Wednesday 24 May 2023

Hemel Hempstead Rovers - Reith Fields

Hemel Hempstead Rovers FC
Reith Fields
Hemel Hempstead
HP12 4DE

Ground Number: 1192
Wednesday 24th May 2023
Hemel Hempstead Rovers Res 2-3 Croxley Green Res
Herts Senior County League D4


The exact formation date of the club is unclear. However, in 1955 they joined the Herts County League Division One "A". After an unremarkable season, they were placed in the Premier Division upon reorganisation. A record high of 3rd was achieved in 1961. They endured a difficult couple of seasons in 1967 and 1968, two successive relegations saw them go down to Division 2. A couple of third-place finishes were achieved but in 1973, they were relegated to Division 3. A couple of seasons were spent there but 1975 and 1976 saw two runners-up spots saw them back up to Division 1. They struggled however and relegations in 1978 and 1980 saw them back down in Division 3. Just one season was spent here as they were placed back in Division 2 following a reshuffle. They appear to have gone down in 1987 and no records exist for this period. They appear to have won Division 3 last season, or at least gained promotion. This season saw them win Division 2 and also the Herts Intermediate Trophy and Bingham Cox Cup. They have a reserve side that plays in Herts Senior County League D4.


With time running out towards the end of the season, I was keen to make the most of the time while I could. I'd attempted to visit mainly grounds in the Hertfordshire League. This would be the case tonight, at the Met Police Sports Ground in Bushey, usually used by Oxhey FC, I believe. But it would be a game in the Middlesex League that I would be attending. They seemed pretty hot at updating the site, in fact too hot. I was all set to go to Pitshanger Dynamo on Saturday, but the website informed me that they'd been suspended. This turned out to be a temporary suspension, but the fixture appeared back, albeit at a different but slightly unclear venue. Ironically, the opposition was Indian Gymkhana, an interesting but basic-looking venue. However, I'd passed on that, as neither side was especially active on Twitter.
This was an issue with this game too with FC Irish Of London last tweeting in 2016 and Harrow Bhoys last posting in February 2022. This was understandable with both sides being for players rather than spectators, but it didn't help with planning. I decided to place my trust in the league updating the site. It was unlikely to be weather affected although they seemed quite good at updating for other reasons. For last week's FC Irish match, the two teams had been unable to agree on a kickoff time and this had been noted down on the page. Football Mitoo was a bit old looking but it was more informative than the FA Full Time Site. Just in case of issues, we had Ware Sports as a backup, reachable should there be any issues with our game.

The day of the game came and it was a longer-than-expected one at work. It was pretty busy and as the managers are pretty decent, I agreed to stay on for an hour. It meant that I didn't have much time at home. I had just enough time to cook dinner and catch up on a few bits before I left at 5.20. The traffic was a lot heavier than yesterday and I got to Colin shortly after 5.40. There was more traffic and we took around 40 minutes to make the fairly short journey to the Met Police Sports Club in Bushey. I had to pay a quid to park but we made our way over to the railed pitch where there was not a lot going on. I walked over to the far pitch which appeared to have a load of parents and kids warming up so I decided to cut my losses and go elsewhere, It turned out that was the game that I was intending on going to, as another hopper was in attendance there. It kicked off a bit late, but by that time, I'd made the 15-minute drive to Hemel to another game.
In terms of positions, it was 5th v 2nd with it being Hemel's last game of the season. Croxley had one more game and could still win the league. Croxley were the better side early on, having the lion's share of the play early on. They took the lead on 37 minutes, a good finish into the bottom left from ten yards. They doubled their lead right on half time, a good attack down the left and a shot into the bottom right-hand corner. Hemel Rovers were awarded a penalty on 47 minutes following a trip. However, the chance was spurned, the shot going wide of the left-hand post. They eventually pulled a goal back on 50 minutes, a lob that I didn't have the best view of as it was down the other end. It was a physical game at times but the ref did well to keep things under control. Hemel were vastly improved in the second half and they got their equaliser on 68 minutes. It was a cross from the left. a header against the post before the rebound was headed in. The goal of the game won it on 73 minutes, a good through ball found #20 who blasted the ball home from 20 yards to give Croxley all three points and a chance at the title. This was not before Hemel had a chance against the post and Croxley had a shot narrowly over.
Although it had not been the game we had intended, it had been a good game at a basic but pleasant venue. We had considered going to Ware Sports which looked a great game. However, again, neither team tweeted about the game and Ware Sports was a pretty reliable account. Colin needed some shopping so we headed to the Co-Op. With him suitably stocked up, it was a fairly easy journey home with him getting home at 9, and me twenty minutes later. I had quite a bit to do with starting my blog basically from scratch. I later found out that Bush Hill Rangers had won 5-0 at Ware Sports, a win which gave them the title. As of putting this blog up at 11.30 on Thursday night, my original choice of game's result had not been entered into the league website.

REITH FIELDS is a very basic but pleasant ground. The highlight is the red building behind one goal, this has a bit of overhang which acts as cover. It gives a bit of presence to the place. Sadly there are no club signs nor anything to say where you are, at least from what I saw. The pitch is hemmed in on three sides with only the far side having a vast expanse. Car parking wise, it is restricted to street parking and a car park at the shopping centre. This set of shops has a wide range of takeaways and other shops. Public transport wise, bus 302 passes outside the ground.

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