Ground Number: 812
Tuesday 30th October 2018
Crawley Green 7-3 Amersham Town
SSML Challenge Cup 2nd Round
CRAWLEY GREEN FC - A BRIEF HISTORY
The club was formed in 1989 as three Sunday League clubs - Ramridge Rovers, Stopsley Harriers and The Wyvern. In 1992 they absorbed Somerset Tavern and made the move to Saturday football. In 1995, they joined the South Midlands League, which was to later become the Spartan South Midlands League. They'd spend three seasons in Division 1, with a 5th and two 4th place finishes, but then had to left for a season. Rejoining in 1999, they'd play in the third tier and were champions of Division 2 in 2005. Lack of facilities would mean that they could not take the promotion but in 2008, after finishing as runners-up to Kings Langley, they secured a groundshare at Barton Rovers which allowed them to make the step up to Division 1. They'd remain here until 2016 when a runners-up spot behind Edgware Town earned them promotion to the Premier Division. They remain there to this day, the best finish coming in their debut season where they finished in 11th place. Originally in intention was to redevelop their home in Crawley Green, but at the start of this season, the former home of Vauxhall Motors and current Luton Town training ground became available for use. Crawley Green have made a good start since moving, sitting in 8th place although the best form has come away from home with just 2 wins from 6 league games at The Brache so far.
In the FA Cup, Crawley Green's best FA Cup run came in 2010 when they beat Royston Town and Harefield United before losing out to Romford in a 1st Qualifying Round replay. In the FA Vase, they reached the 2nd Round last season - beating Tuffley Rovers, Langford & Harpenden Town before a disappointing 2-0 defeat at local rivals Biggleswade. Local cup wins include the Bedfordshire Senior Trophy on three occasions and the SSML Division 1 Cup twice. The junior teams of the club are still based in Crawley Green, a small area of Luton with a population of 7,230.
I'd be on my own again on this Tuesday as my regular hopping partner on this day, Anwar had decided that he didn't fancy a game. Normally I'd have saved Crawley Green to do with him and when it was colder or wetter owing to its 3G surface. But with it being fairly close at 30 miles away and the next nearest unticked ground at Billingshurst being almost 70 miles away. I did briefly reconsider the prospect of a revisit, but only one, Harefield United, was any less further than my eventual choice. The day of the game came and it was the last of my 5 days off from work. It was the usual Tuesday routine of a walk down town, getting some lunch and getting a lift back with my Dad. The afternoon was spent doing not much, though I did sort out some of the photos of games that I have seen on this day, something that I've been doing as I have a fair few duplicates and poor quality photos that I want to weed out. After having dinner, I left at 6.20. It was a decent journey over, with me arriving at 7.10. Initially, I parked on the road outside as I wasn't entirely sure where the entrance was. It turned out to be quite a walk away so after I confirmed where the car park was, I walked back and fetched my car. Entry was the standard £6 and a thick programme was £1. It initially looked very promising, but a lot of it was adverts and articles that would appear in every issue that season. Not bad for a one time visitor though and one of the better this season.
I got some pictures of the ground and took my seat in the stand which had a handy ledge at the front to rest all my stuff on. Amersham Town were the brightest side in the opening period. They opened the scoring on 16 minutes when a low cross was put in from the right and Tom Parry tapped home from the edge of the six-yard box. Up until that bit, there had only really been half chances, but the visitors doubled their lead a couple of minutes later. A right-wing cross was put in and Fabian Garcia headed home. After this, the hosts tried to get back into the game but could only muster a series of corners at that point. They did get one back in the last minute of the first half when Sam McClelland headed home at the back post. A goal deep into injury time made it 2-2, a free kick cannoned off the bar and McClelland got his second with a header. Crawley Green went ahead for the first time on 48 minutes when a good move ended with Billy Lobjolt volleying home from inside the area. But still the visitors would not lie down and on 62 minutes a fantastic 40-yard strike by substitute Josh Kurton levelled things up. Their joy was short lived however and a minute later the hosts were back ahead, this time Danny Watson reacted quickest to a loose ball to regain his side the lead. Both sides were still having plenty of chances with Crawley Green hitting the inside of the post. Nine minutes from the end of the game, the hosts gave themselves a bit of breathing space when Watson got his second, completing a surging run with a decent finish from just inside the area. Lobjolt made the game safe on 82 minutes when he calmly finished and also spurned the chance of a hat-trick when he hit the post. I was walking around towards the exit by now, so didn't have the best view. A goal in injury time allowed Danny Watson to complete his hat trick and make the score 7-3.
So in the end, a comprehensive victory for the hosts, not that it always appeared that way. In fact, Amersham had been in the game until the two late strikes and they'd had the better of the first half. Switching off late on was the cause of the lopsided scoreline and no doubt the visiting manager Mani Azare would have been unhappy as he'd certainly been vocal during the game. As ever with the Spartan South Midlands League, it had been a really good game and it was a shame that there were only 30 people there to see it as the club had been really friendly too. With all those goals and a couple of other stoppages, I didn't leave until 9.50 but it was a good journey home and I was back at 10.30. It took me a while to drop off to sleep and so I was tired when I woke up at 4 am the following morning.
THE BRACHE is a smart and tidy venue in a leafy suburb of Luton. The address is listed as Park Road but to get there from the M1 you'll just want to go straight up Cuttenhoe Road and use the entrance opposite. Parking is quite limited here, but there's enough for a normal matchday, plus free street parking outside. Facilities at the ground are fairly basic as this is primarily Luton Town's training ground and so I saw no signs that indicated that Crawley Green play there, nor any turnstiles. There's also no bar, but hot drinks are available in the pavilion, I believe.
The ground itself is the former home of Vauxhall Motors (Luton) who played in the Isthmian League, finishing as runners-up in Division 2 North in 1992 before going bust. It's in a nice setting, lined by hedges and trees and a wooden stand remains from the Vauxhall days - this has been refurbished and probably holds around 150 at a push. There's also a small area of covered standing for around 20. The rest of the ground is open and includes a couple of steps of terracing behind one goal.