Sunday, 31 August 2014

Worthing - Woodside Road

Worthing FC
Woodside Road
West Sussex
BN14 7HQ

Ground Number: 404
Saturday 30th August 2014

Worthing 2-0 Guernsey
FA Cup Preliminary Round

Originally, I had been dead keen to go on a Friday night game. It was between Thetford v Norwich United and Mickleover Sports v Thurnby Nirvana. I was all set to do it, if only on my own, but then I totted up fuel costs and possible overnight stay if I decided to stay up. Seeing as neither game set the pulse racing, I decided against it, as I didn't want to go too mad, spending wise. I did consider the possibility of Staines Lammas v Barton Rovers as it looked a decent cup tie. It was only local too, I had yet to get a programme from a visit to Short Lane (they groundshare with Ashford Town in Middlesex) and it would give me a chance to get some better pictures of a ground I last visited 10 years ago for a game against AFC Wimbledon. It would all depend what time I finished dinner, and also on the traffic situation, as it will inevitably be a right pig on Friday evening.In the end I did go, and shock horror, the M25 was painless on a Friday night. I watched as Barton Rovers destroyed their opponents 8-1, though it could have been all so different had Lammas gone ahead after their equaliser (which was the goal of the night). The attempt forced a fine save from the Barton keeper but a couple of minutes later Barton broke, and a Lammas player made a crude 2 footed tackle and was rightly sent off. It was all over by half time, 5-1 to the visitors, including 3 goals in around 2 minutes just after the sending off.

As with the Friday night, my regular groundhopping pal Anwar would be unavailable due to him going to Derby. I therefore needed a game for myself. The Northamptonshire derby between Cogenhoe United and Kettering Town looked mouthwatering, but I decided to save it for when we could both visit, and instead head south to Worthing v Guernsey. This had the added benefit of being already ticked by Anwar, and on a personal note, it would be the ground right next to where I got my favourite dog, or to be more precise my family did. I was really too young to remember our first dog, Cass, an Irish setter. But we got Maisie, a Springer Spaniel, from a pet shop just up the road from the ground, going towards Lancing. She was a great family pet and we had her from 1993 to 2006. I remember the day we got her, and while the paperwork was being sorted, we went and had a look at Woodside Road where Worthing play. I don't remember much about the ground, but I do recall getting a really old Topical Times football annual from a nearby charity shop for 50p, funny how you remember random stuff, isn't it.

Worthing were formed in 1886. They spent their early years in the Sussex, Corinthian and Athenian leagues before joining the Isthmian League in 1977 and they have remained in and round it's divisions ever since. They won the 1st Division in 1983, then has 2 successive runners up spots in the Premier Division, narrowly missing out on promotion to the Conference. It must have been due to ground issues, or not wishing to take promotion as in the latter of those seasons, my team Wycombe went up, despite finishing in 3rd place behind the Rebels and champions Sutton United. That was under the management of Barry Lloyd, but he left to join Brighton, and the team slipped down to Division 2. Since then, they have worked their way back, reappearing in the Premier Division from 2004 -2007, but since their relegation they have been in Division 1 South, last season  finishing 15th

Their best year in the FA Cup came in 1982 when they got all the way to the 2nd Round, before losing to Oxford. They last reached the 'proper' stage of the FA Cup in 1999 when they lost to Rotherham. Last season was slightly less pleasing on their part, with them losing 5-1 to fellow league opponents Faversham Town. They had a good run in the FA Trophy in 2004, getting to the 4th Round and not too far from a Wembley appearance. The same could be said of the FA Vase in 1979, when they got to the 5th Round. Cup honours include the Sussex Charity Cup, winning it on 14 occasions, but not since the 1950's. The nickname of 'The Rebels' comes from when they resigned from the West Sussex League over a rule change in 1920, joining the Sussex League instead. Currently in charge is Adam Hinshelwood who was an absolutely brilliant defender for Wycombe, despite only playing 13 games, he is well regarded and could have gone on to be a great, had injury not ended his career. Prior to the game, they were 15th, exactly where they finished last season.

Guernsey are the first club from the island to have a club in the English Pyramid. They were founded as recently as 2011, winning the Combined Counties Division 1 at the first attempt. They repeated the trick, promotion wise anyway, for the Premier Division last season and now found themselves in the Ryman D1 South, purely as their base is considered as Gatwick Airport. They have all kinds of conditions attached to them including in this league - in the main paying for teams to visit them as it would break a lot of clubs at this level having to pay for all the air fares etc. They had similar conditions imposed for competing in the FA Cup and seemed to have a lot of money behind them, though a lot of that is financed through the excellent support. They have a number of notable players including former Oxford United keeper Chris Tardiff and Ryan Zico-Black who is a big name in non league football. They also had an amazing top scorer in Chris Allen, who to date has scored 165 goals in 127 starts for his side. 

In their debut season in the Ryman Division 1 South, they finished 4th, but lost out to Leatherhead in the playoff semis. Last season also saw their FA Cup debut - they beat Crawley Down Gatwick and Hastings United before losing to Dover Athletic, played at Lancing FC, just up the road from today's game. There was also the FA Trophy which ended with a 2-1 defat to Billericay in the First Qualifying Round. The season before that, they got all the way to the FA Vase Semi final before losing to eventual winners Spsnnymoor Town. This might have had something to do with an insane fixture backlog - near the end of the season, they were playing almost every day of the week. Before the game, they were in 13th place, which must have been a bit of a let down, and they must have been grateful for the distraction of the cup, even if it was against a fellow league team. 

On the day I woke up at around 8. I watched some of last nights TV, had a bath and transferred last nights photos onto my PC. Leaving just after 10, my sat nav informed me there would be a short delay on the M25. That turned into half an hour. I wanted to have a bit of time in town, so tried to get a shift on along the A23. Sadly there was a scamming pickpocket (AKA speed camera van) which may have caught me being a naughty, but perfectly safe, boy. Hopefully I slowed down in time though, There was a couple more delays in built up areas, but I got to Worthing FC at 12.30.

I walked into town to Anchored in Worthing, a very nice micro pub that my prior research had told me served 2 ciders that I had not sampled before. Before I did that though, I needed cash, but had to walk all the way up the other end of town before I found a cash machine. Back at Anchored, I had myself a pint of Black Pig Perry, and as the place was so small, sat on the table outside and watched the world go by. It was very pleasant on a warm afternoon, and was nice to chill with a couple of nice tipples. The helpful owner also allowed use of his free wifi, which helped as the mobile signal was very slow data wise. That meant I was able to watch the Burnley v Manchester United relegation clash on my iPad and it worked perfectly. The second pint was JB's Medium Cider, a lot dryer in contrast to the Perry. Dog friendly place too.


I walked back to the ground, stopping to get some chips. I was still hungry, so went to a shop, got myself a Samosa, a box of chocolate fingers and a bottle of Irn Bru. I then paid to get in, £8, plus £2 for a programme. I got some pictures and was STILL hungry, so I got a Sausage and Chips from the tea bar, before getting some pictures of the ground.


A pretty even contest, but overall Worthing merited their win, Guernsey will bemoan some of their finishing, but it was a Trevor McCreadie brace that saw the home side through. They now face a tricky trip to Isthmian Premier side Dulwich Hamlet in the 1st Qualifying Round.


Ground: 404 (30th of the season)
Game: 36th of the season (1505 of all time)
Goals: 146 & 147 of the season (just over 4 per game)
Costs: Ticket £8, Programme £2, Other costs minus my earnings: £8.60
Miles Driven: 162 (3398 for the season)


Wycombe gained an excellent point in a 0-0 draw up at York, though reports say it was a pretty dire contest. That matters nowt however and we have continued our good start to the season. My Barrow mates enjoyed an epic 4-3 win at Solihull Moors, a long trip for them.

In the FA Cup, my local side Holmer Green had an excellent draw at AFC Hayes and replay next Tuesday. Aylesbury FC beat Aylesbury United 3-2 in the battle of that town's 2 clubs. They will be rewarded with a home game against Kettering who won 4-1 at Cogenhoe in the Northants derby. Atherton Colleries gained a draw at Radcliffe Borough, a decent result considering they ply their trade 2 levels lower. Finally, Staveley Miners Welfare won 3-0 at Rainworth Miners Welfare, it couldn't happen to a nicer club and was another giantkilling of sorts.


I drove home, but not before stopping at the 2 Wycombe cinemas to do some audits on their adverts. It took me a couple of extra hours, but I used the money I earned towards the game, seen as I did it whilst on the football trip. I then went home, had a couple of pints and watched Match Of The Day before going to bed at half past midnight.


Missing Wycombe Wanderers v Coventry City in the Johnstones Paint Trophy to go and see my local side Holmer Green take on AFC Hayes in an FA Cup Preliminary Round replay. Groundhop wise, 405 should be at Welwyn Garden City v Saffron Walden Town in another FA Cup replay.

WOODSIDE ROAD is one of the better grounds in the Isthmian League. The main stand is huge and offers great views and looks like it seats more than the 500 capacity that the internet tells me. There is cover on all 4 sides, probably around 1000 of the 4000 capacity. The bar is nice and modern and has Thatchers Gold cider on tap. The tea bar is good too, although there was no club shop that I could see.

Overall, well worth a visit, although I'd have liked more time in town to get something better to eat, after going to the pub. Everyone was friendly and the prices seem standard for the Isthmian 1 South.


Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Cockfosters - Cockfosters Sports Ground

Cockfosters FC

Cockfosters Sports Ground

Chalk Lane

0208 449 5833

Ground Number: 403
Tuesday 26th August 2014
Cockfosters 0-2 London Tigers
Spartan South Midlands Premier

I had been meaning to go to Cockfosters last May. In fact I had actually got to the ground, sat in the bar for half an hour while it rained, only for the referee to give up on the pitch right on kick off. He was going to start the game and saw how it went, which was encouraging, but he changed his mind. It was probably the right decision to be honest, as the game would have been a farce had it gone ahead,with puddles everywhere. We even went to London Colney after, but that too was a victim of the weather, being called off at 8.15. Still, I was still aiming to complete the Spartan South Midlands League by the end of the season,so wanted to get it done as early as possible. Cockfosters had a crazy end of season, with games on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, so they would have been pretty tired when it came to facing my local side Holmer Green.

Cockfosters were founded in 1921 as Cockfosters Athletic, changing their name to their present one in 1968. They played in local leagues up until 1991 when they joined the Spartan League. They stayed in the top division of this league until they were relegated to what is now Division 1. They came back up in 2007 and struggled for a couple more seasons before being relegated again. Last season saw them win promotion back up ready for this season. Their best ever finish came in 1996 when they finished 5th. They had their best ever FA Cup run last season, getting to the 1st Qualifying Round. After beating this seasons league champions Hanwell Town, they beat Hadley too. They then faced AFC Rushden & Diamonds, but that was where the dream ended as they crashed out 8-0 after a replay. The best ever FA Vase run came in the 1991/92 season when they reached the 2nd round. A few local cups have been won, the last one being the South Midlands Floodlit Cup in 2008. Cockfosters were making a good start to the season, unbeaten and top of the table.

London Tigers have a fairly short history, but their cause is one to have some merit for. Founded in 1986 as Marylebone FC, they changed their name to London Tigers in 1997. A few years with the Kingsbury suffix added to their name in the late 2000's before reverting to their previous name. They were set up to give disadvantaged people a chance via sport from across a wide part of London, which is a pretty decent thing to do.The first match I had seen between them and Enfield 1893 had been dull, that was in the FA Cup earlier last season. Talking of the FA Cup, the furthest they have reached was the 1st Qualifying Round in 09/10, while the 1st Round of the FA Vase has proved their limit, a defeat to Biggleswade United ended their dreams that season. And it was Biggeswade I had  seen them play at, back in March this year, where they were much the better side against their Bedfordshire based opponents, but could only manage a 1-1 draw.  Finally, earlier this month I saw them play out an entertaining 4-4 draw with local rivals Hillingdon Bouough. Despite them looking good in this game, they had not yet won in 4 league games and sat 18th in the table.

I knew from the outset that I wouldn't have Anwar with me, as he was going to Arsenal tomorrow night and only had limited time and resources. I wasn't even sure myself, as it was dependent on weather and traffic. I had a pretty boring day as I was off, and normally I'd be setting off mid afternoon for football. I reflected on the Welsh groundhop I had missed on the weekend, in North Wales. I thought it would be just fields when speaking to my fellow hopper Chris as he was evasive when I asked about stands and just said that the scenery was nice. In the end I saw people's pictures from the weekend and there were some quite decent grounds, and set amongst the backdrop of Snowdonia as promised. I wasn't too annoyed though, as I'd had a great time at Stevenage v Wycombe instead. I could have done 3 games in one day on Monday too, but Anwar couldn't make it. Instead we went to a wet and fairly dull game at Tilbury.

It turned out to be thumbs up as far as the game was concerned. I had confirmation that the game was on at 6.15 and after checking my sat nav, the traffic appeared fine, so I set off on the 32 mile journey. It turned out to be a good journey apart from some dawdlers on the single carriageways and I was there by 7.05. I went and had a look in the bar, and bought a signed Boreham Wood v Arsenal Programme in return for a small donation to charity. I then went in the ground, paying £6 entry plus £1 for the programme. There was still half an hour till kick off, so I made a start on my blog and checked Facebook while waiting for the game to start.


Ground: 403 (29th of the Season, and 19th out of 22 in the SSML Premier)
Game: 34 of the season (1503 of all time)
Goals: 135 and 136 of the season (average of 4 per game)
Costs: Ticket £6, Programme £1, Fuel £6.80. Total £13.80 (£532 for the season)
Miles Driven: 63 (3184 for the season)


As usual, a good entertainment level. My favourite step 5 league might be the Northern Counties East League, but the Spartan South Midlands is hard to beat for entertainment. The first half was goalless, but both keepers made good saves. London Tigers staring the brightest, but Cockfosters finishing the half well. 2 second half goals won it for the visitors - firstly a goal from close range on 66 minutes, then a really good strike on 80 from some way out that flew in. The referee let a lot go, but tended to favour the defending team, and there were a few complaints from the home side about this.


Manchester United capitulated to a 4-0 defeat at Franchise FC, losing the only game that quite a lot of football fans would be cheering them in. Burnley, Leicester and West Ham also exited the League Cup, the latter to Tevez-gate rivals Sheffield United.


An easy journey home, took the same time as the trip there. Got in, checked Facebook, watched TV and went to sleep about 11.30.


An FA Cup Preliminary Round game on Friday, most likely to be NPL Division 1 South outfit Mickleover Sports against the delightfully named Thurnby Nirvana from the United Counties League.

DACRE FIELD or the COCKFOSTERS SPORTS GROUND as it's sometimes known is set in a pleasant green location. The car parking is not great, with only a few spaces, but you can use street parking or one from one of the other sports clubs on the road.

The main stand is on the side that you come in. Previously it was a smaller stand with benches (that was on my visit to take pictures in 2007. Since then, they have added big white seats, which are comfortable and seem to come from the Olympics in 2012 as there are similar ones at Beckenham Town. They are comfortable in any case. There is further cover on this side, as well as more behind the goal and on the other side.

The clubhouse and tea bar are pretty standard fare, with only Strongbow in cans available for cider drinkers (at least on my May visit anyway) I've not tried the tea bar. The programme is decent, quite thin but full of stats and as few good bits to read, and with minimal advertising too.  The club are nice and friendly, and with Cockfosters Tube station nearby, is easy to do if you don't drive.


Monday, 25 August 2014

Tilbury - Chadfields

Tilbury FC
St Chads Road
RM18 8NL

01375 843093

Ground Number: 402
Monday 25th August 2014
Tilbury 0-1 Aveley
Isthmian D1 North

As it was a bank holiday, I was keen to take in some football. As ever, the Football League had failed to schedule games on the back holiday, so I would be doing a groundhop again. Initially I fancied doing a treble of St Andrews at 1, Anstey Nomads at 3 and Bolehall Swifts at 7.45. But Anwar couldn't make the whole day, and I always prefer to have a bit of company. We fancied doing a step 4 or above after doing a run of step 5 and 6 grounds, so we opted for one of the nearest, Tilbury, who had a local derby against Aveley. This was to be ground 402, and ironically the last time I had seen Tilbury had been exactly 100 grounds ago - number 302, and it had been at Aveley's ground. Though on this occasion the home side had been Grays Athletic who triumphed 3-0 in an FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round game. There is only 2.5 miles between the 2 grounds, so it's a real local derby.

I was originally planning on doing a groundhop on Saturday, but chose instead to go to Stevenage v Wycombe Wanderers. I was glad I did, as it was a really good game. I went with husband and wife Paul and Sue who I had not seen properly for ages. First stop was a great pub called 'Our Mutual Friend' which had 17 real ciders on offer. I had a couple of pints, then headed into town to place a bet and get some lunch. The pizza I had was delicious, but it took over half an hour to cook, when they normally take little over 5 minutes in other places I have been. I then walked the wrong way back to the ground, but soon realised my mistake and still made kick off. Their fans were a decent bunch and their stewards were decent, even after I used the c-word on a few occasions, they just told me to watch it. The reason for this outburst - the crude tactics of Graham Westley, which was basically kick the hell out of the opponents. I know that Wycombe are far from angels when it comes to footballing styles, but this took things to a whole new level. Our keeper Matt Ingram was down for 5 minutes after being fouled for their goal which opened the scoring, but luckily we came back to win 3-1 and justice was served.

Tilbury were founded in 1895. They played in various leagues until 1973 when they joined the Isthmian League. They have remained in and around it's divisions ever since, apart from  2005-2007 season when they won promotion from the Essex League after being relegated the season before in their one season in the Southern League.  Times have been tough in recent years, though they did finish 3rd in 2012. Their best times came in the late 70's when they spent a few seasons in the Isthmian Premier, with a best ever finish of 14th in 1979. They made the 3rd Round of the FA Cup in 1978, before losing to Stoke City. They had a stroke of luck along the way though, nowadays an ineligible player would result in them being kicked out of the cup, but the FA made them replay their 1st Round game against Kettering Town, who had benefitted from the management of Ron Atkinson a couple of years previously. They reached the 3rd Round of the FA Trophy in 1983 and the 4th Round of the FA Vase in 1989 and 2000.  Honours include the Isthmian Division 2 title, 2 Isthmian League Cups and an East Anglian Cup. At the start of play, Tilbury were 13th, but with a 100% home record from their 2 games so far.

Aveley were riding high in 5th place, their away from had them winning 1 and losing 1 of their 2 trips on the road so far. They were established in 1927 and joined the Isthmian League in 1973, the same year as the hosts. They spent a couple of seasons in the Southern League in the mid 2000s, following the introduction of the Conference South, but apart from that they have remained in the Isthmian League. They spent 3 seasons in the Premier Division and had an excellent finish of 3rd in 2010. In the FA Cup they reached the 1st Round in 1979 before losing to Yeovil Town. They've been no great shakes in the FA Trophy, but they did reach the FA Vase 4th Round in 1995. They have won a few leagues in their time, as well as the Essex Thames-Side Challenge Trophy on 3 occasions. Their ground is a real classic, but they plan on moving to a new ground, which should open in the next few years.

On the day I was working. If I wanted to, I cold have all bank holidays off and still get paid, but I like to do them if I can as it gives me a stronger case if I don't want to work one because of football. Plus the fact that I like to do my fair share. I breezed through my own orders, then went for a break. I helped for 40 minutes on another department, but it seemed like some were dragging their heels, as they fancied a bit more time and a half on bank holiday. I thought stuff it, I'll get paid anyway till my normal finish at 1 and I'd done my fair share. It was 10.30 when I left, and the weather was a pig, raining as per usual for a bank holiday. I went home, and had a bath, and also bought an Android gaming tablet off of eBay on a whim. Because of the weather, I started checking on Twitter to see about the status of the game. I even planned in Whyteleafe as a backup in case things went wrong, but there was no news of any postponements, despite the despicable weather.

I left just before 12, making sure I had an umbrella and coat.I had a nice easy trip as per usual to Aylesbury, getting there at 12.20. I met Anwar at 12.35 and we were on our way. The first part of the journey went fine, until we got to the last part of the A41. There were 3 separate crashes where morons had lost control of their cars but not hit another vehicle, just the side of the road. It was good that no innocent people were involved, and it only looked to be cars damaged rather than people, but it was annoying all the same. It added 40 minutes onto the journey as the police had closed the road and the roundabout ahead was all clogged up. From then on, apart from the cameras in the roadworks and a small delay with people queuing to get to Lakeside, it was plain sailing. At least we had a good soundtrack, with Absolute Radio playing out their top 100 hits of the 90s.


We got to the ground at £2.20, paying a fairly steep £9 to get in, though at least you got programme for that. I got some decent Chips for £1 from the tea bar, and went and sat in the stand. Despite torrential rain, the pitch was perfect, so the selfish weather had not won. The game started at a good pace, with both keepers forced into good saves. Aveley opened the scoring on 30 minutes when Francis headed into the top corner from a pinpoint cross. The 10 minutes before the goal had seen the action die down a bit but it had been Tilbury that had looked the most likely to score. They continued to have the better chances up until half time, but no goal came.

I went to the bar to use the toilet and got some pictures of their clubhouse. The second half was not so good and chances really were at a premium. There were a couple of good saves from the keepers but in truth Aveley did a good job of closing out the game and Tilbury never really liked like getting their equaliser.

After the game we were soon on our way, the journey back was a lot smoother with barely any delays. I dropped Anwar off in Aylesbury at 6.20. Before I left for home, I got some Strongbow from the local shops to help me relax and get go sleep.I arrived home at 6.45 and spent the rest of the evening chatting on Facebook, eating my dinner and watching TV.

CHADFIELDS is a traditional step 4 ground  and one of the few classic ones left at this level. There was a strange old stand on the side that you come in, this probably holds around 200 and is elevated high up, but has pillars blocking your view. Opposite is more cover, probably holding 1000 in a mixture of seating and standing. The 2 ends are uncovered.

The tea bar offers the usual range of stuff, chips being good value at £1, 30p extra with melted cheese. The bar is nice and modern with club photos on the wall. It offers your typical clubhouse range of drinks. There is a parade of shops nearby, should you want more choice.