Sunday, 1 April 2018

Ashford Town (Middlesex) F.C. - Robert Parker Stadium

Ashford Town (Middlesex) F.C.
Ashford Town (Middlesex) F.C.
Robert Parker Stadium
Short Lane
TW19 7BH

Ground Number: 74
Date: Saturday 31st March 2018
Score: Ashford Town (Middlesex) F.C. 4-1 Uxbridge F.C.
Competition: Southern League Division One East
Attendance: 129

One of the best things about the Easter weekend is Sutton always play on the Good Friday and Easter Monday and this always means that I have the chance to groundhop on the Saturday. This year, Sutton were away to Maidenhead on Good Friday and home to Bromley in the South London Derby on Easter Monday. I was really tempted to go to a game on the Saturday and there wasn't really many choices that would allow me to visit a new ground but there was one which was Ashford Town (Middlesex) F.C. as they took on local rivals Uxbridge at home. This would be Ground 76 for me and Ground 74 on this blog!

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This game seemed really appealing for me to visit because I have wanted to visit Ashford Town (Middlesex) F.C. for the past year or so and this Saturday would be my chance to finally go there. Now there is a little bit of controversy about the location of Ashford Town (Middlesex) F.C. as the club now play in what is now Surrey but the area was previously Middlesex until 1965 and is also around a mile from the county of Greater London but the club still acknowledge that the area was Middlesex and to this day, still have the name of the historic county in their name even though the county doesn't exist anymore.
Another reason why this game seemed very appealing for me is because it would allow me to tick off another ground within the M25, another ground visited in the Heathrow area and another ground nearer to 100. It would also give me a chance to do some plane spotting before the game which I found really good seeing as I haven't been able to go up to Heathrow to plane spot since late last year and I was due to go back up there again and this Saturday I would be able to. So, plane spotting and visiting a new ground all in the same day, well this was going to be a great day!
After deciding on Thursday evening that I would go to Ashford Town (Middlesex) FC on Saturday, I asked around some other groundhoppers and other football fans on their previous visits to the Robert Parker Stadium and luckily enough, they all came back positive and this made me even more excited. Friday was spent in Maidenhead watching Sutton take on Maidenhead United but the game was abandoned at half time and we were winning 3-2.
After getting home from Maidenhead at 5:30pm, I had some dinner, played some Call Of Duty and then had a shower and then ended up catching up on a few episodes of `Top Gear` and `The Big Bang Theory` and then spent some time on the phone to one of my close friends and then just before I went to bed at 11:30pm, I looked into the history of Ashford Town (Middlesex) FC.
Ashford Town (Middlesex) FC were founded in 1958 as Ashford Albion FC and they currently play in the Southern League Division One East (England's 8th Tier) and the club's nickname is `The Tangerines`. The club also play their home games at the Robert Parker Stadium which has a capacity of 2,550 and there are 250 seats. The club started out in the Hounslow and District League and then in the late 1960's, they joined the Surrey Intermediate League. In 1982, they were founder members of the Surrey Premier League and in 1990, the club changed it's name to Ashford Town (Middlesex) FC and also joined the Combined Counties League.
Between 1993 and 2000, the club won the Combined Counties League 5 times but in 2000, they joined the Isthmian League Division 3 and then in 2002, the club joined the Isthmian League Division One South. In 2004, they joined the Southern League Western Division and were runners up the following season and then in 2006, they re-joined the Isthmian Premier. In 2010, they again changed leagues but to the Southern League Division One Central and then in 2014, they joined the Combined Counties League and then finally in 2016, they re-joined the Southern League.
I woke up this morning at 8:30am feeling quite refreshed as I had gotten a good nights sleep and didn't wake up in the night. I spent an hour on my phone and then realised that there was a pitch inspection at 11am and this annoyed me because I wanted to leave at 10am so I could do a good few hours of plane spotting but now I had to wait to around 11:30am to leave as the game may not be on! I ended up quickly going to Morden to pick up my first winnings of a bet and then went back home.
The pitch inspection results were announced at 11:30am and the game was on thankfully but it did mean that I wouldn't get a chance to do some proper plane spotting but at least the game was on and that was the main thing! I packed my bag which had my portable charger and a few bottles of water inside and then left my house at 11:40am and walked to the tram stop and whilst walking, I quickly stopped in the shop and topped up my Oyster Card with £2 and then once I was at the tram stop, I only had a minute wait which was ideal. Straight onto the tram and was at Wimbledon in no time and was getting on the District Line at 12:05pm and leaving Wimbledon at 12:07pm.
My journey on the District Line only lasted 20 minutes as I changed onto the Piccadilly Line at Earls Court and the train was quite full with people with suitcases but it is the cheapest way to get to Heathrow from Central London, so I suppose it would be quite busy! There weren't no empty seats so I had to stand for 30 minutes and then I finally arrived at Hatton Cross at 1:05pm and had an 8 minute wait for the 490 bus which would take me to the bus stop nearest to the ground. The bus was very packed but emptied out at Terminal 4 and then I got off at the Cargo Centre and then walked the remaining half a mile or so to the ground.
As soon as I arrived at the ground, it started to rain and that was just my luck! I went inside the bar and it is quite good as it has a TV, good range of drinks and a pool table. Then at 1:50pm, the turnstiles opened so I paid to get in and today's admission prices were £5 for me (student) and there was a special offer for today's game which was a complementary Cumberland sausage or a steak burger and I went for the Cumberland sausage and also got a steak pie. They both tasted really nice and the pie was one of the best I have ever had, it was just a shame the roll that the sausage was in was a bit dry. I then went in the club shop and got a Ashford Town (Middlesex) FC pin badge for £3.50 which was a decent purchase and then walked round the ground to take some pictures.
The Robert Parker Stadium has a capacity of 2,250 and there are 250 seats and it is a good ground for the level and is a ground that I really like! The main area of the ground has a small seated stand which holds around 100 seats and then next to this stand is a covered terrace that can hold around 50 spectators and then on the other side of the stand is the tea bar, club shop and changing rooms. Opposite this side of the ground is another seated stand that seats 150 and has ATFC emblazed on the seats and is quite neat! Behind one of the goals is a basic covered terrace that can hold around 75 spectators and then behind the other goal is an uncovered walkway with a petrol tank behind the ground which is very unique!
I have to say, for such a small ground, I am really impressed with this ground, I really like it, I love the small seated stand with ATFC on the seats, it looks really neat and innocent all by itself. I also like the other small seated stand and terrace next to it as they just fit in with the surroundings and you get some good views of the aircraft taking off from runway 27L/09R at Heathrow. I also like how the club hasn't put in any modern terraces or stands in as I think it would ruin the look of the ground! After walking round the ground to take some pictures, I went and sat in the small seated stand and then took some pictures of the teams coming out.
The first half started and the first chance of the game came on 2 minutes when Uxbridge had a free kick that just went wide and then 5 minutes, Uxbridge also had a chance to open the scoring via a cross into the box but the headed shot went just wide. Then on 11 minutes, Ashford Town  scored as one of their players headed in from a corner and the Ashford loyal went wild. Then on 13 minutes, Uxbridge headed the ball just over the bar, on 19 and 22 minutes, Ashford Town had two shots, one went wide and one went over the bar. On 40 minutes, Uxbridge had another free kick that just went wide and on 43 minutes, Uxbridge equalized via a cross that was headed in and that was it for the chances until half time.
Half time and it was Ashford Town (Middlesex) FC 1-1 Uxbridge FC, so far it had been a good game with some good chances and two goals and so far, I was really enjoying my visit here and was really looking forward to the second half. I didn't get anything to eat during half time seeing as I had something to eat before the game. I decided to move to the other side of the ground and sit in the other small seated stand.
The second half started and Ashford Town started the game on fire as they nearly opened the scoring on 47 minutes via a scramble in the box but just one minute later, they went back into the lead via a shot in the box and it was 2-1! On 53 minutes, Ashford Town had a shot that hit the side netting and 2 minutes later, they had a shot but the Uxbridge FC goalkeeper was on hand to keep the score at 2-1. On 61 minutes, Ashford Town had a shot over goal and then 3 minutes later, they had another shot that went wide and then 2 minutes after that, one of the Ashford players was bought down in the box and a penalty was given and their played stepped up and scored and it was now 3-1 to Ashford. On 79 minutes, Ashford had a chance that went just wide and the final chance of the game came on 86 minutes when Ashford scored again to make it 4-1 and the game finished Ashford Town (Middlesex) FC 4-1 Uxbridge FC.
I walked out of the ground feeling very happy because Ashford Town (Middlesex) FC had won the game and I had seen 5 goals, gotten a new pin badge, visited another ground within the M25, visited another ground in the Heathrow area and another ground nearer to 100 and it only cost me £11 in the ground but £13 including my Oyster fare! The walk back to the Cargo Centre was quite easy but I ended up having to run a little bit at the end of the journey back to the bus stop as the bus was 3 minutes. I just made the 490 bus and whilst on the way back to Hatton Cross, I managed to see some aircraft taking off so I guess that made up for not doing a lot of plane spotting earlier. I got back at Hatton Cross at 5:15pm and then had an 8 minute wait for the tube.
Back on the Piccadilly Line at 5:25pm and I managed to get a seat and listened to some music on my phone and got back to Earls Court at 6pm and got straight on a District Line train back to Wimbledon. The journey back to Wimbledon from Earls Court wasn't too bad as it is only 8 stops and once back at Wimbledon, I just missed the tram so I had to wait 8 minutes for the next one but the journey from Wimbledon back to Phipps Bridge was quick as it is only 4 stops and I then walked the rest of the journey and got home at 6:45pm.
I would highly recommend visiting Ashford Town (Middlesex) FC because it is a good ground for the level, is extremely friendly, you get some atmosphere as the Ashford fans do the occasional chant which is good to see, the food is really good and reasonably priced as well and most of all, the football played there is also at a good standard!
Stadium: 8/10
Bar: 8/10
Food and Drink: 8/10
Atmosphere: 6/10
Friendliness: 10/10
Value For Money: 9/10
Overall Rating: 7.8/10

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