Saturday 25 February 2023

Guru Nanak - Guru Nanak Sports Ground

Guru Nanak FC
Guru Nanak Sports Ground
Trinity Road
DA12 1LU

Ground Number: 1151
Saturday 25th February 2023
Guru Nanak 0-1 Rochester City
Kent County League Division 1 Central & East


The club was established in 1965 by Punjabi students and construction workers. They took their name from the founder of Sikhism and the first of 10 Sikh gurus. They started out playing at the AEI Henley Sports Club, adjacent to the current ground of Punjab United in Dunkirk Close. They'd remain here until 2009 when an arson attack forced them to decamp to their current ground next to the Shri Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara Temple. They saw a great deal of success in the Gravesend League, now known as the North Kent Sunday League. In 2002, they made the step up to the Kent County League. Starting in Division 3 West, they were champions in 2004, being promoted to Division 2 East. That division was won in 2007 but despite a couple of stable seasons, they were relegated back down in 2010. It took them until 2013 to win promotion back, although they'd only finished 4th. They made the most of their elevation by winning Divison 1 East the following year, earning them promotion to the step 7 Kent County Premier Division. Guru Nanak recorded their highest-ever finish in 2015, finishing 5th. However, they endured a torrid 2016/17 season, losing all 29 games that they played. They even finished on negative points after having a point docked for an unfulfilled fixture. They've been in Division  1 West ever since - generally finishing around mid-table.

Though the club has never participated in the FA Cup & FA Vase, they have won a number of local competitions. The Kent Reporter Cup was won in 1982, 1993 & 2006, the Gravesend League Cup in 1980, Kent County Cups in 1987 & 2013 and the Coventry Khalsa Tournament in 1991. Around the time of the 1998 World Cup in France, future King, Prince Charles visited the club as part of a drive to kick racism out of football. Charlton Athletic had recently triumphed on penalties following an epic 4-4 draw against Sunderland. But the then Price managed to put a penalty past the victorious keeper Sasa Ilic in altogether less pressurised circumstances.

Guru Nanak shares the town of Gravesend with Ebbsfleet United who play in the National League South and Punjab United who play in the Southern Counties East League. The population of the town is 74,000. It has one of the largest populations of the Sikh community in the UK of more than 15,000. It is situated on the River Thames and Medway Canal and passenger ferries run to Tilbury. Pocahontas, the first female Native American to visit England. She was taken ill on her return voyage to America and died aged 21 after coming ashore at Gravesend. She was buried under the chancel of St George's parish church. Famous people from Gravesend include Paul Ritter of Friday Night Dinner and Harry Reid who played Ben Mitchell in Eastenders from 2014 - 2018.


It was the first free Saturday in a while for me, having spent the last two watching Wycombe home games. I was determined to do something on public transport via High Wycombe, getting my walk in and also being free to enjoy some pubs. It would be my first train trip since early December and I was looking forward to having a good day. I drew up a list, initially using the Futbology app to look at steps 6 and above. There wasn't a huge amount of inspiration to be honest - I'd drawn up a spreadsheet to work out which fare was the best value and used Trainsplit to work out the best value fare. I worked my way through a huge number of step 7 games and added them to the list. There was a clear standout winner, at 11p a mile, a train to Gravesend was great value at around £18. That was just a normal, straightforward ticket too, albeit with a Network Railcard discount, allowing me to use the quick trains. At the other end of the scale, a train to Scarborough worked out at 26p a mile, even with split tickets. There was a good ground at Guru Nanak and some decent pubs to visit.

The main topic of midweek was Gareth Ainsworth leaving Wycombe Wanderers for Queens Park Rangers. He's been with us since 2009 as a player and from 2012 as manager. Despite some rocky times in 2013-14 when we were nearly relegated from the Football League, he has been a brilliant manager in 550 games that he has managed us. In the same time, I'd managed to visit 933 new grounds, having been near the start of my groundhopping journey when he started managing us. It had been a reasonable week at work until Friday, which turned out to be a bit of a slog. I'll certainly be looking forward to my time off in a few weeks but for the time, a few drinks to unwind would do. I researched my options for the next day. Sadly the Invicta Bar had no decent cider - a shame as they had some decent food on.
The day of the game came and I was up at 7.30 after a restless night's sleep. After breakfast, a shower and getting dressed, I left just before 9. It was a pleasant walk to High Wycombe station where I got a return to Gravesend for £18.45. The platform was busy as it was the fast train, calling at London Marylebone only. The train was also busy but I was at Marylebone in 26 minutes. It was a quick jog over to Baker Street where there was a 3-minute wait for my train to King's Cross St Pancras. I knew that the fast train to Gravesend left at 20 minutes past the hour from platform 11. The ticket machines and websites had recommended a longer gap and getting a train an hour later but I was on my train just under ten minutes before it left. It was a pleasant train, Southeastern one of the better operators out there. I checked ahead at the Wetherspoons menu and was pleased to see that they still did Black Dragon. My revisit was confirmed when I found that they did the Highland Haggis burger I'd missed out on during Burns week. It turned out to be out of stock, so I had a Katsu Curry with my Black Dragon instead. I was still peckish after, so ordered a small bowl of chips and another pint as I had plenty of time to kill anyway. It was a pleasant and good value way to spend pre-match. A leisurely look around B&M to get some snacks was followed up by a pint of Dudda's Tun Haze in the Mole Hole Micropub. It was then the 15-minute walk to the ground where I was given a great welcome in lovely surroundings.


The two sides were struggling with Guru Nanak in 12th and Rochester City in 13th. In fact, only whipping boys West Farleigh were keeping them off the bottom of the table. The hosts had five games in hand over their rivals and had also had points deducted for failing to fulfil a fixture. In the last six, Guru Nanak had lost the last four games - 2-0 to Stansfeld, 3-1 at Cuxton, 5-1 to Ashford and 2-0 at Hollands & Blair Reserves. Prior to that, they'd beaten Snodland Town Reserves 2-1 and a 2-0 win at Long Lane in a local cup. Rochester City had won just one of their last ten, which was a 3-2 win over Sturry on 21st January. One of those defeats was a 3-2 loss to Guru Nanak in the reverse fixture on 19th November. It was a competitive first half but it remained 0-0 at the break. It wasn't much of a game but Rochester City took the lead on 69 minutes, a shot from outside the area evading the grasp of the home keeper. There wasn't too much of a response from the hosts and Rochester City had a second 'goal', placed into the roof of the net, disallowed. Not much response from the hosts, quite surprising, but the visitors defended well.

 From my game, it was disappointing to hear Wycombe concede a further goal to lose 2-0 at Shrewsbury. However, the Compass Alehouse was a pleasant and warm place to drown my sorrows. A Dunkertons Organic Dry fixed things for a bit. I left with plenty of time to spare and it was just as well I did as the route to my platform was not so clear. But nevertheless, nice platform staff meant that I didn't waste time with going to Platform 0, though an elongated trip to London Bridge would not be the end of the world. But after many failed attempts, a visit to the Euston Cider Tap was my aim. That would mean the train to King's Cross which was 4 minutes late. I did have some tinge of regret about not going into the temple, free food and all that. But it felt like trespassing into someone's home and I'd had a good day nonetheless. Of course, the Cider Tap was closed but I visited the brewery tap. I then got the 8 PM back to Wycombe where the pitiful bus services had already stopped. I got a pizza, walked halfway home and then got a taxi the rest of the way, In at 9.45 it had been a good day, but badly let down by certain sections of public transport.


GURU NANAK SPORTS GROUND is a nice venue. There's one large stand, which holds around 100 seating and standing. The rest of the ground is open hard standing and further friendly facilities are available in the temple. Otherwise, there's lots of parking and the town is 10 minutes walk away. 

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