Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Walton and Hersham F.C. - The Sports Ground

Walton and Hersham F.C.

Walton and Hersham F.C.
The Sports Ground
Stompond Lane

Ground Number: 25
Date: Tuesday 27th September 2016
Score: Walton and Hersham F.C. 1-1 Abbey Rangers F.C.
Competition: Combined Counties Premier Division
Attendance: 103

Tuesday nights are a great opportunity for any groundhopper to go to a new ground to tick off their list and get under their belt and for me I was in this situation because I love groundhopping on a Tuesday night especially now as I am at college because I finish college at 12:30pm on a Tuesday and I have every Wednesday off which is perfect for me as it allows me to be able to do more groundhopping on Tuesday nights.
So it is Sunday afternoon and I remembered that I have not been groundhopping on a Tuesday night for a while so I made it my mission for this afternoon to find a new ground and a new team that I could go and ground hop to on Tuesday and the best way of finding the local teams to ground hop to is by using an app called Groundhopper which is an app which maps out all of the teams in the world and the nearest teams to you and you can tick off the grounds and games that you went to and it allows you to see what grounds that are near to you that you have not visited yet.
Whilst looking at this app for around 10 minutes I remembered that I have not been to watch Walton and Hersham yet and their stadium is only around a 35/40 minute drive away from where I live so I checked their website to see if they was playing at home and luckily enough they were playing at home on Tuesday against Abbey Rangers so this was the ideal game for me. I have been trying to go to Walton and Hersham for around two years now but I have never had the time to go there and especially last season I did not have the time because Sutton won the league and I had to revise all year for my summer exams.
Walton and Hersham were founded in 1945 when Walton F.C. and Hersham F.C. amalgamated to form Walton and Hersham F.C. The club play in the colours of red and white and play their home games at The Sports Ground which is also known as Stompond Lane. The stadium has a capacity of 2,000 and there are 444 seats. The clubs nicknames are `The Sham`, `The Swans` and `The Waltz`. The club currently play in the Combined Counties Premier Division after being relegated from the Ryman Division One South last season (2015/16). The highest level that the club has ever played at is the Ryman Premier which they were promoted to in 1994. They also reached the FA Cup First Round in 1994. Over the past 20 odd years the club has been playing in the Isthmian League but they were relegated down to the Combined Counties Premier at the end of the 2015/16 season.
So Tuesday had finally arrived after a tough start to the week at college as I had quit a bit of work to do in terms of coursework as the course that I am doing is mainly coursework based. Today just felt like it was going really slow mainly because  I am really excited as I am groundhopping to Walton and Hersham tonight. So tonight's game were edging nearer and as every minute passed I got even more excited because I have been wanting to do Walton and Hersham for two years and now I am finally going to be doing it. I have also heard some good reviews about Walton and Hersham from my mate Russell who also does groundhopping.
I got home from college at 1:50pm and I did some of my coursework that I needed to do which kept me busy until 4:30pm. I then I had dinner and then got my things for the night as I was staying round my dads tonight and I left my house at 6:10pm to meet my dad at Sutton Bus Garage as he finished work at 7pm. When then drove down the A3 into Walton to find that Walton High Street was closed off for road works meaning we had to go round the back way of Walton to get to the ground.
We got to the ground at 7:41pm and the first thing that I could see is the bright floodlights and the floodlights at The Sports Ground are some of the brightest floodlights I have ever seen. My dad quickly changed into his trainers and we walked to the ground and paid £11 for a adult, junior and a programme which is very good value. We then walked up to the pitch and watched the game.
The Sports Ground is ground with a running track, but for one side at least, things are not as bad as at other grounds. The side as you go in is fairly close to the pitch and the big stand behind which holds 444 and offers great views from an elevated position. To either side of this there is open standing which could hold up to 500 roughly, even though it's little more than grass banking. To the goal behind the left there is terracing that would hold around another 500, though this is pretty useless as the view from there is terrible due to the distance from the pitch, whilst at the other end is little more than a walkway, but could hold about 100 at a push. The final stand, a large covered terrace which runs the length of the pitch, seemed to be set back a little further from the pitch than the seated side. This could hold around 1000. Despite all this, ground capacity is capped at 2000, though that isn't likely to be a problem unless they get a big cup game. There is a small bar that serves a limited selection of drinks and you can also buy club souvenirs from here. The tea bar meanwhile is very good considering the small crowds they get, with a pretty wide selection at reasonable prices.
I then walked around the ground to take some pictures and then sat in the stand for around 15 minutes and then in the 30th minute, Walton and Hersham took the lead and after they scored we went and got some drinks and a sausage roll. The sausage roll was the only hot food that was available tonight and it tasted quite nice to be honest. We then went back up into the stand to finish our sausage roll and drink and then Abbey Rangers managed to score a header to put them back on level terms and the game the game remained 1-1 at half time.
During half time, we decided to stand behind the goal that Walton and Hersham were going to be kicking towards and once we started walking round to the goal, the curved terrace reminded me of the old Collingwood Road End at Gander Green Lane which is quite similar to this terrace at The Sports Ground. We then talked about the first half and the first half was a really good half of football as both teams were showing confidence and were playing some really good football.
The second half finally started but it had become a lot colder but this didn't really bother me because standing out on a terrace on a cold night is all part of groundhopping and it made me feel even more like a groundhopper. When Walton and Hersham had a shot that went wide, I gave the ball back to the Abbey Rangers goalkeeper and we was able to have the quick joke which put me in a better mood than I already was in.
Both Walton and Hersham and Abbey Rangers had chances to take the lead but both teams didnt take their chances but in the 72nd minute, one of the Walton and Hersham players was tackled in the 18 yard box and the referee awared Walton and Hersham a penalty and this was Walton's best chance to take the lead and get the 3 points but the Abbey Rangers goalkeeper saved the penalty and it just seemed like Abbey Rangers were holding on for a point and the game continued like this as Walton and Hersham had another few chances to take the lead but Abbey Rangers held on and the game finished 1-1.
After the game finished, we clapped both teams for their efforts because it was a really good game as both teams had lots of chances, there was a penalty and both goalkeepers made some really good saves. We walked back to the car feeling very happy because I had been to another ground and I have got another ground under my belt and it means I dont have to worry about going to Walton and Hersham for the next few seasons. I got back to my dads at 10:40pm feeling very tired but very happy. I would reccommend going to Walton and Hersham if you like unique stadiums and really friendly clubs but if you go to The Sports Ground, do not expect to have a large attendance or the stadium to be bigger than you expected.

The quality of football tonight was very good in my opinion because Walton and Hersham looked very strong a side that is competing at county level and the team just looked like they were meant to be playing together. Abbey Rangers were also playing some decent football for the Combined Counties.
Stadium: 4/10
Bar: 7/10
Food & Drink: 7/10
Atmosphere: 4/10
Friendliness: 9/10
Value For Money: 7/10
Overall Rating: 6.3/10

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Brentford F.C. - Griffin Park

Brentford F.C.
 Brentford F.C.
Griffin Park Stadium
Braemar Road

Ground Number: 24
Date: Saturday 9th November 2013
Score: Brentford F.C. 5-0 Staines Town F.C.
Competition: FA Cup 1st Round
Attendance: 5,263

So today is the day of the FA Cup 1st Round, a day that all non-league fans dream of being in for a possible draw against a league one or league two club to experience what it would be like to play in/against a football league team and my team (Sutton United) had been drawn away to Conference Premier side Kidderminster Harriers and unfortunately me and my dad did couldnt afford to go up to Kidderminster so instead, we looked at other possible FA Cup games that we could go to.
After looking through the FA Cup fixtures for 20 minutes, we finally found a game, League One Brentford against Conference South side Staines Town. As soon as we saw this fixture I knew that this was the game for me because both teams are local to eachother so it would kind of be a local derby which is quite special in the FA Cup and Staines play in the same league as Sutton so it would give me the chance to see how a Conference South side would get on against a Football League side.
It was a shame that we couldnt go up to Kidderminster to watch Sutton but going to Brentford was not as good but it was just as good because it meant I could re-visit Griffin Park and experience the atmosphere at the ground for the FA Cup. I have been to Griffin Park before and that was when I watched Brentford draw 0-0 with Walsall and I wasnt able to quite fully experience the atmosphere of Brentford FC as it was a mid-week game and as it was boring 0-0 draw but todays game had the odds of being a game with a lot of goals and this meant I would be able to experience the true atmosphere of Griffin Park.
Once me and my dad had agreed on going to Brentford vs Staines Town on that day, we booked the tickets for the game and whilst my dad was booking the tickets for the game, I looked into the history of Brentford in the FA Cup to see how far they have gotten in the FA Cup before and I also looked at the history of Brentford FC as well.
Brentford F.C. were founded in 1889. The clubs nickname is the bee`s. The club play in the colours of red and white. Brentford currently play in the Championship but at the time of this game the club was playing in League One. Brentford play their home games at Griffin Park which has a capacity of 12,300 and is not all seated but club has plans to move to a 20,000 all seated stadium. Brentford won promotion to League One from League Two in the 2008/09 season and stayed in League One for the 2009/10, 2010/11, 2012/13 and the 2013/14 season and they were promoted to the Championship at the end of the 2013/14 season. The clubs main rivals are QPR, Fulham and Chelsea but like any London club they share rivalry with any team in London.
The days before the game went very slowly as I was really excited that I was going to re-visit Griffin Park but the day of the game finally arrived and I woke up bright and early feeling very excited but also a bit annoyed that I couldnt go to Kidderminster vs Sutton but I kept my spirits high because I was going to Brentford which is better than nothing. I had breakfast like normal and had a shower and then got dressed and played some football manager. We then left my house at 11am as we were driving to Brentford and we wanted to get parked and this meant we had to leave early.
The journey to Brentford was not very eventful as there was not a lot of traffic and the roads were empty but to pass the time, we listened to some music in the car and this made the journey a bit more enjoyable. We finally arrived in Brentford at 12:10pm and we decided to park the car in a side-road just up the road from the high street as it was not too far from the ground. We got out the car and walked to the bus stop and got on the bus and we got off at Brentford high street.
When got off the bus at Brentford High Street the town was full of Brentford fans and we just followed the crowd to the stadium which is only around a 5/10 minute walk away from the high street. Whilst walking to the stadium, there were people selling match programmes so we decided to buy one as the stalls had no queue. We then got to the ground at 1:25pm and when we got there, the turnstiles were closed, so we decided to get a burger from the burger van outside the stadium and the burger tasted really nice and if you ever go to Griffin Park, I would highly reccommend getting a burger from the burger vans outside the stadium.
The stadium had a real buzz of energy when I finally got to see it again after 7 months. I could not see any Staines fans because they were all around the other side of the ground but there was a really positive atmosphere around Griffin Park today. The turnstiles finally opened at 2pm and we headed straight inside and we were sitting in the Bee's United Stand which is alongside the pitch. I took some photos of the stadium we talked about the game that we was about to watch.
Griffin Park is rather compact and certainly has an individual feel. On one side is the recently christened Bill Axbey Stand (formerly the New Road Stand), which is named after a long time supporter who watched the Bees for an incredible 89 years before passing away in 2007. This stand is a single tiered, covered all seated stand, which has a number of supporting pillars running across the front of it. The roof of the stand is painted with a large advert, designed to catch the eye of passengers flying into Heathrow Airport and at the time the stand was sponsored by Qatar. Opposite is the Bees United (Braemar Road) Stand. Again this stand is single tiered, all seated and has a number of supporting pillars. It has a very low roof, which makes you wonder what the view would be like from the very back row of the stand.
Griffin Park is rather compact and certainly has an individual feel. On one side is the recently christened Bill Axbey Stand (formerly the New Road Stand), which is named after a long time supporter who watched the Bees for an incredible 89 years before passing away in 2007. This stand is a single tiered, covered all seated stand, which has a number of supporting pillars running across the front of it. The roof of the stand is painted with a large advert, designed to catch the eye of passengers flying into Heathrow Airport and at the time the stand was sponsored by Qatar. Opposite is the Bees United (Braemar Road) Stand. Again this stand is single tiered, all seated and has a number of supporting pillars. It has a very low roof, which makes you wonder what the view would be like from the very back row of the stand.
At one end is the BIAS Stand (aka the Ealing Road Terrace), which up to 2007, was an open terrace that was given to away supporters. However the Club have now erected a roof on this end and decided to give it back to the home fans. This should really help boost the atmosphere within the stadium. Interestingly the sponsors of the terrace BIAS are not a company but the Brentford Independent Association of Supporters. Opposite is the Brook Road Stand. This stand which was opened in 1986, is a strange affair; a small double decker stand that has seating on the first tier and terracing below. It is known affectionately by the Brentford fans as the 'Wendy House'. The ground is complete with a set of four imposing floodlights. (Description of Griffin Park is sourced from Football Ground Guide).
I quite like Griffin Park because it is a weird stadium because all of the stands are very different because it is not like all of the stands are similar in terms of design or height. Griffin Park is a really unique ground. Our tickets were quite cheap as we managed to get un-blocked viewing seats and a good view of the pitch for around £20 which is very good value for money. The teams came out and did their pre-match training and I was still feeling peckish so we went and got some chips from the tea hut inside the ground and the chips tasted very nice.
The game kicked off and there was a huge roar from Griffin Park and after only a few minutes of the game being played, you could clearly see the difference in the confidence and quality between the two sides but Staines managed to keep Brentford at bay for the first 20 minutes but this soon changed as Brentford were awared a penalty in the 21st minute and McCormack scored to put Brentford 1-0 up. Staines then had a decent 10/15 minutes of football after going 1-0 but this was destroyed as Brentford scored again in the 35th minute via Reeves and then soon again in the 38th minute via Harris and Brentford dominated the last few minutes of the first half and at half time, Brentford were confortablly 3-0 up.
The second half started and Brentford continued to dominate Staines Town and the quality of Brentford allowed them to score another via Trotta in the 50th minute. Staines managed to have a few chances to get a goal and possibly get back into the game and it looked like the game was going to finish 4-0 to Brentford but in the 92nd minute, fans favourite Clayton Donaldson put the game to bed to put Brentford 5-0 up and the score remained 5-0. Both sets of fans clapped their teams off and once the teams had gone back to the changing rooms, we headed out of the stadium and there was a small queue to get out. We walked back to the high street and we decided to walk back to the car as the bus was 10 minutes. We got back to the car at 5pm and we drove back home to Colliers Wood and I eventually got back home at 6:05pm feeling happy that I had seen 5 goals but annoyed that Sutton had lost 4-1 to Kidderminster and we was out of the FA Cup. I would definetely reccommend going to Griffin Park as it is a really unqiue stadium and it is being knocked down soon so you should go there whilst it is still around.
During the writing of this blog I tried to find the pictures that took for this fixture but I was unable to find my SD card from 2013 so what I did was I found some pictures of Griffin Park from around 2012/2013/2014 which was around the time of this game and I asked the people who owned these pictures if I could use them and they said it was okay so I just wanted to point this out.
Stadium: 8/10
Bar: 7/10
Food & Drink: 7/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Friendliness: 8/10
Value For Money: 9/10
Overall Rating: 7.8/10