Tuesday 30 November 2021

Hertford Town - Hertingfordbury Park

Hertford Town FC
Hertingfordbury Park
West Street
SG13 8EZ

01992 583716

Ground Number: 366
Thursday 24th April 2014
Hertford Town 4-3 London Colney
Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division


Hertford Town FC was formed in 1908 although their origins date back to 1901 and a team that was known as Port Vale Rovers. They started out in the Herts Senior County League, finishing as runners-up in the Eastern Division in their debut season. Spells in the East Herts and Middlesex League followed but they found a long term home in the Spartan League, joining in 1921 and spending the vast majority of their time here until they left in 1959. Highlights included winning Division 1 East in 1950 although they found life in the Premier Division tough. Following this, they had a spell in the Athenian League and found great success here, winning the league three times and finishing as runners-up once in their four seasons here. The league was disbanded in 1963 with the clubs forming Division 2 of the Athenian League. A 4th place finish in their first season was good enough for Hertford Town to win promotion and they had their best season here in 1966 when they finished 3rd behind Bishops Stortford and Harwich & Parkeston. A solitary season was spent in the Eastern Counties League in 1972/73 with the team finishing 3rd behind Gorleston & Sudbury Town.

After this, they joined the Isthmian League, starting in its second-tier and finishing 3rd in their debut season behind Dagenham and Slough Town. Hertford Town would go on to finish bottom of the league in 1985, being relegated to Division 2 North. Despite finishing 3rd behind Heybridge Swifts and Aveley in 1990, the following season saw them finish 15th and be placed in Division 3 following league reorganisation. They briefly played in Division 2 in 1998 after finishing as runners-up to Hemel Hempstead but were relegated after just one season. Another reshuffle saw Hertford Town play one season in Division 1 North in 2003, finishing bottom. To date, this remains the club's highest-ever finish as at the time, it was a step 3 league. A few seasons in Division 2 followed, before in 2006, they transferred to the Spartan South Midlands League. They remained in the Premier Division for the entirety of their stay and following a runners-up spot in 2017, they were promoted back to the Isthmian D1 North as champions London Colney declined promotion. They were promoted to the Isthmian League, initially in Division 1 North, but for the next two in Division 1 South Central. They were 9th in the league when the season was abandoned last year but transferred to the Southern D1 Central at the start of this season. Currently, they sit in the relegation zone but could move out of it with a good result on my second visit.

The club's best run in the FA Cup came in 1973. That year they beat Wokingham Town, Chesham United and Ware before a defeat to Hillingdon Borough in the 4th Qualifying Round. The FA Vase 3rd Round has been reached on three occasions. In the FA Trophy, Hertford Town reached the 2nd Round during the 1979/80 season. They beat Chelmsford City, St Albans City, Sudbury Town, Ware and Slough Town before a 2-1 defeat at Dulwich Hamlet. In terms of local cups, Hertford Town have won the Herts Charity Sheild on six occasions, the Herts Charity Cup in 1973, the Herts Senior Cup twice and the East Anglian Cup twice. In terms of other cups, the Mithras Cup was won in 1978, the Eastern Counties League Cup in 1973, the Delphian League Cup in 1973 and the Athenian League Memorial Shield in 1968.

The club's record attendance of 5,000 came against Kingstonian in a FA Amateur Cup 2nd Round game in 1955. In the same competition, they played Wycombe Wanderers for the only time on 22nd November 1969, with the Chairboys running out 5-1 winners before a crowd of  2,705. They had ex Wycombe youth team player Georges Ehui for a time, but he has since moved on to Marlow.  The most well-known player to turn out for the club is defender John Mackie who played in the Football League for Reading and Leyton Orient. Famous names in the dugout include Tottenham pair Cyril Knowles and Graham Roberts whilst Paul Fairclough also managed them. Current manager Ben Herd played in the Football League for Shrewsbury Town and Aldershot Town. The town of Hertford has a population of just under 27,000. It is the county town of Hertfordshire and was the birthplace of the band Deep Purple. Other famous people from the town include Harry Potter star Rupert Grint and the singer George Ezra.


I had been looking to complete the Spartan South Midlands League for some time and with 6 to go after visiting Oxhey Jets on Tuesday, I only had 6 to go after that, and one of the best grounds in the league was Hertford Town. So I was fairly pleased when they had a big fixture backlog due to a badly waterlogged pitch, as it meant I would have more choice of what games to go to. I was at work on the day of the game and it had been busy and tiring, with me up at 4 and not finishing till 1.15. I went home and had a bath and didn't have too much time before I had to leave to pick up Anwar. In any case, at least I made a start on my Billingham Town blog, clearing some of the backlogs after doing 8 games in 3 days. My Dad rang me to warn me that there was bad traffic in lots of traffic in Hertfordshire, and indeed he was right, as I set off to meet Anwar. I got to Aylesbury at 4.15 and picked up Anwar. As the M25 was shut due to an oil spillage, I had to plan an alternative route and so had to go cross country, passing through the likes of Berkhamsted and St Albans on a horrifically slow and annoying journey.

Over 2 hours later we got to the ground at 6.30 and with not a huge amount of time to spare we opted not to go into town but to eat at the local pub, which had been recommended in my Good Beer Guide app. While the cider was unremarkable - Westons and Aspalls that I had both had before, the food was better. I chose to stay on the soft drinks and have Mussels and French Fries, which I enjoyed and had not had since I was in Belgium a few years ago. It was about 7.25 before we were finished, and after getting our things from my car, we made out way into the ground. The first stop was a rare thing at this level - a club shop. I eyed up a pennant that I liked the look of and asked the bloke how much. He said 'How Much do you want to pay?' and after putting my hand in my pocket to see what change I had, I pulled out £3. He refused that offer and said it was only £2, which was very nice and the same price as I paid at local rivals Ware when I visited in 2010. I then took some pictures of the ground, and settled down on the far side, near the halfway line for a decent view of the action.

The game was a cracking 4-3 thriller, with the visitors racing into a two goal lead early on with a penalty and a goal seconds after where the home defence should have done better. Hertford pulled one back just before halftime when a long-range shot went through the keeper. During the interval, I was a bit peckish and so I went to the tea bar to get some chips and a Bovril. 
The second half saw Hertford's fans in great voice, as they had been towards the end of the opening period. Their enthusiasm was rewarded on 53 minutes when the London Colney keeper, who was having a bit of a mare by all accounts, missed the cross and Tommy Wade took advantage, poking in the loose ball. Two further goals came for Hertford - Tommy Wade again and Leigh Rose giving them the lead. London Colney pulled it back to 4-3 on 89 minutes to make it a tense finish. But Hertford saw the game out to give them 3 points and they looked good, despite having a backlog of games. It had been a really decent contest and an enjoyable evening. The journey home was a lot easier, despite a 10-minute delay early on, due to a broken vehicle at a roundabout. In any case, I dropped Anwar back home and was home myself around 11PM. I was tired though after doing lots in the past week. That meant that my planned trip to Suffolk for a game on Friday went by the wayside, meaning that Wycombe's game at home to Bristol Rovers would be my 123rd, breaking last seasons record with plenty of time to spare.

1-1 v Thame United, Southern D1 Central 30/11/21

There was not a huge amount of choice on this Tuesday and with Anwar unavailable, it would fall to Colin to provide me with his company. I presented to him a list of seven options, but typically with him, he wanted to do something else. Hertford Town was his desire and although I'd done a pretty substantial blog for it, they were a great club to visit and I was happy to help out a mate to complete a league. At quite a lot of the grounds, I have revisited, I appreciated the ground far more on my second visit. However, the first visit was so excellent, a 4-3 thriller, a great pre-match meal and a warm evening. Back then, I would have assumed that Omnicron Covid would have been Chelsea's latest transfer target and not something that potentially stop us from going to football again. Since my last game on Saturday, I'd had two busy days at work and was glad to have a day off on Tuesday. It was my standard walk to town and back, 8 miles in all. I had a nice Chicken Burrito for lunch for a fiver which undid the exercise that the 8-mile walk gave me. I spent the afternoon at home relaxing and doing research for this week's games. After having some dinner, I got my things together and left at 6.15. I was with Colin by 6.30 and after a decent journey, we were there 50 minutes later. I paid £8 to get in and met fellow hoppers Chris White and Victor who had come along for the game. The game kicked off around five minutes late for some reason.

Hertford Town had certainly been amongst the goals recently. In their most recent game, they had drawn 3-3 at Wantage Town and also had a 2-2 draw at AFC Dunstable in recent times. They'd beaten St Neots Town 4-1 but lost 4-0 against Harlow and 5-4 at FC Romania. By contrast, Thame United had kept clean sheets in four of their five games - winning 3-0 at Walham Abbey and Biggleswade, beating Welwyn Garden City 3-0 and St Neots Town 2-0. They'd also drawn 2-2 at Harlow Town. The visitors took the lead on 6 minutes, a cracking shot from 20 yards that found the top corner. The game was all square on 14 minutes, Ogbonna used his pace to get down the left, skin his man and slip the ball under the keeper from a tight angle. The hosts were well on top but the score was still level at the break. Thame started the second period brightly and had the ball in the net but it was ruled out for offside. The second half was not as good as the first and although both sides had half-chances and Thame United had the better of the game, there were no further goals.

Overall, it was a decent game in good company, there were 122 in attendance overall. I left at 9.45, dropping Colin off at 10:30 and getting home myself ten minutes later. I'd as expected, not enjoyed my second visit as much as my first. It was still a good place to visit. Since my last visit, not much had changed, other than a 3G pitch being added. The tea bar was a highlight as Colin's chips were excellent and good value for £1.50.


HERTINGFORDBURY PARK is a very good venue for this level. There is an old seated stand, probably holding around 300 which is very similar in style to the one at Windsor. The only other covered area in the ground is my favourite part of the ground - a terrace that runs the whole length of behind the goal. The rest of the ground is open, with some steps of terracing, though the long grass on the far side lets it down a bit. The club shop is one of the best at this level, offering a decent range, and a few old books and programmes too. The tea bar is also good, with a decent choice at reasonable prices. The chips and Bovril were good too. As for the bar, I didn't try it, but there is a decent pub nearby called the Black Horse, which also does nice meals.  


Saturday 27 November 2021

The 61 FC (Luton) - Kingsway Recreation Ground

The 61FC (Luton)
Kingsway Recreation Ground
Beverley Road

Ground Number: 1026
Saturday 27th November 2021
The 61FC (Luton) 0-3 MK College Academy
Spartan South Midlands D2


The club was established in 1961, hence the name. They started out in the Luton, District & South Beds League and remained there until 1972 when they spent a season in the Hellenic Division 2. Following that, they joined the South Midlands Division 1 which they won in 1981. Promoted to the Premier Division, they achieved their best finish in 1982 when they finished as runners-up to Hitchin-based side Pirton. The team were effectively relegated to the second-tier Senior Division in 1993 and this was a time of real struggle for the club with them finishing bottom of the league in 1997. Following this, the league merged with the Spartan League to become the present-day Spartan South Midlands League. The 61 played one season in the Senior Division before relegation to Division 1 in 1998. The team finished 3rd here behind  Pitstone & Ivinghoe and Flamstead in 2001, earning promotion but staying in the renamed Division 1 which was formerly the Senior Division. A few mid-table finishes followed before in 2004, the club was demoted due to their lack of floodlights. They've been in Division 2 ever since and were champions in 2009 but ground grading denied them promotion. The team have struggled since 2015 and are currently third-bottom of the league.


Between 1982 and 1993, the club competed in the FA Vase. They reached the 2nd Round in 1983 & 1988. Cup honours include the Bedfordshire Senior Cup in 1984. Their record attendance of 265 came for the 1988 South Midlands League Cup Final against Selby. The team are based in Luton, once famous for its hat-making and Vauxhall car factory which has a population of around 213,000. Other football teams from Luton include Luton Town from the Championship and Crawley Green who play at the Football League side's training ground. Luton is once of the most ethnically diverse places in the UK and former teams to play in the town include Brache Sparta, a team inspired by Czech immigrants who played at the Foxdell Recreation Ground, now home to five-a-side pitches for local youngsters. Nowadays, the town is more well known for being the filming location of 24 Hours In Police Custody and the home of career criminal Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, AKA Tommy Robinson. Famous people from Luton include Inbetweeners actress Emily Atack, prisoner Charles Bronson, footballer Kerry Dixon, cricketer Monty Panesar, One Foot In The Grave writer David Renwick and singer Paul Young.


I'd wanted to visit 61FC for some time, seeing though as it had a stand and a rail around the pitch. The need to do so was amplified when I decided that I was going to complete the Spartan South Midlands Division 2, the first step 7 league that I was going to finish. Having no floodlights, opportunities were limited to Saturdays and I passed up a couple of opportunities before settling on this date. Around a week or so before the game, I saw that there wasn't much I fancied on the train, so I decided to drive for once on a Saturday. 61 had a game against MK College Academy and looking at the weather forecast for the day, the freezing temperatures were another good reason to drive, so I could divert elsewhere if needed. I offered to take Anwar but sadly he was ill. Plenty of the little kids at his school had got Covid and he was feeling under the weather. Living in a house with old and vulnerable parents, I was glad of his responsible stance, though again it raised the question of why the government show so little respect and care for the kids that are the future of our country.

The last few Fridays have been spent groundhopping in Wales, and a mighty fine time had been had. However, with the temperatures being forecasted as being freezing, I passed up on the chance of going to either Tredegar Town or Goytre. Instead, I stayed in on a Friday for the first time since September 3rd and had a few drinks. The day of the game came and after a fairly early night, I was awake before 5. I watched TV before going back to sleep for a bit and getting up at 7.30. Steak and eggs were my weekend breakfast treat and after having them, I walked to town and back. The weather was not at its most pleasant and I got a bit wet on the way back, meaning I had to change when I got home. I relaxed at home for an hour whilst checking for any game news. Plenty of games had fallen victim to the snow, rain and wind that Storm Arwen had foisted upon us but it didn't seem too bad down here. I had some lunch and left at 12.50. The journey across was not the best, generally clear but still with more delays than I would have liked. After Google Maps directed me to the wrong entrance, I worked out the correct one a few minutes drive away and got there at 1.55. There was no one on the pitch which was slightly concerning, but understandably, everyone was staying in the warm for as long as possible.

The 61 FC had been in mixed form recently. In their latest game, they had lost 3-0 at Eynesbury United. They'd also lost 3-1 at Pitstone & Ivinghoe and 2-1 against Berkhamsted Raiders as well as a 6-1 loss at Shefford Town & Campton in the Gladwish Trophy. Positive results had come as they won 2-1 at Codicote and 1-0 against Sarratt. They sat 14th in the table with MK College Academy in 7th. The visitors had been in decent form in recent times, beating Old Bradwell United 3-2 in their latest game. They had also beaten Pitstone & Ivinghoe 3-2 and won 3-0 at Berhkhamsted Comrades and 2-1 at Sarratt. However, they had lost 2-1 at Bovingdon and 5-1 at Aston Clinton. The game kicked off slightly late, but 61 started well although they didn't create many chances. The visitors gradually took control and they took the lead on 16 minutes with a low shot from the edge of the are. They made it 2-0 a couple of minutes from the break, taking advantage of hesitant defending to score from ten yards. A minute later, it was as good as game over, the MK #7 hit the post with a curling shot and the rebound was put home. The second half kicked off at 3:07 and it saw the game more even. The 61FC #7 was sin-binned for something he said to the referee as frustrations boiled over. On 80 minutes, the hosts were awarded a penalty and a chance to reduce the arrears but the effort was well saved by MK keeper Tyler McGregor. The hosts rallied but were unable to get on the scoresheet. With it being so cold, I was glad when the final whistle sounded so that I could get back in the warm.

There had been around 11 in attendance on what was a bitterly cold afternoon. The ground was high up and very exposed which meant that a chilling wind could really swirl around. It was a late finish, around 3.55 with the light quickly fading. I jogged back to my car just in time to hear the halftime report of Wycombe's game up at Sheffield Wednesday. We had gone ahead but had been pegged back just as I was heading back to the car. The first half had been interrupted by a medical emergency and so finished really late. I made my way home, the only delay being a five-minute wait at a junction near the ground. I tried to tune into the Wycombe game but had to make do with the Luton commentary until I got back near Chalfont. I'd already learned that Sheffield Wednesday had taken the lead and listened through crackly and fading reception as Jordan Obita equalised through a free-kick. I was home at 4.50 with family having come round. They had the game on, thanks to a VPN and I was able to watch the last ten minutes with a nice bottle of Ross Butt Blend Perry. Wycombe gained a good point and following the game, Boris Johnson hosted a press conference. He announced that face masks would be returning in shops and on public transport. For me, they never should have stopped. Vaccines will never be 100% effective, especially for those with compromised immune systems such as people with cancer. Far better to stem the flow on boring, essential stuff than to invade leisure activities. It still wasn't good enough for some pathetic overgrown children who threw a hissy fit about being forced to wear a piece of fabric for a short time. I will certainly feel safer at work if it's imposed, in places like the pub and football I feel far safer as people are more respectful there.


THE KINGSWAY RECREATION GROUND is a good venue for the level. though it is very high up and exposed, so can get chilly on a windy day. There's just one stand, a covered area in one corner of the ground with a few steps of terracing. This could easily hold 50. Alongside this, is a very nice clubhouse with lots of old team photos. This also sells a small selection of drinks. The rest of the ground is open standing. There's a decent amount of parking, though the streets around the ground are very built up and congested, so it's just as well. There's a decent range of takeaways with a number of interesting options thanks to the ethnically diverse population. It also appears to be near a number of bus routes. Overall, it's a ground well worth a visit and one of the better step 7 venues out there.