Saturday, 24 July 2021

Sheerwater - Eastwood Centre

Sheerwater FC
The Eastwood Centre
Albert Drive


Ground Number: 976
Saturday 24th July 2021
Sheerwater 2-3 Woking
Ex Players Friendly


The club was established in 1958 and originally played in the Woking & District League. They joined the Surrey Intermediate League in 1967 before progressing to the Surrey Senior League in 1972. Their best finish here was 6th in 1975. They generally finished in the bottom half but in 1978, the club joined the Combined Counties League as founder members. The league was known as the Home Counties League for the inaugural season and Sheerwater spent four seasons here before dropping back down to the Surrey Leagues. Despite never pulling up any trees, the club rejoined the Combined Counties League in 2003. Despite mainly finishing in the lower reaches of the table, the club survived relegation due to lack of suitable replacements from the league below. Tightening ground grading regulations meant that the club had to leave the Sheerwater Recreation Ground in 2018. It was just a basic railed pitch and so they shared with local side Woking for a few seasons so they could maintain their status. Their fortunes had already started to improve, but their new surroundings inspired them to new heights as they won the CCL D1 title in 2019. Their new ground is now ready on the site of Bishop David Brown School. Their first two seasons at step 5 have been abandoned, but they sat in mid-table on both occasions.

Sheerwater have played two seasons in the FA Cup, but have yet to win a game, losing 2-1 to both CB Hounslow United & Corinthian. They had a mini-run in the FA Vase in 2018, beating  Lancing & Chessington & Hook before losing to Southall in the 1st Round. They also reached the same stage last season, losing to Raynes Park Vale. Sheerwater is a small suburb of Woking and is famous for being the place where the band 'The Jam' formed. Three teenage residents formed the band in the 1970s while attending Sheerwater's secondary school including Paul Weller – the remainder of the band he led also attended the school. The population of the area is around 3,500 and local facilities include an ASDA supermarket and several smaller shops including takeaways, a cafe and a pharmacy. Sheerwater had one pub, The Birch and Pines. This closed in April 2017.


I was stuck for a game to visit on this Saturday. My hope was to visit somewhere using the London Underground for a cheap day out but the choice was not that inspiring. Plus, there was plenty of rain forecast and although it may not be game wrecking, it wouldn't be very pleasant to walk it. It was sod's law that after a baking hot week when people were stuck in work, the weather took a turn for the worse at the weekend. It happened time and time again, seemingly out of spite. I had a decent alternative though. Sheerwater wasn't too much of a drive and they were opening their new ground. There was also the bonus of two games as their ex-players were facing a team of Woking FC veterans at 12 before the main event. I was hoping that I might see a few ex-Wycombe players on show. The ticket for both games was a bargain £5 and I bought this online, the day before.


I had a good night's sleep on the day before the game, 8.5 hours when I usually get 6 at the most. After my late night, I woke up at 10.15 and had to get a moved on. I was up, washed, dressed and had my things together before leaving at 10.35. I stopped at Lidl to get some brunch which consisted of a goats cheese focaccia, a pretzel, a double chocolate cookie and a Belgian bun. Together with a tube of Pringles-like crisps, it came to less than £3. Why other supermarkets have not emulated this next level bakery and continue to pedal the same old tired crap is beyond me. The original plan was to bring or purchase a couple of cans of cider, but having only been awake half an hour, it didn't feel right. I'm trying to cut down anyway, so perhaps it's a good thing. Of course, the M25 was on it's usual woeful form and I didn't get to the parking place of Sheerwater Recreation Ground until 11.55. The direction from the stewards was excellent and after a pleasant ten minute walk, I was at the ground. I showed my ticket and purchased a programme for £1.50. Thankfully the game kicked off at 12.15 but it did consist of two 30 minute halves. 

No lineups were published, but Woking had a number of recognisable faces. Sky commentator Martin Tyler, ex Gillingham man Neil Smith, former Arsenal player Ian Selley and their current manager Alan Dowson. They also had a female player, Mia, who played number 8 for them. The hosts scored the first goal at their new home after 8 minutes. They capitalised on a lax defence to take the lead. It was all square on 18 minutes a volleyed drive into the bottom right hand corner by Ian Selley. Sheerwater retook the lead on 36 minutes, a lovely 25-yard dipping shot that just snuck under the bar. There were good saves from both keepers, especially the Woking man who kept his side in the game. Sheerwater was the much younger side but after Woking bought Tyler on, experience told. It was 2-2 on 53 minutes, a header was saved at the left-hand post and Selley volleyed home the rebound. A couple of minutes from time, Selley turned home a cross from close range to complete his hat trick and win the game for Woking. I met some fellow hoppers after the game including Braintree fan Dan. We had a nice chat whilst waiting for the game. I also went up to the bar and typed my blog on my phone to kill time.


I met a few other hoppers including Joseph, AKA Groundhopping FC plus Dan's mates Richard and Andrew. Woking put out a strong side including former Wycombe man Max Kretzschmar. They dominated the first period and they took the lead on 16 minutes. Josh Casey set up former Wycombe man Max Kretzschmar who finished well past the keeper. The scorer turned provider for the second goal, crossing for George Oakley to attempt an overhead kick of sorts to give his side a 2-0 lead on 23 minutes. Woking dominated possession and made a number of changes at halftime, twice hitting the crossbar. The game slowed down a bit and chances dried up, Credit to the hosts for taking the sting out of the game. The result was sealed on 85 minutes when a trialist smashed home from the edge of the area. The second game hadn't been a patch on the first, but I'd enjoyed the game anyway. The game had pretty much sold out and I'd estimate an attendance of 500 at most. I was back at my car by 5 and home by 5.45. The evening consisted of typing my blog, a few ciders and Jay's Virtual Pub Quiz.


The Eastwood Centre is a work in progress but it looks to be a good base for Sheerwater. The whole of one side is covered, a mix of seating and standing for around 500. It's refreshing not to see the standard metal stand plonked down though they could do with some elevated seating. The rest of the ground is open, with around another 1000 spaces. The bar and tea bar are smart but offer a limited range that just about does the job. For a better selection, the centre of Sheerwater is about 10 minutes walk away, but has no pubs to my knowledge. Takeaways include 'Best Kebab' and a Chippy. For drinks, cans from Londis.

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