Saturday, 6 November 2021

Eltham Town - The Oaks

Eltham Town FC
The Oaks
176 Footscray Road

07908 536286

Ground Number: 1020
Saturday 6th November 2021
Red Velvet Res 2-3 Farnborough OBG III
Bromley & South London Alliance


The club was established in 1956. There's little that I could find about their early history on the internet but they joined the Spartan League Division 1 in 1986 under the name of Bromley Athletic. They won promotion to the Premier Division in 1988 following a 4th place finish. They changed their name to Eltham Town in 1989 but always struggled, never finishing higher than 17th. They left the league in 1993, after the only season their number of games won (11) got into double figures. Season 1993/94 saw them finish 5th {of 10 teams} in the South London Football Federation's Premier Division. They were SLFF league champions & Federation Cup winners the following year and appear to have stuck to local football leagues since then. For the 2016/17 season, they played in the South London Alliance, winning Division 1. They also won the league's Queen Mary Cup that season. Nowadays, they play in the Bromley and South London Football League, which is off-pyramid. They joined the Premier Division in 2018 and had two 4th place finishes in their first two seasons. Despite a 5th place finish last season, they dropped down to Division 1 for this campaign.

The district of Eltham is located in South East London, around 9 miles from the centre. It has a population of around 35,500. In 1990, an IRA bomb outside the Eltham Palace headquarters of the Royal Army Educational Corps injured seven people. The area was targeted three times by the Mardi Gra bomber in the 1990s. Eltham is one of the parts of London with the most green space with plenty of parks available. The highest-ranked team in the area is Cray Valley Paper Mills who play in the Isthmian League South East at step 4 of the non-league pyramid whilst there is also a cricket club in the town. Famous people from Eltham and former residents include footballers Billy Bonds & Gavin Peacock, music's Kate Bush & Boy George, cricketer WG Grace and actor Frankie Howerd.


It was FA Cup weekend and I was really hoping that Wycombe would get a decent draw. My number one choice was Oldham Athletic (A) - a ground that I had not visited for 17 years but also one that would not attract the attention of the TV companies. My luck was not in, we were drawn away to Hartlepool United, a long trip and a ground that I had been to many times. York City v Buxton would have been a good tie to go to, but the cheapest I could do that on the train for was around £90. To prove that the madness of football was not confined to the top flight, Buxton made a mad decision too. Having their best season in years and enjoying a record cup run, Buxton sacked their manager for going on holiday during the season. Normally, I'd understand where they were coming from - going on holiday during the football season is a cardinal sin. But on this occasion, there were exceptional circumstances. Their former boss Gary Hayward had his holiday cancelled due to Covid and would lose a large sum of hard-earned money if he had not taken his holiday before the end of the year. So in this instance, it was by far the lesser of two evils and I'd have done the same thing to be honest. It'll be interesting to see how things pan out, but I have a feeling this could come back to bite Buxton.

As it was a Saturday, I had a huge range of options. They ranged from free - a local game between Great Missenden and Prestwood to a £40 train trip to Bournemouth for their Wessex League game against Shaftesbury. After much deliberation, I decided to go for a cup game. I picked out Green Court v Eltham Town in the Kent Junior Cup but soon after I tweeted, the visiting club told me that it had been cancelled in favour of their London Junior Cup game against Wanstead. I'd already checked out their ground briefly when doing research and so decided to head to their game instead. The 13:30 kick-off was a bit of a double-edged sword - it would mean a limited pre-match but it meant that I could do more after. I did my research in midweek and discovered that Eltham had a couple of decent looking pubs and some takeaways for food too.

The day of the game came and I was woken by my alarm at 7.30 after under six hours of sleep. I was fine though and can cope with a few hours of shut-eye. I got dressed and left just after 8. It was the usual hour or so walk to the station. I was able to get the 9.25 train, earlier than planned. It was packed though, barely anyone wearing a mask, such is the UK as a place of inconsiderate folk. More of that tomorrow, working in a shop on a Sunday but for now, I was just determined to enjoy my day. I was at Marylebone by 9.50. I had a nice Christmas Panini from Starbucks as a late breakfast and also took advantage of the toilet facilities. The TFL app said that it was quicker to go to North Greenwich and get the bus but I decided to sacrifice a few minutes by going to London Bridge and getting the train instead. I got the 11.05 out and was in Eltham 20 minutes layer. The first stop was the Long Pond Micropub where I had a nice pint of Pear O Duddas for £4. This place was a bit out of town, so I headed back towards town intending to go to the Rusty Bucket. However, I was peckish and so headed to the Bankers Draft Wetherspoons. This was a tiny establishment, so sma, that it wasn't even on the app. It still did Old Rosie though but I opted for a Chicken Jalfrezi and chips for £7.45 which included a pint of Strongbow. With time running out, I decided to savour my pint and go via Poundland for some soft drinks on the way to the game.

 As it happened, I started watching the game, but it was not what I expected. The colours were wrong and so I asked the club linesman who was playing and it turned out to be Red Velvet against Farnborough OBG, albeit some of their backup sides. Red Velvet in claret and Farnborough OBG in navy. It was being contested in the Bromley & South London Alliance League. Red Velvet had been in amongst the goals with 4-3 wins against Farnborough OBG and Bexleyheath Lions. However, they had lost 5-4 to OLAHM, 1-0 at Old Bexley Town and 2-0 to West Bromley Albion. Aside from the defeat in the reverse game, Farnborough OBG were in great form They'd thumped Old Bexley Town 7-0 and West Bromley Albion 7-0. They'd also won 2-1 at Kemsing and drawn 1-1 at Groundhoppers. So then, on the pitch, Farnborough OBG were the better side first half. They took the lead on 34 minutes, a flick over the goalkeeper to make it 0-1. It was 0-2 on 43 minutes, a ball across from the right was poked home from close range. Just after, the ball was headed home by #14 but it was ruled out for offside. Just before halftime, the visitors did get their third, the clearance was only parried but the rebound was deflected home. It was a different story in the second half, Red Velvet hit the bar and dominated the second half. They reduced the arrears on 85 minutes, a close-range shot that hit the post on the way in. They made it 3-2 with a deflected shot just before the end but it was too little, too late. They deserved a share of the spoils in any case but only got on the scoresheet late in the day. 

Across the road, at what I believed to be the academy pitches, seeing as they had Eltham Town Academy on the sign outside, Eltham Town thumped Wanstead 10-1. I think I got the better deal in terms of the game, even if the competition was not so prestigious. I'd have been annoyed if I'd missed out on a penalty shoot-out though. The game was over just before 3.15, much to the chagrin of some Red Velvet people who thought that the referee blew up early. Though there was no injury time played, the man in the middle did start a couple of minutes early. I put Radio 5 on my phone, listening to the goals going in across the country. I had thought of heading back into Eltham but instead headed back to London Bridge. I was at the station ten minutes ahead of the 3.45 train. It was then a wander around Borough Market where I had a pint at the cider stall before a walk to the Miller where I got nearly a pint for the price of a half, £2 for a Dorset Twilight. It was a poor calculation by me, I missed the 6pm train by minutes, or would have, had I not diverted to the Met Bar Wetherspoons. The Daily Star said back in June that 124 drinks in a pub were required to keep the industry afloat. I of course, took up the challenge, completing it, as I had started, with a pint of Black Dragon. I'd supped that pint in good time and needed sustenance. Five Guys provided this and I was back with 15 minutes to spare for my train. I was duly deposited in High Wycombe at 7.23. I got a lift home and played the quiz as per usual. It had been another good Sunday but I had the unpleasant stench of a Sunday around the corner.


THE OAKS is a pleasant place to watch football, a railed pitch and some lovely woodland. However, the plush clubhouse may contain a kids party, so you may be better off drinking in town, 15 minutes walk away. Parking is plentiful and it is well connected to various bus routes should you not fancy the walk. The UK's smallest Wetherspoons is a decent option for food and drink 

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