Wednesday 17 October 2018

Dorking Wanderers - Meadowbank

Dorking Wanderers FC
Meadowbank Stadium
Mill Lane

Ground Number: 807
Tuesday 16th October 2018
Dorking Wanderers 1-2 Frimley Green
CCL D1 Cup 2nd Round


DORKING WANDERERS were formed in 1999, making them one of the newer clubs in the country. They've come a long way in a short amount of time too, starting out in the Crawley and District League, before progressing up through the West Sussex League. In 2007 they joined the Sussex County League at Division 3, winning the Championship in 2011. It was promotion 2 seasons in a row as they finished 3rd behind Hailsham Town & East Preston to seal promotion to Division 1, which sits at step 5 of the non-league pyramid. After initially avoiding relegation in their debut season of 2012-13, the following season saw a much-improved finish of 8th. In 2014/15 they did even better, finishing 2nd behind Littlehampton Town. But with the Champions not taking the promotion, they gratefully accepted a place in the Ryman D1 South for 2015/16. They enjoyed an excellent debut season where they'd finish 2nd, but go on to lose to Faversham Town in the playoffs. The following season saw other runners-up spot but this time victories over Hastings United and Corinthian Casuals saw them progress to the Isthmian Premier via the playoffs. Last season, a mid-table finish was a solid start, this season sees them chasing the playoffs, sitting in 4th at the time of my visit.

As for the cups, the best FA Cup progress has been the 3rd Qualifying Round. This was achieved in both of the past two seasons - losing 3-0 at Concord Rangers last season and 3-0 at home to Gloucester City this year, that in a replay after they'd gained a 3-3 draw in the original game. No real success had been had during their 3 seasons in the FA Vase, Since their promotion in 2015, the club has played in the FA Trophy. Last season saw a decent run as they beat both Ware and Leiston prior to a 3-1 defeat at Havant & Waterlooville in the 3rd Qualifying Round. Locally the club has been runners-up in the Sussex Premier Cup, Sussex Intermediate Cup and SCFL Division 3 Challenge Cup during the past 10 years. I'd be seeing the reserves on my visit, which were mainly U23 players. They'd spent most of their time in the Suburban League, bar 2015/16 when they finished 15th in the Combined Counties D1. They rejoined that league this season and are doing very well, sitting 2nd at the time of my visit. The town of Dorking has a population of 11,185, famous people born here include actor Laurence Olivier whilst current residents include radio DJ Christian O'Connell.


I'd originally been hoping to go to an FA Vase or FA Trophy on this day and there were decent options at both Peterborough Northern Star and Loughborough Dynamo. But when I offered them to fellow hopper Anwar, he showed little enthusiasm for a game on this night, bar one at Enfield Borough which would involve me going right out of my way to pick him up. So, I decided to head south on my own and originally considered a revisit to Met Police who were playing Hendon in an Isthmian League Cup tie. However, they were charging full whack when many clubs offer reduced prices. I decided to save it for a better game, especially as they were still in the FA Cup and there was the slim chance that I could have a revisit with Wycombe in the first round. All my potential new grounds were a long way away, all bar one. Dorking Wanderers was one that I'd rather have saved for a cold and rainy day, what with it having a 3G pitch. I'd also rather have saved it for a Saturday as it was near the town. But there was one advantage to doing it of an evening, there was no public parking at the ground and you had to pay to use a local car park as the cost of £1 per hour, that was unless you went after 6PM when it was free.

The day of the game came and I'd had the best night's sleep in a while, with it being my day off work. It was the usual Tuesday routine of walking down town and getting a lift back with my Dad. The afternoon was spent relaxing at home and doing my research for tonight's blog, including recalling my visit to the old Dorking ground that once stood on this site. Sadly, it was not for a matchday, but at least I did stop by for pictures, back in November 2011 whilst I was on my way to visit Brighton's ground. They'd remain at the ground until 2014 when it was closed for 'health & safety reasons' and would remain as a separate club until 2017 when they merged with Dorking Wanderers. They'd play for one season at Dorking Wanderers' old home of Westhumble before moving into their freshly refurbished home this summer. After a nice stir fry for dinner, I left home at 5.40, hopefully allowing plenty of time to make the 45-mile journey. There was a little bit of a delay on the M25 around junction 12 and then in Dorking town centre but overall it was a good journey and I got there around 7.10. I sat in the car for 10 minutes catching up on Twitter before going in. Entry was £6 and I also got a free teamsheet with the matchday programme online only. Unlike most hoppers, I'm not really against this as it saves space and money and I'm happy to read it on my tablet. I spent the time before kick off getting some pictures of the ground. I then went and sat in the secondary press area in the stand which didn't have the best view of the goal to the left with the side of the stand and a floodlight blocking my view. It did at least give me a place to type on my laptop and sort out my photos that I'd taken.

I moved back to the centre of the stand for the game as I didn't need the table. It was a really open game and Dorking Wanderers came close within the opening minute when they forced visiting keeper Chris Harris to tip a shot over the bar. It was a real end to end game, Frimley Green having their first decent chance on 17 minutes when they headed over the bar from a well-delivered corner and they were looking pretty dangerous from crosses for the opening period. The useful-looking Maxwell Iyamu came close for Dorking after getting away from the defence by using his pace but he took it too far wide of the keeper who got back and recovered. Leon Medrado game close on 25 minutes for the visitors but the shot from around the penalty spot was tipped wide by home keeper James Rabbetts. Further chances came and went for both sides before the scoring was opened on 34 minutes. A high ball was put forward and Dorking keeper Rabbetts was injured in the perfectly fair challenge. But with him out of his goal, it allowed Zach Horkan to tuck home at the back post. The hosts had a goal disallowed for offside just before halftime which had a good few minutes injury time after the goalkeeper injury, thankfully he was OK to carry on. The second half was still open, but with fewer clear-cut chances. The ref got a fair bit of stick from both sides but at least he kept the game flowing. Frimley Green really should have had a penalty on 69 minutes but the player who was tripped attempted to stay on his feet, his teammate said that he should have gone down which is fair enough when the referee failed to spot the infringement. It was all square on 76 when Frimley's Chris Harris could only parry an initial shot and a Dorking Wanderers man followed up. The visitors Jim Ward was sent off in the last minute for an off the ball incident spotted by the linesman, this was whilst the referee was taking care of a late free kick for the hosts. Extra time would separate the two sides with Christian Cumberbatch sliding home at the near post from around 6 yards after a low cross from Frimley Green. There was plenty of physical challenges and both teams had good chances to add to the scoreline but keepers came out on top. The hosts even had a goal ruled out for offside but Frimley played the offside trap well.

It had been a good game to watch, but it was 10:35 by the time I got back to my car. I don't get why they don't just go straight to penalties on smaller cups like this, although the fact that the extras time was unusually well-contested in this case does back their stance. It was annoying that the 30 minutes of extra time took around 50 minutes to complete thanks to extended breaks at the end and halfway through. It was all far from ideal with me up at 4 am for work but luckily it was a good journey home and I was in by 11.25. As ever though, it took me forever to get to sleep and so I needed a nap the following afternoon. Though an online programme had been promised, it had still not been uploaded to the website at 6.30 the following evening.


The new Meadowbank might not have the character of the old one but its still pretty decent for a new build. The main covered area is the seated stand which offers around 250 seats in the colours of red. Most of these offer decent views of the action thanks to being elevated. There are two further covered areas, these are of the Arena metal variety but do the job to keep another couple of hundred fans dry. The rest of the ground is open, capacity around 2000.

The food and drink facilities at the ground are pretty decent. There's the usual selection of burgers, chips and hot dogs at the tea bar, whilst upstairs the bar has a range of alcoholic and soft drinks. It also does food which I've heard good things about. If not, the town is fairly close by, this offers a range of outlets. I didn't visit, but a pub called Cobbets looks good, as presently the town has no Wetherspoons. Parking is £1 per hour during the day so you might be better off looking at alternatives if you are planning an extended stay on a Saturday, but there are plenty of spaces. It's also very close to the train station.


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