Saturday 27 July 2019

Sarratt - King George V Playing Fields

Sarratt FC
King George V Playing Fields
George V Way

Official Website

Ground Number: 869
Saturday 27th July 2019
Sarratt 2-2 Enfield Borough


The club was established in 1919, though I can't find much about their early years. Thanks to the FCHD website, I can track their progress from 1977. That year, they joined the Herts County League in their Division 3. They were runners-up in their debut season, winning promotion to Division 2 in the process. They won this Divison in 1980, progressing to Division 1. A third-place finish in 1988 was good enough for promotion to the Premier Division, though after two disappointing finishes, they were relegated back in 1990. There were some seasons of struggle in Division 1 too - the side finishing bottom in 1992, 1997 and for three successive seasons between 2002 and 2004. Despite this, however, they recovered to win promotion back to the Premier Divison with a 5th place finish in 2010. Sarratt enjoyed their best-ever finish in 2012 and 2014 as they finished 7th in the step 7 Premier Division. They were relegated again in 2017 after finishing bottom and finished 6th in Division 1 in 2018. Last season, they moved to the Spartan South Midlands League Divison 2, effectively earning a promotion. Last season saw a 12th place finish out of 14 teams, though they finished some 20 points clear of a potential relegation spot.

The village of Sarratt has a population of around 1850 according to the 2011 census. It's church ' The Church Of The Holy Cross' is its famous landmark and this was used as a location for the movie 'Four Weddings and a Funeral. Murder Most Foul, The Demon Headmaster, Just William and The Woman in Black were also filmed in the village.


I'd originally intended to visit Sarratt in early July, but for whatever reason, their game against Amersham was cancelled.. It was a basic ground, just a railed pitch and a clubhouse overhang, but that would do for me pre-season where I was trying to keep costs down due to the games being dull. I'd learnt of this venue through fellow hopper Chris - AKA Motty's Mic who had visited last season and I'd had it pencilled in ever since. Friday was spent watching a dull 0-0 draw between Maidenhead and Wycombe though I only visited for the beer festival (which was excellent) and was lucky enough to get a lift home from a Newark-based hopper. This saved me a wait in Bourne End and a walk home from town and I was back by 10:15, as opposed to around 1 am. I got to bed at a reasonable hour and so typically woke up at my normal work time of 4 am. I got back to sleep for a few hours, waking at 7. I watched last night's Coronation Street before getting some breakfast and then spent the morning watching YouTube videos while doing research for today's game. With a fair few games being called off due to rain, I was glad to see that my choice was confirmed as going ahead at 11, thanks to the Sarratt FC Twitter. Stevenage was fairly local and that fell victim to the weather, but as I left at 2.10, the game was still on.

It was 12 miles from home, the last 3 were down single-track roads, which I'm not a fan of. I got to the ground around 20 minutes before kick-off and got some pictures of the ground. The game was temporarily halted early on due to the ball being flat, but only a couple of minutes in, the visitors were ahead. Enfield Borough who had finished a respectable 9th in the Spartan South Midlands D1 last season took the lead. No information on the teams again but it was run down the right and a low finish from just inside the area which resulted in the early goal. It was the visitors making all the running and they came close on 14 minutes, their number 9 narrowly dragging a shot wide on 14 minutes. There was a clear difference at this point, Enfield Borough were technically more proficient and Sarratt lacking quality from set-pieces and crosses. The hosts first real chance came on 17 minutes, the number 9 had looked tricky, he got a good cross in which was headed over. Enfield Borough came close to doubling their lead on 36 minutes, chasing down a loose ball but the shot went narrowly wide of the left-hand post. The Sarratt keeper made a good save a few minutes before half time, getting down really well and holding onto the ball. Both sides made a few changes at half time and this affected the game. Sarratt were level on 47 minutes, Shaun Powell chasing down a backpass and slotting into the empty net. The hosts took the lead on the hour mark. Chris White had created plenty down the left but he was the beneficiary on this occasion as he tapped home a right-wing cross at the back post. The lead only lasted a few minutes, it was 2-2 on 63 minutes, a square ball found Enfield's number 10 who finished from 6 yards. Twelve minutes from time, the Sarratt keeper made a great save after the ball was pulled back for Enfield's number 12, the ball being tipped over the bar from 10 yards. The hosts came close to winning it with the last kick of the game, but the shot on the turn was narrowly over. There were around 30 at the game and they had seen a very good game, especially for a friendly. It was a short drive home with me getting back at 5.15 and I spent the evening relaxing with a couple of bottles of cider whilst typing this blog. This will most likely be my last friendly of the season, the proper football getting started next Saturday as Wycombe face Bolton in the battle of the Wanderers.


The King George V Playing Fields is a nice venue for step 7. There are no seats, but there is a generous amount of cover thanks to the clubhouse overhang. One side is hard standing and two sides are railed. At the ground is a basic clubhouse, this offers snacks and soft drinks as well as booze in the form of Kopparberg 'cider' and Fosters lager. There's not a massive amount nearby but the Cricketers Pub is a short walk away and offers real ale and cider as well as meals, albeit fairly pricey ones. 

Friday 19 July 2019

Beccles Town - College Meadow

Beccles Town FC
College Meadow
Common Lane South
NR43 9BU

Ground Number: 868
Thursday 18th July 2019
Beccles Town 0-8 Gorleston


The club was established in 1919 and was originally known as Beccles FC. They played in the Suffolk & Norfolk League during their early years, winning the title in 1953. The league merged with the league merged with the East Anglian League to become the Anglian Combination. Beccles started out in Division 3, winning the title in 1972. They enjoyed their time at the higher level, finishing as runners-up and winning promotion to Division 1 within a few years. They were runners-up in Division 1  in 1977 and 1986, eventually finishing as champions in 2002. This earned them promotion to the Premier Division. Beccles Town enjoyed a best-ever finish of 5th in the Premier Division in 2010 but were relegated back to Division 1 in 2014 after finishing bottom. Three seasons were spent here, tho third-place finishes before a runners-up spot in 2017 saw them promoted back to the Premier Division.  They had a decent finish of 6th last season. In 2014, the club merged local youth side St Benet's Wasps and this allowed them to put in place a proper structure for bringing through young talent into the first team. Floodlights were added to the ground a few years back and this allowed them to host midweek youth team games and also potentially allowing a route to join the Eastern Counties League at step 6, should circumstances allow.

The club participated in the FA Cup during the 1950s, their best progress being the 3rd Qualifying Round which they have reached on three occasions. They also entered the FA Vase for a period during the late 70s and early 80s, their only win coming over Holt United on their debut in 1978 after which, they lost to Soham Town Rangers in the 1st Round. Local cup wins include the Suffolk Senior Cup on three occasions, the Suffolk Junior Cup in 1939 and the Suffolk Minor Cup twice. The market town of Beccles has a population of just over 10,000 and is home to another football team - Beccles Caxton who play in the 3rd Division of the Anglian Combination. Famous people to come from the town include broadcaster David Frost and Derby County and Scotland player Chris Martin. It's also host to a duck race every August, held on the River Waveney.


Continuing on my week off, there was plenty of choice on this Thursday, as opposed to most weeks where barely any games are on. As usual, the pre-match food and drink offerings would dictate where we go and so Beccles, the birthplace of fellow hopper Chris would be our choice. It would be the day of my 40th birthday and I had a decent morning at home, researching the history of the club and town. I got some nice presents and had a decent curry before I left home at 2, stopping at Tesco to get petrol before meeting Chris at 3.20. I didn't have long to wait for him and we were soon on our way. The journey over was mixed, with a lot of slow spots - especially around the Black Cat Roundabout and Caxton Giblet. We eventually arrived in Beccles at 6.30 and as Chris didn't fancy walking the 10 minutes to town, we tried to find a space. It was easier said than done and we gave up after 15 minutes of frustration. We drove back to the ground and I left Chris at the ground whilst I walked into town. I checked out the Wetherspoons, the Kings Head Hotel but it was very poor with huge queues and no real cider. Instead, I got some chicken at Tesco and walked back to the ground, arriving at 7.20. Entry was free and it was good to be able to sneak out at half time and take a couple of minutes to walk to Beccles Caxton FC who had a very impressive setup for step 10 of non-league. It was good to be joined by 'Deckchair Pete' - a Hertfordshire football enthusiast who now lives out near Walsham-Le-Willows.

Back to tonight's game and it resulted in a comprehensive victory for visitors Gorleston. In front of a crowd of around 130. It took until 25 minutes in for them to take the lead, thanks to Connor Ingram who reacted quickest after the Beccles keeper spilt the ball from an initial attempt. The lead was doubled on the half-hour mark when Isaac Burrage made a good run down the left before rounding the keeper and tapping home. Four minutes later it was 3-0, this time it was Sean Perfect finished from a tight angle, the ball hitting the post on the way in. 37 minutes saw the fourth, Brady Philpott heading home from the corner. On 39 minutes Ingram made it 5-0 as he rounded the keeper again. The half time break was a respite for Beccles Town and it took until 52 minutes for the sixth goal, this time Joel Watts shot went in despite the home keeper getting a hand to the ball. Beccles then had a good spell, their best chance coming when they lobbed the Gorleston goalkeeper, but the shot came back off the woodwork. Ingram completed his hat trick on 65 minutes, rounding the keeper and firing into an empty net. So, that was seven and it was probably the best saved until last, Perfect living up to his name and finding the top left-hand corner from the edge of the area. Gorleston would have the chance for yet another goal but the woodwork saved the hosts blushes.

So, a pretty one-sided contest, but I'd enjoyed my evening, despite the frustrating start. I must admit to most scorers being an educated guess from my limited note-taking skills, as the Gorleston Twitter only provided a summary. It was certainly a nice place to watch football on a warm evening.  Food was needed and so myself and Chris called in at a takeaway called 'SuperFry'. It was a pricey establishment, but my salt and pepper chips were brilliant. Our journey home took a different route to the one we took on the way and was beset by a plethora of roadworks. I dropped him off at 12.40 but would encounter further diversions on my way back. Wanting to avoid miles of the countryside through Aylesbury at this late hour, a closed road meant I was sent down to join the M1 at Dunstable and as a result, I wasn't home until 1.50. I had a couple of drinks whilst catching up and watching Youtube, as well as typing the vast majority of this blog entry. I got to bed at 4 in the end, having to do the rest of it the next day.


COLLEGE MEADOW is a smart and well-kept venue which is a nice place to spend a summers evening watching football. There's a couple of sides of hard standing, with just a small bit of behind the near goal being 'officially' unavailable to spectators. There is a covered stand, this has seating for around 20 and standing for 100 or so. Facilities at the ground are limited to a basic tea bar, but the town is very close by. Your best bet is to park at the ground and walk, as parking is limited. The Wetherspoons was a disappointment, but the Caxton Club looks a good spot for a drink, though I didn't visit and am unsure if you need to be a member. Superfry is a decent Chinese takeaway, albeit quite pricey.

Wednesday 17 July 2019

Swanwick Pentrich Road - Highfield Road

Swanwick Pentrich Road FC
Highfield Road
DE55 1BW

07951 713200
CML Club Page

Ground Number: 867
Wednesday 17th July 2019
Swanwick Pentrich Road 5-0 Ripley Town


The club was founded in 1964 by local residents looking to form a football team for the area and spent its early days in the Matlock League and Derby Combination. Their first spell in the Central Midlands League lasted from 1983 until 1991 with the club generally struggling in the Premier Division, the highest finish they achieved was 12th in 1985. Three of those seasons were spent in Division 1, with Swanwick finishing as runners-up to Brailsford in 1989. The club left the league for the Midlands Regional Alliance in 1991 and went through some tough times. Things got better with them being crowned MRA Division 1 champions in 2010. A return to the now regionalised Central Midlands League followed in 2013 with Swanwick joining the South Division. A best ever 5th place finish was enjoyed in 2016/17 and then matched again last season. They've never entered either of the FA Competitions but were Derbyshire Cup finalists in 2013. Famous former players include Kevin Pilkington who played for Manchester United before a decent career in the Football League. The village of Swanwick is near Alfreton in Derbyshire and has a population of just over 5,000. The name of the place is derived from two old English words - 'swana' - meaning herdsmen and 'wic' meaning a group of buildings.


For the second game of my 5 days off work, there were a number of options available. I was with Milton Keynes based Chris again and so we both agreed on a trip to Swanwick Pentrich Road v Ripley Town. Our efforts to visit here had already been thwarted twice - firstly in May 2016 when bad traffic forced us into an eventually enjoyable diversion to Pinxton. The second occasion wasn't one to savour - two years later my car broke down before I'd even reached Chris which resulted in two and a half hours wait for Green Flag in sweltering heat and an eventual £620 repair bill. This occasion had the bonus of being an early kick-off due to lack of lights and we already knew there was plenty near the ground for pre-match I'd gone to Dronfield the previous night with Chris, not getting back until 1 and then staying up for another 3 hours. I woke at 9 on the day of the game and after having breakfast took my Aunt's dog who we are looking after for a walk. I then dropped him home and walked down town, picking up a few things that I needed. After getting back, I wasn't really hungry for lunch, so just had some soup.

I left home at 1.45 as I wanted to stop at a local farm shop in Long Crendon to pick up some of their real cider. I got there at 2.30 after a trip down several tiny roads. After picking up three bottles from their range as well as a very nice chocolate brownie, I left at 2.45. It took me until 3.40 to reach Chris, again a lot of small roads were involved. We were soon on our way, there was the usual slow start to the M1, thanks to the long-running roadworks slowing everything down. The motorway was generally well behaved, a few slow spots but it wasn’t until we got to our turn off that we hit a major delay. There we had around 15 minutes delay, but we were still parked up in Swanwick at 5.50, choosing a spot on the main road outside the ground. We ordered a Singapore Vermicelli each and ventured to the local pub. The Steampacket promised three real ciders on the Whatpub website, but only had Strongbow, so I had to settle for that. Chris paid for his share of the petrol - all in pound coins, just after I'd managed to get rid of the load that he gave me yesterday. The drinks selection may have disappointed, but it was a nice local. We picked up our dinner and headed to the ground, paying £2 entry. We then sat in the stand for our meal, which was pretty decent, but not exceptional. It had started to rain and I was glad there was plenty of cover at the ground.

The game was not the best. Visitors Ripley didn't put up much of an attacking performance, but to be fair, they dug in and didn't rollover. It took until 15 minutes in for Swanwick to take the lead, Dean Owen heading home a cross from 5 yards out. Typically for a pre-season friendly, the pace was slow but after 34 minutes, the hosts doubled their lead, this time a good run and shot from the edge of the area by Shane Buckerfield. Around 7 minutes into the second half, Swanwick had the chance to make it 3-0 from the penalty spot, but the number 9 screwed the ball wide. A couple of minutes later amends were made with Josh Smith bundling home from close range. Just after the hour mark, it was 4-0, a lovely shot on the turn by Guy Wilding from just inside the area. The game had been pretty physical up to this point, and Ripley were letting the frustration get the better of them. As it was a friendly, the referee asked their management to sub a player who had made one bad tackle too many. The raft of substitutions actually did the game some good and Ripley started to have some chances. Around 10 minutes from time, their number 17 got away down the right and hit a shot that struck the outside of the post. On 82 minutes, Swanwick made it 5-0, a trialist heading home a cross from around 10 yards out. There was one final chance for the visitors to get on the scoresheet after the Swanwick keeper made a great double save, but the third bite at the cherry was blasted over. There had been heavy rain during the game, but happily, this was reduced to just a drizzle as we walked the 5 minutes to the car. It should have been a simple journey home, but the fannying about with the overnight works had started early. Even so, Chris was dropped off by 10:20 and I was back home less than an hour later, enjoying my final few minutes as a 39-year-old before my birthday made me feel a right old git.


HIGHFIELD ROAD is a great venue for a step 7 club. There is plenty of cover - two stands along the side and one behind the goal with probably enough space for 150 standing and around 15 seats. Only two sides are officially open to the public. Facilities at the ground are limited, basic snacks and drinks in cans. Further afield is a Chinese and a chippy, as well as a few pubs and convenience stores. Overall, well worth a visit to this friendly club and a pleasant venue.