Saturday 27 January 2024

Shawbury United - Shrewsbury Town Community Hub

Shawbury United FC
Shrewsbury Town Community Hub
Montgomery Waters Meadow
Oteley Rd

Ground Number: 1260
Saturday 27th January 2024
Shawbury United 3-1 Sutton United
Midland D1


Shawbury United are one of the newer clubs in Shropshire, having been formed in 1992. They started out playing in the Shrewsbury and Shropshire Alliance Division Two. They swiftly progressed up the divisions, winning several local cups along the way. In 1999 the club were rewarded with admission to the West Midlands (Regional) League. Division 1 North was won in their first season here, earning promotion to the Premier Division. A fair few seasons were spent here with the club coming close to promotion in 2008 when they finished as runners-up to Bridgnorth Town. In 2006 & 2010 Shawbury finished rock bottom of the league but avoided relegation due to other clubs resigning. They made the best of their good fortune and by 2016 they were Premier Division champions, earning promotion to the Midland League Premier Division, In 2017, they avoided relegation and recorded their highest-ever placing of 19th at step 5. However, they went down the following year and after spending three seasons in the WMRL Premier, they moved to the Midland D1 in 2021. Results have not been great and their last season their 10th place finish was their best since returning to step 6.

The club has twice reached the FA Cup Preliminary Round but saved their best cup run for the FA Vase. During the 2007/08 season, they beat Westfields, Bridgnorth Town, Stratford Town and Cogenhoe United before losing at Concord Rangers in the 4th Round. This was when they were managed by Kidderminster Harriers' FA Cup hero Delwyn Humphries, famous for his backflip celebrations during Kiddy's cup heyday in the mid-90s. The club has been nomadic since 1995, having moved away from their Poynton Road base due to a lack of facilities. From then until 2017, they shared at Butler Sports Ground, around 7 miles from the village. They faced a considerably longer journey when they played at Ludlow, around 40 miles from home between 2017 & 2023. This season they moved into the Shrewsbury Town Community 3G Hub, ten miles from their original base. Local cup wins include the Powell Charity Cup in 2011 and the Shropshire Senior Cup in 2018. Other cups won include the Shropshire County Challenge Cup, Shropshire Junior Cup, Commander Ethelston Cup, John Davies Cup and Tim Stokes Cup.

Shawbury is a village and civil parish in Shropshire. The village is 8 miles northeast of Shrewsbury and 12 miles northwest of Telford. The village straddles the A53 between Shrewsbury and Market Drayton. The nearest railway station is at Yorton on the Welsh Marches Line for Shrewsbury/Crewe. The 2011 census recorded a population of 2,872 for the entire civil parish of Shawbury. The village has an entry in the Domesday Book of 1085. In the great book, Shawbury is recorded by the name Sawesberie. The main landholder was Gerard from Earl Roger of Shrewsbury. The survey also mentions that there is a church and a mill. The River Roden flows through the village. The village of Moreton Corbet, with its castle, is just to the north. The main weather station for Shropshire is located in the village at the RAF base. In December 1981, a temperature of -25.2 °C was recorded, one of the coldest on record for England.


Though it was not the greatest ground, I had wanted to go to Shawbury United for a while. It was the one ground I needed to complete the Midland D1 and it would be a nice day out in Shrewsbury. Every club deserves support and Shawbury United had things tougher than most, having not played in the village since 1995. I'd originally considered going there on Saturday 9th December when they thumped Coventry Copsewood 6-1. It would be ironic to turn up outside Shrewsbury Town's ground when they were playing down at my team Wycombe Wanderers. However, I decided to stick with Wycombe and give them another chance. It was something I regretted as Wycombe were once more poor and lost 1-0 to the Shrews. The train tickets were what put me off initially, being £46.10 or £48.90 but that was with split tickets which limited options. The Wycombe to Shrewsbury standard ticket was a scandalous £87.30, but visiting the Rail UK forums found me a better option. Crazily, London to Shrewsbury via High Wycombe was £42.90. Thanks to the poster who tipped me off, it highlights the discrimination that rail firms practice, even if they have more competitors from the capital.

Returning to Wycombe, they say doing the same thing multiple times and expecting different results is madness. So why I'd gone to see the Chairboys v Port Vale and Lincoln City and had a pretty miserable time, I don't know. We had now won one game in sixteen, sod's law that it was the Bristol Rovers home game that I missed to go to Warrington Rylands. I had no regrets; I'd not seen Wycombe win in my last seven visits to Adams Park since we beat Carlisle in September. It wasn't even the results that were the reason for my apathy. Had we been losing 3-2 and drawing 2-2 I'd have been happy. But the football was painfully dull to watch. It was now one win in seventeen games for us and the Wigan game summed things up. We defended for a 0-0 only to be undone by a goal in the 20th minute of injury time following a referee injury. It was the 9th goal we had conceded in added time this season. To add to the disappointment, we pulled out of the Berks & Bucks Cup on Wednesday. It's not the finest competition, but remembering your roots and supporting your local non-league clubs is important. We have become an ever-more selfish and insular club over the years the best we can manage for friendlies is to send a team of unnamed trialists to a Chesham and that's if we are lucky.
I did think Wycombe would win against Fleetwood who had been dire all season and was close to giving them an eighth chance to change their ways. But like a domestic abuser, they probably wouldn't despite all the promises that they would learn from their mistakes. I'd been enjoying my 'new' Pixel Watch 2, purchased from CEX for under £150. It was only a few months old and was £350 new. I was looking forward to using it for maps on the walk to the ground so I could keep my phone in my pocket. Thursday and Friday were far easier at work and by the time I had taken into account cashback, my transport was costing me under £40. The Friday evening was spent doing the final research for the blog in terms of club history and the day out. I had a pretty solid plan, even going as far as planning some backups in the Shropshire League should my match have an issue.
I was in bed by 10 and asleep soon after. I had a poor night's sleep though, waking up just before 3. I lay in bed for a few hours before getting up at 5.40. It only took me 20 minutes to get ready and be out. It was chilly out but barely anyone was up unsurprisingly. I got the 7.28 Chiltern train to Birmingham and this was peaceful and pleasant. I even got a table and a plug socket, far nicer than last week in the opposite direction. I did some work on my laptop and started reading a book about Maidstone United's exile I'd purchased last night from Kindle on my tablet. We were at Moor Street by 9.06, then it was a walk to the Soloman Cutler Wetherspoons. A Lloyds Number 1 bar, it was named after the founder of the Glassworks that once stood on the site. It was smart, modern and peaceful. Amongst the breakfast eaters, I had a pint of Black Dragon for £4.28. There was no time to visit the 6th Wetherspoons in Brum, that would have to wait for another day. I left at 9.50 and was comfortably on time for my train, fifteen minutes early due to Google Maps being pessimistic for once. I noted that the train's eventual destination was Aberystwyth, a real bucket list ground for me. The train was a few minutes late and the USB sockets were not working, but at least I was on my way. My battery bank was called into action to top my phone up and although busy, I still got a double seat to myself with a table. It was disappointing that no Long Mynd cider was available in Shrewsbury, they tended to stock nasty artificial fruit cider according to the producer. Church Stretton Town FC was now added to the bucket list. With one pub crossed off my list, my pre match plans were slightly altered but I was still in good spirits. I carried on with my book for the time being as I awaited our arrival.
I was in Shrewsbury around 11.30. I spotted a few small places that could possibly be good but for now, I was sticking with my pre-match plan. First up, walking alongside the River Severn was my first Wetherspoons in Shrewsbury, The imaginatively named Shrewsbury Hotel. Nothing special, it did the job and I had a pint of Strongbow for £2.69. It was nice and relaxing, more than could be said for the second Spoons, The Montgomery's Tower. Far more families here, though mostly well-behaved. Only a few exceptions but the noise level was far higher. A Black Dragon took away the sting a bit and I awaited my Caledonian Burger whilst watching Ipswich v Maidstone. Service was slower here too but I was in no rush. The Internet was also slow which was a pain, something as simple as sending a tweet took an age. The burger was good though and decent value for the meal at £11. I carried on watching the footy, the Tractor Boys well in control but not taking their chances. A pleasant walk through Shrewsbury and I spotted at one of the pubs that Maidstone had taken a 1-0 lead. The Prince of Wales was closed until 2 much to my disappointment. It contained seating from the old Gay Meadow ground but I just carried on towards my game, hoping to find something along the way. I happened upon a pub called Saddlers. It was nothing special, a bit like the Jockey in Shameless, a flat-roofed pub. But the locals were friendly and a pint of Aspalls was £4.40, not especially a great deal but I wanted to watch the footy. Maidstone were now 2-1 up and it was fingers crossed for a cup upset. That happened and I arrived at the ground, via a convoluted route in time for kickoff. Fences were not my friend as they blocked off my route a fair few times.
Shawbury United were 11th whilst Sutton United were in 10th, a real mid-table clash. The hosts were in good form, having won five and only lost one of their last eight. On Wednesday, they won 1-0 at Brignorth. Sutton United were unbeaten in eight, their last result a dull 0-0  draw at Cradley Town a fortnight ago. When I saw the teams meet in the reverse fixture in November, Shawbury United recorded a 4-2 away win. The opening period saw much work but little quality. On 34 minutes, Shawbury took the lead, a deflected shot from Cody Rimmer. It was deserved as they'd been on top. On 41 minutes, it was 2-0, Eric Mensah beating the offside trap and slipping it home for 2-0. It was utterly inept defending from Sutton United that saw Shawbury make it 3-0 just before the break, Brendon Price the beneficiary. Sutton were much the better side in the second half and they scrambled a headed goal home with 25 minutes left. That was it for goals and Shawbury probably deserved the win, even if Sutton did mount a decent attempt at a comeback.
It was after 5 by the time I left. There was a decent attendance at the ground and though not massive, it was good to see the club getting a bit to tide them over. Back down in Wycombe, the Chairboys had drawn 2-2 against Fleetwood Town at home. This was an improvement from halftime when we were 2-0 down. Fleetwood were reduced to ten men at the break and Wycombe mounted a second-half comeback, even missing a penalty. Richard Kone, signed a month ago from Athletic Newham netted our equaliser. I listened to the post-match on Wycombe Sound and the vibe was not great. I was just glad that I was not there to see it. It was a nice walk back to the train station and by the time I got there at 6, I'd walked 14.5 miles for the day. The day had been OK, but a real letdown on the cider front. Shrewsbury was still very nice though and I was glad to have ticked the ground but won't be going back. I got some train cans from a shop and was on the platform 20 minutes early. I was glad when the train turned up early as it gave a nice warm place to sit and type this blog. Once more though, the USB sockets were out of action. I'd spotted an interesting-looking shop outside New Street on the way in and so I'd be saving the final Wetherspoons in Birmingham for another day. The plan was to get the 20:13 to High Wycombe rather than chance it for the final train of the day.


THE SHREWSBURY TOWN COMMUNITY HUB is a pretty decent 3G cage. However, it's not a great step 6 ground as there is no stand or cover. Facilities are very limited too, just a toilet and a club room which I didn't go in. Shawbury United are nice and friendly though. The ground is around 45 minutes walk from the charming town of Shrewsbury which has decent transport links. Buses are a bit patchy but plenty of car parking is available.

Wednesday 24 January 2024

Eastbourne United AFC - The Oval

Eastbourne United FC
The Oval
Channel View Road
East Sussex
BN22 7LN

07830 125011

Ground Number: 1259
Tuesday 23rd January 2024
Eastbourne United 3-1 AFC Uckfield Town
Southern Combination Premier


Eastbourne United AFC's roots can be traced back to 1894 when the club was founded as the 1st Sussex Royal Engineers FC. In this early period, the club played nearby to where the Saffrons (home of Eastbourne Town FC) now stands, and at the South Lynn ground in Tutts Barn Road. The club then changed ground again in 1901 when Eastbourne Council gave the club permission to use Gildredge Park. The club then changed its name in 1913 to 1st Home Counties Royal Engineers (Eastbourne) FC to reflect a merger between the RA Volunteers with the Territorial Army. After the War, the club name was changed to Eastbourne Royal Engineers Old Comrades as the Volunteers disbanded due to the end of the war. The club joined the Sussex County League in 1921 and made a permanent move from Gildredge Park to the Lynchmere ground. In 1922 they changed their name again when ties with the Royal Engineers were broken and dropped the "Royal Engineers" part of the name, Eastbourne Old Comrades FC and started wearing the white and black stripes on their shirts. In 1928, they broke away from the Sussex County League and joined the Spartan League, shortening their name to Eastbourne Comrades FC. They left the Spartan League in 1932 and joined the Brighton, Hove & District League. They won Division One in 19333 and were runners-up the following season. In 1935 they re-joined the Sussex County League. After the end of the Second World War, they moved to their current home, The Oval, after losing their Lynchmere Ground to development and could only manage mediocre league results. In 1951 the name was changed for a sixth time to Eastbourne United FC.

Above: Pictures of The Oval when I visited on 25th July 2009, before the Eastbourne Borough v Wycombe Wanderers game.

The club was league champions in 1955 and 1956 before they moved to the Metropolitan League. They were not hugely successful here, managing a 3rd place finish in 1961 before leaving to join the Athenian League three years later. Three seasons were spent in Division 2 before they won the title in 1967. Two years later they finished as runners-up to Tilbury to earn promotion to the Premier Division. Eastbourne United would only stay for a single season before being relegated and they went down again to Division 2 in 1975. In 1976, the decision was made to join the Isthmian League. 4th place in Division 2 was achieved in 1980 but in 1991 the club was relegated from Division 2 South before finishing bottom of Division 3 the following year. In 1992, the club left for the Sussex County League, starting in Division 2. In 1998, they finished as runners-up to East Preston to earn promotion to Division 1. They'd stay up for four seasons before being relegated.

The decision was made to amalgamate with fellow Division Two club Shinewater Association FC at the end of the 2002–03 season. A terrible playing surface at Shine's ground in Shinewater Lane, and failure to gain permission to erect the floodlights necessary to advance any further, made it difficult to attract players of sufficient quality in a town where they were already at a premium. In addition, the ground was subject to constant vandalism. Shinewater had joined the Sussex County League in 1992. They won promotion to Division 2 in 1997 after finishing as runners-up to Sidlesham. Under the leadership of former Shinewater manager Dave Shearing, the new club won promotion back to Division One at the first attempt after finishing third behind champions Littlehampton Town, and runners-up Worthing United. In 2009, the team were Sussex League champions, their best-ever finish in the modern-day pyramid. However, two years later they were relegated back to Division 2. In 2014, they won promotion back to Division 1 after winning the league. The following year the league was renamed the Southern Combination Premier and last season's 4th place finish was their best since the league rebranding.

The FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round was reached in 1966 when they lost at Sutton United and in 1978 when they lost at Gravesend & Northfleet. This season, the club had their best season since the merger as they beat Phoenix Sports, Sheerwater and Epsom & Ewell before a 2nd Qualifying Round defeat to Berkhamsted. Eastbourne United's best FA Vase run came during the 2013/14 season. They beat Arundel, Phoenix Sports, Chessington & Hook United, South Park, Hanworth Villa, Morpeth Town and Ampthill Town before losing a two-legged semi-final to Sholing. Local cup honours are numerous and these include six Sussex Senior Challenge Cups, two Sussex Royal Ulster Rifles Charity Cups and twelve Eastbourne Charity Cups. Their highest attendance of 6.600 came for a local derby against Eastbourne Town in 1956. Their most famous former player is Leon Legge who started his senior career at the club before going on to play in the Football League with Brentford, Gillingham, Cambridge United and Port Vale. Future England manager Ron Greenwood who managed the national side at the 1982 World Cup started his coaching career at Eastbourne United. The same is true of Gordon Jago who went on to manage QPR and Millwall.

The town of Eastbourne is located in East Sussex and has a population of 102,000. It is a popular holiday destination and retirement home for the elderly, though the town's population has gotten younger in recent years. Eastbourne is immediately east of Beachy Head, the highest chalk sea cliff in Great Britain and part of the larger Eastbourne Downland Estate. United share the town with Eastbourne Borough of the Conference South and Eastbourne Town, their fellow Southern Combination Premier team. Famous people from Eastbourne include weatherman Michael Fish who famously took the blame for failing to predict the 'Great Storm' of 1987. Former PM Theresa May also hails from the town.


Eastbourne United had been a ground that I had wanted to visit for ages, mainly because it was the only one I needed to complete the Southern Combination Premier. It had been frustrating trying to pay a visit though, thanks to the wet weather that seems to be a permanent fixture these days. The latest attempt had been on 5th December for their game against Crawley Down Gatwick so I had already done a large part of my blog. In fact, I'd researched several clubs histories only to have the game called off.  These included games in July incredibly and although there was a bit of rain before my latest attempt, I was hopeful that I wouldn't be thwarted again. I had Colin as a passenger to help out with petrol after agreeing to drop him off at Eastbourne Borough to help him get the National League South done. There were no other games I fancied, so if they called it off early, it would be a night in.
Since my last game, it had been a couple of tough days at work. Sunday had been the usual busy carnage with several screaming kids seemingly as happy to be there as I was. I heard later that Wycombe had tried to get Saturday's away game played on Sunday, but thankfully Port Vale knocked them back. It showed a blatant disregard for supporters expecting them to drop everything at a moment's notice. Though Sunday is an utterly woeful day with nothing much going on, a lot of fans have work or family commitments. The only thing that gets me through the day is knowing that I'm not missing anything decent. As if a nine-hour shift on Sunday wasn't tiring enough, it was a ten-hour grueller on Monday as I volunteered to stay on and help out as we were overwhelmed, not for the first time.

Despite waking up a few times during the night, I got around nine hours in bed. I woke at 8, had breakfast, a bath and got dressed. I then walked to Wycombe and back, only purchasing a can of Irn-Bru. The 9.5-mile walk was appreciated, the soaking from the rain less so. More rain fell in an hour than was due to fall in Eastbourne the whole afternoon so I remained hopeful but cautious as it wasn't that heavy. I came back and made myself my version of the Wetherspoons Caledonian burger and it tasted great. I then had a look online at the Great British Rail Sale and although there were some reasonable deals, I didn't have enough confidence in the weather to book. Around 2.30, it was announced that there would be a pitch inspection at 4.15. I crossed my fingers and decided to delay leaving until it had been completed. It seemed to take forever but at 4.45 it was finally confirmed as on. I dashed over to Colin, arriving at 5. Google Maps gave an estimated arrival of 7.15. The M25 was of course the issue and that ended up adding another 15 minutes. I dropped Colin off at Eastbourne Borough at 7.32 and got to my game five minutes before kick-off. Entry was £8 but included a programme, very reasonable. It had been raining for much of the journey down and was windy which was the case at the ground. But the game started and the pitch was holding up well. A friendly dog was enjoying the wet weather a lot more than the humans in attendance.


Eastbourne United were 6th whilst AFC Uckfield Town were 19th. The hosts were in excellent form, unbeaten in twelve games since they lost 2-0 to Newhaven on 14th October. Their last two games had seen 2-0 wins over Midhurst & Easebourne and Crawley Down Gatwick. AFC Uckfield Town were in terrible form with nine straight losses and no win in 21. Their two wins had come in the first three games of the season, the latest a 3-0 win at Horsham YMCA on 12th August. Their last game was a 6-1 loss at Newhaven and they'd lost 8-1 to Crawley Down Gatwick recently. The conditions were difficult but AFC Uckfield adjusted far better. They had by far the better of the opening exchanges but the finishing could have been better. They took the lead on 21 minutes, a low shot drilled into the bottom right from outside the area after a good run by Ellis Wright. Eastbourne United hit back immediately, the ball smacked the left-hand post and Hayden Beaconsfield followed up to make it 1-1 on 23 minutes. The game was fairly even for the rest of the half. The second period saw Uckfield start strongly but to no avail. The hosts had a good spell of pressure and several corners. From an inswinger, Sam Cooper scored directly from a wind-assisted corner on 68 minutes. Eastbourne United continued to pressurise and it was 3-1 on 75 minutes, Callum Barlow with a low shot on the turn. The visitors were well beaten now, struggling against the wind. However, for a large portion of the game, they were on top and it was hard to see why they'd not won in so long.
There was a reasonable-looking tea bar at the ground, but having had a burger for lunch, I fancied something different. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I was able to order a Chicken Tikka Jalali and boiled rice from Mr India from my phone during a break for injury. I then walked the five minutes to the shop, picking it up and eating it as the second half started. It was decent and enjoyable, though not exceptional. With all three Eastbourne teams at home, United only attracted 43 through the gate. Following the game, I left at 9.40 and picked Colin up at 9.50. It was a slow start to the journey as we were stuck behind a dawdling lorry for a good few miles. I dropped Colin off at 11.55 and got home 15 minutes later. It took me ages to get to sleep and I only got a few hours before waking at 5 am. I felt fine though but was glad when the end of my eight-hour shift came.

THE OVAL is a very different ground to the one I visited for pictures many years ago. It is more compact, giving a better view of the action. The standard metal stands are in situ, three of them giving around 150 covered spaces for both sitters and standers. There is a tea bar selling burgers etc and a welcoming-looking bar. Parking is adequate and supplemented by street parking. Five minutes away are a Co-Op shop an Indian and other assorted takeaways.

Sunday 21 January 2024

CSM London - West Ham United Foundation

CSM London FC
West Ham United Foundation (3G)
60A Albatross Close
E6 5NX

Ground Number: 1258
Saturday 20th January 2024
CSM London 3-2 Aveley U23
Essex Alliance Senior Division


CSM London FC is an FA Charter Standard football club and non-profit organisation that seeks to bring people together through football. We do this by focussing on marginalised groups and encouraging physical activity whilst promoting social integration in a welcoming environment for all ethnic backgrounds in East London. They were established in 2018. They started in the Essex Alliance Division 2 which sits at step 9 of the non-league pyramid. In their first season, they were promoted as runners-up behind Chingford Athletic Development. It was a good debut season with them beating Rainham Working Mans Club in the Division 2 Cup Final. They were placed in the Senior Division for the following season and were 4th when the season was cut short. The following season was also shortened with them in 10th. They were relegated in 2022 after finishing second-bottom. The club won the Premier Division West last season and also beat Fairlop Rovers in the Premier Division Cup Final. This season they have returned to the Senior Division and are clear of the relegation battle as things stand.


As usual, this game was decided in the week before the game. Several options were drawn up and it boiled down to two choices - either Fleetdown United or Norwich CBS. It was a tough choice as the latter went towards a league I was close to completing. However, with the weather forecast being fairly mild and dry, I opted for Fleetdown United. There was also less faffing around with advance tickets, I'd get back in time to get the bus home and make a day of it in London. My other choice had lights and a 3G pitch so was far more versatile. The only shame was that I'd already done the Dartford Wetherspoons and it wasn't a great town for pubs. However, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Dartford Working Man's Club had a decent selection of cider and cheap food. I inquired about whether I had to be a member and received the following helpful reply. Technically, yes. However, our doorkeeper is not on duty until 6.30 pm. We are currently taking on new members and you might wish to consider asking for a membership form at the bar. That sealed my decision, as the situation might change. I'd always been intrigued by Working Mens Clubs and Labour Clubs and the like, possibly inspired by the brilliant sitcom 'Phoenix Nights' by Peter Kay so it would be a good opportunity to visit one.

The only downer was that the ground was very basic. However, they had club signs and a functioning Twitter site so that was good enough for me. I wanted to complete the Kent County League in any case. My early research told me there was less than a mile between the grounds of the hosts and their opponents Kent United. I had visited them in their previous guise of Kent Football United back in 2018, the same day Wycombe sealed League 2 promotion at Chesterfield. This just pointed to my ever-evolving taste in grounds. It started with the 92 and local non-league, expanded to step 4 and then step 6. Then any ground with a stand, then anything with a railed pitch. Now, with Futbology going down to step 7 I want to visit everything there as well as any club with a story to tell. Thursday was a quieter one at work, but once I was home. I made a Google My Map with all my unvisited Wetherspoons on. This took longer than expected, a few hours. Whilst doing this, I discovered a couple of pubs I'd not put on my list and this meant that I'd inadvertently visited my 300th Spoons a fortnight ago in Swansea. It was a pretty decent one but I wish I'd known it was a landmark at the time. I also changed my arrangements for the North West Hop so that I could take Colin with me. Sadly due to running out of holiday at work, I had to head home from Blackpool on Saturday night which was a real kick in the teeth, especially with how vile Sundays are at work. Friday was very busy once more and I was there until 4.30. For that, amongst many other reasons, I decided to scratch my revisit to Harpenden Town for a youth league game. It's one I'd like to go to for a blog update. But I'd tagged the clubs with no response, neither had publicised the game, so I assumed they weren't fussed about having fans. It also added the complication of having to get petrol early and not having time to catch up with things.

Instead, I stayed in and had a few drinks. It was a pretty early night, around 10 and so I awoke at my usual work time of 5 am. I lazed in bed before getting up at 8. After breakfast I was out at 8.50, getting the 9.05 bus to Amersham station. After a stop at Tesco for crisps, I was at the station by 9.30. Fellow hopper Colin was also there, still undecided where he was going today. It was annoying that the train was full and even more annoying that my laptop battery was flat as I thought I'd charged it last night. I hooked it up to my power bank and hoped for the best. It was changes at Marylebone and Charring Cross for Dartford. Lots of games were falling to the weather after pitch inspections and I was starting to get a little less optimistic that my original choice was going ahead. A pitch inspection was scheduled for around 11. The bad news was confirmed at 11.30 and an alternative was sought with me at Bexleyheath. Futbology was a great help and gave me a few choices. It was going to have to be 3G and I settled for CSM London v Aveley U23 because they were the closest team publicising their game. Alternative pre-match plans were sought and the logical new Spoons tick appeared to be The Ledger Building. I got off at Woolwich Arsenal expecting to get the DLR but the station was closed. Due to errors by myself and Google Maps giving me duff information, there was no pre-match pub. I had to settle for a couple of cans of Strongbow from an off licence near Upton Park station. It looked like a cracking place for food with lots of Asian places but my dallying meant that I had to get the bus to my game. I was at the ground at 1.50 and it was a lot better than the similar venue Noak Hill. It did require signing in but the staff were friendly and helpful. 

CSM London were in 11th whilst Aveley U23 were in 12th. The hosts were unbeaten in five games and had won all of their games in 2023 beating Bakers 693 3-0 and winning 6-2 at Rapid Chingford. The visitors were in mixed form having beaten Kit Out London 3-1 but losing to Frenford Development by the same scoreline so far this year. CSM took the lead on 8 minutes, a good through ball finding Jaydon Charles who finished with a low shot. On 16 minutes it was 2-0, a wide ball from the right found Charles who chested the ball down and finished at the back post. Charles completed his hat trick on 65 minutes, another close-range finish following a knockback from the right. Aveley improved in the second half and they reduced the arrears on 81 minutes with a great finish from wide on the right. CSM London was a nice friendly club to visit especially the secretary Amees who gave me a free badge. It was just a shame there were only 16 there as the league and club deserve more fans.
It hadn't been the day I planned and had I known what would happen, I'd have gone to Norwich CBS but I enjoyed myself nonetheless. Post-match was going to be better than pre-match and I decided to head to Mile End Wetherspoons and plan from there. The 104 got me back to West Ham station and then it was a District Line to Mile End. I should have paid more attention as the pub was right next to Stepney Green station and I could have saved time. No bag in box cider but Stowford Press at £2.06 a pint was a bargain. I fancied a Pixel Smartwatch 2 and hoped to get a good deal. However, the eBay app was not working. My various apps pointed me in the direction of The Harp in Trafalgar Square. It was pricey going on previous experience but worth the money as far as I was concerned. My laptop was as dead as a dodo so the blog would have to wait. I got to my intended destination and had a pint of Duckchicken Maisonette Blend which was excellent. It was then a walk to Charring Cross station, the Bakerloo to Baker Street and the Metropolitan to Harrow On The Hill. The Moon On the Hill was a cracking Spoons where I got steak, wings, chips and a pint of Black Dragon for £12. Another pint saw me leave happy and get the 8.09 Chiltern to Amersham. I was back at Amersham for 8.30 and it was under 10 minutes until my bus. Fr5om there, I got home fine and after a quick drink pretty much went straight to bed.

WEST HAM FOUNDATION is a basic but decent 3G pitch. The pitch itself has a decent-sized viewing area but no cover. There is no food or drink at the ground and it's in a bit of an isolated area. The nearest train station is Upton Park and regular buses run from here. Otherwise, there's a decent amount of parking.