Wednesday 30 September 2020

Crowborough Athletic - Crowborough Community Stadium

Crowborough Athletic FC
Crowborough Community Stadium
Fermor Road
East Sussex

01892 661893

Ground Number: 932
Tuesday 29th September 2020
Crowborough Athletic 0-6 Chatham Town
SCEFL Premier


The club was established in 1894 and initially played in local leagues in the Tunbridge Wells and Crowborough areas. After much success, they made the step up to the Sussex County League in 1974. They joined Division 2 but despite a 4th place finish in their debut season, they generally struggled and were relegated to Division 3 in 1984. Three seasons were spent here until they bounced back as runners-up to Langney Sports (now known as Eastbourne Borough). They fared slightly better at Division 2 level this time and were champions in 1993. Three seasons were spent in Division 1 (with 1994/95 seeing technically their best-ever finish of 14th at step 4) before they were relegated back and the next nine seasons were spent yo-yo-ing between Division 2 and Division 3. By 2005, Crowborough Athletic were back in Division 1 and in 2008 they were champions. They spent a single season in the Isthmian D1 South, being relegated straight back from whence they came. They generally struggled back in the Sussex County Division 1 and in 2014/15 they were switched to the Southern Counties East League due to geographical reorganisation. 2016/17 saw Crowborough Athletic finish as runners-up to Ashford United, missing out on promotion back to the Isthmian League by a couple of points. Before the season was declared null and void back in March, the team sat in a disappointing second-bottom place. 

Crowborough Athletic's best-ever FA Cup run came in 2008 when they beat Ringmer, Walton Casuals and Leighton Town before a defeat to Harlow Town after a replay saw them exit in the 3rd Qualifying Round. The club has twice reached the FA Vase 5th Round losing 2-0 to Kirkham & Wesham in 2008 and 6-3 to Coleshill Town in 2017, The club's only season in the FA Trophy in 2008 saw them reach the 1st Qualifying Round - beating Eastbourne Town 3-0 before a 2-0 defeat against Northwood. In terms of local competitions, Crowborough Athletic have won the SCFL John O'Hara Cup in 2007, the SCFL Division 2 Cup in 1978, the SCFL Division 3 cup in 2002 & 2004 and the Mid Sussex Charity Cup in 1952 and 1954. The town of Crowborough has a population of just over 20,000. Famous people who have in the town include Doctor Who's Tom Baker, David Jason - most famous as Delboy in Only Fools & Horses. singer Kerry Katona and celebrity cleaner Kim Woodburn. They share the town with another team, Jarvis Brook who play a couple of levels below in the Southern Combination Division 2. The town is twinned with Montargis in France and Horwich in Lancashire. The latter occurred in April 1990 and was the first time in history that two English towns have been twinned with each other.


I'd had a couple of days rest after my marathon ten games in nine days on my week off and so was keen to get my usual dose of Tuesday night football. Luckily, fellow hopper Anwar was keen to come along and so I presented him with a list of possibilities and he picked out the game at Crowborough Athletic. That was fine by me, it was one of the better grounds - I'd been there to take photos sometime around 2008, though the date on the photos didn't make sense, neither did a cross-reference with the Wycombe fixture for that season and couldn't find a possible match of what game I may have taken them on the way to. I did my usual research into the club's history and also searched for potential places for our pre-match meal. The day of the game came and I had a good lie-in waking at 9 am. A couple of bits of bonkers news were doing the rounds in the football world - firstly Kings Lynn Town charging £15 for a programme with a £3.50 cover price for their game against Yeovil effectively charging £11.50 postage. Despite the ludicrous mark-up, you can hardly blame clubs for trying to cash in when later on the FA carried on trying to kid everyone that clubs in the Conference North & South are 'elite'. With all due respect to the likes of Curzon Ashton & Leamington from the North and Chippenham Town and Hugerford from the North, great clubs though they are, they are more aligned to step 3 of non-league than they are to Liverpool and Manchester United. To compound the idiocy, the FA decreed that though step 3 and below clubs are allowed to host FA Cup games, away fans are banned. From an organisation that claims to be against discrimination, it's a ludicrous decision. It's one bonkers ruling after another with the FA, though the shower of charlatans in government have a lot to do with it too. I left at 3.50,meeting Anwar at 4.15. Amazingly, the M25 gave us a hassle free journey and the only place with delays was East Grinstead with their 'Pop Up Covid 19 Cycle Lanes'. The last part of the journey was through country lanes and we were at the Nee How Chinese takeaway by 6.20. I had my usual of salt and pepper chips which were £3.50 and fairly average. It was only a couple of minutes drive to the ground from there and so we sat in the car for a while before going in around 7. Admission was £8, slightly above average but it was a great ground for the level. I got some pictures of the ground before settling on a spot on the far side near the dugouts.


At the time of the game, hosts Crowborough Athletic were sitting in a mid-table position of 13th. In the league, they'd won 5-2 at Tower Hamlets, drawn 0-0 against Fisher and 1-1 against K Sports and lost 2-0 at Hollands & Blair and 3-2 at Erith Town, Chatham Town were in 2nd and had enjoyed a blistering start to the season with home wins against Punjab United (5-0) and Tower Hamlets (6-1) as well as victories on the road at Erith & Belvedere (4-3) and Bearsted (5-2). With a 100% record and the top scorers with 20 goals in the league so far, they were big favourites going into tonight's clash. Inded, they were on the front foot and were ahead after a couple of minutes, a cross was whipped in from the left and Dan Bradshaw headed in from a few yards out. Crowborough had not been out of their half at this point and had barely been in the final third when the lead was doubled on 6 minutes. It was a good move down the left and then a 20-yard shot from a tight angle by Ryan Hayes that gave Chatham a commanding lead. The game was as good as over on 17 minutes and Crowborough only had themselves to blame. Two defenders were caught ball watching and Bradshaw took advantage, getting his second, nipping in and rounding the keeper. The hosts had a good spell just before half time, forcing a goalline clearance and a good save from Chatham goalkeeper Jordan Carey. The visitors were still dangerous on the break and on the stroke of half time, they were awarded a penalty. It was a decent effort but Crowborough keeper Cameron Hall dived full stretch to make a great save. It was 4-0 on 55 minutes, a corner was curled in from the right and George Shemiant headed home. Chatham made it 5-0 on 80 minutes, a ball was squared from the left and Harvey Brown finished from a few yards out. The final goal came on 86 minutes, Bradshaw completing his hat trick when he followed up a shot that was parried by the keeper.

We chatted to a couple of Crowborough fans during the evening including one who did a bit of groundhopping and everyone was really friendly. The Chatham fans were in good voice as we left as they had been all night. They had good reason to be happy, keeping their 100% record going and dominating from start to finish. Of course, it was only down to Tracey Crouch, the local MP for the Chatham area. Back in August, she got behind the #LetFansIn campaign, forcing the government to re-issue guidance that they'd earlier sent. This led to the FA actually reading the guidance and realising that non-elite fans were allowed in all along. She was still trying to press for the rest of non-league to have fans but the FA's refusal to drop the 'elite' tag meant that the government were still banning them. There was at least reassurance that the clubs would be given financial help to compensate for lack of fans. However, it's still no help for supporters, whose mental; health will suffer without their usual football fix to look forward to at the end of the week. We left at 9.40, listening to the Carabao Cup game as Spurs beat Chelsea on penalties. We then switched to Union Jack for the rest of the country but the first 30 miles were on mickey-mouse roads with it taking an hour. The rest of the journey was decent with only the occasional roadworks slowing us down. I dropped Anwar off at 11.30, getting home myself twenty minutes later. I went straight to bed, but couldn't get to sleep for a couple of hours. It meant that I was tired the next morning, but I coped by having a catchup the following afternoon. Hopefully, my body clock will get back to work mode soon. The current plan for Saturday is a trip to Witney & District League side Carterton, though inclement weather may force a change of plan.


THE CROWBOROUGH COMMUNITY STADIUM is a decent setup for the level. There are three small stands on one side with seating for around 150 and standing for 50. Behind the goal is covered standing for around 350. The rest of the ground is open standing with a total capacity of around 2000. There's an outside bar with a reasonable selection including local ales. There's also a tea bar with a decent selection at reasonable prices. The Nee How Chinese takeaway and fish and chip shop is 10 minutes walk away, right next to a pub. Everything is really well kept and the club are nice and friendly, so it's well worth a visit.

Saturday 26 September 2020

Taplow United - Stanley Jones Field


Taplow United FC
Stanley Jones Field
Berry Hill

Ground Number: 931
Saturday 26th September 2020
Taplow United 1-5 Woodley United
Blufin Sports Cup


The club was established in 1923 and was initially known as Old Paludians, having been formed by former pupils of Slough secondary school. The name 'Paludian' comes from the Latin word for slough or swamp. They kept the name right up until 1998 before changing to their present name. There's not a lot of information about the club's early years online but they moved to their present home in 1955 having previously been based at various locations including Lascelles Road, not far from Slough town centre and still used as playing fields to this day. In 1994, they joined the Chiltonian League and a 5th place finish in Division 1 was good enough for promotion to the Premier Division in their debut season. Taplow United left the league in 2000 after a bottom-placed finish, shortly before it was swallowed up by the Hellenic League. After playing in the East Berkshire League, they'd re-emerge in the Reading League in 2004, spending two seasons in Division 1 before a 7th place finish was good enough for a promotion to the Premier Division.  Another couple of seasons were spent here and in 2008 a 4th place finish was good enough for promotion to the Senior Division. Taplow spent ten unremarkable seasons here with a best finish of 6th in 2014, albeit the league changed name to the Thames Valley Premier League from 2014 onwards. After a bottom-place finish in 2018, Taplow joined the Hellenic D2 East where they finished 11th before being moved to Divison 2 South. Last season was abandoned of course and it was another 11th place finish at the time of cancellation and for the coming season, Taplow United have been moved back to Division 2 East.

The club has never entered the FA Cup or FA Vase but they've won a few local trophies including the Slough Town Cup in 1995 and the BTC Intermediate Cup. The village of Taplow has a population of just under 1,700. Though it is well known for it's 'giant car boot sale' which is held in a large field off the Bath Road, it's one of the most prosperous areas in the country and has been home to such stars as Dusty Springfield and Terry Wogan.

Research from Wikipedia, FCHDTaplow United website (via Internet Wayback Machine) & Football, Wherever it may be.


Taplow United had been on my 'to-do' list for a while, what with it being fairly close to home. It was a fairly basic setup but was worth doing as it was nice and local. The only issue was, that the club, or to be more precise, the club's Twitter person made visiting as difficult as possible by blocking pretty much every groundhopper on Twitter for whatever reason. It certainly didn't help them attract fans with just 5 people turning up at one game - the vast majority of them hoppers. Therefore, with no reliable way to keep up to date with news on the game, I'd given them the swerve for ages. However, the ideal circumstances arrived one Saturday with Wycombe having a live game on Sky with a 12:30 kick-off. The behind closed doors situation was still continuing and so the plan was to watch it at home and then drive to the game. I'd have to stay sober of course, not ideal when watching Wycombe had driven me to drink a fair few times. Thankfully, Woodley United had a pretty decent Twitter and the Taplow United website was pretty decent for a level where the clubs are more geared towards the playing than towards having spectators. Since my few days down in Devon, I'd been to a couple of revisits - on Thursday seeing Holmer Green win 1-0 at Aylesbury Vale Dynamos and on Friday, revisiting Slough Town to see Chalvey Sports triumph 4-0 over Stokenchurch. The morning of the game came and I wasn't in an especially energetic mood. I walked down the shops and got a paper before coming back and watching the Wycombe v Swansea game on Sky. We were overwhelmed in the first half with Swansea taking a 2-0 lead and looking a cut above. Wycombe improved in the second half and gave a good account of themselves, albeit without giving the visitors any real problems. I left home at 2.15, a few minutes before the Wycombe game ended. I was at the ground by 2.45 and upon entry was asked for my details and given a temperature check by the friendly man on the gate.

Taplow United had not played any competitive games yet but the two friendlies that I'd seen coverage of had seen them lose 3-0 to Chalvey Sports and 9-1 to Hungerford Town Swifts. Woodley United had been in mixed form in the Hellenic D1 East (a step above Taplow). They'd beaten AFC Aldermaston 4-1 but had lost 4-2 to and 5-1 at Abingdon United.  The game kicked off twenty minutes late for some reason and although Taplow saw plenty of the ball early on, Woodley took the lead on 3 minutes when Kalum Patrick finished into the bottom left-hand corner after a good run into the area. The hosts were by no means out of the game though and on 12 minutes, a good move finished with Ben Harvey shooting narrowly over. On 19 minutes, they were level, a ball was put across the face of goal but no one connected. However, the referee had spotted a push, awarded a penalty and Jordan Jawandha did the honours from the spot. The wind was really whipping up now, making conditions really chilly and it seemed to have gone from July to November in less than a week. Around the half-hour mark, Woodley had a couple of free-kicks, both fired narrowly over. On 38 minutes, Taplow were awarded a corner, however, it came to nothing and after a quick break, the Woodley #10 fired narrowly over. A few minutes later the visitors did retake the lead thanks to a shot on the turn by Ben Anderson. Taplow could have got an equaliser shortly before half time, forcing the visiting keeper into a save from close range, but the shot lacked any real power. The hosts had given a decent account of themselves in the first half, but the second period was dominated by the visitors. They had a shot cleared off the line on 51 minutes and continued to have the lions share of possession without really testing the keeper. They finally made it count on 75 minutes when Anderson got his second after a good run and shot from close range. Taplow bought on Charlie Hill, a man neither in the peak of fitness nor with age on his side. However, as with so many at this level, he had a decent amount of skill and something about him. Despite some nice touches, he was unable to change the direction of the game and Woodley sealed the win on 81 minuted when Ed Thomas squared the ball to Tom Shone who side-footed home from a few yards out. There were accusations of offside and then arguments amongst themselves from the Taplow team, but they'd been well beaten in the end. Ben Anderson completed the rout and his hat trick with a low drive around four minutes from time and there could even have been a sixth but it was ruled out for offside.

The attendance numbered 23 on a bitter day, though I'd enjoyed the data at a decent club. The behaviour of the person who runs their Twitter remains a mystery, especially as it is well updated. It was after 5.10 by the time I left and I whacked the heaters on to warm up on the way home, getting back within half an hour,l The evening would be spent catching up, writing this blog, taking part in a virtual pub quiz and watching Match Of The Day. I still have a few days of my time off work left, but with 10 games in the last nine days, I'll be giving it a rest until Tuesday when I visit Crowborough Athletic v Chatham Town.


The Stanley Jones Memorial Field is a decent setup, though not bad for step 7. The pitch is railed on three sides with the far end closed off to spectators. Cold and hot drinks are available at the club as are snacks, whilst close by are a Miller and Carter steakhouse and a Shell garage.

Thursday 24 September 2020

Newton Abbot Spurs - Marsh Road

Newton Abbot Spurs FC
Marsh Road
Newton Abbot
TQ12 2AR

Ground Number: 930
Wednesday 23rd September 2020
Newton Abbot Spurs 1-0 Torpoint Athletic
SWP D1 East


The club was established in 1938, joining the South Devon Minor League upon formation. The Second World War interrupted proceedings and so for the next five or so years, they played only friendly games. When football returned, they played in the South Devon & Plymouth & District Leagues, winning the latter in 1950. In 1951, they were founder members of the South Western League and stayed for a couple of seasons before drop[ping back to local leagues such as the Plymouth & District and Exeter & District before a second spell in the South Western League from 1959 to 1971. Results were unremarkable and so they dropped back down to the South Devon League. Newton Abbot Spurs were Divison 2 champions in 1977, this earned them promotion to the Premier Division. They won the title on nine occasions, after the last of which in 1996, they joined the Devon County League. Their best finish here was 3rd in 2000 with the league merging with the South Western League to become the South West Peninsula League in 2007. The club was placed in the step 6 Premier Division but was relegated after finishing bottom in 2009. They remained in Division 1 East for ten years, the best finish coming in 2018 when they finished as runners-up to St Martin's. Restructuring at the start of last season saw the club bumped up to step 6 and before the plug was pulled on last season, Newton Abbot Spurs were in 6th place.

The club's best progress in the FA Cup came in 1947 when they beat Wells City before losing to Street. This season, they entered the competition for the first time in 54 years, beating AFC St Austell 3-0 before a 4-0 defeat at Larkhall Athletic. They had their best run in the FA Vase last season, beating Welton Rovers and Wells City before an 8-0 defeat to Herefordshire side Westfields in the 1st Round. Local cup wins include the South Devon Challenge Shield on five occasions, the South Devon League Herald Cup five times, the Devon Senior Cup three times, the Devon Premier Cup twice, the East Devon Senior Cup twice and the Plymouth & District Charity Cup in 1948. The market town of Newton Abbot has a population of just over 25,000 and is situated near the River Lemon, part of the River Teign. It's home to one of only two cider houses in the UK and as well as Newton Abbot Spurs, Buckland Athletic also play in the town.


Back when choosing games for my week away, I'd not really considered the town as a deciding factor. Wednesday was different, however, with Newton Abbot having a couple of great cider pubs, I was glad when they had a home game. I even arranged to stay over for an extra night which had the added bonus of driving home in the daytime. I booked a camping spot at a place around two miles from town. The day of the game came and it had been a rainy night in Saltash where my previous game had been. This hadn't been forecast when I'd looked a few days ago. I didn't have the best night's sleep but I did feel OK in the morning. I stayed at my campsite, uploading my blog in my thankfully dry tent, leaving at 10.15. Before I left Cornwall I got pictures of a rainy Lakeside Athletic and Plymouth Parkway grounds. I then headed through blazing sunshine only to arrive at a drizzly Teigngrace where I was camping. It was a very nice site and I arrived at 12, pitching up in about 15 minutes then waiting in my car until the rain stopped.


It was a 40-minute walk into town and after going in a couple of shops, I arrived at Ye Olde Cider bar at 2.15. My first choice was out but I had a retry of Sam's Medium which I'd had in Stockport last year. It was then a half of Thatchers Diesel which was very similar to Cheddar Valley. I had a look around some more shops, picking up some Irn Bru and snacks. I was pleased that the forecast rain had not come and it was a double whammy when I got a free audiobook from Audible. I chose Alan Partridge - From The Oasthouse and this kept me company as I walked a few miles to get pictures of the Devon FA ground and Buckland Athletic. I was pleased to get good pictures of both. By the time I got back to town, it was just after 5. Peckish, I made my way to a Chinese takeaway called Hoi Shan where I had a decent portion of salt and chilli chips for £3.50. I then walked to my second pub, the Teign Cellars where I had a pint of local Reddaways cider for £3. I was tempted by the Maltings Taphouse and bottle room but sadly it was closed. Instead, I had a pint of Hunts Devon Wobbler which was probably my favourite of the trip so far. I was dismayed to have used all my 15GB of data a week before it refreshed, so had to pay a fiver for some more as I'd be stuck without it. From there it was to the ground, a 10-minute walk with me getting there at 7. Entry was £5, an excellent programme £1. I headed to the bar to sit down and read my programme before kick-off, having a pint of Thatchers Haze for £3.80.

The hosts had won two and lost one in the league so far, beating whipping boys Stoke Gabriel 8-0 and Sidmouth Town 4-1. The only negative was losing 2-1 at league leaders Millbrook. Torpoint Athletic had won all three of their games beating Torrington 4-3, Bovey Tracey 4-0 and Brixham 2-1. Spurs were the better side early on - Nathan Hebbes firing over after a good run and Liam Moseley screwing just wide. There were several other openings too, but they just couldn't hit the back of the net. They dominated the first half but it was goalless at the break. The domination continued after the restart but Torpoint nearly grabbed a goal on the break amongst Spurs protestations of offside. The visitors grew into the game and forced a good save from the home keeper as the half wore on. Spurs came close with a rebound from a free-kick but it wasn't to be. Groundhoppers had travelled from as far as Shildon in the North East to get their football fix and as good as the game was, it remained 0-0.  Just as it looked to end an entertaining goalless draw, Josh Webber finished from a tight angle to give the hosts the lead around 15 minutes from time. I did a headcount of the attendance which numbered 102. There were further chances for Spurs to extend their lead but it wasn't to be.

It had been a good game but there was a noticeable drop in temperature so I headed to the local Wetherspoons, the Richard Hopkins. It took an age to be served as there appeared to be no staff but eventually I got served a pint of Back Dragon. I drank it slowly whist I caught up online, leaving at 10.10. There were some rowdy people banging on a shop front as they enjoyed their last night of freedom before the 10 PM curfew comes in tomorrow. My headphones ran out of batteries so I had to listen to my phone through the speaker, though that wasn't a problem as no one was about. I was back at my tent by 11 and had one last cider to send me to sleep. I got a good nights sleep for once and must have slept through whatever rain was forecast. I woke around 6.30 and a couple of hours later, I was all packed up and ready to go. The plan was to stop at Shirehampton & Cribbs grounds to get pictures on the way home. It had been a good time away, though, with a lot of drink taken, I'll be giving it a rest for a couple of days.


THE REC is a decent setup. Unusually, both covered seated stands are behind each goal, both are unique and hold about 100 between them. The rest of the ground is open hard standing. Basic bar and food facilities are provided but the town is a short walk away and offers better choices. There's plenty of parking and public transport is good too.  The pick of the pubs is the Teign Cellars with a good range of drinks and decent looking food.