Saturday 23 December 2017

Crockenhill - Wested Meadow

Crockenhill FC
Wested Meadow
Eynsford Road

Ground Number: 750
Saturday 23rd December 2017
Crockenhill 0-8 K Sports


The club was formed in 1946 and was the result of a merger between two local clubs - Crockenhill Youth and Mudhole Dynamo. They spent their early years in the Kent County Amateur League, winning a number of titles and promotions. Spells in the Aetolian League, which became the Greater London League followed, before Crockenhill switched to the Kent League in 1968. They were champions in 1983 - at the time, this league sat at step 5 of the non-league pyramid and remains the best season in the club's history to date. They remained here until 1999 when a lack of floodlights forced them to drop down to the Kent County League. This prompted a lean spell for the club and they dropped as low as Division 1 West, finishing bottom of the step 8 league in 2011. The formation of the Kent Invicta League in that year allowed Crockenhill to make the jump up to step 6, with them being less fussy about floodlights. They've generally struggled since joining, the best finish since joining being 13th out of 16 teams in 2013. They currently sit bottom of the league and it's unclear whether relegation will be enforced as it depends on whether there are any suitable step 7 applicants willing to make the step up.

Crockenhill's lack of floodlights has prevented them entering the FA's competitions in recent times, but they did enter the FA Cup for 5 seasons in the latter half of the 1980's. Their sole win came in 1987 as they travelled to Flackwell Heath and came away 3-0 victors, though they lost 3-1 at Harefield United in the 1st Qualifying Round. Appearances in the FA Vase have been less sporadic and the club has had a couple of notable runs. They've reached the 4th twice - losing 2-0 at home to Molesey in 1975 and 3-1 at Buckingham Town in 1984. Local cup honours include the Kent Senior Trophy in 1981 and the Sevenoaks Charity Cup in 1949. The most famous player to play for the club is former Republic of Ireland international Tony Cascarino who they didn't want a transfer fee for when he signed for Gillingham in 1981. Instead, the Gills donated some tracksuits and training equipment to the club. The small village of Crockenhill has a population of 1,336 and the land the club plays on is owned by a local farmer. According to a 2013 article, the landlord is only willing to allow the club to erect floodlights if they increase their rent from £4,000 to £18,000 a year and is only willing to give them a year to year lease, despite football being played on the site since 1908.


Originally on this day, I'd been hoping to revisit Kidderminster Harriers for their game against Nuneaton Town. It was a ground that I'd been looking to revisit for a number of years and this was one of the few Saturdays that they were at home and that I could make it. However, owing to the unpredictable weather and having to leave at a ridiculous hour to get a cheap train, I decided against it. Instead, it would be another trip to London - something that I fancied with it being near Christmas. New ground options were thin on the ground, however, with all games kicking off at 2PM due to lack of lights. It was something that I'd have to put up with though, even if it meant a truncated pre-match, thanks to the ground being right on the outskirts of the TFL network. At least I'd be able to go to Borough Market beforehand and have a couple of pints beforehand. My research told me the pubs were very poor in Swanley, where I'd be getting the train to, not so much as a Wetherspoons for a pre-match meal. There were takeaways, but the choice was limited and they would mean a small detour before a half hour walk to Crockenhill.


On the day of the game, I woke fairly early, just before 7. It had been a late one the night before and I’d not got to bed until around 2. Even though I’d had less than 5 hours sleep, I felt fine. After a chicken burger for breakfast, I watched last night’s Coronation Street and a few other things. I then got freshened up and dressed, before leaving at 9.15. After parking up, I got to the station in the nick of time, buying a Daily Star before getting the 9.39 Chiltern Railways train. After changes at Harrow on the Hill and Finchley Road, I got to London Bridge around 10.45. It was a short walk to the cider stall at Borough Market where I had 3 new ciders. I left at 11.40 and after various changes found myself at Victoria for the final leg of my journey. It was annoying to have a 35-minute wait for my train, so I got myself a chicken burger and chips for under £3 to pass the time. I’d have preferred something fancy at the market, but the times didn’t work out for me. I finally got the 12.37 to Ramsgate, which got to Swanley just after 1.30 but decided not to let me out, closing the doors on me before I could get out. The Uber from Farningham Road cancelled on me, so I had to get the train back and hope for the best. This involved on travelling on a backwater service, so I had another half hour wait for the train. Luckily I arrived back at Swanley just in time, and apart from having to pay £6 for a taxi to the ground, the damage was minimal.

The hosts had a tough task ahead of them, sitting bottom of the table and with just three league wins and no draws all season. They came fresh off the back of a 4-0 defeat to fellow strugglers Lewisham Borough and had lost 9-1 at Kent Football United just a few games ago. They did have an exciting home game last time out as they lost 4-3 to mid-table FC Elmstead. Their last victory had come at the start of November with a 3-1 win over 5th placed Bridon Ropes which completed the double over the Charlton based side, as they won 2-1 there in late August. The other win was a 3-1 victory over Lewisham Borough the previous week. K Sports would provide a stiff challenge, sitting a point clear at the top of the league and fresh off the back of a 1-0 win over Holmesdale, one of 3 victories in their last 5 games. Previous meetings between the sides included a 6-1 victory for K Sports in the League Cup in October and although the corresponding fixture last season had seen a 3-3 draw, K Sports had won the return 6-3 on their own patch.

I got to the ground at 1.50, paying £6 to get in. There was no programme yet, owing to an issue with the printer. Apparently, the editor had gone home to print them. The programmes eventually arrived 20 minutes into the second half, I was happy to pay a quid for a copy. I was hoping for a performance of note from Crockenhill but was left disappointed. K Sports were ahead within 5 minutes when Matt Gething fired home a low shot from just inside the area. Caine Smith added a second for the visitors on 13 minutes when a looping cross was headed in. It was 3-0 on 20 minutes, Gething getting his second of the game as he poked home a close-range effort following hesitancy in the home defence. With the visitors firmly in control, there was little chance of the 20 football fans seeing a second-half comeback, instead, it got much worse. A looping shot from Smith made it 4-0 after 48 minutes before the home keeper made a cracking double save to keep the score at four. It was a brief respite though, as, from the corner, Gething completed his hat-trick with a header on 58 minutes. Another header from a cross made it 6-0 three minutes later, this time it was Smith completing his hat-trick. More poor defending saw Smith poke home his 4th on 81 minutes. The scoring was finally complete minutes later and they saved the best until last. Richard Butler lobbed home from distance to make it 8-0 and a complete rout for the visitors. I'd expected a K Sports victory, but not by this margin. Crockenhill offered little, save for a couple of chances on the break, a real shame for a decent club.

It was a comprehensive away win and could have easily been 2 or 3 times as bad for the hapless hosts. After the game, I walked the 2 miles back to Swanley. The start wasn’t great, down a narrow road with no pavement and some cars being too close for comfort. Eventually, I got back to town around 4.30. As I was hungry, I went in search of food, getting some chicken, Irn Bru and some crisps from Asda. It was still a fair walk to the station and so it wasn’t until just after 5 that I got there. Luckily, my train was there waiting for me, so I got straight on that and went back to Waterloo. It took ages for the train to make the last stop, but at least I had the whole carriage to myself. Whereas my first train was deserted, once I got on the underground it was very busy. I got the Jubilee line to Wembley Park, changing at Harrow On The Hill to try and get back quicker. It turned out to be worthwhile, little more than 5 minutes later, I was heading for Amersham. I got back to the station, walking back to my car and driving home. I got back at 7.30 and watched the Leicester City v Manchester United game on TV, as well as Match Of The Day later on. It was nice for once, not having to worry about being up on Sunday, as I had a rare Sunday off for Christmas.


WESTED MEADOW is a groundhoppers favourite and rightly so as it’s delightfully ramshackle. There’s the main stand that holds around 150 at a push, plus a couple of covered areas holding around the same again.  There’s a basic tea bar, plus a great clubhouse. Though the drinks range is limited, the walls are plastered with newspaper cuttings related to the club. There’s not much around the ground, a local shop and a pub, as well as an Indian Takeaway in the evening. The nearest place for a larger range of facilities is Swanley, 2 miles away, although it is on a bus route.


1: Ground facilities & condition (for the level)

Has everything that’s needed for this level, bar lights. Delightfully ramshackle (7)

2: Area around the ground (parking, food/drink, public transport)

Out in the sticks, village is limited but pleasant (4)

3: Welcome / Club Friendliness

Helpful and friendly (7)

4: Value for money
Average for the level (6)

5: Social Media & Website

Both have reasonable updates (6)

6: Programme
Decent effort, with a festive touch. Extra point for the effort from the editor to get it out. (8)

7: Game entertainment
A bit one-sided (5)

8: Tea Bar
Basic, but OK for the level (6)

9: Bar / Clubhouse

Limited drinks, but tons of memorabilia. Sports TV (7)

10: Club Shop
None (-)



Saturday 9 December 2017

Forest Hill Park - Ladywell Arena

Forest Hill Park FC
Ladywell Arena
Silvermere Road

Ground Number: 749
Saturday 9th December 2017
Forest Hill Park 0-5 Stansfeld


The club is a fairly young one, having been established as recently as 1992. The club got their hame from the local areas of Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park.Formative years were spent in the Crystal Palace & District Sunday League before a switch to Saturday football and spells in the Bromley & District & South London Alliance Leagues. In 2008, Forest Hill Park joined the Kent County League. They won Division 2 West in their second season, earning promotion to Division 1. They've been there ever since, though name changes meant the league became the Keni Invicta before settling on the SCEL D1 at the start of last season. Their best ever finish of 5th came in 2015, this season has seen a fairly average start and at the start of the game, the team sat in 13th place.

Forest Hill Park have not yet participated in the FA Cup, but this season they made their bow in the FA Vase. The 1st Qualifying Round saw an epic 4-4 draw with East Preston down in Sussex before they won the replay 1-0. However, they lost 5-0 in the 2nd Qualifying Round at CCL Premier side Balham. Local honours include the West Kent Challenge Shield in 2011. The club is based in Catford, most famous for hosting greyhound racing up until 2005. Famous people with links to the town include boxer Henry Cooper, singer Cat Stevens, army hero Andy McNab and comedians Ben Elton & Spike Milligan.


Once again I’d decided to let the train take the strain for my Saturday groundhop. With nothing obvious that I fancied in the Birmingham area, I decided that it would be another trip to somewhere in London. It turned out to be a good decision - had I decided to head to Birmingham, I’d have to buy the tickets a couple of weeks in advance to get a good price. With predicted frozen temperatures proving true, it was good to be able to walk up and get a great price on the day. There were 4 choices of new grounds that were doable for me, these being Forest Hill Park v Stansfeld, Kent Football United v Sporting Club Thamesmead, Meridian VP v Gravesham Borough and Worcester Park v FC Deportivo Galicia. Despite being a fairly poor ground from what I’d seen, my preference was for Forest Hill, due to it being the only one with a couple of decent pre-match pubs nearby. It also had the benefit of a backup option on 3G at Cray Wanderers should the game suffer a late postponement. My backup was even offering free entry to all, which made up for the fact that it would be a revisit, albeit one that I fancied doing for a Bromley game.

I woke around 9am on the day of the game, following a late night. After watching Corrie and researching today’s game, I had a cheeseburger for breakfast before leaving at 10.40. I got to Amersham at 11, waiting 5 minutes for a train. After changes at Harrow On The Hill and Finchley Road, I got to London Bridge station at 11.10. Normally this is my pre-match venue thanks to a cider stall at Borough Market, but not today. Instead, it was a walk to the overground station before a train to Catford Bridge. On the journey, I turned on notifications for both of today’s games, should I need to head elsewhere because of a frozen pitch. The train even went past the ground, with the pitch looking ok. From the station, it was a 10-minute walk to my first pre-match pub, the Blythe Hill Tavern. It had an excellent range of ciders, around 12, although they tended to be on the sweet side, rather than my preferred dry. Even so, there was plenty of scope for new tries and a half of Turners Apple Pie cider kicked me off. I watched the first half of West Ham v Chelsea, with the hosts surprisingly 1-0 up. My second half was a Millwhites Hedge Layer, another nice cider. My third and final half was Millwhites Rum Cask, yet again decent. By now, it was getting on for 2pm so I decided to start walking towards the ground, looking for a cash machine and dinner along the way. All in all, the pub was a cracker, nice and friendly and a good choice of drinks. I stopped at Morley's takeaway, as recommended by sweary Youtuber John Gage and had a double steakburger with fries and drink for £3.50. It was OK, nothing more, but at least it was cheap and filling, even if there were better options.

I still hadn't found any cash machine by the time I reached the ground, aside from one that charged £1.85 for withdrawals. I decided to head towards the local Wetherspoons, the London & Rye in the hope that I'd find another. It came up trumps, £20 withdrawn at Halifax before I popped into the pub to see what they had on offer. With my favourite cider, Black Dragon on offer at £2.89 a pint, it would be rude not to, so a swift pint was sampled before I made my way to the ground, arriving just before kick off. I paid £6 to get in, this included a programme and was a fairly standard price for this level. The first half was fairly equal, visitors Stansfeld netting just before half-time through Adam Ball who slotted into the net after the initial effort was parried. The second half saw Stansfeld step up a gear and they doubled their lead on 49 minutes with probably the goal of the game when Michael McKenna's rising shot found the top corner from the edge of the area. A curling shot hit the bar for the visitors before they got their third on 57 minutes when Billy Jolley rifled into the roof of the net from the edge of the area. Billy Shinners capitalised on some indecision in the home defence on 80 minutes thanks to a mix up between the keeper and a defender, but it was a good through ball in the first place. Adam Ball got his second of the game on 84 minutes to wrap up the win for Stansfeld, the video of his first goal is below.

A post shared by Russell Cox (@russ_wwfc) on

After the game, I made my way to Ladywell station, just over 10 minutes away. It was a 10-minute wait for my train, which was a nice simple journey to London Bridge. I then transferred to the underground, changing at Finchley Road before my final train back to Amersham. I changed at Harrow On The Hill to get my final train to Amersham, which arrived just before 7. Somewhere in between, I lost my hat. I have many spares, but it was my favourite one and very warm. I was home at 7.20, trying to find out the goalscorers for today's game. The rest of the evening consisted of a couple of drinks, I'm a Celebrity and Match Of The Day. It will be London for the third trip in a row for my next game with QPR v Charlton Athletic in the FA Youth Cup on Tuesday.


THE LADYWELL ARENA is not the most inspiring of grounds, with it having an athletics track, although you can stand on the track, unofficially, to get a good view of the game. The sole area of cover is a 100 capacity metal seated stand, whilst the rest of the ground is flat standing. The fence around the pitch means that people can stand outside for free and many people did that when I visited, albeit not for the whole game. There’s a reasonable tea bar at the ground, this doubles up as the bar too, with cans available. Less than 10 minutes away is Catford town centre, this has many outlets including the London & Rye, a decent Wetherspoons.


1: Ground facilities & condition (for the level)
An athletics venue, but well kept (4)

2: Area around the ground (parking, food/drink, public transport)
Lots of choice food wise and good public transport links, unsure about parking though (7)

3: Welcome / Club Friendliness
A nice welcome from the gateman (7)

4: Value for money
£6 including programme was reasonable (7)

5: Social Media & Website
A bit lax on the updates, but not bad (6)

6: Programme
Not a lot to read, but free with entry, had all the facts (5)

7: Game entertainment
A bit one-sided in the end (5)

8: Tea Bar
Not bad for the level (7)

9: Bar / Clubhouse
Very basic, only cans (3)

10: Club Shop
None (-)



Friday 8 December 2017

Fulham U23 - Motspur Park

Fulham FC Training Ground
Motspur Park
New Malden

Ground Number: 748
Friday 8th December 2017
Fulham U23 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion U23
Premier League 2


Fulham FC have long had a reserve team, although records on their exploits are very limited. The early 1900s saw them have two teams, playing both in the Southern League and London League. They were Southern League Division 2 champions in 1905 and London League Premier Division champions the following year. The 1980s and 1990s saw them compete along with my own team Wycombe Wanderers in the Capital League and the clubs met a number of times over the years. Large financial investment saw them rise to the top two tiers and in turn, they have joined the Premier League's academy setup. In 2002, they joined the FA Premier Reserve League South, staying here until 2012. Finishes ranged from a runners-up spot in 2003 and 2012 to a bottom-placed finish in 2003. Clashes with Wycombe include the 1997 Doxhill Cup final, which Wycombe won 2-0. Sadly, I couldn't find a report for that game, but I have found a clipping from less than two years later where the Cottagers backup team got their revenge, thumping us 9-0.


I always love a bit of Friday night football, but this Saturday appeared to have drawn a blank. That was until Sutton United fan and fellow hopper Ryan contacted me to tell me that he was attending the Fulham v Brighton & Hove Albion U23 game, being played at Motspur Park. Despite being Fulham's training ground, it was actually a worthwhile venue and would be a decent setup for a step 5 team from what I'd seen. I decided it would be a nice trip on the train, the only doubt being the weather which had decided to suddenly suffer a big freeze. I decided that I'd just keep my eye on Twitter to minimize my chances of a wasted journey. The days before were very busy with work, a game at Bromsgrove, as well as catching up on my blog. I did at least manage to get some of this blog done, recalling the time when Wycombe's reserves were hammered 9-0 by their Fulham counterparts.

It was a busy day at work on Friday and as a result, I didn’t get home until nearly 2. There was just time to catch up on things and have a bath and a change of clothes before heading out at 3. I had to collect a prescription on the way, but with that done, I headed to the station, arriving just before 3.30. I got to the station in the nick of time, getting the 3.36 to Marylebone before changing again at Victoria before I got my final train to Raynes Park. Getting the train on this occasion was actually slightly more expensive and time-consuming than driving, but the ability to be able to put my feet up and type my blog, rather than get annoyed at the Friday evening traffic made it worth it. On the journey, I decided my game for tomorrow - Forest Hill Park v Stansfield. It was far from the best ground, but there were a couple of good pubs nearby, plus a couple of 3G backups not far away. It would be another train trip too, something I was enjoying after a recent large bill for my car’s service and MOT.

I got to Raynes Park at 5 and headed for what was my 150th different Wetherspoons - The Edward Rayne, named after the shoemaker who had emigrated from the USA to the UK to start up his business. It was busy, but well above average. To start, I had a pint of Thatchers Gold, along with the Brie and Bacon Christmas burger. My second was a nice pint of Marcle Hill, a retry but very nice all the same. Finally, I had a small mulled cider to warm me up for the final leg of my journey. I got to Motspur Park station at 6.15 but then had a near 15-minute wait as the level crossing went through its machinations. Finally, I was on my way, getting to the ground at 6.45. After paying a very reasonable £3 to get in, I met up with Ryan and also a couple of new people - Trent and Tony the Torch. Myself and Ryan went around and got some pictures of the ground before sitting in the stand for the first half.

The game was a turgid one, with very little attacking quality. When the goal did come though, it was a cracking effort by the Icelandic forward Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson who curled a shot home from the edge of the area. The hosts had started to have chances by now, but Brighton seemed content to soak up the pressure. The second half improved a bit, Fulham having the better chances, but it was Max Sanders who equalised ten minutes from time with his low shot getting Brighton’s equaliser. The hosts had a chance to win it, but a good double save from Brighton keeper Robert Lynch-Sanchez ensured the points weee shared. This ensured both teams continued their unbeaten runs, but it was far from inspiring fare. The company had been good though and with Ryan and his dad leaving 10 minutes before the end, I chatted to Trent about 1990s Fulham players that I recalled from past games watching them. 

There were plenty of delays and it wasn’t until 8.55 that I left. There was another lengthy wait at the level crossing, so it wasn’t until 9.15 that I got my train to Waterloo. I got there about 9.40, from where it was a long walk to the platform to get the Jubilee Line to Finchley Road. Astonishingly, the last two trains were almost instant with the last leg to Amersham more often than not involving a long wait. I got back to Amersham at 11 and was home 20 minutes later. I stayed up for a few hours, having a couple of drinks while I watched Corrie and typed my blog. 


MOTSPUR PARK is Fulham’s training ground first and foremost, so it’s not really designed with the fan in mind. Even so, it’s a pretty smart venue, with a couple of areas of cover. The main stand has a capacity of 300ish and is built into the changing rooms. I believe the seats have been rescued from the old Johnny Haynes stand at Craven Cottage. There is further cover behind the the goal in the form of a metal terrace, this holds around 350. The best of the ground is open flat standing, with just the two sides open to spectators. The capacity is around 1000, with a tea bar being provided. Apart from that, it’s a 10-15 minute walk to Motspur Park station where a number of pubs and takeaways can be found.