Thursday, 24 July 2014

Chalfont Wasps - The Nest




Chalfont Wasps FC
The Nest
The Playing Fields
Crossleys
Bowstridge Lane
Chalfont St Giles
Bucks
HP8 4QN

01494 875050





Ground Number: 386
Thursday 24th July 2014
Chalfont Wasps 1-11 Marlow United
Friendly




Originally on this night, I had been planning to go to the delightfully named Eversley and California v Aldershot Town. This match had been announced months ago, and was one of the first I had planned in, as it was due to mark the opening off the home sides floodlights. I had looked a few weeks ago, and there was no mention of the game anywhere, nor any updates on the hosts site. Someone even mentioned to me that the club had bitten the dust, so I decided to scrub it off of the list. This date remained vacant until pretty much the day of the game, when I decided to go fairly local to Chalfont Wasps v Marlow United. I did consider this previously, but with seemingly no one manning the home club's Twitter, they were unable to tell me whether it was at their home ground or not. In the end, Marlow United Twitter confirmed it, so it was all systems go.

Chalfont Wasps were formed in 1922. They spent much of their history in local leagues until 1984, when they joined the  Chiltonian League. This league merged with the Hellenic League in 2000 and 8 years later Chalfont Wasps were crowned champions of the Division 1 East. They finished a superb 7th in their only season in the Hellenic Premier, but were demoted due to an insufficient ground. They have had a mixed bag of finishes since then, ranging from 4th to 9th. Last season saw a 6th placed finish. They have only ever played one game in FA Competitions, this came in the Vase in 2008, when they narrowly lost to Kidlington in the 2nd Qualifying Round.




Marlow United were formed in 1977 and have spent most of their seasons in the Reading League. Their heyday came in the mid noughties when they spent 4 seasons in the Hellenic League, even winning a promotion to the Premier Division in that time. They finished a best ever 15th in 2009, but little over a year after that, they had resigned from the league due to financial issues and returned to the Reading League. I was present at their first ever FA Cup game in 2007, where they lost narrowly to Cove of the Combined Counties League. The following season, they went one better - beating Hungerford Town before losing to Beaconsfield SYCOB in the Preliminary Round. In the FA Vase their best run came in 2006 when they beat Bournemouth Poppies before losing to Wantage Town in the 2nd Qualifying Round.

On the day of the game I was working, but only till 12PM and it was a pretty easy day. I spent the afternoon watching TV, typing my blog and chatting online before having dinner and leaving at 6.15.


I left on time and in the end the journey was a lot quicker than expected, with me getting there in 20 minutes. I parked up and checked my phone for messages before going off to find the football pitch. It was very basic with only the one area of cover and only a handful of people watching. There was a minutes silence before kick off, possibly for Kyrece Francis, the 13 year old nephew of former Wycombe player Lewis Cook, who died in an accident on the Thames in Marlow recently, such a tragedy when he had his whole life ahead of him.

The game was spilt into 3 thirds, and there were quite a lot of goals as you will see below. I’ve done my best to get the goal scorers and timings correct, but it was tricky to sport what number some of them were wearing. 

FIRST THIRD

06: Marlow United take the lead after number 15 lobs the keeper, a chance made possible by a good through ball. (0-1)

13: Home side had a chance to equalise, but no one connected with number 9’s cross. They paid the price as number 15 gets his second with a low shot from close range. (0-2)

15: Number 16 scores with an angled shot into the bottom right hand corner. It seems to be all one way traffic, but Chalfont did have a chance towards the end, number 10 being unable to make contact with the ball when it was fed into him. (0-3)


SECOND THIRD

40: Number 7 has an easy finish, he profited from poor zonal marking (0-4)

42: Poor marking again, allows number 4 to score with a today finish (0-5) 

47: Chalfont have actually seen some of the ball at the start of this second period, number 10 gets a goal back for them (1-5)

54: Keeper couldn’t keep out number 10’s powerful shot, the defender was unable to clear it off the line, and it’s getting embarrassing for Chalfont (1-6)


FINAL THIRD

65: The best goal of the night, a wonderful curling shot from number 15, tight from the corner of the box. It goes in off the post, and is worth the effort of going to the game for that goal alone (1-7)

74: A great goal by number 4, from the edge of the area, flies in the top right hand corner (1-8)

78: The first time I have seen a team score 9, the ball was chipped over the keeper by number 9 into no mans land and he was left with an empty net to head in to. (1-9)

84: It looked like the home side were trying to wind the clock down to avoid the ignominy of double figures. It didn’t work, as number 13 slots in the lose ball, following another defensive mess, (1-10)

88: Number 14 finds himself in the clear, rounds the keeper to make it a throughly miserable evening for Chalfont Wasps.

FULL TIME FROM THE NEST: CHALFONT WASPS 1-11 MARLOW UNITED

Well it’s taken me 1483 games to finally see double figures, the previous highest score coming in the mid 2000’a when AFC Wimbledon beat Cove 8-Marlow United were a league below their hosts too, though it was very much a squad game, with rolling substitutes. I’m not sure what to make of Chalfont, but one thing is for sure, Marlow United were mighty impressive and could have had 20. I’d back them to do well in the Reading Senior League next season. After the game, I drove home and was back within 20 minutes, having enjoyed seeing a bit of personal history made, I spent the rest of the evening digesting the figures, and set about writing by blog, before watching TV and going to sleep.


THE NEST is a very basic ground, as is generally the case in the lower divisions of the Hellenic. The only area of cover is not a brilliant design, having the dugouts bang in front of it. Even so, it was a nice enough place to watch football on a sunny evening. There was a very nice modern bar with a basic range of drinks on and TV’s showing the sports channels too. Chalfont St Giles Village centre is nearby too. 
         

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

St Margaretsbury - The Recreation Ground



St Margaretsbury FC
The Recreation Ground
Station Road
Stanstead Abbots
Hertfordshire
SG12 8EH


01920 870473





Ground Number: 385
Tuesday 22nd July 2014
St Margaretsbury 3-1 Cheshunt
Friendly



My pre season was continuing apace, as I was well into double figures, less than 20 days since the start of my season at Lincoln. The Spartan South Midlands League was one that I was getting close to completing, and with the weather being hot and the game being pretty local, it seemed like a good choice.

St Margaretsbury were formed in 1894 as Stanstead Abbots (the name of the village in which the club is located) , changing their hame to their present monicker in 1962. They played in the Hertfordshire League up until 1992, when they took the step up to the Spartan League. They won this league in 1996, but did not take promotion. A season later the league amalgamated with the South Midlands League, and the best finish since was 3rd, achieved in 2004. This was the same season as their best ever FA Cup run - beating Henley, Harpenden Town and Leighton Town, before losing 2-0 to Kettering Town in the 3rd Qualifying Round. The best ever FA Vase run came in 1985-86, their first ever season in the competition. They needed 2 replays to see off local rivals Arlesey Town in the Preliminary Round, eventually losing 1-0 to Wisbech in Round 3.


Cheshunt, or at least the present version of the club were formed in 1946, though originally there was a club in the town as early as 1880. They moved to their present home in the 1950's, at first spending a period away due to the poor condition of the pitch. The ground has seen several improvements over the years - in 1982 seating was added and these seats came from Spurs old West Stand at White Hart Lane, which had just been demolished. The club joined the Isthmian League in 1977 and have spent most of their time in and around the various divisions, aside from brief spells in the Spartan and Southern Leagues. They did have one spell in the Isthmian Premier Division in 2004/05, and that ended in a 19th placed finish. They transferred to the Southern League for a few years, with a best ever finish of 16th, but finished bottom the year after and were relegated to Isthmian D1 North, where they have remained ever since. In the FA Cup, they have reached the 4th Qualifying Round on a few occasions, the first time losing to Wycombe 8-0. The FA Trophy 3rd Round is a personal best, this coming in more recent times, back during the 2004/05 season.  I had seen the club play on 2 occasions - firstly a 0-0 draw with Southend Manor, then less than a fortnight ago, where they were unlucky to lose 3-2 to Wycombe.



I spent the day relaxing at home as it was my day off. I had plenty of time to spare but didn't feel like doing anything, but I did at least make a start on tonight's blog, before I left home at 5pm. After getting to Anwar's at 5.30, we were on our way. Even with 20 minutes delay on the severely flawed M25, we were still there at 6.45, a full hour before kick off. The gates weren't even open, so we waited outside in the sun until they did.

Eventually the gate opened just after 7.15 and we were given a friendly welcome after paying our £5 entry. Sadly there were no programmes though, so I started making one on my iPad as I have started to do with all games that don't issue. After that, I checked Facebook and took a seat in the stand for kick off.

St Margaretsbury who had finished 4th in their league the last 2 seasons in succession started brightly against their opponents who were a division above. They got their reward 10 minutes in when the home side opened the scoring with a cracking 30 yard thunderbolt that went in off the bar. They had the ball in the net again after 20 minutes, but the effort was ruled off for offside. Cheshunt had to make do with the occasional counter attack but that didn't stop one of their fans shouting out instructions every 5 seconds, which started to grate after a while seen as he was sat just behind me. In fact there were a fair number of fans from there making a bit of noise, although it was a bit one sided as I didn't see anyone cheering for the home side. In the end I moved out of the stand and stood further along the grass bank. The visitors soon started to get back into it, and on the half hour mark they got a cracking equaliser. St Margaretsbury had a penalty claim, and I found out they did have some vocal support when a fan raised the claim with the tubby linesman. The official replied by telling him to shut up, and when heckled again, told the fan he was boring.

I tried to get some chips at half time,but they didn't have any in stock. Instead, I had some grapes that I had bought earlier, while checking what games were on at the weekend. The second half was a lot more restricted in terms of chances, but St Margaretsbury did have another strong penalty claim though, which was turned down flat by the referee. As the game wore on, it looked as if my pre match prediction of 1-1 would be correct. The linesman copped some more stick and the Cheshunt keeper made a couple of great saves late on to deny the hosts a winner. They were not to be denied however, and right at the death they scored 2 quick goals. First the number 9 rounded the keeper to give St Margaretsbury a deserved lead, and then the same player had an easy tap in after Cheshunt failed to cut out a low cross, much to the fury of their keeper.

It had been a good game and an enjoyable evening, with a deserved victory for the hosts. The only downer was getting flashed by a speed camera on the way home, on the M25. I will have my fingers crossed that nothing will come through the post in the next few weeks, as I want to keep a clean licence.


THE RECREATION GROUND is a pretty nice venue to watch football. The only area of cover is a combined seat and terrace stand, which probably holds around 300 in total. It is up on a bank, so you get a good view, even though there is a floodlight pylon in the way. I didn't try the tea bar or clubhouse, but both looked pretty smart, and above average for this level. 




      

Monday, 21 July 2014

Raynes Park Vale - Grand Drive

 


Raynes Park Vale FC
Grand Drive
Raynes Park
Greater London
SW20 9DZ



0208 540 8843




Ground Number: 384
Saturday 19th July 2014
Raynes Park Vale 7-0 Aldershot Town XI
Friendly




As part of my football double on this particular Saturday, I needed to select a match at 3PM. I had a fair few options. But I had to be careful at clubs switching venues for the lower key pre season friendlies. By far the easiest option would be Whyteleafe, a few miles down the road from my first game at Farleigh Rovers. But they had just had a new 3G pitch installed, and I wanted to save it for a rainy day. Besides, it was a venue I had wanted to visit for a while, and I felt that a league game would do it more justice than a friendly. The one I picked in the end, was Raynes Park Vale, who came into my footballing knowledge around 10 years ago, when they lined up against AFC Wimbledon on the Combined Counties Premier Division.

Raynes Park Vale were founded in 1995, following the amalgamation of Raynes Park FC and Malden Vale FC. They have been in the top division of the league, ever since it expanded in 2003. They had a best ever finish of 4th in 1998, and have generally been in the top half of the table for their entire history. They have reached the FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round on 3 occasions, most recently in 2004 when they crashed out 6-0 to Folkestone Invicta. In the FA Vase, there has been a trio of appearances in the first round, last time out losing to Peacehaven & Telscombe in 2011. They are yet to win a trophy, but can boast Jermiane McGlashan amongst their ex players, who went on to play for Aldershot and Cheltenham. They are currently managed by former AFC Wimbledon player Gavin Bolger. I had seen them once before, back in February 2004, back in my phase of watching AFC Wimbledon. They got off lightly compared to others, 'only' losing 5-0 to the Wombles who destroyed all before them

Aldershot Town were a team I had seen a huge amount of times, indeed the Recreation ground is one of my most visited, with me seeing a game on 9 occasions at the Recreation Ground. They were a continuation of Aldershot FC, who went bust in 1992. There was brief hope of a rescue of the initial club, a so called well thought local businessman called Spencer Trethewy  promised a rescue package, but he was unable to deliver on his promise, the teenager even appeared on Wogan, but turned out to be a fake. He has since changed his name to Spencer Day and popped up at local rivals Farnborough, this time actually helping out as they recovered from the mess that they had been left in. They started off in the Isthmian League Division 3, which at the time was step 5 of non league football. They've made their way up the leagues since, and now reside in the football league. Today's team would be the youth team of course, but over the years there has probably been about 30 players who have played for both clubs. In the early days it was ex Wycombe legends like Jason Cousins and and Dave Carroll seeing out their twilight years at the shots. Lately there was a mass import from Hampshire when Gary Waddock came to manage Wycombe from Aldershot. It's been a mixed bag for us, from the dreadful John Halls, to one of the best defenders I have ever seen in a Wycombe shirt in Adam Hinshelwood. Sadly for Hinshelwood, his career was short lived due to terrible luck with injuries.

Luckily for me, the previous match at Farleigh Rovers was prompt at finishing and so I was on my way just after 1.50. The journey showed lots of delays, and that was before I got further delays at Carshalton High Street. A bakers had caught fire and the police had closed the road. It was the only sensible option really, I have since read that it took 6 fire engines and 35 crew from 4 different stations to put the blaze out, and there was disruption for 3 hours. It was a poor journey in general, but eventually I got there at 2.50.



As they were not charging for entry, I decided to put something in the club kitty and bought a pint of Strongbow for £3. I then returned to inside the ground and sat down and drank my pint on one of the patio tables. The first half of the game was largely even and without a huge amount of chances. The biggest point of note came when the Aldershot number 4 'Aaron' got stroppy after he claimed to have been hit in the face. He tried to start a fight with the perpetrator and had to be pulled away and substituted. At half time, I went and put my bag back in my car, and took my seat back in the stand for the second half. I will leave that second half report to the Raynes Park Vale site, which I have pasted below.


After the game, it was a good drive of home, the only leg of the journey that was not severely disrupted by other traffic. I was home by 5.45 and had a dinner of various Chinese stuff. It was my last lie in before I returned to work on the Monday. I wasn't really in the drinking mood though and I only had a few before watching TV in bed and chatting on Facebook.

GRAND DRIVE is a delightfully ramshackle ground that looks like it hasn't seen a lick of paint in years, and is a nice antidote to the grounds filled with Arena stands in this league. The main stand holds around 200 and consists of wooden benches. Despite the supporting pillars, the view is not bad from here. There is a further area of cover behind the goal, but the rest of the ground is open terracing.

The clubhouse is pretty modern though and offers drinks at reasonable prices. I didn't try the tea bar, but other places are certainly walkable, I know this for a fact as I walked to the ground from the station when I visited for a few pictures in near darkness before Wycombe's game at Chelsea in 2007.