Archive | February, 2012

Thamesmead Town

25 Feb

Bayliss Avenue, Thamesmead, SE28

21 February 2012

Isthmian Division 1 North

Thamesmead Town 0 v Leiston FC 1 (att 63)

Team talk. The weather over the last couple of weeks has all but killed any prospect of seeing some live football in the capital – with most games cancelled due to frozen pitches. It is here that I would have liked to have included some statement about this never happening up north, with supporting anecdote about a time I saw Gritminster United play in a white out – however, it seems that no part of the country has been untouched by the big freeze. But with the weather now improving we thought of no better way to ease ourselves gently back into ground hopping mode than a Tuesday night trip to watch Thamesmead Town.

Like many clubs formed in more recent times Thamesmead Town started life as a community team in 1969, and the programme notes from tonight’s game suggests that they still see themselves this way. The club gained senior status and acceptance to the London Spartan League Premier Division in 1987 before joining the Kent League in 1991. Promotion was gained from the Kent League to the Isthmian Division One North in 2008. This gives the club the distinct honour of being the only team south of the river to play in this division. In the last couple of years they have consolidated their position in the Isthmian North. Some may recall that the club was the subject of a fly on the wall BBC documentary called ‘the Gaffa’ a few years back. The club’s mascot is also of note, ‘Tommy the Toad’ a 6ft tall guy in a toad outfit. I could not find any photos of Tommy (rumour has it that no one who dared photograph him has lived to tell the tale) and he wasn’t at the game tonight, so we’ll have to make do with an imagining below.

The 2011/12 season so far has seen Thamesmead solidly in mid table. They lost their last game against Grays 5-1 and would no doubt be hoping for better against top of the table Leiston today.

For those who don’t know where Leiston is (I had to look it up too) all you need to know is that it’s 107miles north east of Dulwich (in true Team America style) and close to nowhere at all. One thing that can be said is that Leiston are having a great season. Having only been promoted from the Eastern Counties League last year they currently sit atop the Isthmian North.

Park the bus. Thamesmead Town play at Bayliss Avenue, which is a frankly horrific 2 mile walk from Abbey Wood train station. Being responsible types we don’t often say this but, if you can… take a car.

Home advantage. Judging the facilities and atmosphere at Bayliss Avenue seems a little unfair as the ground is currently undergoing a major facelift as part of the Sporting Club Thamesmead development – which will provide a massive new sport and community facility for the area. This work is due for completion in Spring 2012 – seeing the current state of the ground I don’t think there is much chance of this deadline being met.

Hard hat optional

In the meantime Thamesmead Town play on with the work continuing around them. This does make going to the club feel like visiting a building site but frankly we have been to far more depressing non-league grounds where they cannot use redevelopment as an excuse (e.g. Sittingbourne).


The turnstile is accessed on the north side of the ground via the currently unsurfaced car park (£8 admission, £1 for a programme which includes half time raffle tickets). At the north end of the pitch there is a fairly new stand that provides the only seating in the ground. At the opposite south end there is a pigeon stand and the elevated A2016 (Eastern Way) that passes close to the pitch (note – you know you are short of blog material when you are writing about notable roads close to the ground). Other than this, there is some fine corrugated fencing and the ever present sight of the big half built new stand on the west side that gives a glimpse of the future.

South end stand

North pigeon stand

West stand (some day)

Prawn sandwiches.

Luckily (unlike the ground itself) the clubhouse is filled with blogging gold. The snack and beer bar are both in the clubhouse. It is done up in traditional working mans club style and includes St George’s bunting hung from the ceiling. The changing rooms are also attached, which made for some uncomfortable half time moments as we could hear most of the team talks. This included a player from one of the teams getting a right bollocking (or perhaps it was one of the officials).

In the main bar there is a trophy cabinet with what looks like a replica of the UEFA Cup in it. It was also nice to see a Dulwich Hamlet flag give pride of place. Easily the best thing about the bar is the separate VIP adults only area which can be accessed for £3. Obviously we did not visit the VIP area (being a bit tight and all) but we can only imagine what sort of fun goes on. The entrance suggests cheap lap dancing but I imagine it’s perhaps just scrabble.


Masini spots Hamlet flag - so proud


Maybe..... maybe not!!!

We are not able to report anything about the snack bar as there was no food available. The reason for this was that the Charlton ladies team had been in over the weekend and eaten everything… the bastards.

Who ate all the pies (and the rest)?

…..and the game. Leiston started by far the brightest and looked good for their early lead, a well taken lob over the Meady keeper by Gareth Heath. The first half drew to a close with both teams play looking progressively messier. We were sure there would be more goals in the second half. This was not to be, although the second half was far more balanced with the Meadymen looking the better side for periods. Former Dulwich Hamlet forward (and Harlem Globetrotter) Theo Fairweather Johnston looked dangerous at times for Thamesmead, who were probably a bit disappointed not to get something from the game.

Man of the match. During the game we discussed possibly ditching the Man of the Match bit for our Thamesmead post, as frankly finding one was difficult. We were resigned to doing this and then in the 90(+3) mins Thamesmead got a corner. Desperate to equalise they made a decision to do something that I have not seen in a standard league game before… they brought their keeper forward, instantly giving us our man of the match.

Post game rub down. It is very hard to judge Thamesmead Town with the ground in its current state. On the field they play some nice stuff but we felt that they would not easily survive in the current Isthmian Div 1 South League which is as strong as I have ever seen it. Off the field, I would like to return when the ground is finished to reach a final conclusion. So that will be in 2015