Cray Valley (Paper Mills)

2 Jan

Badgers Sports Ground, Eltham, SE9

Kent League (Step 5)

26 December 2011

Cray Valley (Paper Mills) 1 v Fisher FC 2 (att circa 100)

Team talk. Boxing day is a big occasion in the footballing calendar. It is also a day when non-league football really comes into its own as you are almost guaranteed that your local team with be playing a derby game. This is great as (1) you don’t have to travel too far to watch a game, (2) the fact that the games are local derbies can often give them a spice to rival the old spice you got your dad for Christmas, and (3) as non-league football is generally kinder on the wallet than league you can take all the family to the game (whether they want to go or not). Non-league football advert over, we decided to celebrate this Boxing Day by venturing less than 4 miles from Pigeon Stand base camp to watch the deceptively named Cray Valley (Paper Mills) play Fisher.

Cray Valley (Papers Mills) is deceptive as the club is not located in the Cray Valley and also has no current relationship with a paper mill. The club’s history can be traced back to the early twenties. Whilst records are sketchy it is thought that the club has played in or around what was the Southern Alliance League for much of its existence, playing at the Paper Mills ground at St. Paul’s Cray, Orpington. The manufacturing of paper was a major industry for areas close the River Cray in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Geography suggests that this team now playing in Eltham is likely to be named after Nash’s Mill at St Pauls Cray, which was torn down in 1986.

The club decided to call it a day in 1976, before reforming in 1981. The club’s website says that they have had a somewhat nomadic existence since reforming, playing at a number of venues before settling at their current home in Eltham, SE9.

Since 1981 the club have played in the South London Alliance League, the London Spartan League, and the London Intermediate League, before joining the Kent County League (step 6) in 2001/2. Cray Valley’s most successful season was in 2004/5 when they won the league by 11 points, and also won the Kent Intermediate Challenge Shield and the Inter Regional Challenge Cup. As part of a re-gig of step 6 in Kent for the 2011/12 season Cray Valley were asked to fill a space in the Kent League (step 5).

The 2011/12 did not start particularly well for Cray Valley with the team losing the opening 3 games. Things have picked up of late and the team were unbeaten in four games going into today’s game, this included a massive 4-2 over Erith and Belvedere. This left the team in 12th at the start of play. Opponent’s Fisher were two places above them.

Cray Valley manager Steve Chapman reports in his blog that 3 points against Fisher today was the only thing on his Christmas List. Here’s hoping that Santa would not be in for a kicking.

Park the bus. Cray Valley play at the wonderfully named Badger ground – named in honour of the YouTube hit “the Honey Badger” (not true).

The ground is about 10 minutes walk from Mottingham rail (zone 4) and can accessed from central London by trains from Canon Street and Charing Cross that leave every 20 minutes or so.

Home advantage. It must be said, Cray Valley really know how to welcome their visitors. On approach to the ground we were greeted with a scrolling electronic sign at the main gate welcoming visiting fans. As if this wasn’t enough we were treated to the Bee Gee’s hit “More Than A Woman” over a loud speaker while queuing at the turnstile which is located in the large car park next to the ground.

Just as we were starting to feel special, the VIP treatment ended when we got pitch side. The Badger ground does not have a stand or other covered area, in fact the ground does not even have flood lights (Saturday games at the Badger kick off at 2pm for this reason). It is understood that the flood lights and stands needed to make the ground fit for the Kent league and beyond will be coming in the Spring. The ground is completely open on the south side and fenced on others. A concrete path leads you around the pitch. The clubhouse and changing rooms are located in two buildings in the north east corner of the ground.

Prawn sandwiches. We were starting to think that Cray Valley had invested all spare cash in a flashy electronic sign (I’m imagining a sign sales man and a scene not unlike the one from the Simpsons Monorail episode).

Luckily the bar is newly refurbished and makes a pleasant venue for a half time drink. There is even a beer garden out front that must be very pleasant in the summer – one to avoid on Boxing Day though.

Bar

The second half of the game was memorable more for incidents off the pitch rather than on. The unlikely source of the controversy was the tea hut (which is attached to the main club house). A number of fans wanting tea in the second half were turned away as the tea hut ran out of cups – this followed a ten minute episode where staff went off to try to find cups and instead managed to set fire alarms off (luckily the players did not have to evacuate the pitch because of this). This incident led to a fair amount of discontent in the second half – never stand in the way of Brits and their tea.

Disgruntled tea drinkers

…..and the game. A fairly dull game really. Cray Valley probably started the brightest and were good for their goal on half an hour. Fisher perhaps looked the more inventive side, playing some neat football, and deserved to equalise towards the end of the first half (although their goal came from a Cray defensive error).

Both teams were persistent in looking for the winner in the second half, and I personally though it was heading towards a draw. However, in the 91st minute it was Fisher who scored and took the three points.

Man of the match. For a lunchtime kick off on Boxing Day I was impressed with the number of Fisher fans who turned up. It was nice to see a strong visiting support at a step 5 game and their fans lightened a dull affair with some fun singing including the very seasonal “Jingle bells, jingle bells jingle all the way, oh what fun it is to sing when Fisher win away”.

Fisher ultras

Post game rub down. Don’t let the fun name (and sign) fool you, there are probably better non league football trips in this part of London. And visitors should pack a flask just in case the tea’s off.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Fisher FC « Tales From The Pigeon Stands - 2 August 2012

    […] Fisher were also guilty of a few defensive lapses. As with our recent visit to see Fisher play Cray Valley (Paper Mills), Chan Quan looked impressive on the wing. Alfie Nunn also continues to look good for […]

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