Friday 25 February 2022

Otford United - Bowring Group Sports Centre

Otford United FC
Bowring Group Sports Centre
Otford Recreation Ground
High Street
TN14 5PG

07850 676595

Ground Number: 1040
Friday 25th February 2022
Otford United 0-0 Ten Em Bee
Kent County League Premier


Very little is known about the history of the club, as is often the case with teams this low down the football pyramid. The club badge denotes a 1900 formation date and they have played strictly local football for all that time. Presumably, they played in competitions such as the Sevenoaks and District League until 2002, later joining the higher level Kent County League. Being fairly central, they spent their first couple of seasons in Division 2 West, before transferring to the Division 2 East. They gradually improved season upon season and by 2008, a runners-up spot behind a reformed Canterbury City was good enough for promotion to Division 1 East. Again, they switched between the regional leagues but generally finished towards the top half of the table. In 2017, they missed out on the Division 1 West title only on goal difference to Lewisham Athletic. However, they still earned a promotion to the Premier Division where they remain to this day. Their record finish of 6th came in 2019. The village of Otford is located near Sevenoaks in Kent. The population is around 3,500 and it is located on the River Derwent. A notable landmark is the duck pond on a roundabout, unique to the village.


As regular readers know, I love a bit of Friday night football as a way to unwind after a week at work. I've been quite blessed this season, being able to find a game more often than not, although they had dried up recently, what with the poor weather. I had a few choices on this night with Hereford Pegasus, Thornbury Town, Otford United and a few in Wales as viable options. My initial thoughts were a trip to Thornbury, although as Anwar was unavailable, I decided to save it. The nearest to home was Otford United, although it was a very basic ground, with not even a rail around the pitch. At least it had a bit of personalisation though, rather than being a bland council-owned pitch. I decided that seeing as they had made the effort to schedule a game for Friday night, I was going to make the effort to go. Fellow hopper Dan had managed to wangle his usual lift from Braintree, so at least I'd have someone I knew there. Colin took a bit more convincing, keen to add a ground to his list, but not liking the basic nature of the venue. I was like that at the start of my hopping career. Initially, I concentrated on the Football League, quickly deciding to go down to step 4. Then pretty soon after, I decided to complete down to step 6. It was then the ground must have a stand and be enclosed before these started to dry up. Now I am happy as long as they have a rail around the pitch or a structure. This just about qualified with its clubhouse but to be honest, I am happy to make a trip to anywhere in the right circumstances.

I'd been to Carterton on Wednesday and spent Thursday completing this blog. I also had to research future blogs and had settled on tonight's the previous day. My plans for Saturday were less concrete, I was planning on Lydd Town, but they had been having problems with the electricity at the ground. I decided to hold off researching them, I'd have plenty of time on the lengthy journey down in any case. Back to tonight's game, the visitors had an unusual name, but they played at a leisure centre of the same name in Bromley. Ten-Em-Bee Sports Development Centre was founded in 1975 by employees of Metal Box Company and The Beehive Cricket Club (from which the name Ten-Em-Bee is derived) to provide sporting opportunities for communities within the London Borough of Lewisham and beyond. It looked like a reasonable venue to visit under the right situation. The day of the game came and I woke to the news of idiots panic-buying petrol again. These lobotomized amoebas were reacting to the news of the conflict in Ukraine, taking leave of their senses and making life difficult for everyone else. I had enough to get to Otford and back but was a tiny bit concerned about having to do a lot of driving for the North West Counties Hop next weekend. It was a tough old day at work, very busy and I was glad it was the last day of half term, with the place packed. I was home just before 3.30 and had just over an hour to put my feet up before leaving. I was glad to see confirmation of the game going ahead and left at 4.45. I'd managed to persuade Colin to come along and picked him up at 5. It was the standard Friday night on the M25 and we made very slow progress. We were in Sevenoaks by 7 and near a selection of takeaways. I went for the Lantern Chinese and had a special chow mein for £5.50. It was OK, but nothing special and the portions were small. We then made our way to the ground, arriving at 7.30 and meeting up with Dan.

Otford United were in 11th place and were in disappointing form. Their only win in seven games had come as they'd beaten Ide Hill 1-0 on 15th January. That was their first game of 2022 and they went on to earn a respectable draw at Stansfeld. Since then, they had lost 5-0 to Red Velvet and 3-0 at both Bromleians and New Romney. Ten-Em-Bee were in 5th place and were in far better form, unbeaten in nine games. This year, they had beaten Kings Hill 2-0 in their latest game and also defeated Tudor Sports and K Sports reserves for the same scoreline. They'd also scraped a 3-2 win at basement side Crockenhill. They had also had a couple of goalless games at Kings Hill and at home to Hawkinge Town. The omens didn't exactly look good for a goal-fest, but I went in with an open mind. But the stats don't lie and it was a dreadful game in baltic conditions. Ending goalless, it was a real war of attrition and although it was an end to end game, there was very little quality in the final third. My toes especially were frozen and I was glad when we got in the car at 9.40. It was only an hour and ten minutes back to Colin's, which shows how much we were delayed on the way there. I'd seen a few places had ramped up their petrol prices to take advantage of the panic buyers. I suffered no such skullduggery at my local station, putting in £50 worth at the same price I had paid last week. I was back home at 11.05 and stayed up typing my blog and watching TV for an hour and a half.


OTFORD RECREATION GROUND is a very basic venue, but it's still worth a visit. There's grass banking on a couple of sides and a nice club building which also provides some cover. Car parking is plentiful and there's an Indian restaurant nearby too. For public transport, there's a train station. It might be worth stopping en route as there's not a lot nearby and the club only offers snacks. They do however sell hats and scarves, a real rarity at this level.

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