Sunday, 11 December 2016

AFC Croydon Athletic - The Mayfield Stadium

AFC Croydon Athletic
The Mayfield Stadium
Mayfield Road
Thornton Heath

020 6869 5322

Ground Number: 652
Saturday 10th December 2016
AFC Croydon Athletic 5-1 Erith Town
SCEL Premier


AFC CROYDON ATHLETIC were formed in 2012 after the original Croydon Athletic went out of existence due to financial issues. The old club had enjoyed a turbulent last few years - from the glory of being Isthmian Division 1 South champions in 2010 to the relegation season that followed, and even worse financial irregularities after the club and owner Mazhar Mazeed had been charged for his part in the match-fixing scandal involving the Pakistan cricket team. It was mid-season when they finally ceased to be in December 2011, after they were unable to fulfil a league game against Ramsgate. By now the landlords had locked them out of their home, and the management had resigned and players found new clubs. The supporters - The Rams Army, got together and by the start of the new season had formed a new club, and were accepted as a new club at step 6, a couple of levels lower than the old club. They had to play initially at local rivals Croydon FC as their own ground's clubhouse had been destroyed by fire. They moved home in November 2014, when they played Banstead Athletic in the opening game.

Starting in the Combined Counties Division 1, they had higher-midtable finishes of 8th & 7th in their first couple of seasons. A runners-up spot behind Farleigh Rovers meant promotion at the end of the 2014/15 season, although as one of the most easterly clubs in the Combined Counties, they were switched to the Kent-based Southern Counties East league. After a solid mid-table finish of 11th last season, things are looking even rosier this season, with a reasonable chance of promotion. They sat 7th at the time of the game, though the last game had been a disappointing 6-3 defeat to local rivals Croydon. Opponents Erith Town were struggling near the bottom and had endured a 7-0 defeat to Cray Valley in midweek.

The FA Cup has not been a happy hunting ground for the club since reforming with immediate exits in the extra preliminary round in every single one of their seasons. The FA Vase has been a little better, but not by much, with the club reaching the 1st Round on three occasions. The last of these came in 2015/16 when after beating Bexhill United and Hollands & Blair they went out to Beckenham Town 6-3 in a replay, after an initial 2-2 draw at home. Successes in local cups have been had, lifting the CCL D1 Trophy in 2013 and the London Senior Trophy in 2014.


This weekend, I was looking for a game in London. I'd already decided that I was not going to go to Notts County v Wycombe Wanderers, on the account of their ludicrous ticket prices, up to £24 if you paid on the day. It was a shame, as although I had been there several times, I hadn't been in a long while. Added to that Wycombe were on good form and it was a good day out, but I wasn't about to go volte-face after having a moan on Twitter about it. There would be no end of options for me should I elect to drive, but I really fancied letting the train take the strain, especially as it meant I could have a day out in London. Borough Market and the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park appealed, as well as a Wetherspoons for lunch so I could try their Christmas pie. There wasn't a huge amount of options on offer, as I'd done most of the grounds in London already. The London Football Guide website was useful in finding what games there were, six possibilities in total. Bridon Ropes, Eltham Palace, Forest Hill Park, Holmesdale and Worcester Park were all considered before I plumped for AFC Croydon Athletic. The main reason for this was that I'd read my mate & fellow groundhopper Ryan's blog on his visit to the ground and wanted to pay a visit myself after he'd given it a good review.

On the day of the game I woke around 7am, which meant I had a couple of hours to relax and get ready. I left just after 9, opting to travel from Chalfont & Latimer. I got my train just after 10, but not before witnessing an amusing argument between two members of the public over times of the next train to Aylesbury, with the row being conducted across two platforms. My first stop was Borough Market, so after changing train at Finchley Road I got to London Bridge station just after 11am. From there it was a short walk to Borough Market. I'd come for the cider stall and it was top notch with me enjoying a pint of Pearsons Dry which was very pleasant. I'm keeping with the festive spirit I had a reindeer burger. More than I'm used to at £6.50, but it was delicious and one of the better meats I have tried. From there I walked back to the station, changing at East Croydon before arriving at the nearest station to the ground, Thornton Heath, just before 1. A turkey pie, chips and mushy peas was consumed which left me well fed and was washed down with a pint of Thatchers Gold. I left at 1.30, getting to AFC Croydon Athletic at 2.10.

After paying £7 to get in, plus £2 for a well presented glossy programme, I went and sat in the bar and watched the end of the Watford v Everton game with the hosts winning 3-2. I went round getting some photos of the ground, before settling on a space on the halfway line, on the far side of the ground. Croydon started on the front foot, and they were ahead after just 3 minutes. A cross was put in and Junior Kaffo headed into the top cormer from around 15 yards. A chance was spurned to double their lead when Bradley Wilson fired wide from just a yard. Warren Mfula did double the lead on 14 minutes as he sidestepped the visiting keeper and slotted into an empty net. The same player was involved in the 3rd goal too with his curling shot being spilled by the keeper and it was left to strike partner Carlton Murray-Price to follow up. Croydon had dominated the first period, but it was a much improved Erith Town that came out for the second half, and they had much the better of the opening stages. However chances were missed to get back into the game and on 65 minutes they made sure of the game. Warren Mfula cut inside the area and fired a shot into the top corner of the net. Mfula completed his hat trick on 75 minutes when he drilled into the bottom right-hand corner. The hat-trick hero was replaced shortly after but there was still time for another goal. The visitors finally bagged a consolation with Lee Friend's curling shot into the top corner on 81 minutes. Their efforts deserved that, and they were denied a second when a goal was disallowed for offside. They also forced a good save out of Croydon keeper Kris Mole as they rallied late on.

After the game I made my way towards Beddington Lane tram stop, which was just over a mile away. On the way I listened to TalkSPORT and was delighted to see that Wycombe had won 2-0 at Notts County. There had also been a ton of goals in the Premiership and so I was looking forward to Match Of The Day when I got home later. I got the 5.30 tram towards Wimbledon, glad to be in the dry after a bit of drizzle. I listened to the Leicester v Man City game with the hosts going into a surprise 2-0 lead within 5 minutes. I then had to get an Underground train to Earls Court where I changed lines to get to Hyde Park Corner. I had to wait 10 minutes at Earls Court, plus there was no mobile signal which was annoying. Eventually I got to Winter Wonderland, not buying anything, but it was nice seeing all of the lights and I got some decent pictures. By 7.30 I was all finished and so made my way home. I arrived back at Chalfont & Latimer at 9, stopping at the Craft Beer Shop outside the station. It's a regular haunt of mine, though I wish they'd offer more than 2 ciders. At least they had one that I'd not had before - Millwhites Oak Aged Scrumpy - so I got 2 pints to take out. I was home at 9.30 and so I had one of the pints while I was catching up and typing my blog, and one of them while I was watching Match Of The Day. It was a real corker with plenty of goals, and a good end to what had been a great and enjoyable day.


I first visited THE MAYFIELD STADIUM in August 2008, prior to Wycombe's League 1 game at Charlton Athletic as part of a whistlestop tour of random grounds on my TFL Travelcard. The club was still known as Croydon Athletic at the time and were playing in the Isthmian League, thus it was a decent setup. The main stand at the ground held 300 people and was of a pretty smart design. There was further cover on two sides of the ground for standing fans, probably around 2000 in total. Further uncovered areas meant a total capacity of 3000.

The ground is a bit out of the way, being situated in a residential area. Crystal Palace FC and Thornton Heath are a half hour walk away and there is a huge range of choice including a fairly standard Wetherspoons there. Back at the ground there is a bar and tea bar, although I didn't sample anything. You can watch televised Sky games in there and it's fairly spacious. Everyone at the club is friendly and welcoming and I'm glad that I visited.


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