Saturday 28 August 2021

Gas Recreation - Colchester Sports & Social Club

Gas Recreation FC
Colchester Sports & Social Club
19 Bromley Road

Ground Number: 989
Saturday 28th August 2021
Gas Recreation 2-3 Brantham Athletic Reserves
Essex & Suffolk Border League Premier Division


As with most clubs at this level, information on clubs history is very limited. The club was established in 1937 as Colchester Light & Coke Company. In 1952 they were reformed as Eastern Gas FC and enjoyed a very successful period winning a number of local cups. They were Essex & Suffolk Border League champions in 1972, four times in a row between 1996 and 1999, another four times in a row between 2005 & 2008, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2018 & 2019 and were also leading the table last season when it was abandoned. Cup wins include the ESBL League Cup on a number of occasions. In 1996 they beat Alresford Colne Rangers 5-3, the following year they retained the cup with a 1-0 win over Mistley United. In 1999 they overcame Needham Market Reserves 3-1 and in 2006 they defeated Lawford Lads 3-2. They last won the cup in 2013 with a 2-1 win over Tollesbury. They are also four times winners of the Tommy Thompson Cup and won the A.V Lee Memorial cup on three occasions.

The club is situated in Colchester, a couple of miles out of the town centre. The most famous club in the town, Colchester United ply their trade in League 2. Non-league clubs in the town include Gas Recreation and West Bergholt who ply their trade in the top division of the Essex & Suffolk Border League. Colchester occupies the site of what was Camulodunum, the first major Roman city in, and sometime capital of, Roman Britain. Colchester lays claim to be Britain's oldest recorded town. The population is just over 138,000. It is the only town in Britain to have been explicitly mentioned in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four as being the target of a nuclear attack. The (fictional) Atomic Wars took place during the 1950s. Colchester is the only town that was specifically mentioned as being bombed, but the book does say that many cities were destroyed in North America, Europe, and Russia. It was also mentioned in the sitcom 'Only Fools & Horses' when at a school reunion, Roy Slater mentioned that he'd been working as an undertaker in the town. Prominent members of the band Blur met at a school in Colchester. Famous people to have lived in the town include referee Ken Aston and the less pleasant Margaret Thatcher and Mary Whitehouse.

Sources used: FCHD, Wikipedia, ESBL Handbook, Football Grounds In Focus


When it came to choosing a game for this Saturday, I wanted to do a game on public transport but options were limited and uninspiring. There was a basic ground at Hazlemere Rec which was walkable but with it being just a basic pitch, I wanted to save it for a cup game if possible. The next cheapest were Oakwood and Roffey at around £22 but these options had limited pubs and were useful options to save for when I was on my own on a Tuesday night by car. Another option was something in Bristol but the coach times didn't work out unless I wanted to get back home at midnight. There were options further afield in the likes of the Wessex League but for some reason, these worked out at nearly double what the same distance to a destination in Kent would. I decided to look at step 7 instead, but with many leagues not starting up yet, options were limited. Utterly uninspired by the choices, I made contact with a few of my hoppers to see if they fancied something in the car, but being the day before, they'd all made arrangements. Back to the drawing board then and eventually I plumped for Gas Recreation. Once I'd looked on the What Pub website I started to feel a lot better. There were a ton of good pubs for real cider there, the best of which, the Victoria Inn listed their range on the app Untappd. With it being a decent ground for the level, I was really looking forward to the day out now and with my railcard, it was a very reasonable £26.55 return.

I'd had a fairly late night before, having come back from Mile Oak and stayed up to do my blog. I'd had just over 5 hours of sleep when my alarm went off at 7.10 and although I felt groggy at first, I soon woke up. A pot of porridge was consumed for breakfast but I had to be on my toes with time fairly tight. I left home at 7.35 and walked to High Wycombe train station, getting there at 8.45. I had one final check on Twitter for any potential problems before buying my ticket, but Brantham Athletic said game on. In any case, I had a basic venue at West Bergholt as a backup. I then got the 8.57 train to Marylebone, being glad to be able to make use of the toilet facilities on board. I was at Marylebone about 40 minutes later. From there I did my usual walk to Baker Street and expected to get the Metropolitan Line to Liverpool Street. However, something was up, shortage of drivers I think and instead, I had to take an alternative route. It would have been easier to just go from Marylebone but what's done was done and I got my train as planned at 10.36. I was there with nearly half an hour to spare but got on the train as soon as it arrived at the platform some 20 minutes earlier. The Greater Anglia service was nice pleasant and quiet and I made use of the WiFi as I was running low on phone data. It was nice to use the journey time to research the history of the club which took almost the entire hour. 

I was at Colchester Station at 11.40 and with a ten-minute walk to my first chosen pub of the Victoria Inn. I had ten minutes to hang around before it opened at 12. It really was a fantastic place for both Ale and Cider Drinkers. I'd have to learn to drink halves here but I was able to sample six new ciders, namely Dengie Dry, three from Simon's Cider of Cambridge, Cox!!!, Browns Medium Dry, and Sweet P , Snailsbank Perry Bomb and Adnams Wild Wave. I left at 1.30 and walked to the ground. I stopped at Taco Bell on the way for a Volcano Burrito meal which was great for £5.49. After a two mile walk, I was at the ground with 15 minutes until kick off. 

Gas Recreation had enjoyed a good start to the season as ever. They'd beaten Dunmow Town 3-1, Lawford Lads 6-1, Sudbury Sports 3-2 and White Notley 5-4. They'd drawn 3-3 against Hatfield Peverel and 1-1 against Earls Colne. They sat in third whilst visitors Brantham Athletic Reserves were 6th. They'd also had four wins beating Dedham Old Boys 5-2, Sudbury Sports 1-0, Little Oakley Reserves 3-0 and Felixstowe & Walton U23 3-1. They'd lost 2-0 to Stanway Pegasus and suffered an 8-1 thumping at Tiptree Heath which meant their goal difference was level. Gas Recreation started well and were ahead within a few minutes when Ryan Munson got on the end of a cross from the right to put his side ahead. They extended their lead on 18 minutes and it was a great shot on the turn from the edge of the area by 'Willo'. It was all one-way traffic at this point and it looked as if the hosts would win at a canter. Just before halftime, Brantham Athletic pulled a goal back just before halftime, it was a shot into the top corner from the edge of the area and a great goal by Charlie Iglesias. Five minutes into the second half it was 2-2. a shot on the turn by Aiden Carpenter. A couple of minutes later, the game was turned on its head, a corner from the right was put into just the right position and debutant Drew Cornick rose highest at the back post to head home. The #10 for Gas Recreation appeared to tread on a player following a scuffle but I may have been mistaken as there were no complaints and no action by the referee. He was later sent off for calling the linesman a 'useless c*nt'. The same linesman ruled out a 75th minutes equaliser for offside. It had been an excellent game with around 60 in attendance.

It had been an entertaining game, but a draw would probably have been a fairer result. I was disappointed to hear that Wycombe had lost 3-1 up at Sunderland but I was glad that I chose the game that I did. I headed back to Colchester Town Station as this was the nearest and I assumed that trains would stop at both this and the main station. I left just before 5 and looked out for somewhere to eat or drink en route. A few Chinese takeaways were passed before I settled on one that did salt and pepper chips right by the station. £3.20 got me a really nice portion but they weren't especially good value from Oriental House. I was disappointed to find a 40-minute wait for my train at 18:35. I decided to stick with it though and went to the shop around the corner for a couple of soft drinks. I then sat on the single platform and caught up whilst waiting for my train. My train duly arrived and it was a much older model than the morning one. I was happy that it still had free Wifi for my laptop though and so I caught up with my blog on the way home. The plan was to get back to London and Wycombe and stop at Lidl for drinks and snacks, hopefully getting home for Match Of The Day which I'd not watched in two years.


COLCHESTER SPORTS AND SOCIAL CLUB is an excellent venue for the level. The pitch is fully railed or fenced all around, with each side being different. There's a pavilion that houses the dressing rooms and sells a selection of drinks and snacks. The ground is surrounded by pleasant woodland and there is plenty of parking. It's also on the main bus route and nearby is a small Tesco and Chinese, Indian and Chippy takeaways. 

Friday 27 August 2021

Mile Oak - Chalky Road

Mile Oak FC
Mile Oak Recreation Grounds
Mile Oak
BN41 2WS

Ground Number: 988
Friday 27th August 2021
Mile Oak 4-3 Wick
Southern Combination D1


The club was established in 1960 and they started life way down in Division 8 of the Brighton, Hove & District League. They won the league at the first attempt and were promoted to Division 6. They were runners-up here in 1964 and then another runners-up spot the following season saw them promoted to Division 4 which they won in 1966. There were some setbacks in the years after this which saw them back in Division 5 but they were promoted from Division 4 again in 1972 as runners-up. Mile Oak skipped a league and won Division 2 in 1973 as well as Division 1 the following season. The club would remain in the Premier Division, winning the league in 1981 and being runners-up on three further occasions. In 1986, the club moved to the Southern Counties Combination League which they won at the first attempt. It was a feeder to the Sussex League which they joined in 1987. In 1992, Mile Oak finished as runners-up to Hassocks to win promotion to Division 2. They'd win this Division in 1995 and would spend three seasons struggling in Division 1 before being relegated back. 1997 saw them finish 16th in Division 1 which is now known as the Southern Combination Premier which is a record for the club. In 2009, Mile Oak finished as runners-up to Peacehaven & Telscombe but this time, their stay in the top tier would last just one season. The closest they have come to promotion back came in 2017 as they finished 4th.

Mile Oak first competed in the FA Cup in 1996, beating Greenwich Borough 4-3 before a 4-1 defeat to Thamesmead Town in the 1st Qualifying Round. This remains their best progress in the competition. In the FA Vase, they've twice reached the second round, the last time in 2008/09 as they lost to Croydon. In local cups, honours include the Brighton Hove & District Vernon Wentworth Cup in 1986 and the Sussex County Division 2 Cup in 2006. The club's record attendance of 143 came against Worthing during the 2015/16 season. Mile Oak is in the northern part of Portslade and has a population of 10,300 and is situated near Brighton on the south coast. 


There were plenty of choices for games on this day and I really fancied an overnight stop in Wales. However, being the bank holiday weekend, accommodation was scarce and well overpriced, so that idea was swiftly knocked on the head. There weren't many options via my normal Friday hopper, so I turned to Colin who was very keen. Mile Oak were playing Wick and he was agreeable to doing it with me. It was one that I could have done on the train but with an uninspiring range of pubs nearby, I was happy to do it on this Friday night. It was all planned on the fly the day before. It would of e and it was all a bit of a rush with it being my third groundhop of midweek and me not even having planned my Saturday yet. The Bank Holiday situation was pretty dire overall with me having to work and miss football on Monday, as well as dealing with all the usual unpleasant crowd that come in when they have a day off.

The day of the game came and I was working of course. It was not as bad as recent days but I'm looking forward to a much-needed break in a few weeks time. I put in plans for tomorrow - a train trip to Colchester and its many pubs to see Gas Recreation FC. Either that or something in the car with another hopper, as I was, at first, uninspired by the options on offer. I offered a couple of people potential games and won't go back on my word. I only had half an hour at home before leaving at 4 and the traffic problems started almost straight away as a recovery truck had blocked the road after two cars had crashed. I had to find an alternate route to Colin and arrived 10 minutes late. As a result of the crash, all the traffic had diverted onto one route and it took half an hour to get on the M40 at Denham. There were then the usual delays on the M25 but once we got on the road down to the coast, it was great. We got to the ground at 6.40 and parked in a side street. We then headed off for dinner. Hong Kong Garden was decent enough Chinese and I had Thai Green Curry and Salt and Pepper chips which came to under £8. A nearby wall made use of as a place to settle down and have dinner. We then made our way to the ground, paying a well-priced fiver for entry.

Mile Oak had endured a torrid start to the season, losing all four games. They were still only their bottom having lost 2-0 at home to Worthing United, 3-1 at Forest Row, 2-1 at Godalming Town and 1-0 at Dorking Wanderers Reserves. Visitors Wick had played a game more and had enjoyed wins against Oakwood (3-0) and Selsey (1-0) but lost 6-2 at Roffey, 2-1 at Worthing United and 1-0 to Forest Row. Wick had a couple of corners early on but it was Mile Oak that had the lions share of the game early on, forcing a couple of good saves from the keeper. They took the lead on the half-hour mark, a penalty was awarded for a foul and captain Zack Haulkham did the honours from the spot. It was all square a couple of minutes after, a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner by Connor Bull. On 42 minutes the hosts were back in front when Jack Stenning drove home into the bottom left from just inside the area. It was all square a minute later, Bull charged into the area and got on the end of a diagonal ball to equalise for the visitors. Mile Oak continued to dominate and they went ahead for a third time on 51 minutes. Harry Funnell got on the end of a cross after the visitors missed a couple of opportunities to cut it out. Three minutes later it was 4-2 thanks to an excellent 25-yard drive by Ross Smith. Ben Gray capitalised on poor defending to pull a goal back on 74 minutes to make it 4-3. There was a pitch invading cat that had to be removed by a player, Haulkham got his matching orders for a couple of bookings late on. Stenning had the chance to seal the game for the hosts five minutes from time but he slotted wide with only the keeper to beat.

It had been a great game and night out in decent company. The attendance had not been announced at the time of me writing this blog, but I'd guess around 70. It was certainly a significant increase on their usual gate and yet another advert for Friday night football. Though there has been a lot more on offer in the past few weeks, there's still a whole load of clubs missing out. I'd been in good company too and myself and Colin made our way back to the car. It was around 9.30 by the time we got going and it was a far better journey home. I dropped my passenger off at 11 and got home 15 minutes later. I caught up on Coronation Street whilst typing my blog, going to sleep just before 1 am. With me up at 7 for Saturday's football, I could have done with more but I've never been a big sleeper. Usually, I'd have had a couple of drinks but with me having drunk on Tuesday, I was keen to stick to only two days a week and so it was a sober Friday night for me. 


The MILE OAK RECREATION GROUND is a venue with plenty of character. One side is out of bounds to spectators but the other three sides are hard standing. The pitch and the ground are slanted but this makes it all the better. There are two stands - a seated metal unit and a terrace and these both hold around 100 at a push. There are basic drinks and snacks at the ground whilst nearby are Chinese and Indian takeaways and a convenience store. 

Thursday 26 August 2021

Long Sutton Athletic - The Parkside Club

Long Sutton Athletic FC
The Parkside Club
London Road
Long Sutton
PE12 9ED

01406 364473

Ground Number: 987
Wednesday 25th September 2021
Long Sutton Athletic 0-2 Leverington Sports
Peterborough & District Premier


Although a club called Long Sutton Town played in the Peterborough & District League between 1932 and 1953, the present club was established in 1983. They too played in the PDFL and made rapid progress up the divisions. They won Division Six in 1985, Division Five in 1986 and Division 4 in 1987, Following this win, they applied to join the Eastern Counties League but were withdrew after they couldn't get their stand built in time.  It was a fourth successive title in 1988 and this time, they were good to go up. They played in the Eastern Counties Division 1 from 1988 until 1985. Their best season came in 1992 when they finished 6th. The last two seasons saw the team struggle in the league, due to a reduced budget due to travelling costs. For this reason, they left the league in 1995. They returned to the Peterborough & District League, replacing their reserve team in Division 5. They won all twenty matches in the first season and just as back in the 1980s, they were champions in consecutive seasons, culminating in a Division 2 championship in 1999. They were promoted to the Premier Division but the going was not so easy here. They finished bottom in 2006 but avoided relegation. However, they were not so lucky the following year and went down to Division 1. Despite some good seasons at this level, they finished bottom of Division 1 in 2015 but again avoided relegation. A 3rd place finish in 2018 was good enough for promotion back to the Premier Division. The last three seasons (including the two abandoned ones) have seen them hover around the lower mid-table area. 

Long Sutton Athletic played in the FA Vase between 1989 and 1995. Their only win came in their debut as they beat Ramsey Town 1-0. They then went on to lose to Histon in the Preliminary Round. Local cup wins including the Lincolnshire Junior Cup in 1986, the Lincolnshire Senior B Cup in 1990, the Peterborough Minor Cup in 1985, the Peterborough Challenge Cup in 1997 & 1998 and the Peterborough Junior Cup in 1999. The market town of Long Sutton has a population of just under 5,000. It was home to the highwayman Dick Turpin for around nine months under his assumed name of John Palmer.


Once again it was time for a Wednesday night game with fellow hopper Chris. There were not many options - early kick-offs at Kiveton Miners Welfare and Long Sutton Athletic and a later one at Winterton Rangers. We both preferred an early one so we could get back earlier and settled on the nearest one at Long Sutton, near Spalding. I did my research with regards to the club's history and places for dinner and arranged to meet Chris in Leighton Buzzard as he was there for his day off.  It was the same distance as going via his home in Milton Keynes and might even work out better, traffic-wise.

I woke on the day of the game and although no club had tweeted yet, the game was showing as a 7.30 kick-off. The lack of social media activity was not surprising given that it was 7am. Nor was the late kick-off given that they had floodlights. It was later confirmed that it would be the later kick-off that made sense for players finishing work. It wasn't the greatest day overall. Work was very busy, plenty of people not bothering with masks. I resisted the urge to 'accidentally' drop something heavy on their head as I don't think it's in our customer service charter. I also lost a filling although at least I'll only have to wait until next Tuesday for an appointment, even if it will limit my groundhopping plans for that day. I left work at 3.10 and was in Leighton Buzzard to meet Chris an hour later. It was quite a decent journey and we were in Long Sutton an hour later. We got our customary Chinese takeaway with me having salt and chilli pepper chips and King Prawn Thai style. Both were nice enough, but not exceptional.

Long Sutton Athletic were sitting in 10th place. So far this season they'd beaten Netherton United 2-1 on the opening day but had then lost 5-0 at Moulton Harrox and 3-0 at Uppingham Town. Visitors Leverington Sports were a place lower in 11th and had travelled around nine miles from near Wisbech to today's game. They'd lost 5-0 to Oundle Town in their first game but had recovered to win 3-1 at Holbeach United Reserves. In their latest game, they'd lost 7-2 at Stamford Belvedere. The hosts were in black and white whilst the visitors wore an orange and black strip. Leverington started the brightest and they had the first real chance of the game, forcing a good save on 3 minutes as the home keeper spread himself well to deny the striker. After 24 minutes, the visitors took the lead, a strike from the edge of the area that found the bottom right corner. It was 2-0 a couple of minutes later thanks to an excellent free-kick that I managed to catch on camera. Half time only lasted around 8 minutes with the second half kicking off at 8.23. The visitors continued to have the better of the game and had a third goal disallowed four minutes from time. They also forced a number of good saves from the Long Sutton keeper. His team toiled well but really lacked quality and conviction in the final third.

It was a deserved victory for Levington Sports in front of around 100 fans. We left and just as on the way, the roads were poor near Long Sutton. I used Waze instead of Google Maps to see if it would improve things, but it just made things worse. We were directed down a rutted single track road that looked as if it belonged on a farm. We then still had to go down the 'closed' road that we'd been down earlier. It was in fact just very patchy with lots of dips where the surface had been taken off by roadworkers. There was no alternative route that I could see, so I just took it easy. I dropped Chris off at 11.10 and then headed for home, via more very small roads but at least they didn't resemble a dirt track. I got home an hour later to discover that Wycombe had been drawn away to Manchester City in the League Cup. It was on my week off too and I'm keen to make a revisit as I lost all my pictures from last time. Sadly, it looks as if it will be on Tuesday rather than my preferred Wednesday as City fan Tony put it 'the rags are at home on Sunday and Wednesday. I look forward to seeing what he makes of Wycombe as we upset teams in our own league with our antics, let alone someone who is used to a higher standard of football. He certainly doesn't hold back on scathing appraisals of City's opposition, so I think he might explode with rage after seeing us! 


THE PARKSIDE CLUB is a nice setup for step 7. Though there is no permanent rail around the pitch, there is a small stand. This is standing only but holds around 50 at a push. There is currently work going on which looks like they might be enclosing the pitch area. 

The ground is set in pleasant parkland and has a smart bar that sells the usual choice. Car parking is pretty tight but there's lots of space in the surrounding streets. The town has a range of places to eat and drink and is about five minutes walk away.