Saturday, 22 January 2022

Gillingham Town - Bourne Park

Gillingham Town FC
Bourne Park Stadium
Central Park 
Church Rd
ME10 3SB

07397 630230 (secretary)

Ground Number: 1034
Saturday 22nd January 2022
Gillingham Town 4-1 Lokomotiv Canterbury
Kent County League D3 Central & East


The club was established in 2010 and has the motto - 'Fratres In Armis' - the Latin for 'Brothers In Arms'. They joined the Rochester & District League upon formation, finishing as runners-up to Rainham Cricketers in Division 6 in their first season. For the 2011/12 season, they were parachuted into Division 3 gaining another promotion but again had to settle for a runners-up spot, this time behind Charta Lions. Division 1 where Gillingham Town found the going tough, finishing bottom in 2014 but avoiding relegation. After a 5th place finish in 2016, they were promoted to the Premier Division, finishing 8th in their first season. The following years are a bit of a mystery, as records have been erased. But in 2019 they joined the Kent County League, starting out in Division 3 Central & East. Both the seasons that they have competed saw results expunged, but they were near the bottom when the plug was pulled in 2020. The club has a strong Brazilian contingent with several immigrants from the country turning out for the team.

Local cup honours include the Rochester & District Quarter Century Cup in 2011 and the Group A Sittingbourne and Milton Charity Cup in 2019. Though the club was originally based in Gillingham, or at least I assume so, given the club's name, they moved to Sittingbourne's old Bourne Park ground at some point, with the ground being renovated in 2020. The ground is located next to Central Park Greyhound Stadium and this is the location given on FA Full Time. The ground was used by Southern League side Sittingbourne from 2002 & 2012 but they now play nearby at Woodstock Park. Other teams in the area include Borden Village, a couple of miles away who play in the Premier Division of the Kent County League. The town of Sittingbourne has a population of 62,500. The town was initially famous for brickmaking, although this died down in the mid-1900s. Other industries include paper mills and barge making.  The town is twinned with Ypres in Belgium and was the place where the former archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket died in 1170.


It had been far too long since I had been to a game on public transport and enjoyed a good day out. The last was for the game at AFC Green Court on 4th December but I'd opted to do Wycombe home games and drive ever since then, due to the Christmas rush and crazy Covid rates in London. Things had calmed down a bit since then, so I was happy to take the train once more. When I started looking for games around ten days ago, my only criteria was that it should be near a Wetherspoons for the Burns Week celebrations. I'd enjoyed a Highland Haggis Burger almost every year for some time now and wanted to continue. Since then though, I'd had one in High Wycombe on the way home last week, so it wasn't as important. I'd drawn up a list of six possibilities, with Gillingham Town v Lokomotiv Canterbury the leading candidate. All six could be done with my Network Railcard, which I was looking to use as much as possible in the year that I'd paid for. I did have a couple of hoppers offering alternatives, but they would involve me driving and I was getting pretty fed up with that. When looking ahead on Thursday, the weather looked fine and both clubs were fairly active on Twitter, so I started doing my research.

I'd initially been planning to do a game on Friday night, as it's one of the best nights to see a game. My original choice was Downton v Laverstock & Ford, the reverse fixture of a feisty local derby I'd been to earlier this season. However, the temperature was set to be 1° at kick-off which at the very least, would not be very nice to watch football in. At the worst, it would mean a call-off by the referee and despite the club's great confidence in their pitch, I decided to give it the swerve. My game on Tuesday had been abandoned with the temperature at 3° and whilst at Stockbridge in Hampshire earlier this season, the game was fortunate to finish with the mercury at 1° when I got back to the car. I did briefly consider either Penybont or Penydarren BGC in Wales, but these entailed a 300-mile round trip. With a fairly early start on Saturday, I decided to give it a miss. There was a saviour though, a few miles walk away. Penn & Tylers Green Development were playing Taplow United in the Hellenic D2 East. I'd had a good evening up there a couple of weeks ago and entry was a very reasonable £2, so it was a no-brainer really. The Downton game did go ahead but my game at Penn was not bad with the hosts running out comfortable 3-1 winners.

The day of the game came but I took a while to get going. As a result, I went out in a rush and forgot my face mask. After an hour or so walk, I was at the station well in advance of my 9.25 train. After one last check that the game was on, I bought my return train ticket for £23.25. The train was packed and I had to improvise a mask with my coat but at least it was a fairly quick journey with us there at 9.55. I popped across the road to a corner shop, getting a disposable face mask for £1.50. A small expense for me, but a nice little earner for them if they bought in bulk.  It was a busy trip across London but I was at Victoria well in advance for my 10.40 train. After boarding, I noted on the Futbology app that it was 20 years since Carlos Lopes' one and only appearance for Wycombe Wanderers. This was near the beginning of my seven-year stint of not missing a Wycombe game home or away. It was a midweek trip to Cambridge United and Lopez did not get off to the best start as he failed to acknowledge the fans singing his name in the pre-match warm-ups, at least until he was nudged by a fellow player. It did not get much better as he gave a totally inept performance, barely getting near his man all night. That said, the rest of the team were not much better, failing to beat a Cambridge side who had ten men for 74 minutes, following the sending off of goalkeeper Lionel Perez. The 223 travelling Chairboys contented themselves with singing 'Bohemian Rhapsody' in its entirety, such was the on-field action so uninspiring. It wasn't the best time to start my Wycombe obsession, and shortly after, we went over a year without an away win. I also thought about the main team from the city where today's visitors would be coming from. Canterbury City FC went bust in 2001 after the council booted them out of their stadium to make way for a residential development. Though they reformed in 2007, they still haven't been found a new home in the city. It may very well be a decent city, I don't know. But until they return, I certainly won't be going there.

I was in Sittingbourne by 11.40., It was just over five minutes walk to The Golden Hope Wetherspoons, my 217th in the chain. I got a table and ordered a fish and chips meal with haggis on the side. Happily, I was able to get Black Dragon as my meal drink which partially made up for the disappointing fish which was mainly batter. Normally Spoons fish and chips are spot on and I was filled up anyway, so couldn't be arsed complaining. It was a nicely kept pub, though the ambience was slightly spoilt by noisy kids. A sneak preview of work tomorrow, it's annoying that people feel the need to inflict their irritating offspring upon the world. The next stop was the calmer Donna’s Ale House where I was able to get a new cider, a bottle of Kent Cider Company Blend 23. This was a decent drink and a great Micropub. Its just a shame there is no such establishments in Wycombe. It was then off to Lidl where I picked up some snacks, including some stuff from their excellent bakery. From there it was a half-hour walk to the ground, with me there ten minutes before kick-off. I was given a nice welcome and was glad of my game choice. The ground appeared to be mainly owned by Bredhurst Juniors and they were playing a Rochester and District game on the back pitch. 

Gillingham Town were in mixed form. They'd lost their last game 6-3 at Canterbury City U23, but this was way back on 11th December. In recent times, they'd also lost 6-0 to AFC Rangers, 3-2 at Lenham Wanderers and 4-0 at Larkfield & New Hythe Reserves. On the bright side, they had avenged the defeat against Larkfield with a 4-1 win and had also won 3-1 at Paddock Wood. They sat 8th with visitors Lokomotiv Canterbury in 5th. The away side had been in slightly better form and had progressed 3-1 against Otford United Reserves in the Kent Junior Cup last week. They'd also won 1-0 at Cinque Ports Reserves, 6-0 against Paddock Wood and 1-0 in the Cup against New Romney Reserves. On the flip side, they'd lost 7-0 to West Kingsdown and 4-0 at AFC Rangers. Gillingham Town had a couple of corners early on, but they came to nothing. On 13 minutes, Lokomotiv Canterbury took the lead, Phil Russell finishing from around the penalty spot, but a visiting player was injured during the action. Cuba Gill equalised on 33  minutes, a finish from a tight angle out on the left from around ten yards. The hosts started the second half strongly and on 48 minutes Tiago Nunes De Miranda curled a shot into the top right-hand corner to give them the lead. On 50 minutes, Lokomotiv Canterbury were awarded a penalty for a foul. This proved to be the turning point of the game, the spot-kick was saved at a crucial moment. On 58 minutes, Gill won the race for a loose ball and finished with a low shot from just inside the area for his second and his teams third. The game died down a bit after that but there was still time for Gill to complete his hat trick on bit after that but there was still time for Gill to complete his hat trick on 89 minutes, sweetly controlling a high ball and finishing on the turn. The visitors would hit the bar soon after but the score stayed the same.

It had been a deserved win for Gillingham Town, though the margin would have been harsh on Canterbury. The hosts had shown plenty of Brazilian flair and it had been a good game. I left the ground at 3.55 in a good mood, even more so when Wycombe scored to make it 2-1 against Morecambe. However, 35 minutes later, I was at the Yellow Stocks Micropub and we were 3-2 down. I contented myself with a half of Wild Haze. It should have been a pint but they misheard me and I wasn't that bothered to be honest. It was nice if a tad sweet. It was made by nearby Duddas Tun, so that was good. From there, it was a quick stop at Poundland for more snacks, then on to the Fountain Of Ale. Though there was no real cider, there was an adorable Springer Spaniel and Strongbow at £2.55 a pint, so it wasn't a dead loss. I saw I had another 25 minutes to wait for my train, so I had another pint. I'd allowed extra time to get to the station, but as it turned out, it was a couple of minutes across the road. I was at the station in good time and boarded the 5.45 train to London Victoria. I got cracking on my blog, having had a great day. I may have stopped at extra pubs on the way home, but that was very much undecided as I published this blog.


BOURNE PARK is an excellent venue for the tenth step of non-league of the fourteenth level of English football overall. There are three covered areas overall, with small standing shelters along one side and behind one goal. The most impressive structure is an elevated metal stand which appears to have come in flat-pack form. Far more impressive than the far more common 'Arena' stands. This has a capacity of around 250 whilst the covered standing holds around 100. The ground is 30 minutes walk from Sittingbourne train station but has plenty of parking around the ground. 

A 2021 update, the ground had been tidied up, there was a small area of cover behind the near goal but aside from that, the only cover was the stand. The main tenant appears to be Bredhurst Juniors, but they use the back pitch which is a decent venue in itself.


2021 PICS

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Saffron Dynamo - Kings Park

Saffron Dynamo FC
Kings Park
Cambridge Road

Ground Number: 1032
Tuesday 18th January 2022
Saffron Dynamo 0-2 Clifton All Whites
United Counties D1


The club was established in 1963 by a group of friends. They played friendlies at first, using Saffron Recreation Field as their home venue, hence the club's name. They moved on to local leagues before joining the Leicestershire Senior League in 1994. Starting out in Division 1, they would remain here until 2007 when they finished 3rd behind Anstey Town and Sileby Town to win promotion to the Premier Division. They would remain here until 2019 when they finished as runners-up behind Rugby Borough. This won them promotion to the United Counties Division 1. The last two seasons were not completed but Saffron Dynamo were in respectable positions of 12th and 8th when the plug was pulled.

Saffron Dynamo have not yet entered the FA Cup but they have played in the FA Vase. The 2018/19 season saw their best run as they reached the 2nd Round. A 4-0 win against Heath Hayes was their first-ever in the competition. They then drew 3-3 at home to Bottesford Town before triumphing 3-2 in the replay. Their fun came to an end with a 3-0 defeat at local rivals  Leicester Nirvana. In terms of local cups, they won the Leicestershire Senior League Beacon Bitter Trophy in 2000  and 2007. The club is based in Cosby, a village in Lincolnshire with a population of 3,500. In 2009, Sir Garfield Sobers came to the village at a special evening when he talked about his cricket career. The former West Indies captain returned a few days later to join members who had successfully bid to play a round of golf with him. His visits came during a busy spell for Cosby when they hosted the County Championship at the end of June of that year. There is another football team in the village, Cosby United who play a few hundred yards away and compete in the Leicester and District League. 


Saffron Dynamo was one of Anwar and I's nearest unticked grounds, so it was inevitable that we would go there sooner than later. We had stopped for a quick look on the way up to Glapwell last spring and although it was a fairly basic setup, we got a nice welcome from the guy on at the ground and promised we would be back for a game in the future. That was supposed to be on 28th December but typically, after researching the club history and putting plans in place, the game was postponed in the morning. The festive and new year period was a disappointing and fallow period for getting to football games - what with the weather and bank holidays ruining things. It hadn't really picked up in the new year either, with limited choice and plenty of postponements. At least there were a few more choices this week with Devizes Town and a couple in the north midlands as options. Saffron Dynamo was always going to be favourite with it being nearest. When I checked on Sunday, there was no rain forecast and the temperature was set to be around 4 degrees. However, I wasn't going to count my chickens yet as the signs had looked good last time. Just as they had last Tuesday when I was heading for Stone Old Alleynians only for it to be called off, meaning I had to divert to Irlam.

Since that game, I'd been beset by more pitch problems. I'd been planning on a revisit to Holmer Green on Friday night, only for the game to be called off twenty minutes before kickoff due to a frozen pitch. At least I'd got a nice walk in though. Saturday made a mockery of my new year intention to eat and drink healthier with my booziest day of the year so far and plenty of junk food. On the plus side though, it was a great day football-wise with Wycombe Wanderers gaining a comfortable 2-0 win over Oxford United. A good day out was had. I like to have a day out of Wycombe home games, walking to and from the ground and going to the pub. All in all, I spent ten hours out of the house enjoying life, though I'm looking forward to a groundhop next week. Sunday bought about its usual trials and tribulations at work and Monday was another long day, so I was glad of my day off on Tuesday. I kept myself busy, walking to town and back to get some shopping. I also had to send a couple of parcels of stuff that I'd sold on eBay.

I left a little early as I had another parcel to drop off but had seen nothing to suggest that there would be any issues with the pitch. I picked Anwar up at 4.50 and we were soon on our way. After stopping for petrol in Milton Keynes, we were near the ground by 6.40. I'd planned in a stop at Flames takeaway near the ground. We stayed in the car for five minutes longer to listen to the Wycombe chairman Rob Couhig on Radio Derby about our legal claim against them. Personally, I think it is 100% down to the incompetence of the EFL who failed to apply their own rules and have seen so many clubs have financial issues. I ordered Chicken Quesadilla and fries for £9 and Anwar got some cheesy chips. Mine was all very decent and something different to what I usually have. Though it was a bit messy, especially with eating it in the car and the steering wheel getting in the way. From there we drove to the ground, getting there at 7.30. We paid £5 to get in, plus there was a free programme from the original November fixture. We took shelter from the cold in the bar for five minutes before going out to watch the game.

Saffron Dynamo were in mixed form and were sitting 13th in the table. In their last six, they had beaten Dunkirk 2-0 and Barrow Town 2-1, drawn 3-3 with Aylestone Park and lost 6-2 at Gedling Miners Welfare, 3-0 at Blackstone and 3-1 at Belper United. Clifton All Whites were in 17th and despite this, since I'd seen them beat Ingles 2-0 in mid-November, they'd been in reasonable form. They'd won 4-2 at West Bridgford in their latest game and had also won 3-0 at St Andrews. They'd drawn 3-3 against Blackstones and 1-1 against Harrowby United but had lost 2-1 to Dunkirk and 2-1 to Kimberley Miners Welfare. Clifton All Whites started on top and they had the lead after ten minutes. Calrick Dunkley put in a cross from the right and the ball was deflected into the net from a few yards out by a home defender. Three minutes later, Saffron Dynamo came close to equalising when Clifton keeper Beau Watson flapped at a corner but it came to nothing. The visitors could have doubled their lead on 17 minutes, but the corner was narrowly headed wide. They also clipped the bar from close range a minute later. On 25 minutes, the Clifton keeper made a smart double save to prevent an equaliser. On 42 minutes, the lead was doubled, Kieran Cummins with an excellent lob from around 20 yards which caught the home keeper out. Chances died down in the second half but Saffron Dynamo's Khyle Bennett was yellow carded for lashing out after he was the victim of a robust challenge. Clifton had been the better side, but it might have been a different story if the hosts had taken one of their chances earlier on.
All of this was for nothing though, as much to the bemusement of the 40 in attendance. The referee had a brief word with the visiting bench, although they later claimed on Twitter that he had not entered into any discussion and simply abandoned the match. Both sets of players wanted to carry on apparently, but the referee was having none of it, consulting no one and calling the match off. His decision has to be respected at the end of the day but the pitch did not look frozen, nor did the grass surrounding the pitch feel frozen. The referee had claimed that players were complaining of slipping over, but that was apparently fiction. I've seen matches completed in far worse conditions this season, so the whole thing is a mystery. We left at 9.30 and had to cope with a closure on the M1 for a few junctions but other than that, it was a good journey. I dropped Anwar off just before 11.10 and got home myself at 11.30. I stayed up for around an hour before going to sleep so was pretty sleepy the next morning. Next up for me will be a game on Friday, most probably Downton v Laverstock & Ford but as ever, I expect that weather may play a part in my choice of game.

KINGS PARK is a typical new venue at step 6. Both of the covered areas are of the metal variety and hold around 50 each, one standing, one seated. Only two sides of the ground are accessible to spectators, but the place is well kept. The bar is a few hundred yards from the pitch but has Sports TV and a reasonable range of drinks at good prices. There's also food available. There's also plenty of parking at the ground. Nearby is a decent takeaway called Flames, half a mile from the ground which has its menu on Just Eat. In the opposite direction are more takeaways, including a chippy.