Monday, 23 December 2013

Mansfield Town vs Morecambe (30/11/13)

Match 216

Ground #: 172

Ground: Field Mill

Competition: English League 2

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £13 (concession)

Programme: £3

Attendance: 2,753

Mansfield Town 1

Dyer 17’, Clucas m/pen 75’

Morecambe 2

Redshaw 51’, Ellison 85’


Normally my away trips following Morecambe are all down in the South. Rarely getting anywhere near the glorious North and all it has to offer. Maybe it was exam stress or some other mental capability that I lacked for a brief moment, but when I saw the first free weekend I had after the exams Morecambe were at “nearby” Mansfield it seemed like a brilliant idea. Only the 141 mile trip then!


Mansfield is a town in Nottinghamshire, surrounded by a pocket of steep hills within the Maun Valley, the town is around 12 miles north of Nottingham. Settlement in the Mansfield area is known to date back to Roman times, with a villa discovered in 1787 between Mansfield Woodhouse and Pleasley and a cache of denarii coins found near King's Mill in 1849. After the end of Roman occupation, the early English royalty are said to have stayed there, with the Mercian Kings having used it as a base for hunting in the nearby Sherwood Forest. The Domesday book compiled in 1086 has the settlement recorded as Mammesfeld. By the time of King Richard II signing a Warrant in November 1377 granting the right for the tenants to hold a fair every year for four days, the spelling had changed again to Mannesfeld. Access to the town between the 16th and 17th centuries was via several inns and stable yards with many known to date from medieval times. Several timber-framed cruck buildings were demolished in 1929 and another in 1973 which was documented by a local historical society during its demolition and was dated at c.1400AD, or earlier. Other glorious Tudor houses on Stockwell Gate, Bridge Street and Lime Tree place were also sadly demolished to make way for new developments before they could be viewed for being listed properties. The majority of buildings remaining are from the 17th century onwards.


Despite football being played in the town before their birth, Mansfield Town were founded in in 1897 under the name of Mansfield Wesleyans. The club played friendlies up until the 1902/03 season, when it joined the Mansfield and District Amateur League. When the league dropped its Amateur tag in 1906, the church abandoned the club, which changed its name to Mansfield Wesley and moved into the Notts and District League. In 1910, the club changed its name to Mansfield Town (despite Mansfield Mechanics being the bigger and better of the clubs) before spending the next few years trying to gain promotion to the Football League. They finally achieved this in 1931 when they were elected to the Southern Section of the Third Division. They spent most of their time floating around the basement with very few forays into the 3rd tier once they had been relegated to the new Fourth Division in 1959/60. Despite some good FA Cup performances over this time, their 77 year spell in the Football League ended in 2007/08 when a 1-0 defeat at home to Rotherham sent them down.


Time in the Conference is always hard for teams and Mansfield took to their surroundings no differently with some early seasons of treading water. An FA Trophy Final appearance in 2010/11 when they lost to Darlington on penalties seems to have kicked the club to push on however with a 3rd place finish in 2011/12 before pulling off some brilliant 2nd half of the season form in 2012/13 to pip Kidderminster to the title by 2 points. Paul Cox seemed he could do no wrong this season either and when Mansfield beat their near neighbours Chesterfield 1-0 on September 28th, they were riding high near the top of the league. Since then, it hasn’t gone well. No wins in 9 in the league and 5 straight defeats since picking up a 0-0 draw against Bury in October. With the Stags tumbling down the table, Cox needed a win and fast before they were back in the Skrill League.


Field Mill (or the One Call Stadium if you like sponsorship) is a ground that is too good to be hosting Level 5 football you feel if they were to drop. A ground that underwent major renovation at the end of the 90s, it is dominated by the two tiered Ian Greaves Stand that opened in 2001. The home fans also have the smaller Quarry Lane End behind one of the goals which is the bog standard singled tiered stand that features around many of the Football League venues. Opposite this is the North Stand, that while was traditionally a home supporter area, they have been moved to allow away fans in. A stand with decent views and being fairly close to the pitch is a plus, although the lack of proper concourse to eat your pies and drink your beer is a bit of a down, especially as the entrance of this stand backs onto the retail park next to Field Mill. The Bishop Street Stand which runs down the other side of Field Mill is currently unused due to safety reasons and blocked out with advertising. With the ground being noticeable (and walkable) from the train station, its worth a visit!


The problem with going on such a good unbeaten run is that when it ends, it can take a team a bit of time to get back into the groove. Since that 9 unbeaten in the league run was ended by Cheltenham, Morecambe have been slightly ropey as they try to stay in the play-off hunt. Defeats to Accrington, Rochdale and Oxford as well as Southend dumping us out the Cup have been partially offset by decent results against Burton and York. Still, this was an important game for both sides as neither were in any great form and all it needs is one win for you to rocket back up the table on a run. (Or so the cliché goes…)


One noticeable feature that I had seen and read about too to Morecambe’s performances this season, is a lot of the time, their 1st half performance is wank. That happened here too as Mansfield started off well with Ollie Palmer dragging a shot wide after 11 minutes. Falling asleep isn’t what the Shrimps needed and on 17 minutes it happened and it was 1-0. Despite being described by the Mansfield match report as “a moment of magic” (man, what shite must you normally watch here!?), a long punt upfield from Chris Clements caught Chris McCready out which allowed Ross Dyer to run in behind and fire under Barry Roche. Surely we wouldn’t be the team that Mansfield broke their duck against!? Morecambe improved, with Kevin Ellison looking as lively as ever but Mansfield were a threat, especially on the counter-attack. Towards the end of the half, winger Colin Daniel threw himself to the floor like a twat in the box, but referee Lee Collins wasn’t interested. (Remember that…) It had to improve in the 2nd half, it had to.


Big Jim sent on Andy Fleming and the returning Jack Redshaw from injury and Morecambe looked a completely different side. Mansfield couldn’t cope and the equaliser came within 6 minutes. Martin Riley tried to clear the ball only for it to hit Stewart Drummond and allow the Morecambe midfielder to collect the ball in the corner of the area. For a brief second, Drummond turned into Johan Cruyff as his swivel and cutback perfectly found Redshaw to smash home from 5 yards. Mansfield were rocked and had Padraig Amond shown a bit more control when he fired a shot wide just moments later, it could have been the complete turnaround. Mansfield recovered though and for the final half of the 2nd half, the game was really in the balance.


Roche made a great save from Palmer while Drummond managed to miss from 8 yards as it was anyone’s. Then when Morecambe were done on the counter after 74 minutes, the 102 away fans feared the worst. Daniel sped off into the penalty area and Roche sped out, we all knew what was coming. Was it a penalty? Tough one, I’m thinking no, considering how convinced Roche was and how Daniel had previous for diving in the box (home fans weren’t sure either!) while Mansfield were angered that Roche wasn’t sent off, “despite the fact he was the last man.” (Considering how poor the Mansfield match report is, I’d take it with a pinch of salt) It didn’t matter anyway as Sam Clucas’ penalty was dreadful and Roche pushed it wide. I think at this point Mansfield knew it wouldn’t be their day and with 5 minutes remaining, a Redshaw cross caused havoc, Ellison arrived to loop a header over Alan Marriott and give Morecambe an unlikely victory. It still needed some brilliance from the defence and Roche in injury time as Ellison picked up a dislocated jaw from that header, but we held on for a brilliant 3 points.


Mansfield need a positive result and soon, especially for Paul Cox as a dire 0-0 draw at Wimbledon before conceding 2 in injury time in a 3-2 home defeat to Accrington means, the Stags could be facing a quick return to non-league. It was a friendly enough place with a relaxed atmosphere so would recommend a visit. Especially while they are on this form! Morecambe continue to amaze and frustrate with defeats to Cheltenham (again!) and Scunthorpe coming either side of a win vs Bristol Rovers. With the remaining away games for the Shrimps this season (+ the hope of getting to the Globe in 2014) it is probably Bristol Rovers that will be the next new ground that I see the Shrimps at. And who knows, a play-off place could be really up for grabs then!

Photos from Mansfield Town vs Morecambe


Match Ratings:

- Match: 6.5/10 (late, positive drama boosts it up)

- Value for money: 7/10 (reasonable price for this league)

- Ground: 6/10 (decent, but cold)

- Atmosphere: 4/10 (Mansfield!? Why no songs!?)

- Food: 6/10 (pie was ok)

- Programme: 6.5/10 (actually a decent FL programme)

- Referee: Lee Collins – 6/10 (was it penalty? should have been a red?)

MT vs More prog

MT vs More stub

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Road to the London Senior Cup 2013/14 (2nd Round)

It was typical, picking a trophy that was played out over the season with some sparse gaps and (on the whole) in midweek, I was sure I could get to every game through the tournament. Therefore when Tooting & Mitcham organised their 2nd Round clash against Thamesmead just a week after playing their 1st Round game, that bad luck struck again. It’s not that I couldn’t make it, but returning from exams and a holiday meant it was probably best I didn’t go.

Mitcham tram stop(THIS IS MITCHAM)

Had I gone, it wouldn’t have been my favourite trip of the season. A competition that hardly inspires the masses at the early stage, a ground I’ve already been to and the away team playing their under 21s. In the end, the result wasn’t a particular surprise. Tooting & Mitcham played a weakened team too, but had far too much for the Mead with goals from Frankie Sawyer and TJ Nkoma gave the Terrors a 2-0 win.

TM vs TT(Action shot from the game – not my pic, taken from Flickr)

Brilliantly, Tooting are now through to the Quarter-Finals where they will play Southern Counties East League side Cray Valley (PM). They have managed to currently schedule the game for the 14th January, a night that I cannot make. So hoping for a postponement or just to slightly move the game, otherwise it will be enough round missed!


1ST ROUND: Thamesmead Town 2-2 Greenhouse London [Thamesmead win 6-5 on penalties] (Bayliss Avenue, Att: 22)

2ND ROUND: Tooting & Mitcham United 2-0 Thamesmead Town (Imperial Fields, Att: 64)

Friday, 20 December 2013

Clapton vs Barking (19/10/13)

Match 215

Ground #: 171

Ground: Old Spotted Dog

Competition: FA Vase 1st Round

Kick Off: 1:30pm

Cost: £6

Programme: £1

Attendance: 119

Clapton 0

Barking 1

Reynolds 42’, Oshilaja s/off 72’


Having not tied myself to a particular cup run through the FA Vase this season, it allowed me to pick out any interesting games that might come along. For the 1st Round, an East London derby stood out as Clapton hosted Barking. With the Old Spotted Dog being the oldest football ground in the capital and one that I had wanted to see for a while, it was quite obvious where I was heading for FA Vase 1st Round Day. Add the fact about the new ‘Clapton Ultras’ that had made quite an impression upon people from the start of the season, this had the makings to be an excellent cup tie.


Clapton FC is based at Forest Gate which is a residential area in the London Borough of Newham, 7 miles northeast of Charing Cross. Its name is derived from a southern gate of Epping Forest which once stretched continuously down from Epping to the main Roman Road linking Camulodunum to Londinium. Fragments of the forest remain throughout north east London such as the heathland of Wanstead Flats. The Forest Gate led into Epping Forest and was erected to prevent cattle straying from the Forest into the High Road. The area remained rural until the 19th century. From the 18th century a number of wealthy city dwellers had large country houses in the area and many of them were Quakers, the best known of these were the families of Gurney, Fry and Lester. Forest Gate formed part of the County Borough of West Ham since its creation in 1886. The county borough was abolished to form part of the present-day London Borough of Newham in 1965.


Clapton FC has a wide and varied history since their formation in 1878 as Downs FC, based in Hackney. After a name change a year later, Clapton moved to the Old Spotted Dog ground in 1888 after it had been vacated by St Bartholomew's Hospital. They were also the first club in the UK to play in continental Europe in 1890 when they hammered a Belgian XI 7-0. (Obviously well before Lukaku, Fellaini et al) After becoming founding members of the Southern League in 1894, they struggled in Division 1 and left a season later when clubs started to become professional. Clapton’s reputation as an amateur club was there to see when they reached the FA Amateur Cup Final in 1905 before winning the competition a year later. Now members of the Isthmian League, the trophies started to flood in for the Tons with Isthmian League winners twice and another four Amateur Cups to add to the other County FA cups they had also won.


If you wonder why you have probably never heard of Clapton then, it’s because a slow decline kicked in from the mid 70s and the club has never got anywhere near to its previous glory days. Floating around in Division 2 and 3 of the Isthmian League, the club dropped out of that league in 2006 when they finished bottom of Division 2 for the 2nd successive time. Now members of the Essex Senior League, the club had struggled for some time with a lack of volunteers, fans and reasonable players. Finishing in the bottom 2 of the ESL for the last 7 out of 8 seasons, the club even looked like dying at one point and losing the Old Spotted Dog ground. Now a small recovery has kicked in with some new volunteers, a decent looking squad and the intriguing nature of the Clapton Ultras.


The Clapton Ultras (or Scaffold Brigada) were an interesting bunch for me and one of the main reasons why I selected this game. Wondering if they were a parody at first, it seems the Ultras are here to stay and provide an excellent atmosphere home and away at Clapton’s various games. With their number around 20-30 (at least for this game) they are also providing Clapton with some good admission money and cheering their lads on to some impressive results this season. With the team expected to struggle around the bottom again, the new atmosphere around the club has seen them rocket up the table and were coming into this Vase tie in 7th place, a massive 17 points off bottom club London Bari (who currently groundshare at the Old Spotted Dog). Clapton had even pulled off the impossible this season as a win at Stanway Rovers in the FA Cup meant they had won a tie in the competition for the first time since 2005/06 when Stotfold were the unlucky side.

Clapton Ultras(Clapton Ultras display during this game – taken from their Tumblr)

The Old Spotted Dog was a ground that I had also been looking forward to seeing but sadly, it does show its age now. From the entrance of the ground where the Old Spotted Dog pub (which has been closed since 2004) is boarded up to the overgrowing weeds around the place, it does need a bit of TLC. In terms of facilities, there is a fairly small sized clubhouse when you first enter the ground and a smallish stand right on the halfway line down one of the sides. Opposite this is the scaffold standing ‘terrace’ which is the Ultras territory and has been brilliantly plastered in Clapton Ultra stickers and other AMF signage. The rest of the ground is pretty basic, although there is a small terrace behind one of the goals if you can fight past the weeds and large plants to get there. Considering the pictures I had seen of the place when the large stands and terraces were up, it’s a shame what the Old Spotted Dog has now become. It is 125 years old this year however (much like another London classic) but it has seen better days.


In town for this East Laaaaaaandon clash were the Barking boys from just up the road. Having not seen them since I crossed the 100 grounds mark, I was interested to see how they had progressed, considering they played extremely well the time I saw them. A close game was likely considering Barking were in 6th place, 1 point above Clapton with a similar record in the league. Barking had entered the Vase in the previous round with a decent 5-1 away win at Northampton Spencer in the 2nd Qualifying Round which is the same round; Clapton had also started with a 1-0 win over Wotton Blue Cross. With similar records, and this being a derby, the game looked like it would be too close to call.


Backed on by the great atmosphere created by the Ultras, Clapton did start the game off fairly well with some decent early runs. A noticeable number of Barking fans were also here and getting behind their side well before the poor rainy and windy weather started to drag the game down into a slog. Barking kept their heads though and began to batter the home side and create chance after chance. First up to miss was Dumebi GB-Dumaka who didn’t realise the time he had for his chance and fired it wide. Barking passed up more chances through Ben O’Brien and Jay Abberley before a wonderful passing move down the left saw Ricky Mackin unbelievably fire wide from about 6 yards out. You had to wonder if Barking would regret the amount of missed chances they had wasted but on 42 minutes they made the breakthrough with a simple move. With Clapton pushing up, James Barlow launched a long diagonal across where Lamar Reynolds collected it and ran off and towards goal. With Pepe Diagne not coming off his line, Reynolds fired past him with ease and silenced the Ultras for all of 5 seconds. Interesting 2nd half to come then!


Clapton still had no answer to the Barking onslaught for the start of the 2nd half as chances were still being fired at Diagne’s goal. The home side nearly did hit the ultimate sucker punch on 55 minutes when Raphael Duyille forced Barking debutant Damos Horvath into an excellent save. This seemed to spur Clapton and their fans on as Horvath was being called into action a lot more having been a spectator for the first 45 minutes. A team always gets one glorious chance to equalise during the game and Clapton’s came midway through the half from a Barking free kick. Trying to take it too quickly, Barking only found a yellow shirt as the ball cannoned off a teammate which set up Clapton’s Tom Jeffes but the striker fired the ball over the bar as another chance went begging. With this being a derby, it had hotted up on the pitch, despite the poor weather and when Barking’s Ade Oshilaja reacted badly to a challenge, it did kick off. After some cards were shown, Oshilaja must have been desperate to be off the pitch as he flew into a ridiculous challenge and was promptly sent off for a 2nd yellow. Barking played out the final 18 minutes with ease and could have scored more as they qualified for the next round of the Vase.


Barking were the better team on the day, but I did feel if they were drawn against anyone half decent they would be found out. In Round 2, Barking were away at SSML side Ampthill Town who promptly beat them 7-0. Enough said. The Clapton Ultras were in good voice for this game and are a great addition to the non-league football scene in London and the South-East. It did feel like this was the hipster club with people bringing flags, great chants and a great atmosphere to the game. I will make the effort to try and get to a Clapton away game in the season to see the Ultras out on the road. As for the Old Spotted Dog, as much as the history of the place rivals any ground, it’s just a shame to see what it has become now. Maybe, just maybe, one day the Dog will be back to its best.

Photos from Clapton vs Barking


Match Ratings:

- Match: 5/10 (lost its bite)

- Value for money: 6/10 (normal price for Vase ties in the Capital)

- Ground: 4/10 (it needs work)

- Atmosphere: 8/10 (excellent stuff from the Clapton Ultras)

- Food: N/A – didn’t actually see any

- Programme: 3/10 (8 pages for £1 isn’t on)

- Referee: Peter Nagy – 5/10 (was a wee bit fussy)

Clap vs Bark prog

Friday, 6 December 2013

Thamesmead Town vs Greenhouse London (15/10/13)

Match 214

Ground #: 170

Ground: Bayliss Avenue

Competition: London FA Senior Cup 1st Round

Kick Off: 7:45pm

Cost: £5

Programme: Free Teamsheet

Attendance: 22

Thamesmead Town 2

Goldsmith 15’, Fairweather-Johnson 71’

Greenhouse London 2

Augustin 58’, Pike 73’

(Thamesmead win 6-5 on penalties)


For the past few seasons, I had tried (tried being the main word) to follow the FA Vase from 1st Qualifying Round through to the Final. Not to ruin a good thing, decided this season to try and branch out a bit and follow another cup competition all the way through. The London FA Senior Cup was the cup of choice (what do you mean you’ve never heard of it?!) and after the draw for the tournament came out, the sexiest looking tie was clearly Thamesmead Town vs Greenhouse London. (what do you mean you’ve never heard of them!?)


Thamesmead is district of South East London, located in the London Boroughs of Greenwich and Bexley. It is situated 9.4 miles east of Charing Cross between the established towns of Woolwich and Belvedere. Most of the land area of Thamesmead previously formed about 1,000 acres of the old Royal Arsenal site and there is some evidence of prehistoric human occupation of the area: flints, animal bones and charcoal were found in 1997. After the Roman era, river levels rose again and the area reverted to marshland. Between 1812 and 1816, a canal was built by convicts to take materials such as timber from the River Thames to Woolwich Royal Arsenal. Much of this canal has been filled in, but part remains in Thamesmead West and is now called the Broadwater. Much of Thamesmead was initially built by the Greater London Council (GLC) for rent to families moving from overcrowded housing in south eastern parts of Inner London. The first residence was occupied in 1968, but already there were rain penetration problems. The pre-1974 parts of Thamesmead are a mix of modernist town houses, medium-rise and 12-storey blocks system-built in concrete, which have featured in various films due to their 'rough urban look'. When the GLC was abolished in 1986, its housing assets and the remaining undeveloped land were vested in a non-profit organisation, Thamesmead Town Limited (TTL).


Thamesmead F.C. was formed in 1969 as a community team for local youngsters. The club merged with Southlake FC in 1973, and by 1979 were fielding a Saturday team, playing on park pitches at Crossways. In 1980 the club entered the London Spartan League and dominated the intermediate divisions in the early 1980s, but were unable to gain promotion to the Senior Division until they gained senior status. At around this time, they played matches at the Meridian Sports Ground in Charlton. In 1985, the club changed its name to Thamesmead Town FC, and later that year they relocated to Bayliss Avenue. The club finally gained senior status during the summer of 1987 and were accepted into the London Spartan League Premier Division for the 1987/88 season. The club joined the Kent League in June 1991, where they remained until 2008, when they won the title after pipping VCD Athletic. The Mead went fairly well in the Isthmian League 1st Division after a ropey start and after finishes of 18th, 7th, 17th and 10th, they pulled out a 3rd place finish last season to enter the play-off lottery. After beating Witham Town, they also overcame Maldon & Tiptree in the Final to achieve promotion to the Isthmian Premier for the 1st time in their history.


Bayliss Avenue does remind me of smaller versions of Dulwich Hamlet and Tooting & Mitcham with a large Main Stand that dominates the place with the rest mainly uncovered standing. Having undergone refurbishment works starting in 2009, the Arena opened in its current form in July 2013 along with a large clubhouse and training pitches the other side of the building. The Main Stand has excellent elevation to the pitch with a few rows of seating built in to also complement the smaller plastic seating stand behind the goal. While the rest of the ground seems undeveloped and fairly basic, Thamesmead’s attendances don’t require anymore work to be done currently in terms of other terraces to be built.


Thamesmead in their debut season at Level 7 had unsurprisingly struggled and were currently 23rd out of 24 going into this cup tie. 5 points off safety, with only 2 wins to their name against Cray Wanderers and East Thurrock United. Last season in the London Senior Cup, Thamesmead were unhappy at something and so manager Keith McMahon decided to play only the Youth Team in this competition. Had I known that, then another tie would have probably been chosen, but it was too late. The Mead Youth were up against Essex Senior League side Greenhouse London who were also struggling in their surroundings. 18th out of 20 in the ESL, Greenhouse were at least 5 points clear over bottom club London Bari as they tried to avoid the Essex Wooden Spoon. (Probably some dodgy innuendo there)


Greenhouse with more 1st team experience in them started off the better team as they went at Thamesmead and created some good chances. Their first real chance came after only 10 minutes when Andrea Mantovani forced home goalie Daniel Carpanini into a great save when he curled a shot from the edge of the area. Despite the promising start, Greenhouse did find themselves 1-0 now just 5 minutes later. A lucky break in the area saw the ball fall to Harry Goldsmith who fired past Mason Durrell into the bottom corner. Then something happened which I had never seen at a football match before when the floodlights failed! Fearing that the game would be abandoned, the referee gave Thamesmead time to get the lights back on and the game got under way again after 10 minutes. The rest of the half saw Greenhouse batter the home side, as Mantovani again forced Carpanini into two brilliant saves as Greenhouse showed they certainly weren’t out of this tie yet.

IMG_2537(awkward moment as the players await the lights to come back on…)

The 2nd half was slightly more open as both sides were creating chances with the goalies both being kept busy by some shots coming in. The next goal was only going to come through a defensive area and as the Thamesmead defence fell asleep at a corner and Ashley Augustin lashed home into the roof of the net. The game opened up now and Thamesmead looked like they had won the tie on 71 minutes (well I hoped at least anyway!) when Thamesmead opened up Greenhouse and a cross from the left was powered home by Theo Fairweather-Johnson. Fearing extra-time though, I needed Thamesmead to hold on. They lasted 2 minutes. Greenhouse hit the Mead on the counter attack down the left and Billy Pike was put through on goal to fire past Carpanini. A manic final 15 minutes saw both sides create chances, but as the night got colder, both sides couldn’t grab a winning goal so it looked like extra-time sadly.


Thankfully, the managers of both teams saw sense and allowed the game to go straight to a penalty shoot-out. It was entertaining enough as Harry Goldsmith missed Thamesmead’s first penalty to give Greenhouse the advantage early on, but Tony Cookey’s dreadful blast over the bar made it level. Even after Greenhouse’s goalie stepped up on penalty #5 and slotted home, a miss from Daniel Martinez on the 7th round of spot kicks allowed Jonathen Murray to score the winning penalty.

Penalty summary:

Greenhouse London (took first) –- Thamesmead Town

Reynolds scored -- Goldsmith saved
Mantovani scored -- Fairweather-Johnson scored
Honesty scored -- Hibbert scored
Cookey over -- Murphy scored
Durrell scored -- Carlse scored
Alexander scored -- Ayomoni scored
Martinez wide -- Murray scored


Despite the small number of people who made the effort to watch this game, (England were on TV to be fair, if people are that desperate to stay in) the 22 hardcore fans were treated to a decent cup tie. Along with some very able players that were on show, hopefully some of these guys can play higher up the pyramid one day as they would easily be capable. The winners of this tie were then away to Tooting & Mitcham United in the 2nd Round as they overcame Haringey Borough in their tie. Bayliss Avenue is a compact, but pleasant enough ground that will still hopefully be hosting Isthmian Premier League football next season so good luck to them. I was impressed by Greenhouse London too as they didn’t deserve to lose this, I will be looking out for them in the future!

Photos from Thamesmead Town vs Greenhouse London


Match Ratings:

- Match: 6/10 (entertaining enough cup tie)

- Value for money: 7.5/10 (nice to reduce the prices)

- Ground: 6/10 (simple enough, but does the job for Mead)

- Atmosphere: 2/10 (22 people in the ground…)

- Food: N/A – didn’t eat any

- Programme: N/A – teamsheet only

- Referee: Dele Sotimirin – 6.5/10 (good encouragement and kept control)

TT vs GH prog

TT vs GH stub


1ST ROUND: Thamesmead Town 2-2 Greenhouse London [Thamesmead win 6-5 on penalties] (Bayliss Avenue, Att: 22)

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Woking vs FC Halifax Town (12/10/13)

Match 213

Ground #: 169

Ground: Kingsfield Stadium

Competition: Skrill Premier

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £10 (concession)

Programme: £3

Attendance: 1,552

Woking 0

FC Halifax Town 0


For all Shaymen, the 11th June 2008 is a dark day for the club as the old Halifax Town AFC were dissolved. That being said, the new club have come a long way in a short time with this being their first season back in National leagues. With my girlfriend being from Halifax and our friend working there, this was the obvious highlight to the Shaymen’s season that we needed to see. (I have wanted to make a “could Halifax play their Cards right?” but I won’t)


Woking is a large town and civil parish that shares its name with the surrounding local government district, located in the west of Surrey. Though Woking's earliest written appearance is in the Domesday Book, it is mentioned as the site of a monastery in an 8th-century context, as Wochingas. In the Domesday Book it appears as Wochinges, being held in 1086 by William the Conqueror. A building was first recorded on the site of Woking Palace in 1272 with Henry VII taking the manor from his mother and began the process of converting the manor house into a palace. His son Henry VIII continued this process when he succeeded his father in 1509, and the palace became a favourite residence of the king. However, Sir Edward Zouch who abandoned the palace and built himself a new manor house. Thereafter the buildings fell into decay and the original park surrounding the palace was turned over to agriculture. H. G. Wells wrote his book The War of the Worlds whilst living on Maybury Road in Woking in 1898. Many scenes from the story are set in Horsell and the surrounding area. Today, through the power of the railway, the town is part of the London commuter belt but features some top level businesses within the place and surrounding area such as the McLaren F1 team.


Woking FC were formed in 1889 and joined the West Surrey League in 1895, winning their first title that season by 1 point. However, within 21 years of being formed, the club was in danger of folding for financial reasons. The turning point came when, in January 1908, Woking played Bolton Wanderers in the First Round of the FA Cup. Despite losing the away game 5–0, the club made it into the national news. Bolton Wanderers, also impressed, travelled to Woking for a friendly match the following season, which kept the club solvent. In 1911 the Club joined the Isthmian League, maintaining their place in the top division for 72 years and finishing as runners-up to Wycombe Wanderers in 1956–57. The club then went into decline, culminating in a first-ever relegation in 1982–83. By the end of the 1984–85 season the club had plunged to Division Two South of the Isthmian League. They turned it round however and were back in the Premier Division of the Isthmian for 1989/90.


The club kept on the up though and Promotion to the Conference was achieved in 1991–92. This started the club’s most successful period under boss Clive Chapple with 3 FA Trophy wins in 4 years and 5 successive Top 5 finishes in the Conference. By the late 90’s however, Woking started to drop and were beginning to look over their shoulders in the league and the bank with financial difficulties. Long-time fan Chris Ingram bought the club which was then taken over by the Supporters Club in 2002 to remove those doubts, but relegation couldn’t be avoided as the Cards dropped to Conference South in 2009. It took them a couple of attempts to get back to the Conference National but Woking won the Blue Square South in 2011/2012 with ease, finishing 9 points clear of 2nd place Dartford. It was a decent first season for them back in the Conference National last season, finishing comfortably in 12th and only just missing out on “England’s best part-time club” which Dartford took by 4 points.


Kingsfield Stadium is a quirky venue, with the ground being dominated by the large Leslie Gosden Stand behind one of the goals. The rest of the place could not be more different with a medium sized covered terrace behind the other goal that provided some good views. Down one side of the pitch is the customary uncovered terrace that seems to be a common feature at grounds like this before the mashup of stands and terraces over the opposite side. Having been to a few Skrill League grounds, Kingsfield is a fine venue that competes well with the others I’ve been to and makes a good addition to the league. Even the clubhouse on site is spacious and had a good atmosphere with the large number of Halifaxians (do you call them that? Pie Eaters according to the Urban Dictionary is something completely different…) that had travelled down from Yorkshire.


Hearts of hearts though, you wondered how many of them expected anything from this game. From the opening game of the season when they were away at Cambridge United on TV, and had 2 players sent off before losing 5-1, their away form has not been good. 5 away games since Cambridge and the best Halifax had was a 2-2 draw at Macclesfield Town. With 4 defeats, including a painful 4-3 reverse at Luton Town when they were 3-1 up. They were coming to a club however that had a dreadful home form, as Woking were suffering from 2nd season syndrome quite badly. With 6 home games before this, Woking had only won one of them and as a result found themselves in 21st position. They were on a wee run though, unbeaten in 3 so this was a tough game to call.


The game really wasn’t a thriller. In fact, it was one of those games to put you off football for a while. Normally, that’s ok when I suffer alone for 90 minutes but it’s a different matter altogether when your girlfriend has to suffer with it too. Woking being the home team, were dominant from the start with former Premiership player Kevin Betsy in particular looking dangerous. Defender Scott McManus just couldn’t deal with him and so cross after cross came into the box but nothing could be converted. The Shaymen did come back into the game with Simon Ainge missing a chance in the area midway through the first half. It was back to Woking bombarding the Town goal, but they still could not really test Halifax goalie Matt Glennon.


The second half was a more even affair, but still not one to be included in my top games of the season. In fact, the longer the game went on, the more obvious it was becoming that it would finish 0-0. The two main chances came right at the death as both sides should have opened the scoring. Woking were up first when Marc Roberts brought down Giuseppe Sole on the edge of the box and the free kick from Josh Payne curled onto the crossbar and away. Then Halifax had their golden chance when Lee Gregory took the ball around Woking goalie Sam Beasant but slipped before he could get the ball away and allowed Beasant to get back in time. No goals in the end, and it never really looked like we would get one either.


Considering the respective form of both sides, the final result wasn’t really much of a surprise then! Both sides have continued in the same way since this game with Halifax still not picking up an away win in the league, but their impressive form at The Shay means they are looking comfortable in 11th. Woking are up to 19th, but being only one point outside of the relegation zone means it’s likely to be squeaky bum time in 2014 for them. On the way back to Woking station I asked my girlfriend what she thought of the game, “it was ok” was the response but with a look of disappointment on her face like a father who had just been told their son was a Hibs fan. Sometimes you go to games with people who then get why you love doing this so much because they see a thriller. This game wasn’t it.

Photos from Woking vs FC Halifax Town


Match Ratings:

- Match: 3/10 (wouldn’t have scored even if playing now)

- Value for money: 7/10 (good cost of concession tickets)

- Ground: 6.5/10 (bit of a mish-mash but still good)

- Atmosphere: 5/10 (little bit now and again)

- Food: 5/10 (standard burger)

- Programme: 6.5/10 (normal Skrill League quality)

- Referee: Richard Martin – 6.5/10 (got on with it)

Wok vs FCHT prog

Wok vs FCHT stub