Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Whyteleafe F.C. - Church Road

Whyteleafe F.C.
Whyteleafe F.C.
Church Road Stadium
Church Road

Ground Number: 47
Date: Tuesday 1st August 2017
Score: Whyteleafe FC 6-1 Dulwich Hamlet
Competition: Pre-Season Friendly
Attendance: approx. 125

One of the great things about pre-season is there are game pretty much every day throughout July and early August and this means if you are not watching your team play, then there is more than likely another local pre-season game taking place that you can go to and with me living in London and near other counties such as Surrey, there are a lot of non league clubs in my area and within an hours drive and this means in pre-season, there is pretty much a local pre-season game taking place most days of the week.
There are a lot of non league clubs in Surrey that I want to visit and one of the clubs in Surrey that I really want to visit is Whyteleafe FC and the reason why I really want to visit Whyteleafe FC is because they are only a 45 minute drive from where I live, they have a really good stadium for the level of football they play and I have heard really good reviews from other groundhoppers and other fans that have been there. I have been wanting to go to Whyteleafe FC for the past year or so and ever since this years pre-season started, I have been trying to find a day when Sutton are not playing and when Whyteleafe FC are playing at home and with only a few weeks or so left of pre-season, it looked like I wouldn't get to go to Whyteleafe FC this season but I realised that they were playing at home on the 25th July against Kingstonian but unfortunately my dad was working that night and it meant I couldn't go.
I then went down further Whyteleafe FC's fixtures and I saw that they were home the Tuesday after Kingstonian (1st August) against Dulwich Hamlet. I asked if my dad was working that night and he said he had that day off and this seemed like my luck had struck because it meant that we could go to Whyteleafe FC in a few weeks and even better, they were playing against Dulwich Hamlet which are one of my favourite teams and I like them so much, I even have a Dulwich scarf from when I visited Dulwich Hamlet in the 2014/15 season.
I was really excited when my dad said he was off on the day Whyteleafe FC were playing at home to Dulwich because it meant I would be able to finally go to Church Road (Whyteleafe FC's stadium) and it would also mean I would be able to watch Dulwich which is quite handy as I will not really have the time to watch them this season. The next few days rolled on and the night Whyteleafe FC were playing at home to Kingstonian had arrived and I was annoyed that I couldn't go but I knew that this time next week, I would be at the stadium finally watching Whyteleafe FC. It turned out to be a good game as Kingstonian beat Whyteleafe FC 3-2 but I knew that their game against Dulwich would be better.
The week before my trip to Whyteleafe FC went quite slowly as I was really excited for the game. The weekend before the game was mainly spent at Sutton United as we had two pre-season games in two days which were at home to Norwich XI on Friday night and home to Chelmsford City on the Saturday and me being a loyal Sutton fan, I went to both games. Sunday was mainly spent watching highlights of previous Whyteleafe FC games as I wanted to see what the ground looks like from a cameras point of view and I wanted to see the type of football that Whyteleafe FC play so I know what to expect. I also did a bit of research into the history of Whyteleafe FC so I know a bit more about them before my trip to Church Road.
Whyteleafe FC were founded in 1946 and they are based in Whyteleafe in Surrey and they claim to be the 'Pride of East Surrey'. The club play in the colours of green and white and the club's nickname is 'The Leafe'. They currently play their home games at Church Road which has a capacity of 2,000 and there are approx. 100 seats. The club currently play in the Bostik League Division One South (Ryman Division One South).  In 1989, they were promoted to the Division One of the Isthmian League. In 1999, they made a FA Cup 1st Round appearance at home to Chester City (now Chester FC) but the tie ended 0-0 at Church Road. In the early 2000's, the club were competing in the Isthmian Division One South but at the end of the 2011/12 season, they were relegated down to the Kent League. After one season in the Kent League, the club were promoted to the Southern Counties East League and they were back in the Isthmian League by the end of the 2013/14 season and they still currently play at this level (now the Bostik League and previously the Ryman League and Isthmian League).
The day of the game finally arrived and I woke up at 9am feeling very excited for tonight's game. I got dressed and had breakfast and I then got the bus round to my dads as we had to pop into Sutton to get some things as we were going on holiday in a couple of weeks. We also had a McDonald's in Sutton as we had to use up some vouchers we had. We got back to my dads and I had a quick shower and had a couple of snacks as I was feeling a bit peckish. We were planning on leaving at 6:30pm but we decided to leave at 6pm.
We drove through Wallington and Coulsdon and we got to the ground at 6:35pm which was a lot earlier than we were expecting. As we were over an hour early, we decided to go and have a drink in the clubhouse and I decided to get a Diet Coke and my dad decided to get a J20. The clubhouse is decently sized and is very warm inside. After having our drinks, we went outside and we noticed that they were having a barbeque so we went and had a look at what they was offering and we decided to get a cheeseburger and it only cost £3.30 and it tasted really nice but the burger could have been cooked a bit more.
By the time we had finished our burgers, the turnstiles had opened so we decided to go in and it cost me £2 for a junior ticket which was quite reasonable and also £1 for a programme which is very reasonable! We then had a look round the ground to take some pictures and I really liked the look of the ground as it is a traditional and simple non-league stadium which is everything I look for in a non-league ground at this level.
Church Road is a traditional non-league ground that holds 2,000 and has around 100 seats. The main stand is located on the side of the pitch and holds around 65 seats and the stand has supporting pillars which means you don't get a good view of the pitch from this stand. Opposite the main stand is a small covered terrace located near the dugouts but is mainly uncovered on that side of the pitch. Behind one of the goals is a covered terrace that holds around 100 and behind the other goal is a large stand that is mainly terracing but has around 30 seats and can hold around 350.
After walking round the ground to take some pictures, we went and stood in the large stand behind the goal and you get a really good view of the pitch from the top of the stand. We watched the teams warm up and this also allowed us to have a proper chance to talk about the game and I had predicted a 3-1 win for Dulwich. The teams came out and I took a couple of pictures to add to my collection.
The game started and Dulwich were kicking towards the large stand so we decided to stay up this end. It seemed like Dulwich were not very confident as they were not creating a lot of chances and were not creating a lot of pressure on Whyteleafe and this punished Dulwich because in the 11th minute, Whyteleafe took the lead and Dulwich didn't react well after going 1-0 down as they continued to not create any chances and this once again punished them as Whyteleafe scored again in the 20th minute and after only 20 minutes of the game being played, Dulwich found themselves 2-0 down and this meant the Dulwich fans were quite annoyed and they had not sang one song. Dulwich did manage to create a few chances before half time but the scored remained 2-0 to Whyteleafe.
We decided to go back into the clubhouse as it was getting cold and we decided to get a hot drink and I decided to get a hot chocolate and a ham and cheese roll. We then sat down and had our roll and hot drink. My hot chocolate was nice but it could have been a bit sweeter and the roll was also very nice. With a few minutes to go until the second half kicked off, we went back into the ground and went and stood back in the large stand and there was quite a few Whyteleafe fans behind the goal. Once the second half started, the 'older' Whyteleafe fans started singing some classic songs from 'Dads Army' and some other classic TV shows and this made the overall atmosphere of the ground and game a lot better. The singing seemed to have worked as Whyteleafe scored in the 63rd minute and the Whyteleafe fans went wild even though it was a pre-season friendly.
However, 9 minutes later, Dulwich were awarded a free kick and they scored directly from the free kick and with 72 minutes gone, it was 3-1 and Dulwich had found themselves back in the game. Dulwich then had another chance to score again but the Whyteleafe keeper was on hand to stop the shot. Whyteleafe managed to score again in the 84th minute and this seemed to kill off the game for Dulwich. By this time, Dulwich just wanted the game over and this punished them because 2 minutes later, Whyteleafe scored again and it was now 5-1 and within the space of 2 minutes, Whyteleafe had scored twice. The tempo of the game remained and Whyteleafe continued to press on to try and find another goal and they did just that because in the 90th minute, they scored the last goal of the night and it finished Whyteleafe 6-1 Dulwich Hamlet.
We headed out of the ground and walked back to the car and we felt very happy because we had finally visited Church Road and we had also seen 7 goals and out of the Whyteleafe pre-season games that we could have gone to, we chose the one with the most goals so it seemed my patience of trying to go to Whyteleafe had paid off. We drove back towards South West London and the roads were free of traffic and I got back to my house at 10:05pm feeling exhausted but very happy. I would highly recommend going to watch Whyteleafe because they play some really good football, the admission prices are very reasonable and the ground is also very good for the level of football.
Stadium: 7/10
Bar: 8/10
Food and Drink: 9/10
Atmosphere: 6/10
Friendliness: 9/10
Value For Money: 10/10
Overall Rating: 8.2/10

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