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. 

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