which has a Wetherspoons and loads of other takeaways and pubs. Nearer the ground there are a number of takeaways though I didn't see much in the way of pubs. Back at the ground there is a bottle and can bar as well as a burger van and snack bar though I didn't try either. There's a table selling club merchandise near the entrance. The programme was £2, printed on decent quality paper and had a number of interesting articles in it.

The ground is very much a work in progress. As with so many modern grounds there is little official parking, though this is mainly due to building work in this case. If you are clever though you can use Google Maps to find street parking - in my case I used Myrtle Crescent which was 5 minutes walk away. The ground itself has a narrow terrace at each end of the ground although these stretch the width of the pitch and have around 700 capacity each. There is a smaller seated stand which holds 150-200 though what looks like the main stand is in the process of being built. Overall, it's a good start, but it will be better when the main stand is finished and the club shop is expanded. There was also a lack of signs letting people know whose home it was, and a few of them will make it feel more like home.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Northampton ON Chenecks - Old Northamptonians Sports Ground

Northampton ON Chenecks FC
Old Northamponians Sports Ground
Billing Road

Ground Number: 622
Wednesday 21st September 2016
Northampton ON Chenecks 3-4 Wellingborough Town
Hillier Cup 1st Round


The club was founded in 1946, and was initially established so that students at the rugby-playing grammar school could play football. The club's name comes from the school houses that originally made up the football team. After switching to adult football, the club joined the United Counties League in 1969. They've always been in the league's bottom division, but not without success. The lack of floodlights (until a couple of seasons ago) and other facilities at the ground has stalled their progress, but they still have league titles to their name, won back in 1978 & 1980. They've never finished bottom of the table, though they only achieved this feat by a fine margin in 1996 as goal difference meant that Irchester United were the unlucky party. Last season saw their best finish since the late 1970's as they were runners-up.This entitled them to promotion to the United Counties Premier and they've had a mixed start to the season, sitting 18th out of a 22 team league at the time of the game - not so bad when you consider that they were yet to play a home game as cricket took precedence at their ground.

Due to lack of floodlights, it was not until this season that they entered the FA Cup and they went out at the first hurdle, losing on penalties to Harefield United after 2 games could not separate the sides. The FA Vase was entered for the first time last season - after beating Sun Sports 2-1, they lost out to Berkhamsted in the 2nd Qualifying Round by the same scoreline. This season, they have again progressed, this time by way of an impressive 4-1 win at Raunds Town and have a chance to progress further on Saturday when they host Leighton Town. Local cup honours include the Daventry Charity Cup in 1985 and the Northants Junior Cup on 3 occasions.


This visit was arranged on Sunday and once again I'd be going via Milton Keynes with fellow groundhopper Chris. He'd suggested this game, and I was happy to go along with it. Our main reason for choosing this game is the several good pubs that Northampton has to offer. Chris fancied the Malt Shovels, but I suggested the slightly nearer Olde England which I visited back in April and which had 12 ciders on tap at the time. Whichever we ended up going to, we would have plenty of time - we were leaving Milton Keynes at 4 and it was only a 30-minute journey. I'd have to be careful with me driving later on, but even with me dumping the car at the ground and then walking the 30 minutes to town, we'd still have lots of time to kill.

On the day of the game I went to work with only a few hours sleep, but I felt fine, even in the afternoon when I usually have a sleep. Despite my worst fears when a couple of staff failed to show up for work, it was still an easy day and I was out by 11.30. I had a bath, and had some lunch, before updating my blogs and catching up on various other things. I left at 2.50 and with the traffic being fairly reasonable I was in Milton Keynes, ready to meet Chris in plenty of time for 4pm. We had a decent journey over to Northampton and were at the ground by 4.40. From there it was a 25-minute walk to the Olde England pub,  which was as good as I remember it. Chris was impressed as they had 15 ciders on and a decent looking menu. For my first drink I had a pint of Cuckoo Penny which was a light 4% cider and ordered some Beef Jerk Sausages and chips. Sadly we couldn't agree on a game for Friday and Chris is busy on Saturday, so I'll be on my own and doing something local to keep costs down. My second drink was Darkcider, which strangely was a Canadian one and had the the taste of one from America. From there we made our way to the ground, getting there with plenty of time to spare until kick off.

Entry was reasonably priced at £5 and there was also a programme for £1 which turned out to be a double issue with Saturday's game against Melton Town. I'd seen 8 goals the previous night at Tividale, and although I saw one less tonight, it was at least a lot more competitive. The hosts took the lead on 9 minutes as they capitalised on a defensive mix-up to take the lead. Wellingborough equalised with the best goal of the night on 21 minutes - a great shot flying into the top left-hand corner from outside the area. The half hour mark saw Chenecks retake the lead, this time as a free kick was deflected home. Though Wellingborough were looking most likely to score at this point it was the hosts that extended their lead on 40 minutes, with a goal on the break, slotted neatly past the keeper. Wellingborough pulled a goal back on 50 minutes, heading home from pretty much a yard out. It was 2 defensive errors that saw them equalise and take the lead and although Chenecks thought they had equalised 4 minutes from time, it was ruled out for offside.

It had been a good game then, and in summary Wellingborough's cutting edge had triumphed over a hard-working Chenecks side who perhaps deserved a share of the spoils. We left at 9.40, with me dropping Chris home at 10.10. I got home myself just before 11. As I was tired I dropped off to sleep pretty much straight away - usually I'll stay up for a good hour after the game as I struggle to get to sleep. Even with a better nights sleep than usual, I was still tired the next morning and was glad when I got home and was able to catch up with a 5-hour sleep. At least it allowed me to listen to the East London Radio Grassroots football show, which might help me decide where my game on Saturday will be at, as I'm not sure at present.


OLD NORTHAMPTONIANS SPORTS GROUND is part of a wider sports complex which also hosts rugby and cricket. There's not a huge amount around the ground, although town is around 30 minutes walk away and has several decent eating and drinking places. The ground itself has a bar which I didn't try and a tea hut. Though the range is quite limited the hot dog I had for £1.50 was decent enough value and quite tasty. The ground is mostly open, but there are 2 stands that you can sit or stand in, and these have around 400 capacity under cover.