The Recreation Ground
The Recreation Ground
Ground Number: 873
Monday 26th August 2019
Alfold 2-0 Pagham
Southern Combination Premier
ALFOLD FC - A BRIEF HISTORY
The club was established in 1920 as Loxwood & Alfold until 1923 when the clubs split. They've played in local leagues for the best part of the history including the Rudgewick & District, Cranleigh & District, Horsham & District and latterly, the West Sussex League. In 2015, they made the step up to the Southern Combination, starting in Division 2 which sits at step 7 of the non-league pyramid. They found the step up tough at first, but a 4th place finish in 2017/18 was enough to see them promoted. Last season saw an excellent season with them winning the title and gaining promotion to the Premier Division. The club has yet to make its bow in the FA Cup and will only make their FA Vase debut on Saturday when they travel to Midhurst & Easebourne. Local cup wins include the Tony Kopp Cup in 1971, the Chichester Charity Cup in 2011, the Surrey County Lower Junior Cup in 1978 as well as a couple of league cups in 1954 as they completed the treble in the Horsham & District League. The village of Alfold has a population of just over a thousand and sits on the Surrey & Sussex border.
For a more in-depth view of the history of the club, read David Bauckham's excellent article HERE. As usual, my facts came from the Football Club History Database (FCHD) and Wikipedia.
I was glad when fellow hopper Anwar said he'd be up for a game on this Bank Holiday, as we'd enjoyed a good double this time last season at AFC Uckfield and Eastbourne Borough. Initially, Anwar fancied going to Weymouth, a ground I fancy revisiting, but it seemed a pretty pricey day out for me, all told. I favoured a double, with Winchester Castle in the afternoon as they had a nice looking set up for step 7. Winchester City was an easier sell to Anwar, so I agreed to drop him off there on my way, as I'd already done it, back in 2015. There was just the question of where to go beforehand and thanks to me making a customised map with all the possibilities on Google Maps, I was able to see which were closest. Godalming Town (a revisit for us both), Alfold, TD Shipley & Roffey were the possibilities and eventually, we decided on Alfold, which was the second closest, still around 50 miles from Winchester though. I was pleased to see that Alfold were only charging £5 entry, surely one of the cheapest at step 5, where some clubs charge up to £9. I'd say a sensible price would be £6 personally for this level. The day of the game came and I awoke a lot earlier than intended at 6.15. At least it gave me time to catch up on things, listening to podcasts while making a start on this blog. After breakfast and a freshen up, I left at 8, meeting Anwar as arranged at 8.30. It was a decent journey over, with the only slow spot being where people were slowing down to look at a car fire on the other side, which had created a big tailback with police stopping traffic. We had to navigate Guildford’s joke of a road system and I fancied getting some drinks for the game, so programmed in Sainsbury’s to the sat nav. It was nowhere to be seen, at least not in the specified location. We had to make do with a Budgens Petrol station which was very limited, but at least I had a drink for the first game. From there, it was a short drive to the ground, arriving at 10.25. After a brief look around, we went in, me catching up online while I sheltered from the sun.
Alfold had seen a good start to the season, with them sitting 5th. They'd only played one game so far thanks to cricket taking priority, but they'd beaten Horsham YMCA 5-3 on Tuesday 6th August. Away from home, they'd won at Peacehaven & Telscombe (2-1), drawn at Horley (3-3) and lost to Broadbridge Heath (0-1). Pagham, by contrast, were struggling a bit, sitting in 18th. They'd lost both of their away games at AFC Uckfield Town (0-2) and Steyning Town (0-2) as well as at home to Saltdean United (0-3) Their sole victory had come with a 1-0 home win over Hassocks. The game started evenly, but true to form, Alfold soon took control. Kelvin Lucas came very close on 6 minutes, curling a shot narrowly over, but the hosts soon had the lead. A cross from the right by captain Jack Stafford found Jonden De Meyer who bundled home from close range. The lead was doubled three minutes later, this time it was very slopping marking by Pagham that allowed Kelvin Lucas to score a goal which was similar to the first. The visitors had missed a good opportunity in between the goals to equalise, thanks to a great save by Alfold keeper Luis Correia and that proved to be a recurring theme throughout the afternoon. The glovesman was at it again on 26 minutes, he managed to make a good save and palm the ball away to safety to prevent the deficit being reduced. After a short drinks break, Pagham had another good chance, but this time the shot was blazed over the bar from fairly close range. There were further chances in the rest of the game, but nothing really clear cut. The game finished around 12:50 when it was time to make our way to Winchester.
The Recreation Ground is a fairly basic but very well-kept ground for step 5. One side of the ground is closed off, but the remaining three sides are hard standing. There are a couple of covered areas on the far side - one your typical 'Arena' seated stand, holding 50 seated. The second is more attractive, a metal and wood homemade stand, probably holding another 50 as it is only flat standing. Unusually, the pitch barrier is wooden also, which looks nice. All the food and drink action goes on in the clubhouse, I saw bacon rolls and snacks in terms of food and hot drinks, soft drinks and a limited bar range (including real ale) in terms of drink. There wasn't much near the ground from what I remember and I understand that public transport is not the best, the car park is quite small also. It's most certainly worth a visit though and I'm glad I went.