Slumming It in a tempest; Maidstone United 7 v 2 Hampton & Richmond Borough

I never did find the no paygate.

I never did find the no paygate.



25/01/14, Rymans Premier. £10 in £2 programme.

Think of Maidstone United and my mind drifts to the late 80’s and that fleeting 3 year period they were a league club. Fast forward 21 years and that club, in a new guise, returns to that town with a new stadium. Numerous attempts to arrange a trip last season falter due to the full diary of a Kent based beer monster/aficionado (and my return to the Leeds United season ticket fold). The new stadium having a “3G” pitch meant no amount of weather issues elsewhere was going to stop this game, marvelous.

Spent a small time wandering the town, less posh and more chav than I had expected for somewhere only a few miles from the Mallings. Popped into 3 pubs in the course of the day, the Style and Wrist or something similar which was a light free old school place, the Flowerpot a real beer drinkers paradise close to the ground and some white wooden hut which was just a disguised “hungry horse” style place. Recommend the Flowerpot for anyone heading to James Whatman Way.

The ground is ultra modern, it reminded me a bit of Chelmsford City a bit and a little of Sutton United (main stand). The main stand is one of those 1/3rd jobs with grass areas to the side, behind each goal a covered area with 3-4 terrace steps and across from the main stand, er just a fence and the tarmac, this was the most disappointing part of the Gallagher Stadium, a little thought and a few steps and that would be a good uncovered standing bit. To be fair though you don’t lack for facilities, clubhouse, club shop, pie shop, sweet shop and the usual toilet facilities all behind one goal.

As has been widely commented on the pitch is 3G, and if the Conference don’t change the rules that will mean Maidstone can’t go up. In terms of aesthetics you could never mistake it for the real stuff but in terms of bounce and how you play football on it I can’t see the problem. Perhaps the solution is this, clubs should be allowed to have 3G at any level but if they want to progress towards the league they are told to be prepared to upgrade to any better systems developed in due course? In the meantime I wish Maidstone United good luck with their campaign to be allowed to play on that pitch if they get promoted.

9 goals, 5 in the first half, must have been a great game? Well no not really, the goal count had more to do with the H&RB goalie than anything else. Not that the goalie had a horrid game, in parts he was outstanding but he clearly didn’t like diving near post or holding shots. 7 different MU scorers also tells you a story and H&RB’s defense. MU looked fitter and are clearly capable of a division higher but they too have defensive frailties. They also have 1900+ home crowds which must be disconcerting if you are used to playing in front of 300.

As the game ended a feeling of impending doom overtook me, the weather broke and before you knew it hailstones and sideways rain decended. I was socked to the skin in seconds! I just about got out of town on a train before the rail system broke down (my companion for the day got stuck on a small branch line, by a branch…for a hour or two).

The Gallagher stadium is worth a visit for the dedicated groundhopper and will stand Maidstone in good stead until they make the Conference premier, however you would worry if it had to accommodate a decent away following or league football. Meanwhile have a extra pic to keep you happy.

A real rain is coming.

A real rain is coming.

Slumming It on the wet side of the Pennines, Rochdale 1 v 0 Leeds United

Nice little ground, horrid day.

Nice little ground, horrid day.

Spotland, 04/01/14. FA Cup 3rd.

Another short and sweet article as I added Spotland to both my grounds and my 92 list.

Long train journey from the South West edges of the smoke via Manchester took me to the CAMRA pub of the year 2013 (the Baum) in Rochdale (which was everything I expected of a late 70’s throw-back town), which was an enjoyable couple of ours in the company of mates.

I like Spotland, it looks like it gets tender loving care on the inside even if the outside look a touch dated. Nice to see the floodlights from afar and the stewarding was restrained, which is always nice when in the away end.

As for the game, less said other than Rochdale played well and were easy on the eye. As for Leeds United it wasn’t quite the low it looked like at the time, that was a week later!

Slumming It in disgusted country, Tunbridge Wells 6 v 1 Canterbury City.

Confused local..

Confused local..

Saturday 19th October 2013, Southern Counties East (Kent League with attempted added Sussex to you).

Keeping the writing very short to reflect the accidental nature of my attendance at this ground. With Leeds playing on a Sunday and the Spa Valley beer festival on I had the opportunity to enjoy some me time.

£6 in and a decent programme at £1,50. The ground is basic, on slopping covered side stand, one raised concrete terrace, the odd portacabin and a a club house. Culverden is in the leafy suburbs of the town and looks over the local countryside, reminded be of Merstham with the trees.

Pitch slopes downhill towards the bottom goal and thus encourages a lump it game, Tunbridge had the better passers of the ball but Canterbury had a big lad who could move it a little. Despite the number of goals the quality was lacking and the atmosphere limited. Freindly enough without being fully customer focused their seemed to be a lot of kitted out kids in the crowd.

See pics posted below.

Can't see the woods...

Can’t see the woods…

long and thin.

long and thin.

Local derby (but then all of the games are).

Local derby (but then all of the games are).

Lush...

Lush…

Cutting edge local news, Disgusted would be.

Cutting edge local news, Disgusted would be.

Slumming It in posh Surrey: Guildford City 3 v 4 Chertsey Town

Great venue, for Ice Hockey.

Great venue, for Ice Hockey.

05/10/13, FA Trophy Preliminary Round.

Very light writing for this one, I find the ground a bit manufactured and all concocted. The facilities limited but to be fair a decent programme and a proper match stub at the entrance. Game despite 7 goals (one or two decent) was awful on a long grassed pitch. the home side were all long ball and musclemen, the away side more refined but nervous in defense. Guildford City will either have to move or accept they will never get back to the days of 3-4k crowds (as mentioned in the programme). A place that size needs to be above Southern League South and West Division but with its robust skill-less team is lucky not to be back in the Combined Counties.

More pics:

The cage is not for fans..

The cage is not for fans..

Reading matter.

Reading matter.

Not one stand, two next to each other.

Not one stand, two next to each other.

Slumming It in a new place, Barnet 3 v 0 Chester FC

10/08/13, Conference Premier. The Hive. £23 in, £5 programme (commemorative).

Just a quick report on what should have been a long article but isn’t for the following reasons:

a) I’m only doing the odd “ground-hop” game this season, I have gone back to the first football love and have got a Leeds United season ticket again.
b) my priority when Leeds are not playing on a Saturday is to finish the 92 (or bucket list as my mate calls it).
c) the photo’s I took at The Hive have mysteriously disappeared.
d) I was annoyed even before I got into the ground by the incompetence of Barnet having a pay turnstile but no tickets to give so people could get in, resulting in me and 30 others standing around for 20 minutes.
e) That annoyance was then magnified by the catering arrangements in the “main-stand” which basically amount to a form of apartheid! You may have paid for the best seats in a 2000+ seater stand but you can’t get in to the only bar area in that part of the ground unless you are a season ticket holder or a member of the membership scheme they run. In short if your a casual fan or an irregular visitor you can’t go inside and you can’t buy a beer! Pathetic in the extreme IMHO.
f) if your reading this blog chances are you will be planning a visit to the Canon Parks area and thus you can make your own assessment of the new set-up, all I will say is these two things: all new grounds take something from other grounds and that is the case with The Hive and I advise you don’t choose a Tuesday night in November/December to visit without wrapping up warm.

As for the game, Barnet started slowly (I think they were still getting used to a flat pitch) whilst Chester looked neat (and brought a a good loud support, something very rare in this division). As the game developed Barnet took hold and 3 second half goals (the second celebrated with blue flares thrown from the away end) won the points. I wouldn’t be putting a bet on either to win promotion based on this performance but I don’t see the losers going down either.

So make your own mind up on The Hive, just don’t expect to get a beer inside.

Slumming It for the last time in 2012-13, Brighton 0 v 2 Crystal Palace.

Surprisingly clean for a game with two birds involved...

Surprisingly clean for a game with two birds involved…

Monday 13th May, Championship play-off semi-final second leg.

The last game for me of the season, and a mildly disappointing one. Don’t get me wrong I can see how the Eagles passion and team play worked that evening but the Seagulls, by not playing to there ball-passing strengths messed up.

A few points:

* Poyet was right about the clapper things, an enormous mistake. When you are playing for a shot at the PL you need your stadium to rock like it did when you were winning games, not to sound like some alien yank orientated college gridiron match!

* Poyet was right about poo-gate, not just should the person who did that be sacked but also who had ultimate responsibility for security should go also.

* Poyet got his tactics wrong for some reason, playing it tight and long when it was the passing game that had worked so well all season, one wonders if he was distracted how he had been told his budget had to be cut regardless of which division they were in?

* Poyet is right to tell Barber where to get off on interfering with team matters.

As it happens a defeat for Brighton wasn’t the worst thing in the world if like Swansea in 2008/9/10 they kept to a footballing philosophy, but now with Poyet gone (stc) in a unseemly haste to ditch him I can’t see who could do that job, which is a shame. Brighton fans could find themselves looking back at that game in years to come and asking “where did it all go wrong”…

Enjoy the summer.

Slumming It in Dorset again, Wimborne Town 3 v 1 Mangotsfield United

That plant-pot could do with some attention.

That plant-pot could do with some attention.

27/04/13, Southern League South and West Division. The Cuthbury

So the season is drawing to a close, Leeds United are safe, time for a combined Dorset football and walking weekend. The destination is Wimborne Minster, home of Wimborne Town who were playing an end of season dead rubber against Bristol based Mangotsfield United (frankly if I wasn’t staying with a mate and walking the next day I probably wouldn’t have chosen this game). The consequences of the Beeching cuts mean I get off at Bournemouth to catch a bus to Wimborne. Now in a rational world the bus would go straight down the Wimborne Road and take 20 minutes but no that would mean missing the delights of Windon, Moordown and the never ending delights of Ferndown and taking nearly an hour!

Having eventually got to Wimborne Square I headed towards The Cuthbury, somewhat annoyed as the path disappears on the last road (and a lengthy traffic light system is in play at the moment). The first sight of the ground is in fact of the clubhouse, which is compact but neat and at least does hand pull real ale (Piddle April Showers).

Having paid a £1 for a programme in the club-house and then £9 in (not a bad combo really) I enter the ground to note the pitch slopes down from “main-stand” to dug-out side, I also notice from the players kick-about that it is dusty, almost a miracle given the winter and spring we have had! The ground is a bit hiddley piddley, the “main-stand” side is in fact three covered areas, a bench seating area, a directors area with the only proper seats in the place and then a standing area. All three areas don’t go back very far. Behind one goal is a covered area, behind the other goal is just a fence to protect the cottage hospital behind it and the far side of the ground is open with trees. Their is a 8 pylon system in place and if you raise your head a little some hills can be seen.

The game itself was best described as “end of season”, very little skill on show and not helped by a weather than changed every 5 minutes. Mangotsfield United (MU) had a small chanting support, all mostly friendly, Wimborne Town (WT) more quieter. By half-time the 2-1 scoreline reflected the limitations of this level, the first goal accrued when the MT goalie bailed in a simple shot an then nearly repeated the feat with WT’s second, only this time his blunder hot the post and came out only to be prodded home. MU should ave been three down by HT but the failure of the referee to see a blatant pull-down in front of him, followed 30 seconds later by him giving a penalty at the other end for the worst dive I have seen in years meant MU pulled one back.

A combination of food, the scores from league games as the professional game climaxes its season and my mate texting to say where did I want to be picked up after the game (big thanks to the Moore’s of Wareham for the hospitality) meant I didn’t really focus on the second half where a third WT goal sealed the game. A early departure to the Green Man pub (a kind of friendly locals haunt) allowed me to see the now already infamous Brentford V Doncaster Rovers promotion game details come through and a chance to get in a couple of beers before arrival of the mate (Wareham to Wimborne via Spurn, don’t ask).

This standard of football isn’t really good enough frankly but when you have a reasonably relaxed day that can compensate for a lot of inadequacies. A place to see once if your in that part of the world.

Enjoy the pics below, could be my season over, might not be.

Dust-bowl, honest!

Dust-bowl, honest!

Cavernous.

Cavernous.

Where the elite sit...

Where the elite sit…

Same number of OAP turnstiles as for normal aged people...telling.

Same number of OAP turnstiles as for normal aged people…telling.

Just can't get the recycling bins you need for old bits of the ground...

Just can’t get the recycling bins you need for old bits of the ground…