Saturday 26 November 2022

AFC Caddington - Caddington Sports & Social Club

AFC Caddington
Caddington Sports and Social Club
Manor Rd

01582 450151 (S&S Club)

Ground Number: 1135
Saturday 26th November 2022
AFC Caddington 2-2 MK College Academy
Spartan South Midlands D2


Caddington or AFC Caddington were established in 1973 after a period when the village didn't have a football team. They started out in the Luton & District League before joining the South Midlands League in 1986. They started out in the third-tier Division 1.  Three successive third-place finishes in their early years saw them just miss out on promotion but in 1997, they finished as runners-up to Biggleswade United. In that summer, the league merged with the Spartan League and Caddington were placed in the second-tier Senior Division. 8th place in 1998, was the best finish in the club's history. In 2000, they were relegated to the third tier, which is today's Division 2. They remained there until 2013 when they finished bottom. They started the next season, but only played a few games before pulling out. Caddington dropped down to the West Herts League and they saw mixed fortunes with them finishing as runners-up in Division 1 in 2016 to gain promotion. The following season, they finished bottom of the Premier Division but were not relegated. Two 8th-place finishes followed strangely after the second one they went down. Results during the pandemic saw them placed in the Premier Division last season, after which, they left to rejoin the SSML D2. 

Caddington is a village near Luton and the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire border. The population with a couple of other local villages is 3,700. Caddington was once the centre of a thriving brick industry built around the rich source of clay. In 1908 there were two major brickfields. A "Caddington Blue" was a well-known engineering brick.

As it was a train strike on this Saturday, my options were rather limited. Unless I stayed in London, it would be down to the coaches to get me wherever I wanted to go. My first thought was Swallownest, via a coach to Sheffield. I'd already written about their history, having had to cancel a pre-season visit there when their home ground was declared unavailable. It would have been ideal, however, the coach companies had taken advantage of the train strikes and prices had trebled or even quadrupled compared to normal fares. Next up, I looked at places in London. It would have to be step 7 or below though. I did consider Honourable Artillery Club as recommended by fellow hopper Dan the groundhopper and occasional Braintree fan. However, their venue varied and was concerned about any last-minute changes. In the end, I decided to drive to a fairly close one, settling on Yateley United after I'd seen an article about them recently in the non-league paper.
I did my research on the club on Thursday night. I had pencilled in a visit to Nailsea & Tickenham on Thursday but after seeing the weather forecast, decided on Tuesday not to go. It was a good decision, the game was called off due to a waterlogged pitch and I didn't waste any time researching the club. I also decided against going to Penydarren BGC on Friday, instead staying in to watch the England game. I've largely ignored the World Cup so far, aside from the bad behaviour of Qatar, the timing is terrible and disrupts the normal season. Had there been more choice closer to the English border, I'd have taken the plunge but I decided to save it for when I've got someone to take. At least I had the consolation of the game in Wales only having one goal but the evening had deepened my dislike for International and TV football.
I wish I'd gone after watching a mediocre performance in this illegitimate competition, but at least could look forward to my trip the next day. Or at least I thought so. Wraysbury pulled out on the day of the game, using the excuse that they couldn't raise a team. It was frustrating, but worse things happen in life. I'd woken up fairly early on the day, and was in a good mood after getting a few bits down town. The only place that let me down was Iceland with none of the ready meals for work that I wanted.  It was whilst walking back from there that I received the bad news. I was grateful that they'd let me know and that I'd not set off. I did however have to decide on a new plan and my initial thoughts were AFC Caddington to recomplete the Spartan South Midlands D2 or Old Parmiterians in the Herts Senior League. A late contender in Yateley United's B team came up, but I wasn't going to make the journey unless I knew it was being played on the main pitch. I left at 12.50 and had a good journey over, arriving at 1.40.
AFC Caddington were in red and black and sat in 13th place in the league, having won four and lost eight of their games so far this season. Their latest form had been patchy, their only win in the last seven had some as they'd won 2-1 at Risborough Rangers Development. This might have had something to do with them having had six away games in a row, but they had kept things respectable on the road. The same could not be said of their last home game, a 4-0 humbling by Old Bradwell on the 1st October. You had to go back to the 29th of August for their last home win. a 4-3 thriller against Pitstone & Ivinghoe. MK College Academy meanwhile were in all blue and were in 6th, winning six, drawing two and losing four of their games so far. They'd lost just one of their last six, that was a 2-1 defeat at Pitstone & Ivinghoe. This included a thumping 8-1 win against strugglers 61 FC Luton, although they'd drawn their latest two games - 1-1 at Codicote and 2-2 against Leighton Town Development. It was an even opening, with Caddington the more physical side. Gradually, MK College gradually took control and they took the lead on 23 minutes. A free kick was swung in from the left, the ball was knocked back and Suttable (#7) finished from six yards. There had not been too many up chances up to that point but Mason Davis curled just wide whilst looking to double his side's advantage. The visitors continued to dominate and their lead was doubled on 38 minutes. Davis got on the scoresheet, following a square ball he was pretty much unmarked as he finished from around ten yards. Caddington came back into it towards the end of the half and they forced the goalkeeper into a smart tip around his post just before halftime. They continued to boss in the second half but there were not too many clear-cut chances. The visiting keeper made another great save on 73 minutes as Caddington started to turn the screw. They finally pulled one back on 80 minutes, George McCluskey heading home following a succession of corners. There were some more chances but the hosts finally got the equaliser they deserved right at the death. Another goal from McCluskey, this time a shot from a tight angle with the shot hitting the right-hand post on the way in.
It had been a great game to watch. The official attendance (via FA Full Time) was 75, though it didn't seem as many as that. Fellow hopper 'Burnley' was there although I kept myself to myself as I wasn't in a very sociable mood. The light was fast fading as I left and I listened to the Portsmouth v Milton Keynes game on the way home, happily, Pompey won 3-2. I only had cans of Lidl cider at home, so I stopped at the Craft Beer Shop in Chalfont on the way home. I picked up three new bottles, though it did cost me £14 as it's more of a sit-in place than anything. I was back home just before 5 and still had plenty of work to do on this blog entry. I tried in vain to find coverage of the Dagenham & Redbridge v Gillingham game before dinner. In the end, I settled on the Quiz show 'The Wheel'. I had a few drinks over the evening before bed. I used to hate working Sundays due to the public, but now the day is so pitiful and pathetic in terms of enjoyment. In any case, there's a good chance I will be in the serenity of the warehouse which makes the day a breeze.

CADDINGTON SPORT & SOCIAL CLUB is a decent setup for step 7. The pitch is railed on two sides. There is no official cover, although there is an area of tables with cover nearby. The bar is smart and has a reasonable range of drinks, In the room upstairs, there are rolls as well as snacks and hot drinks. There is plenty of parking at the ground and it's a nice place to visit. It certainly has the potential to be upgraded to step six standard in the future.


Tuesday 22 November 2022

Oxhey Jets - Boundary Stadium

Oxhey Jets FC
Boundary Stadium
Altham Way
South Oxhey
WD19 6FW

020 8421 6277
Official Website

Ground Number: 365
Tuesday 22nd April 2014
Oxhey Jets 1-1 Hillingdon Borough
Spartan South Midlands Premier


Oxhey Jets were formed in 1972 and played in local leagues at first. In 1981, they were admitted into the Herts Senior County League. Starting in Division 1, they spent three seasons there before promotion was earned to the Premier Division following a 3rd place finish in 1984. They only lasted two seasons before being relegated back but would go back up in 1989 after another 3rd place finish. Despite struggling at first, they soon found their feet and would gain promotion to the Spartan South Midlands League as runners-up to Hadley in 2004. This time, they had no problem acclimatizing to the new level and would go on to win Division 1 at the first attempt. Oxhey Jets have been at step 5 ever since, mainly in the Spartan South Midlands Premier, however, last season they transferred to the Combined Counties North. Their best season at this level came in 2013 when they finished 3rd, scoring 125 league goals and gaining 91 points that season.

Oxhey Jets have twice reached the FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round. In 2006 they lost 3-0 at AFC Wimbledon and in 2011 they lost 2-1 to Hendon. The latter attracted their record attendance of 376. The FA Vase 3rd Round has also been reached twice - losing 4-0 at Ipswich Wanderers in 2006 and 2-0 at Hadleigh United in 2012. Local cup wins include the Hertfordshire Senior Centenary Trophy twice, the Hertfordshire Charity Shield three times, the West Herts St Mary's Cup twice and the Aubrey Cup twice. The club is based in South Oxhey, a suburb of Watford. It has a population of around 15,000. Famous people from the area include actor and filmmaker Nick Moran who was in Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels as well as the Harry Potter films.


Oxhey Jets were probably the closest ground to me that I had not visited for a game yet. I had opportunities to do so this season, but the fact that I could take Anwar with me when I did it, even if it meant doubling the journey distance, meant that I chose more Southern options when I was alone. But with me being two-thirds of the way through completing the Spartan South Midlands League, and Anwar available, I decided to take in their game v Hillingdon Borough. I had actually been to the ground before, but only to take photos when I was over Watford way and wanted to see it properly for a game. I had only just been on the Northern League hop with 8 games in 3 days and so I was pretty weary. But with the season ending soon, it wasn't going to wait around for me. I only had about 5 hours of sleep the previous night and had spent the whole day catching up on my blog. It took me on average a couple of hours all in, once I had done the research, the story of the day and the laying it all out. I'd had the foresight to lay the foundations for 3 of them before I went, completing those 3 and also the 4th one. But with 3 possible further games this week and not a lot of time to do them, time was not on my side and I was in danger of getting a backlog. I spent the last 20 minutes of the time I had writing this very paragraph, but would still have plenty to do in the upcoming day or so. I had a dinner of Chilli and Rice and left home at about 5.35,  picking Anwar up at 6. After going through Aylesbury and the A41 we travelled the 5 miles to Oxhey along a road which seemed to have more speed cameras than any other road I have ever been on. We got to the ground around 7, and after going into the bar to use the toilet, I paid to get in and was pleased to find that it included a free programme. 

There were a few names I recognised from the teams. For Oxhey Jets there was Lewis Putnam who had been the subject of transfer interest from Wycombe after scoring over 70 goals last season. He spent a week on trial with us but we turned him down. Instead, he went to Wealdstone and got a long-term injury, and that was the last I heard of him until tonight. For the visitors, there were the Gradwell brothers, Robert and Kieran who played for Wycombe's youth and reserve teams when I used to watch them. Oxhey Jets sat 14th at start of play, despite being on a long unbeaten run. Recent results ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, with four 0-0's and a 9-5 making up their last 5 results. The first half was entertaining and was real end-to-end. Oxhey opened the scoring on 22 minutes after Putnam put the ball through to Lee Armitt and he fired into the corner. Apart from that though, Hillingdon Borough were shading it. That's how it stayed until the break. At half-time, it was quite chilly so I got myself a Bovril. The second half started in much the same vein as the first and Hillingdon Borough got their equaliser which was very similar to the Oxhey goal. Hillingdon seemed to spend the whole game whinging at the referee, but they were still on top. They played some really neat stuff and were unlucky not to win. I'd say the man of the match was their Nicholas Bendtner lookalike Paul Somers who played right back. It had been a good entertaining contest, as had a lot of games I had seen in this league. The game finished about 9.30 after injury time and after dropping Anwar off just after 10 and getting home myself at 10.25. I got to sleep quite quickly for once and nodded off just after 11, when usually for a midweek game I'd be up until midnight at least.


After a boozy weekend, it was back to work, but as ever, I was keen to do a game on Tuesday. There was nothing that I could do with just Anwar and Colin declared himself unavailable as he was planning to go with some other hoppers to Bearsted. As it turned out, his employer did him dirty by putting him in for a later shift at the last minute. By that point, I'd decided on a revisit to Oxhey Jets, a blog that I felt could do with a bit of sprucing up. The day of the game came and it was my usual walk to town and back. I came home and started planning future games. I knocked a potential visit on Thursday to Nailsea & Tickenham due to potential rain nut decided on my Saturday game. I'd be driving to Yateley United due to the train strikes limiting me to London via public transport. After dinner, I left at 6.40. It was a slow but steady journey over and I was there by 7.20. I was glad to see Dan, Richard & Andrew there. They had been heading to Bearsted, only to be denied due to bad traffic on the M25. It wasn't long until kickoff, so we went to the turnstile, paying £7 to get in. The welcome at the turnstile was nice and as with a lot of grounds, I appreciated it a lot more the second time around.

Oxhey Jets were in rotten form and sat bottom of the table. There was a real danger that they would be relegated back to step 6 for the first time since 2005. Though they'd had a good run in the FA Vase, they had changed their manager and had taken until 8th November to get their first league win - a 3-1 win at home to Wokingham & Emmbrook. They'd gained their other two points with a 1-1 draw at home to Burnham and a 1-1 draw at Spelthorne Sports.  The straw that broke the camel's back for the old manager had been a 7-0 defeat to Virginian Water and aside from that, recent results had been fairly respectable. London Lions were 7th in the league and they'd already had two victories over Oxhey Jets this season - 5-0 in the league and 3-1 in the League Cup - both at their place. However, the recent form had not been great with only one win in their last six. That had come as they won 6-1 at Frimley Green in the League Cup. Their last league win came on 15th October as they won 2-0 at Windsor. The hosts did not help themselves. Within 90 seconds, they had passed the ball back short to the keeper. London Lions' Jack Mattey took advantage, taking the ball around the keeper to make it 1-0. The lead was doubled to make it 2-0, Max Kyte getting on the end of a long goal kick and capitalising on a hesitant home defence. The rest of the first half was an end-to-end affair but Oxhey were lacking in the final third. The second half saw the game quieten down a bit. Kyte added two further goals later on, rounding the keeper for his third and a glancing header to make it 4-0.

BOUNDARY STADIUM is pretty standard for the Spartan South Midlands League. The main covered accommodation is all along one side with a couple of small seated stands and some covered standing. There is also a stand in the left-hand corner, and this appears to be the original stand as you can see where the dugouts have been beforehand along where the side stands are.

Apart from that, it's open standing. As for the tea bar, while the tea is cheaper than most grounds at 80p, the Bovril is £1.50, which isn't much less than you would pay at a league ground. It's a lot nicer though. Other than that, they do the usual range of hot food. There is a bar outside the ground, but I didn't go in on this occasion.