VCD Athletic: Avoiding the Internationals (part 2)

27 Mar

26 March 2011

Kent League Premier Division

VCD Athletic 1 v Beckenham Town 0 (att – 67)

Oakwood, Old Road, Crayford, DA1

Please note this is Part 2 of our double-header. Part 1 (Dartford FC) can be found here.

Team talk. Founded in 1916, VCD Athletic (or Vickers, Crayford & Dartford Athletic F.C. to give them their full name) are one of only a handful of clubs to have been formed during World War I. The club was founded by workers at the Vickers armaments factory in Crayford. The Vickers factory was well known for its manufacture of warships and machine guns.

VCD joined the Kent League Premier Division in 1996/1997 and have an impressive record of finishing in the upper reaches of this division. The club had its most successful season ever in 2008/2009, winning both the Kent Senior Cup and Kent League Premier Division, and earning promotion to the Rymans League. Despite finishing in 8th in the Rymans North Division in 2009/2010, the club were cruelly relegated back into the Kent Premier for failing to make necessary changes to their Oakwood, Old Road ground to bring it in line with league rules. Following this, the club’s then manager Paul Foley left to join Chatham Town taking most of the team with him.

Rymans League officials really rub it in with this sticker on the Old Road sign

Despite these problems, the team have had a strong 2010/2011 season and at the start of play today were third in the league, with Beckenham Town in sixth. Both teams were looking to bounce back from midweek cup defeats – VCD lost 5-1 in the league cup to top of the table Hythe and Beckenham were narrowly beaten 4-3 in extra time by AFC Wimbledon in the London Senior Cup.

Park the bus. Barnehurst and Crayford are the nearest train stations (Zone 6). Frequent trains from London Bridge will get you there in about half an hour. If approaching from the M25 by car it may be necessary to leave more time to negotiate Dartford and Crayford.

Home advantage. Whatever the folks at the Rymans League say, VCD’s Oakwood ground is a cracking little place with bags of character and certainly no dearth of facilities. From the moment we passed through the turnstiles and paid our entrance (£7 including programme) we got the impression that this is a club at the heart of a community and a ground that is well looked after.

Drat...no ball games !!!!

What you are not prepared for when you enter Oakwood is the sudden change in ground level between where the turnstiles, directors box, shop and bar are and the pitch. This makes for a great entrance. The concrete path meandering down to pitch side gives a sense of occasion to the whole thing. If Dartford’s ground (visited earlier in the day) is about intimacy then VCD’s is about space.

Ski jump anyone? : guys cling on for dear life.

On finally reaching pitch side you are faced with the only seated terrace at the ground, the Gary Rump stand. We later discovered that Gary Rump is the current chairman (insert your own joke about a guy called Rump being in charge of a club that sounds a bit like an STD).

VCD Chairman Gary Rump with former England internation Terry McDermott

Rumpy pumpy : Gary chums up to Terry McDermott during Huddersfield visit last year

We

Facing the Rump on the other side of the pitch are two smart timber pigeon stands with roofs not unlike those seen at Dartford earlier in the day (a bit less showy maybe). These stands were added in 2006 following a grant from the Football Foundation and had some input from local sports architecture firm Opensport

The future of pigeon stands.. today?

A certain symmetry?

UPVC dugout windows were perhaps not part of the Opensport vision for VCD.

UPVC dugout windows were perhaps not part of Opensports vision for VCD

Prawn sandwiches. Refreshments are available from a hole in the wall selling tea for around 80p and bacon roll, burgers, etc for between £2 and £2.50. There is also a bar, which is accessed from outside the ground.

Other half time entertainment included a golden goal, with a prize for both the first and the final goal.

No ticket, no prize.. No woman, no cry

…..and the game. This would have been a more enjoyable game, had we not learnt at the beginning that we had missed Dulwich Hamlet beating Fleet Town 6-0 to come to see VCD . The first half wasn’t much to write home about. Both teams looked a little lacklustre after really tough mid-week games. The second half was a real improvement, with VCD running Beckenham (whose players looked a little out of shape) ragged. VCD played some really entertaining stuff, lovely touches, and moved fantastically as a team and certainly deserved their goal.

The naughty corner. The latest sanction open to referees.

Man of the match. We had not heard much from the match announcer before kick off. As such, we could not have been prepared for his half time impromptu a’capella version of Bobby Darin’s “Dreamlover“. He was so in to it that he forgot some of the words, went away to look them up, and started singing again as the second half kicked off.

Dream lovers

Dreamlovers

Post game rub down. My Glasgow Rangers supporting fellow Pigeon Stander will disagree with this (due only to the green and white hoops that the team play in) but you would be hard pressed to find a reason not to like this club. VCD is a proper community club that is clearly well cared for and long may this continue to be the case. Recommended.

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3 Responses to “VCD Athletic: Avoiding the Internationals (part 2)”

  1. michaeljlambert 28 March 2011 at 5:54 pm #

    As soon as I saw those green and white hoops I knew there would be trouble for James, though seeing as Beckenham play in a very Aberdeen-style red he’d be conflicted either way!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Beckenham Town « Tales From The Pigeon Stands - 4 September 2011

    […] …and the game. Despite the reservations beforehand, this turned out to be a fine game. This never looked like a game between two teams that were low on confidence. Nor did this Beckenham side look like the same team who were described as looking “a little out of shape” by the authors of this blog during our visit to VCD Athletic last season. […]

  2. Chessington and Hook United « Tales From The Pigeon Stands - 21 April 2012

    […] morning. Regular readers of this blog will know that we did a double header last year when we saw VCD Athletic and Dartford. The decision to visit these games saw us miss a massive 6-0 win for our own Dulwich […]

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