Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Dorking Wanderers F.C. - Westhumble Playing Fields

Dorking Wanderers F.C.
Dorking Wanderers F.C.
Westhumble Playing Fields
London Road

Ground Number: 68
Date: Tuesday 30th January 2018
Score: Dorking Wanderers F.C. 2-2 Tooting and Mitcham United F.C.
Competition: Bostik League Premier Division
Attendance: 195

As a groundhopper, I normally have around 5 grounds that I really want to every season and so far I have ticked off 4 of the 5 grounds that I really wanted to visit which are Skinners Field, Croydon Sports Arena, Nyewood Lane and Grosvenor Vale and there was one team/ground left I had on my list which is Westhumble Playing Fields which is the home of Dorking Wanderers.
The reason why Dorking has been on my top 5 list for this season is because they are moving out of Westhumble in early 2018 and I wanted to visit the ground before they moved out. Dorking Wanderers are moving into Meadowbank which was the old home of Dorking FC who now no longer exist. Meadowbank was originally closed due to it being unsafe but Dorking Wanderers have made some changes to make it suitable and they will be moving in during the early months of 2018.
Since the plans of Dorking moving into Meadowbank have been released, I have been trying to find a game when I can go to Westhumble but most of the time, Sutton have been playing at home when Dorking are playing at home and I haven't been willing to miss a home game to visit Westhumble. Throughout November and December 2017, there was a few opportunities for me to visit Westhumble but it would mean I would need around £30 for the visit but since it was the run up to Christmas, I didn't have a lot of money and I couldn't afford to go there.
However, after Christmas I had some money left over and whilst looking through Dorking's fixtures, I saw that they were home to Tooting and Mitcham on Tueaday 30th Janaury and Sutton weren't playing on that day and my dad had the day off which meant I wouldn't need to spend my money on the game and I would be able to save that money for another groundhop because once I told my dad about this game, he said he wants to go and he said he would pay for it.
The week before the game was spent at college doing some assignments and then on Saturday, I was supposed to be at Barrow AFC but it got postponed and so I went to Lancaster City FC instead and you can read about my adventure here. Sunday was a chilled day of just being at home and so was Monday and the only thing I did on Monday was went into Sutton to get some things for my trip to New York in two weeks. I had time to watch some previous highlights of Dorking's games this season and I also got to look into their history before going to bed at 11pm.
Dorking Wanderers were founded in 1999 and are based in Westhumble near Dorking and they currently play their home games at Westhumble Playing Fields and the ground has a capacity of 1,500 and there are around 250 seats. The club's nickname is `Wanderers` and they currently play in the Bostik League Premier Division (England's 7th Tier). They've had 10 promotions in 18 years which is unbelievable. The club started out in the Crawley and District Football League and then swapped to the West Sussex League. By then the Sussex and they already had a few promotions under their belt and they had ground problems just after 2010. The club joined the Isthmian League (now Bostik League) in the 2015/16 season and joined the Division One South of the Bostik League and by the end of the 2016/17 season, they were promoted to the Bostik Premier after being neighbours Corinthian-Casuals in the play off final on penalties at Westhumble.
I woke up on Tuesday at 7am feeling very tired and then spent around an hour on my phone and then did some housework for my mum and then I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon at home because I wasn't at college today because I didn't have any work to do so once again they said I may as well stay at home. I quickly picked up my sister from school at 3pm and then my dad came round at 3:30pm and I got my things ready for tonight as I was staying round there. I then went back to my dads and had dinner which was fish and chips and then we watched some of `Pointless` before leaving my dads at 5:30pm.
I originally wanted to leave at 5pm to try and go to the Stepping Stones pub in Westhumble but seeing as my dad didn't have a lot of money for tonight, we decided to leave the pub out of tonight's plan and just leave a bit later and go straight to the ground. We left my dad's house at 5:25pm and there here was a bit of traffic in Carshalton and Epsom but we found ourselves on the open road to Dorking by 6:25pm and funnily enough, this was the way that we take when we go to Bognor but obviously we weren't going to Bognor tonight!
Whilst driving through Leatherhead, we decided that we would park in the small village of Westhumble and walk to the ground and when we arrived in Westhumble, I didn't realise that the roads were narrow but we found somewhere to park just past Box Hill and Westhumble Station and we checked Google Maps and the ground was a 10 minute walk which isn't bad but when we walked past the pub, I was a little annoyed but I suppose drinking when I've got college tomorrow isn't the best idea!
Whilst walking down the main road, I was slightly blinded by the headlights from the oncoming cars but we managed to get to the ground at 6:50pm with our sight still intact! The car park seemed busy but then I suppose it would be because the nearest place to park is at least a 5 minute walk if you're lucky to find a space that near to the ground! We paid to get in and tonight's admission prices were £10 for my dad and £7 for me (concession) so £17 to see a Tier 7 game which isn't bad! We then purchased a programme for £2 and a Dorking Wanderers pin badge for £3 and we then walked round the ground to take some pictures of the ground which is my 70th ground and 68th on the blog!

Westhumble Playing Fields has a capacity of 1,500 are around 250 seats. The ground is not the best and is not very built but this is because the ground is located in a green belt area. There are two small seated stands which together hold around 250 seats and a small bar and tea hut, behind one of the goals is a completely open flat terrace and behind the other goal is another flat terrace but with a small covered terrace that can hold around 50 people and is located next to the goal. The ground only has 3 sides as the side opposite the main stands is just a fence behind the dugouts. I like the ground as it is open and in beautiful surroundings but in terms of facilities at the ground, its not the best and should really be in the Step 9 not Step 7!
After walking round the ground to take some pictures, we went inside the bar and it is very small but modern and I kind of like it but there is no dart board or pool table which was annoying. We then read the Non-League Paper as there was one on a table and we then got something hot to drink which was a coffee for my dad and a hot chocolate like normal for me! We then went and sat in the stand and read the programme whilst having our hot drinks. The teams then came out and I got some pictures and then we went and stood in the covered terrace behind the goal as Dorking Wanderers were kicking that way.
The first half kicked off and it looked very even. The first chance of the game came in the 9th minute when Dorking shot at goal but the shot went just past the post. The next 10 minutes of the game was fairly even with no chances coming through but on 20 minutes, Dorking was given a free kick but the shot went over the goal and the score remained 0-0. Tooting and Mitcham then had a chance on 27 minutes but it didn't trouble the Dorking goalkeeper. Dorking then had a shot 6 minutes later but nothing came from it but then one minute later, bottom place Tooting and Mitcham took the lead and the travelling support went wild. Tooting then had a chance to make it 2-0 before half time but the Dorking goalkeeper was on hand to keep the score at 1-0.
Half time and it was Dorking Wanderers 0-1 Tooting and Mitcham and looked very even in the first half but come to the last 10 minutes of the half and Tooting seemed to gain a lot of confidence and looked much stronger and I suppose Tooting did deserve to be winning based on their excellent 10 minute spell. We went back to the tea hut and I decided to get a bottle of water and a bacon roll and my dad just got another coffee and I have to say that the bacon roll wasn't the best and the bacon didn't have much flavour and I would probably recommend trying a hot dog or burger if you ever go to Westhumble. We then went and sat in the stand for the second half.
The second started very lively as Dorking had the chance to make it 1-1 after only 4 minutes being played of the second half and there was a scramble in the box but Tooting managed to clear the ball. Dorking then had another chance two minutes later but the ball was headed over and the lead still remained with Tooting and Mitcham. Dorking levelled the scoring on 56 minutes and the 150 or so Dorking fans went wild. Dorking then had a chance to make it 2-1 via a header but the Tooting goalkeeper was on hand it keep it at 1-1.
Dorking then took the lead on 61 minutes via Daniel Walker who is a new signing for the club and then Tooting started to get back into the game and managed to have a shot over the goal and have a cross into the box but the Tooting player wasn't able to get to the ball in time but it all seemed like game over in the 90th minute when Dorking were awarded a penalty but the Dorking player shot the ball over the goal with too much power and then with 3 minutes added time, Tooting continued to press on and with a minute to go, they were awarded a corner and they managed to score from thr aftermath and they had gained a large point in their relegation battle and it finished Dorking Wanderers 2-2 Tooting and Mitcham.
We walked back to the car feeling slightly disappointed that Dorking didn't get the win but none the less it was a good game of football and we had finally ticked off Westhumble Playing Fields and all in for around £30 which was good value for money for a evening in Westhumble for football. Once back in the car, we drove back to my dad's house and I was updating my social media whilst on the way back and we got back at 10:30pm. I would recommend going to Westhumble Playing Fields before Dorking Wanderers leave the ground but you will have to do it ASAP as they only have a couple of games left there!
Stadium: 6/10
Bar: 6/10
Food and Drink: 7/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Friendliness: 8/10
Value For Money: 7/10
Overall Rating: 6.8/10

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Lancaster City F.C. - Giant Axe Stadium

Lancaster City F.C.
Lancaster City F.C.
Giant Axe Stadium
West Road

Ground Number: 67
Date: Saturday 27th January 2018
Score: Lancaster City F.C. 2-0 Hasleowen Town F.C.
Competition: Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Attendance: 259

I love away games because they are a great day out no matter what the result and it has been over a month since my last away game because I have been unable to go to a couple due to either not being able to afford it or simply my dad hasn't had time off work but this weekend was a big and long away day as we were playing Barrow A.F.C. Now I will admit that Barrow is one of the grounds in the top tier of non-league that I am eager to visit and unfortunately I wasn't able to go there last season but that game finished 0-0 so I didn't miss out on much.
When the fixtures came out last year, my dad saw that he had the day of Barrow away off but he didn't really fancy going to it because he doesn't really like the look of the ground and it's a long trip but me on the other hand loves a long train journey and I managed to convince my dad slowly throughout the season that we should do Barrow away and with it being two weeks before the game, he finally agreed and we booked the train tickets which were only £100 which isn't too bad!
The week running up to the game was spent at college and it was quite a tough week because I was spending it mostly on a new research project about Heathrow and Gatwick Airport and it was very time consuming. During the week, we also booked our train tickets for FC Halifax Town away in March. I was excited for Barrow vs Sutton during the week as Barrow/Holker Street was one of the teams/grounds that I wanted to visit last season but I wasn't able to go.

Friday morning arrived and luckily enough, I wasn’t at college today because I am all up to date with all my coursework and we weren’t starting anything new and my teachers said that there wasn’t any point in coming in. I ended up waking up at around 8am and spent most of the morning in bed watching highlights of some previous Barrow games from earlier in the season and this kept me busy until around 11am. I then spent the rest of the afternoon mainly catching up on a few episodes of `The Big Bang Theory`.

I then had dinner and then got my things ready as I was staying round my Dad’s tonight like I normally do when we have a long away game. My dad arrived at 10pm and I was really struggling to stay awake which was weird because I hadn’t really done anything today, but they do say it is tiring doing nothing! Once I arrived at my dad’s, I ended up watching some of `American Pie 2` and then some darts before going to sleep at 11:30pm.

I woke up at 4:30am and I was quite annoyed because I had set my alarm for 5am and I couldn’t get back to sleep and I had lost 30 mins sleep and what made it just as bad was I woke up at least 5 times in the night, so I hadn’t had a great night’s sleep which was annoying seeing as I haven’t slept well for the past few nights. My dad got up at 5am and then he had a quick wash and I got dressed and then I had a quick wash and then my dad got dressed.

We left my dad’s at 5:20am and then drove to South Wimbledon, parked the car and then walked up to South Wimbledon station, then topped up my Oyster Card with £2.50 and then got on the Northern Line to Euston and like usual, the journey was boring. We arrived at Euston at 6:30am and then got breakfast from WHSmith which was two chicken stuffing sandwiches, a packet of crisps and a bottle of water and my dad got two bacon rolls from `Upper Crust` in Euston Station.

We then collected our tickets and the we saw Darryl, Conor, Ross and Theo and had a little chat and then our platform was announced at 7:10am and then we walked to our train and like usual we were sitting in the quiet coach. We then found our seats and I then set up my laptop and headphones as I wanted to do some planning for an assignment that I had been given notice about that I was going to start next week.

We pulled out of Euston at 7:30am and the journey to Lancaster was uneventful. We arrived into Lancaster at 9:57am and Johnnie was there to meet us, and we got on pacer train to Barrow and with it being an away day, I had a pear cider to soak up the tiredness. We arrived into Barrow at 11:01am and then walked to the Wetherspoons and I got myself a large breakfast and a Strongbow Dark Fruit. By this time, we thought the game would still go ahead but we checked the Barrow AFC twitter to only find out the game had been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch!

We then looked to see if there were any other local games we could go to and there were two games which was Lancaster City FC vs Halesowen Town or Morecambe vs Mansfield and we decided to for Lancaster City FC vs Halesowen Town as we all as a group decided that game would be better. We then quickly finished our drinks and walked back to the station and then we had to pay £25 for a single back to Lancaster as our tickets were booked for this evening and when we got on our pacer train back to Lancaster, we figured out what we were going to do, and I even had time to look into the history of Lancaster City FC.

Lancaster City F.C. were founded in 1911 as Lancaster Town F.C. and they currently play in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League (England's 7th Tier). The club's nickname is `The Dollies` and they currently play their home games at the Giant Axe Stadium which has a capacity of 3,500 and there are 513 seats. From 1911 to 1937 the club competed in the Lancashire County League and were champions and runners up quite a few times. In 1937, the club changed their name to Lancaster City F.C. and they continued to play in the Lancashire County League until 1970 when they joined the Northern Premier League.
Throughout the 1980's, they played in the North West Counties League and the Northern League. In 2004, they joined the newly formed Conference North but in the 2006/07 season, they were deducted points and effectively went into administraiion and the club re-formed and joined the Division One North of the Northern Premier and since then, they have been runners up and had more points deducted but in the 2016/17 season, they were champions of the Northern League Division One North and they were promoted to the Northern Premier which is where they currently play.

We arrived back into Lancaster at 1:15pm and then headed straight for the ground and we checked Google Maps and the ground was only a few minutes walk away which was quite good and whilst walking to the ground, we noticed that Lancaster is a very nice place and it reminded us of our trips at Bath when we were playing in the National League South. We arrived at the Giant Axe Stadium at 1:20pm and there was another Sutton fan there and we had a talk about Barrow postponing the game. The turnstiles opened at 1:30pm and todays admission prices were £8 for my dad, £4 for me (student) and £2 for a matchday programme, so all together, £14 which is very cheap and reasonable! We then had a chat with the person who was operating the turnstile and we ended up talking about the Barrow postponement and our FA Cup run last season and it was good to hear another non-league club praising us for what we did last season. We then walked around the ground and took some pictures.
The Giant Axe Stadium has a capacity of 3,500 and there are 513 seats. The ground is very traditional and is mostly standing terracing. The main stand is a decent size for the level and holds 513 seats and opposite the main stand is a open flat terrace with a small fans bar. Behind one of the goals is a covered terrace which can probably hold around 700 fans and is referred to as `The Shed` by the Lancaster fans. Behind the other goal is an open terrace with barriers and a few steps of terracing and looks like the one at Canvey Island FC. I do really like this ground, it has a true non-league feeling and has a traditional and simple feeling to it. I like how the club haven’t put any new modern stands or terraces in the ground because I feel it would ruin the ground but if the club were to add a new stand, the best thing would be a 500-seater stand like the one at Maidenhead United as it wouldn’t ruin the overall look of the ground.

After walking round the ground to take some pictures, we then went to the club shop to see if they had any pin badges, but they didn’t, so I decided to get a ruler for £1 instead and they gave us a free fridge magnet which was very generous! We then grabbed something to eat me and my dad both went for a steak pie and I also decided to get chips with gravy because why not? When you are in the north of England, you must have chips with gravy! The pie wasn’t the best I’ve had, the pastry was nice, but I didn’t really like the taste of the meat but the chips with gravy was amazing and I would highly recommend getting chips with gravy if you ever find yourself at Lancaster City FC!

We then went in the bar and read the matchday programme and then walked round to the turnstiles and met back up with Darryl, Conor, Theo, Ross and Johnnie and we then went behind the goal that Lancaster were kicking towards and we ended up singing a few Sutton songs but obviously altering them so that they would be relevant to Lancaster City FC and some of the Lancaster fans joined in and sung some of their own songs and we started to get to know them a bit. It was all going to plan for Lancaster as they were dominating the game and could have been at least 2-0 up within the first 10 minutes or so but they deservedly took the lead on 16 minutes via Djabi and it was 1-0 to Lancaster and us Sutton fans cheered quite loudly. The rest of the first half was mainly full of Lancaster and Hasleowen didn’t really show anything and had like one chance in the whole first half.

Half time and it was Lancaster 1-0 Hasleowen Town and Lancaster were deservedly in the lead. I decided to get another portion of chips and gravy and once again they were really nice, and I think I have now started an addiction to chips and gravy! I also got a pint of Strongbow Original and it wasn’t really to my taste and I think I will stick to Kopparburg, Old Mout or Strongbow Dark Fruit. We then went round to the stepped terracing behind the goal and then when the teams came back out, there was a roar from the 250 or so people inside the ground.

The second half was once again full of Lancaster and you could clearly see why Hasleowen were near the bottom, but you couldn’t really see why Lancaster were only mid table and we spent most of the second half talking and having a laugh with the few Lancaster fans that we got to know during the first half and we even swapped stickers and even had a group photo together. Lancaster finished the game off in the 74th minute by a wonder goal! Lancaster had a few more chances but it finished Lancaster City FC 2-0 Hasleowen Town.

We then walked back to Lancaster Station and had around 2 hours to kill so we mainly spent it on my laptop doing some more planning for my assignments and we also got a bite to eat in the Costa in the station and our train finally arrived just after 7pm and it was a short journey back to Preston and we had another 30 minute wait but we was on our last mainline train of the day at 8:13pm and I mainly spent it writing up some of my blogs for the games I have got coming up and had a short nap whilst listening to music. We finally arrived back into London Euston at 10:45pm and then got the Victoria Line to Stockwell and then the Northern Line back to South Wimbledon and drove home and we got back just before midnight.
I would highly recommend going to the Giant Axe Stadium because it is a decent ground for the level, their fans are very friendly and their food as a whole is very good. You can sense the true non-league and community club felling inside the ground and is one of the things I look for as a groundhopper. I would mainly recommend going if you live within 2 hours travelling time but we live over 250 miles from Lancaster and we still had a great time.
Stadium: 8/10
Bar: 7/10
Food and Drink: 8/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Friendliness: 10/10
Value For Money: 9/10
Overall Rating: 8.3/10