Saturday, 4 September 2021

Blackfield & Langley - Gang Warily Recreation Ground

Blackfield & Langley FC
Gang Warily Recreation Ground
Newlands Road
S045 1GA

Ground Number: 991
Saturday 4th September 2021
Blackfield & Langley 0-3 Wimborne Town
FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round


The club was established in 1935 and played in local leagues at first, most notably the Hythe & District and Southampton Leagues. In 1949, they joined the Hampshire League, winning the Division 3 East in 1952 and were twice Division 3 West runners-up. However, they were not promoted until the regionalisation was scrapped and they eventually went up after finishing as Division 3 runners-up in 1956. They'd last until 1960 when they were relegated and then various reorganisations, promotions and relegations saw them switch league on a regular basis. They won Division 2 in 1985, going up to Division 1. They were thrice runners-up here before winning Division 1 in 1998. It was renamed the  Premier Division where they finished 4th, now with the facilities in place to move up to the Wessex League in 2000. After struggling in the Premier Divison, they were relegated to the league's second tier in 2004 where they would remain until 2009 when they finished as runners-up to Totton & Eling to seal promotion back up. This was the start of the good times for Blackfield and Langley and they won the Premier Division in 2012. However, the cost of upgrading their ground to Southern League standards meant that they would remain in the Wessex Premier until 2018 when they won the league again. This time they were promoted to the Southern League Divison 1 South which they won at the first attempt. They played in the Premier Division for the 2019/20 season and were 18th when the seasons were abandoned, just above the relegation. Due to increased costs, the club opted to make the step down back to the Wessex Premier for the following season. Blackfield & Langley were 5th when the season was once more abandoned last March. This season saw them in 13th after three games.

In the FA Cup, Blackfield & Langley's best-ever fun came in 2012. They beat AFC Porchester 6-1, Almondsbury UWE 4-0, Fareham Town 2-0 and Sholing 3-1 before a 3-0 defeat at Hastings United in the 4th Qualifying Round. The club enjoyed unspectacular form in the FA Trophy but reached the FA Vase 4th Round on three occasions. Local honours include the Southampton Senior Cup four times including in 1947 and 1998 and the Russell Cotes Cup in 2015. Local rivals include Fawley and Hythe & Dibden. 

The club is based in the village of Blackfield in the Parish of Fawley which is located near Southampton and has a population of around 13.500. The strange name of Gang Warily for the local park area comes from the  Latin for 'Go Carefully'. This dates back to a historic confrontation between the English and Scottish in the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 where the fast-thinking ingenuity of the Scottish troops covered the ground with four-pointed spikes (caltrops) and crippled the advancing English cavalry consequently leading to a Scottish victory. Many years later the Drummond Clan who played a pivotal role in the battle were commended and granted permission to use the caltrops symbol in their coat of arms. It was not until 1772 when the Drummond Clan moved to Hampshire that they acquired large areas of land in Southampton. Part of this land was named ‘Gang Warily' and when sold to Fawley Parish Council for the proposal of a local sports and community centre it was rather fitting to keep the name.


I'm always keen to do an FA Cup game but was left disappointed when the EFL placed Wycombe home games on every single one of the FA Cup Qualifying Rounds. That was until our game against Ipswich Town was called off due to international call-ups on the Sunday before the game. There were really two options that could be done by public transport - Stowmarket Town v Potters Bar Town and Blackfield & Langley v Wimborne Town. The latter was by far the most attractive of the ties, plus the better value on public transport. I'd been planning games on my week off and had got some great deals including London to Manchester for £4.90 on National Express. Maybe that coloured my opinion when I checked out the fares and found out I could get there from London for £11.20 return. I jumped straight in and bought a non-refundable ticket. However, it turned out that with my railcard I could have done the journey for about a tenner more and not had the hassle of set times and having to drive to Amersham. The London to Southampton bit also took double the time, but what was done was done and I just had to make the best of it.  The most disappointing bit was missing out on drinking time in Southampton. The most expensive and awkward part of the journey was the bus from Southampton to Blackfield & Langley which took over an hour each way and cost £8 for the day ticket. It wouldn't have been much more expensive to drive, especially if I had passengers. In the end, I offered to drive to another hopper and was happy to write off the cost of the coach ticket if they came. By the morning, I'd worked out that I'd be getting back home about 11 and thought I was going to drive regardless, factoring the cost of the wasted ticket into my costs.

In between my last new ground at Somersham and this one, I'd been for my tenth visit to my nearest Ground. This was for Holmer Green v Ascot United in the FA Youth Cup. The visitors won 2-0 with a dominant appearance, eventually overcoming a stubborn Holmer side. This was in place of the England game on TV but I decided I couldn't tolerate nigh on two hours of Sam Matterface. The main headlines from the game though were about Hungary's racist fans but England won 4-0 in a comprehensive win. Friday night was spent at home with a few cans as there was not much on. I was bored though and wished I'd gone to something, even if it would have meant a long journey. On the day of the game, I awoke early, around 4 am. Unable to get back to sleep, I just watched Youtube and listened to some podcasts before getting up at 8. I looked at possibilities for future games amongst other stuff before leaving at 11. I was with Anwar around 20 minutes later but that was where the decent roads ended. It turned out there was an issue with the M25, so much so that it was quicker to go up via Oxford, adding 20 miles to the journey. Unusually, Oxford was OK but the roads were slow generally and we didn't get to the Holbury Chippy until 1.40. There I had Haggis and chips for £1.50. It seems to be a strange speciality of South Coast chippies but you won't see me complaining. It was great, though I've had better chips, the portion was huge for £3.50. I was 2 by the time we left for the ground, but it was just a couple of minutes away. The area was lovely with a lake, lots of greenery and a lovely dog. The turnstiles were not open yet, so I went to the bar for a bottle of Thatchers Gold for £3.50. Not the greatest, but good to help out the club. I went in just after 2.30, paying a bargain £6 for entry. 

Blackfield & Langley had got this far by beating Cowes Sports 5-1 in the Extra Preliminary Round, in front of a crowd of 68. They then drew 1-1 against AFC Portchester in front of 115 in the Preliminary Round.  The game went to a replay and Blackfield & Langley triumphed 3-1 in front of 293 fans. They were sitting in 13th in the Wessex Premier. having won one, drawn one and lost one of their three games. Visitors Wimborne Town were some 34 places above, sitting in 19th in the Southern League Premier South. They'd won one, drawn one and lost three of their games so far. Being a step 3 side, this was their first FA Cup game of the season. They'd have to go some way to match their best run, having reached the 1st Round in their debut season of 1982 when they lost 1-0 to Aldershot. The clubs had met in the 2nd Qualifying Round in 2015 with Blackfield & Langley recording a thumping 6-1 win. Wimborne started the game on top with Blackfield & Langley relying on chances on the break. It was 1-0 on 18 minutes, a ball was put forward for Lewis Beale who volleyed home from ten yards out. Wimborne had the chance to make it 2-0 on 26 minutes but a penalty awarded for a trip was saved. The hosts started the second half brightly but it was 2-0 on 47 minutes, poor defending saw Beale slot into the bottom right-hand corner with little opposition. Blackfield's Sami Makhloufi was sent off for what appeared to be an off the ball incident around five minutes from time. The second half was a dull affair as Blackfield and Langley tired. It was 3-0 on 90 minutes, Beale completing his hat trick when he tapped home a cross from the right from a few yards out.

The game attracted a decent attendance of 186, though a fair amount came from Wimborne. We left the ground at just before 5 and got on our way. I needed petrol and so I headed to what looked like the cheapest nearby place in Tesco Express Esso. It turned out to be 4p more expensive a litre than back home but that was less than £1.50 for the whole tank, so for a one-off, I wasn't fussed. We then headed home with BBC Radio Solent and TalkSPORT keeping us company with news of today's action. Anwar slept a lot of the journey and like on the way, it dragged a bit. We went another elongated route, but at least the roads were better this time. There were brief delays getting back to the M27, on the M25 and then back in Aylesbury. I dropped Anwar off at 7.20 and stopped at the Co-Op for a couple of bottles of their fancy cider. I was back just before 8. I played Jay's Virtual Pub Quiz with the family with a few drinks and also an excellent chilli burger which I'd got from Lidl. With it being International week, there was very little in terms of football highlights. Instead, I spent the evening typing this blog and sorting photos before going to bed around 11.


GANG WARILY is a ground that has obviously been developed as Blackfield and Langley have progressed up the football pyramid and as such, the stands are of the pre-fabricated type. The bigger of the two holds around 120, whilst the smaller one holds around 50. There's also a small covered terrace which is more attractive in its design. The rest of the ground is open hard standing.

There is a basic bar at the ground and also a tea bar. Less than a mile away is a range of shops which include a chippy, a Chinese, a KFC, a kebab shop and a supermarket amongst others. The ground is set in lovely parkland and is a pleasant place to spend pre-match. There's a decent-sized car park and more street parking. The ground is on a bus route (X8/X9) from Southampton, this will cost you around £8 and takes up to an hour.

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