Saturday 10 July 2021

Herne Bay - Winch's Field

Herne Bay FC
Winch's Field
Stanley Gardens
Herne Bay

01227 374156 (Clubhouse Bookings)
07738 933683 (Match Info & Tickets)

Ground Number: 970
Saturday 10th July 2021
Herne Bay 2-1 Kent Football United
Eddie 'Titch' Willett Memorial Shield


The club was established in 1886, joining the East Kent League upon formation. Ten years later, they joined the Kent League although after two seasons of finishing bottom, Herne Bay left and rejoined the East Kent League. They would go on to win the competition four times before folding in 1913. When they reformed in 1934, they joined the Kent County League playing in its various regional divisions. The club rejoined the Kent League in 1953, winning Division 2 a couple of years later. They were runners-up the following season but would not win promotion to Division 1 in 1957. After a couple of lowly finishes, Herne Bay joined the Aetolian League, never finishing outside the top six during their five seasons here. The club then moved on to the Athenian League in 1964, winning Division 2 in 1971 and earning a promotion to Division 1. Three tricky seasons were spent in Division 1 before Herne Bay left for the Kent League. The club would go on to spend 38 years in what is the modern-day SCEFL League. They would go on to win the league on five occasions and were also runners-up five times. After the last of their titles, Herne Bay joined the Isthmian League in 2012 and have played in Division 1 South East ever since. Their best finish of 8th came in 2016 although the abandoned season of 2019/20 saw them in 5th before the plug was pulled.

The club's best-ever progress in the FA Cup is the 4th Qualifying Round which they reached in 1970 (losing 1-0 to Margate) and in 1986 (losing 4-0 at Farnborough Town). In the FA Trophy, they reached the 3rd Qualifying Round last year, losing 3-1 at Hitchin Town. In the FA Vase, Herne Bay reached the sem-final in their farewell season of 2011/12. They beat Winchester City, Hanworth Villa, Newcastle Benfield, Larkhall Athletic and Shortwood United before losing 4-3 over two legs to West Auckland Town. In terms of local cups, the club has won the Kent League Premier Division Cup in 1997, 2010 & 2011, the Kent League Challenge Shield in 1993, 1997, 1998 & 2010, the Kent Senior Trophy in 1979 and 1997, the Kent Amateur Cup in 1958 and the Kent & Medway Combination Cup in 1962. The club's record attendance of 2,303 came for the 1970 FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round game in 1970. Well-known players to have appeared for the club include Liam Hatch, Danny Kedwell & Sean Raggett. Herne Bay is a seaside town in Kent with a population of just over 38,000. It used to be a popular holiday destination but this has declined since easier foreign travel started. Famous people from the town include Blockbusters' host Bob Holness and TV presenter Nicki Chapman. 


Herne Bay was another ground that I'd wanted to visit for a while. I'd been for a look around on my way back from Margate in 2014 and it seemed a charming old-school ground like many in the area. The desire was further enhanced with the discovery of some nice pubs in the area when I looked into where to go during the lockdown last year. With the purchase of a railcard, it made the journey far more affordable. I was originally going to go to Bearsted v Maidstone United on this day, but it was a bit of a faff on public transport. With me having a long journey to Thorne Colliery the previous night, I'd have preferred a closer train trip nut there wasn't a huge choice on. at least not ones that were viable on the train.

The day of the game came and I awoke around ten minutes before my alarm went off. It was still a bit of a rush though and so after a Porridge Pot for breakfast, I headed out at 8. There were a couple of concerns when I checked online. Firstly, the opponent had changed from Lordswood to Kent Football United which reminded me of the fragility of these fixtures. It was something I knew well but at least unlike my game at Glapwell, the opposition had the decency to give good notice. There was also some rain in the morning but I decided against taking a coat as it would be all but over by the time I got there. I was at the station around 15 minutes before my train and after one last check on Twitter, I bought a return for £28.90. The train came as scheduled at 9.25, with the service being very busy. I doubted that any of them were off to an obscure game of non-league football, but you never know.  The journey to London was fine but the underground threw up some problems. Because I had my headphones on, I didn't know that Oxford Circus station was closed due to a suspicious package, but twice we went through there, slowed down and the doors stayed closed. After the second time, I went up and asked an assistant who gave a right complicated route. Instead, I worked it out myself and went a stop down to Green Park before getting the Victoria Line to Victoria. With time tight, I had to run and made my train to Herne Bay with a few minutes to spare. Otherwise, it would have been an hour stop at Victoria with the compensation of a pint or two in Wetherspoons. I finalised my Thorne Colliery blog on the train and uploaded it, though it was less than comfortable with only a tiny tip-down table to lean on. It was a bit of a miserable start to my time in Herne Bay. Drizzle and miserable weather was hardly the most welcoming introduction to the town and so the Beer On The Pier was OK but no great shakes with its Biddendens Bushels on offer. It was sone I'd had before but was nice. I then made my way to the Firkin Frog, a smashing place where I tried a couple of new ciders in the company of a lovely dog. Then it was a takeaway, the Chop & Lobster House which provided an excellent lunch.

From there, I may have gone to another pub, I am not sure. Whatever happened, I was at the ground in time for kick-off. The hosts dominated early on and they flew into a two-goal lead. Kent Football United rallied late on following a lot of subs and maybe they deserved a share of the spoils. I maybe should have had a pint less as I mislaid my phone, but it turned up at the bar, much to my relief. Looking at things, once we have the Euro Final out of the way, plus my birthday weekend, I'll be looking to cut down. I got the 5.15 train back to London and this got to Victoria as advertised. From there, it was a far easier trip to Marylebone, although I did have half an hour to wait for a train to High Wycombe. I was back home at 8.15, stopping at a local shop for snacks. I was in just after 9.30 and had a couple of drinks before bed.


I visited Winch's Field back in 2014 and so some of the pictures are from then. The ground is named after Winch's Brickworks which was what the site used to be on the site before the football club moved in. There is cover on all four sides with seats for around 200 and cover for 1,500 according to Wikipedia. The rest of the ground is open with a total capacity of 3,000. It is located near to the town so the public transport links are great and it also has a decent amount of parking.

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