Tag Archives: Isthmian South

Chipstead FC

29 Dec

26 December 2012

Ryman League Division 1 South

Chipstead FC 00  v  Dulwich Hamlet 01  (att 124)

High Road, Chipstead


Team Talk. Christmas is over. 19 years on and I’m still bloody waiting for someone to buy me a proper Tracy Island.

To cheer myself up and to forego further family ‘banter’, we packed ourselves off to the other side of Croydon to see what was going down at Chipstead FC.

The Chips were founded in 1906 as a works club for the builders constructing the nearby Netherene hospital. Times were tough in those early years and much like the current financial struggles of non-league clubs, Chipstead relied on a number of handouts and initiatives to make it from one season to the next. The club used legal and above-board Whist drives to cover the costs; something Dulwich Hamlet should consider if rumours of financial instability persist.

Two seasons ago, the club celebrated 25 years of playing senior football club by finishing in 10th place in Division 1 South, their highest ever league position.

The 1906 Chipstead lads. Not enough moustaches for my liking. (thanks to Chipstead FC for the pic)

The 1906 Chipstead lads. Not enough moustaches for my liking. (thanks to Chipstead FC for the pic)

This season has seen Chipstead once again fighting at the top end of the table. A fine achievement as despite not being particularly well-supported, they also have not gone down the Whitehawk/Crawley Down International Airport/Met Police model of buying their way out of the division without any fans. They are a seemingly well run wee club for the local community.

Their opponents this day were fellow advocates of thrifty success; Dulwich Hamlet. Yes, we are aware that this blog has turned into somewhat of a Hamlet away-days travelogue but when your team are playing a style of football that can only be described as Hot Angry Sex, I wager, you’d struggle to watch other teams as well.

Park the bus. High Road Chipstead is a description more of the ground’s surrounding topography than of its land use. It is remote, 5 miles south of Croydon and in the middle of nowhere. There was a genuine turkey farm opposite the ground and not a Barrett Home in sight.

The nearest station is Chipstead which is about a mile away down a country road. Delightful in the summer, however; in the pissing rain it was less attractive. It’s not often we’ll say this, but drive if you have the option. Clearly lots of people felt the same way as we soon discovered it wasn’t just the drains that had overflowed, it was the parking too.

Homefield advantage. High Road is another one of those odd grounds that seems baffling close to failing the FA’s Ground Grading regulations. There’s a semi-sheltered scaffolding arrangement behind one of the goals which on a normal rainy day would be sufficient but when the weather resembles the rapture, the half-metre gap at the top is most unfriendly.Pigeon Stand

A MAJOR defect in the Pigeon Stand

A MAJOR defect in the Pigeon Stand

Located next to the stand is an area of uncovered seating, more conventionally referred to as a park bench. This was dedicated to Stanley Isted with a well-intentioned but ultimately creepy inscription “Sit down for a while, think of me and smile…nice and gentle”. Still, I’m sure the Yewtree squad have got little to worry about here and on a pleasant day, I’m sure many a Chipstead supporter has taken full advantage of sitting on Stanley’s bench and enjoying an ale or two. Boxing Day, however, was no time to be uncovered, one brief foray into the elements was enough for me.

Park up and sit on Stanley

Park up and sit on Stanley

The only other stand of note was the Louis Thompson stand, a conventional 100ish seater stand which on this day was nearly full. Normally we don’t do sitting down unless we absolutely have to but as the Hamlet spent the second half kicking toward the uncovered end of the ground, the Louis Thompson was as close to the action as we were likely to get. Little did we know that we’d be much closer to the off-field entertainment too (more on that later).

Prawn sandwiches. Two options for sustenance presented themselves at Chipstead (as they do at most places). A bar and a tea hut, as the rain was coming down faster than the odds of Tooting being relegated, we headed for the bar.bar

Inside we were treated to a nice bit of mock-Tudor ‘beams’ and some rather jazzy Christmas decorations. I was grateful for the well stocked, well run bar and at less than £3 for an ale and a Twix, there were no complaints about the price either.

I was impressed by the rather splendid Ryman Division 1 South scoreboard that had been lovingly assembled if not updated with the half-time scores.

Scores on the doors? No.

Scores on the doors? No.

However, of most pleasure was a lone Christmas Card stuck on the notice board…

and may all your Christmases be filled with a Pink and Blue pumping

May all your Christmases be filled with a Pink and Blue stuffing

Now, I don’t know whose back you have to scratch to get your paws on one of those bad-boys but I’ll be doing everything in my power to get hold of one in 2013.

As we were almost in earshot of the M25, this must be Chelsea Country. Unlike on trips to some clubs not too far from here (Sutton United, I’m looking at you), I was delighted by the lack of league club paraphernalia around the place. One nice touch was the plaque and newspaper clippings from the opening of the bar by then-Chelsea manager and former England man (who I believe was part of the 1966 World Cup squad), Geoff Hurst; although the picture of Geoff’s arrival has a touch of the “what the fuck am I doing here?” about it.


Chairman Colin Hughes shows off his bar AND his ‘tache. Take note Chipstead players of 1906.

The tea hut provided much needed hot beverages on a truly rotten day. 80p for a brew is about standard in our division but frankly, they could have charged double and most people would still have had one. The tea hut also seemed to be the primary vendors of merchandise with hats and scarves seemingly available to purchase with your Bovril. Next to the tea hut is a gigantic tree stump which look like it fell victim to Chipstead’s plans for expansion. Captain Planet would shed a tear if he ever found out.tea hutstumped

…and the game. First things first, getting through 90 minutes in apocalyptic conditions is a tremendous achievement and both teams performed admirably in the circumstances.

Somehow the Chipstead groundstaff had managed to get a surface that allowed both teams to pass it around without resorting to a muddy game of kick and chase. Sadly, only one team seemed capable of playing attractive football as Chipstead resorted to a more physical approach of manhandling some of the Hamlet’s undersized players. Perhaps no surprise then, that the game ended with a Chipstead red card.ground

The game’s only goal came from a Danny Carr header in the 1st minute of the second half, I can’t tell you anything of the build up as we were only just re-entering the ground but it looked like it was probably a header…I’m sure/hope nobody reads this blog for the in depth match analysis; my commiserations if you do.

Chipstead created a few chances and found Dulwich’s kryptonite – the low cross into the box – but seemed to lack a genuine goalscorer to bury the pass. Defensively, when they weren’t garrotting our Turkish superstar, Erhun Oztumer, Chipstead were painfully well organised and apart a couple of darting Nyren Clunis dribbles, The Chips were up to pretty much everything thrown at them. On balance, it would have been hard to complain at a draw but this year, narrow wins seem to be the Hamlet way.game

Man of the match. Upon celebrating the Hamlet opener, trying to establish who and how the goal was scored and a further complaint about the weather we took our place in the Louis Thompson main stand with little expectation of anything fun.

We were wrong.

It seems the arrival of Erhun Oztumer has brought with it a small smattering of Turkish supporters. Though the grizzled silence and casual sweary encouragement from the Rabble (the Hamlet’s most loyal supporters) is one of the most charming aspects of watching Dulwich, it was brilliant to hear a handful of guys singing in Turkish with “Dulwich Hamlet” implanted into the chants. There was loud but respectful banging of seats a (failed) attempt to get the Rabble in the scaffold pigeon stand to join in with some sort of harmony and finally some honking of car horns in the car park (partially encouraged by us). Roll on an FA cup tie with Leeds…

One of the Hamlet's Turkish Ultras. Excellent stuff

One of the Hamlet’s Turkish Ultras. Excellent stuff

Post-match rubdown. To judge Chipstead on a miserable day like this would be unfair. It was a truly awful day and the football on the pitch was always going to be compromised by the conditions. The club officials, supporters and volunteers seemed chirpy enough (as we all were by the opportunity to get out of the house for a few hours). High Road is one of those grounds that when the sun is out would capture all that is good about non-league football and whilst it’s a nightmare to get to, it’s probably worth a return visit at some point.SONY DSC

Walton Casuals

8 Nov

03 November 2012

Ryman Isthmian League Division One South

Walton Casuals 00  v  Dulwich Hamlet 02 (att 116…apparently)

Waterside Ground, Walton-on-Thames

Team Talk. As Mole and Ratty know only too well, the river bank is a pretty special place. So on a crisp Saturday afternoon, a trip to the Waterside Ground in Walton on Thames seemed like a jolly good idea especially as Walton Casuals just happened to be hosting Dulwich Hamlet; a team that we’re a bit partial to.

Walton were founded by members of the armed forces who, after a few years of playing friendlies in the immediate post-war years, decided to establish a proper football club in July 1948. The Casuals were born and started playing Surrey Intermediate League games that year at Elm Grove Recreational Grounds in downtown Walton (if Walton has a downtown), about a mile from their current home at the Waterside. After 44 years of flitting around the rather limited independent Surrey Leagues, The Stags finally decided it was time to enter the pyramid. After a quick assent into the Combined Counties, Walton begin to stagnate but following the appointment of Surrey managerial stalwart, Mick Sullivan, the team were swiftly on the rise again. Three years later, ex-West Ham and punditry, er…legend(?) Tony Gale was brought in to add some panache. Under Gale’s reign, Sullivan was allowed to move on and the Casuals were placed in the steady managerial hands of Spencer Collins who helped get the club promoted into the Isthmian League where they remain today.

Following Collins’ departure, Walton Casuals continued to flirt with fame as Journeyman midfielder Neil Shipperley took charge in 2011 (remaining at Waterside for all of about 5 minutes). Shippers, who rivals big Neville Southall in the Fattest Ex-Professional competition, then went on to manage North Greenford before leaving in pursuit of the big time (seriously Neil, what on earth made you think that was going to work?) before returning to Greenford with his tail between his considerably girthy legs.

Neil Shipperley. Time hasn’t been kind

After Shippers was sacked, Walton welcomed back Mick Sullivan. A man who it’s safe to say, I hate more than any other on the planet (bar Neil Lennon). Sullivan was the evil genius who orchestrated the downfall of Dulwich Hamlet in the 2010 playoff final when he was the manager of Leatherhead. The sight of Gavin Rose’s tears still haunt me to this day.

Sullivan brought with him a host of familiar faces. Ex-Hamlet player/bench-warmer, Sol Patterson-Bohner (no sniggering) joined The Stags, as did ageless goalkeeper Chico Ramos and more importantly, fitness coach (and presumably dressing room jester), Mark “Catweasel” Norman. On Paper, it’s a strong unit and one that did not seem to deserve to be at the foot of the Division One South table.

Dulwich Hamlet came into this game in need of a confidence boosting win. A tumultuous few weeks had seen Gavin Rose’s men/boys defeated by the division’s top three sides by a combined score of 10-1, most recently a disappointing 2-0 loss at home to Hythe. There are also rumours of discontent in both the boardroom and dressing room which has culminated in player of the year and fellow Brockley resident, Dean Carpenter, being ousted for tweeting his displeasure of being left out of the team. Meanwhile the Pink and Blue Cafu, Kalvin Morath-Gibbs, remains AWOL.

This one had upset plastered all over it.

Park the bus. First thing you need to know about Walton Casuals’ Waterside Ground is that is miles from anything. The nearest station is Hersham which is a good two-mile plod. The better option is to get a fast train to Walton on Thames Station from Waterloo which takes about 30 minutes, only stopping at Surbiton and bypassing delights of Wimbledon and Clapham at speed. If you get a nice day. Take the opportunity to head straight up to the Thames and enjoy a riverside beer (or mulled cider in this case) at one of several pubs as you shout aggressively at the inferior souls living north of the Thames.

I saw the sign(s)

Homefield Advantage. Emerging from the river towpath, the first thing that becomes apparent is that Walton Casuals love a good bit of branding. If there’s a blank wall, chances are it’ll be filled with a new sign before too long. We counted eight signs before we’d even paid our admission.

You’ll enter the ground through a troubling maze of permanent portacabins, at least, I think they were portacabins. The first building of note is the club shop. This was a welcome sight after our past three bloggable games were void of any merchandising. As Walton seem quite happy to stick their logo on anything, we had high hopes. We weren’t disappointed.

In the shop, we were greeted by a lovely range of stationary and t-shirts but our eyes were drawn to a rather comfortable looking Walton Casuals cushion/pillow costing just fifteen of your hard-earned pounds. Sadly, Walton’s programme was  more of a financial burden at £1.50 (or 10% of a cushion) for a few sheets of A4 and an incorrect teamsheet. Not good.

Walton were hoping for a cushy win…sorry.

Once out of the shop, we were back in the maze and instantly transported into 19thcentury London as we stumbled across a drinking fountain.  A supply fresh from the Thames, perhaps? With Dr John Snow nowhere to be seen, we thought we’d give the pump (and a potential Cholera outbreak) a miss.

Would you tap that?

The ground itself fairly compact. There’s covered stands on all four sides – a rarity in this division – with both ends having a corrugated metal pigeon stand. The far sideline features the only seats in the ground. Questions are raised as to whether this is enough to satisfy the FA’s Step 4 ground grading but as Walton have one of the lowest average attendances in the league, it’s probably never going to be an issue.  At least the club have a sense of humour about the low turnout; playing Ghost Town by The Specials during the pre-match warm up. 

The main stand is a substantial whitewashed masonary shed, looking  somewhat like a giant dugout. It was cozy and offered a reasonable view from the edge although the lack of steps would leave those standing in the back of the stand with a very poor view indeed. Again, I doubt overcrowding of this stand has been an issue.

Prawn sandwiches. The Stags Bar, based in another converted series of cabins was – as we’d come to expect – laden with Walton Casuals branding. Tables, fridges, you name it, it was branded in The Stags’ Orange and Black. The bar seems to have been recently refurbished and was in good order, too good in fact, as (I’m reliably informed)  the white tables and chairs are a direct match of those found at swanky Bermondsey foodbag, Zucca.

More to our taste was the Shepherd Neame beer on offer, although the draft Spitfire was super chilled for no apparent reason. That’s no way to sample Kent’s finest but as the bar has panoramic views of the pitch, we could wait for our beer to warm up before heading to the battlefield. Impressively, The Stags Bar also has free wifi and a QR code linking to the (hopefully accurate) teamsheet. We felt like we’d arrived in some sort of Non-league future.

A tea cabin, sits opposite the bar and offered a decent selection of drinks including, the Isthmian Division gold, a Borvil. Nothing says paradise quite like some filthy hot gravy followed by a luke warm cup of tea and Walton served this up with style. Alas, the Brovil-and-Mars double (the Hateley-and-McCoist of half-time treats) wasn’t to be sampled as apparently all chocolate is sold in the bar. Madness. I refuse to stand for such barbaric acts.

And the game…Well, the Hamlet started with a bang. Less than a minute on the clock and Dulwich’s latest superstar, a pint-sized Turkish Cypriot from Bexley called Erhan Otzumer, had broken free only to shoot narrowly wide. It all looked very promising. When starting alongside fellow pocket rocket, Frankie Sawyer, one of the firey partnership (code name: the Micro Machines) had always been on the scoresheet. It was only a matter of time before the 30 or so travelling supporters would be rejoicing.

However, the 1st minute action was to be the only goalmouth drama of the first 45 minutes. A couple of half-hearted penalty shouts, (only one of which looked to be close) and some limp passing was about all that either side could muster. 

The Hamlet have been crippled by injuries this season and added another name to the list as Ellis Green went down after about 20 minutes. His replacement was young Dan Carr, as far as I’m aware, making his first appearance for the Pink and Blues.  He didn’t have the best of starts forcing a couple of weak shots towards goal but nothing to challenge the burly frame of Chico Ramos.

Dulwich struggled to breakdown the experienced but disjointed Walton back four, marshalled by Craig Lewington, son of England assistant Ray and nephew of  Dulwich’s consecutive appearance record holder, Chris.

After some half-time words of positive encouragement from Gavin, the Hamlet came out all guns blazing and took the lead on 48 minutes when Nyren Clunis was released down the right wing. Clunis’ precise cross found young Dan Carr who casually slipped his marker to slot past Ramos bagging his first goal for the Hamlet. A lovely goal from start to finish.

Dulwich put the result beyond bout shortly after the hour as Lewis “Chewy” Goncalves (and not Luke Hickie as we initially thought) latched onto the end of a free kick as Walton seemingly tried to manufacture an elaborate offside trick.

Chewy makes it 2-0

Dulwich continued to press and Walton seemed incapable of manufacturing anything. This was a shock as Mick Sullivan’s teams have usually played attractive, attacking football. Still, we weren’t complaining and the long road to 2010 playoff revenge continues. Leatherhead: Beaten. Sullivan: Beaten. Now for Kev Terry.

Man of the match. As you know, we bloody love a good look-a-like here at The Pigeon Stands and amongst a crowd of no more than 90 (irrespective of what the official count says), we didn’t think our chances of striking gold would be too high, especially as around a third of the crowd were familiar to us. However, lady luck was on our side as a pretty convincing Del Boy (in dress if not in facial appearance) showed up. I’d like to think that this was a subtle dig at our South East London roots but I fear it was just his regular winter get-up. A nice try nevertheless.

London, Paris, Walton-on-Thames

Post-match rubdown. Well, as Ratty said “There is nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats at Walton Casuals”. It’s a nice wee set up, much better than we had expected but sadly, the quality on the pitch left a lot to be desired. Save this trip for a sunnier day by which time, they might have had a change of fortunes on the pitch. 

Corinthian Casuals

14 May

09 April 2012

Isthmian League Division 1 South

Corinthian Casuals 00 v Maidstone United 01 (att 176)

King George’s Field, Tolworth

Team Talk. Corinthian Casuals was the second leg of our Easter Bank Holiday double, following on from our trip to Chessington and Hook United which you read about last month. After a relatively subdued morning in the rain, we were hoping for brighter things in the afternoon. Sadly, we were to be disappointed.

Starting out life as Corinthian FC (not to be confused with the club of the same name in the Kent League) and The Casuals, Corinthian Casuals can claim to be one of the oldest clubs in Britain. A claim that led the FA originally naming one of Wembley’s premier hospitality packages in their honour before renaming it in honour of diamond thief and Escape to Victory star, Bobby Moore.

As well as learning more about Casuals’ storied history, we were also keen to see if we could spot wicket-keeping icon, Alec Stewart, whose dad was a former player for Corinthian Casuals. Stewart is apparently a regular down at King George’s Fields. However, unlike us, he had better things to do with his Easter Monday.

Along with Dulwich Hamlet, Corinthian Casuals are the only team in the country to sport a pink home kit, meaning they’re the primary reason why the two teams require an away kit. Unfortunately, Casuals’ current home shirts seem to have been through the wash once too often and their historic Pink and Brown has turned into a rather miserable Pink and Burgundy.

How’s it going So-crates, dude?

Corinthian Casuals are also the proud founding fathers of the reigning Brazilian champions of the same name who came into existence after the South West Londoners toured Brazil in 1910 as part of missionary efforts to save Brazilian souls from the devil…or Pete Winkelman. The two clubs remain close and in 1988, Corinthian Casuals flew over to Sao Paolo to play their continental counterparts who fielded no less than seven internationals (take note Guyana). It was in this game that Socrates got his first taste of English non-league football, playing 45 minutes from Corinthian Casuals before reigniting his love of the Pyramid many years later by playing for Garforth in 2004.

Park the bus.  The approach to King George’s Fields is one of the least attractive in South London, in fact, I’d rate it as the absolute worst to date. Tolworth (twinned with Mordor) is your nearest railway station, that’s about a 10 minute walk from the ground along the edge of the Kingston Bypass. That’s about as attractive as it sounds.

If you’re trying to avoid emphysema, you can cut through the playing fields and along the road at the back. Past the concrete factory and the motocross track. I noticed there was a bus stop on that route and although it’s probably only a two minute ride, it would be worth every penny.

Homefield advantage. For a team steeped in history, I was really disappointed by King George’s Fields. It’s a rather tatty place severely lacking any real character. Probably because it has only been home to the club since 1988.

The deceptively named “Tiny” Liddle Stand makes up the only seated area in the ground and is in fact, rather sizeable. Seating works in a sort of North-to-South grading with benches (albeit relatively plush, cushioned benches) at the far end, followed by a large swathe of more traditional plastic seats and ending in a portacabin (yes, a portacabin) which doubles up at the executive board room. Although the tiny bit of white picket fencing around one corner of the cabin/executive lounge suggested opulence was awaiting indoors, I’m not quite sure how Bruce Badcock and the rest of the Isthmian brass let Casuals get away with such shabby facilities in Step 4 but I think it’s safe to assume that they won’t be hosting any regional cup finals down in Tolworth any time soon. Not unless they fancy cozying up to Alec Stewart on a banquette.

Opposite the Tiny Liddle is, well, nothing: A couple of dugouts, some patio paving stones (possibly concealing the horrific secrets of the Jordache family) and a few floodlights. Nothing to see here folks.

Behind either goal was a rather solidly constructed shelter made out of good old fashioned scaffolding and corrugated metal sheets. Now, it’s easy to get precious about what a Step 4 team should have, but I bloody love a good bit scaff to keep the rain out especially but when there’s a plaque recognising the hard work of the chaps who built the stands (thanks to Grounds for Concern for that photo), that’s even better. King George’s really is the most scaff-tastic ground we’ve been to. Even parts of the Tidy Liddle main stand is just scaff and sheet metal. It’s like a Meccano enthusiasts wet dream.

Prawn sandwiches. The bar and tea hut are located at the back of the Tiny Liddle. The two are joined by another bit of scaff which provides a smoking shelter for patrons.  Whilst the pebble-dashing makes the whole building look a bit like a council-owned golf clubhouse, the away team dressing room which is attached to the far end of the bar was actually more reminiscent of my old nan’s bungalow.

Excuse me? Can James come out to play?
Oh no sorry, this is the dressing room.

The bar itself was pleasant enough, with plenty of memorabilia from Corinthians’ and Casuals’ historic past. Slightly upsetting was a Celtic pennant which seemed to have pride of place next to the bar. Not the kind of warm welcome I was I expecting.

Rule 1 of getting a good write up from me: HIDE THE BLOODY CELTIC MERCH!

The queue for the tea hut was pretty sizeable at all times, however, there seems to be short cut if you order from the bar as opposed to the hatch outdoor.

…and the game. After a morning of Combined Counties kick-and-chase, I was hoping for something a tad more sophisticated, in actual fact, I think Molesey would probably have given both of these two a run for their money. Maidstone are a club I have always had bit of a soft spot for having lived in the town for a bit a few years ago (even though the Stones were still exiled in Sittingbourne at the time). They remain one of the best organised defences in the Isthmian 1 South and are the only team to keep back-to-back clean sheets against free-scoring Dulwich Hamlet in the 2011/12 season. Up front, I have been expecting to see big things from Stones Striker Shaun Welford and whilst he seems to have all the physical gifts, I’m yet to see him shine. On this day, his performance was dwarfed by his strike partner Baff Addae, who looked dangerous throughout and scored an opportunistic goal from a slip by Casuals keeper Adam Peck.

Obligatorisch foto von das spiel

Corinthian Casuals started slowly are rarely threatened in the first half although they came into the game a bit more in the second half. However, even then they weren’t particularly dangerous. The Casuals were inspired/terrified by Scott Corbett, their own big number 7 and dead ringer for Tubes from the once popular, now dreadful, Soccer AM.  Corbett was so angry at his premature baldness that he was lunging in for every tackle, contesting every decision and generally giving talented the rest of his team a rough ride for everything they did (good or bad).

Scott Corbett. Not as nice as Ronnie…probably nicer than Matthew

The absolute best thing about Maidstone United (apart from my Father-in-law’s plans to deck out his buses in team colours for their homecoming this July) is StonesTV, a website broadcasting highlights of every Maidstone game. For those who are interested in seeing something more detailed about the game with Corinthian Casuals – opposed to a few flaky paragraphs from me – can check out their website.

Post-match rubdown. I hate being too critical of clubs on here. The whole point of the Pigeon Stands is to try and open a few eyes to the generally good times you’ll have visiting your local club. However, I’m just not sure there are that many good times or indeed locals (apart from the Stewart family) to be had round here. Casuals aren’t a great team on the pitch and there’s not exactly a brilliant wedge of stuff off the field. I suppose if you live within a five minute walk, you could pop along, but there’s a much better afternoon to be had at Raynes Park, Kingstonian or (dare I say it) Met Police and  it won’t take you much longer to get there. I’d love to say that everyone should make a pilgrimage to King George’s to bathe in the history of the club, but sadly, there’s not much at the end of an unpleasant journey. When the highlight of the trip was a £5 all day breakfast from one of Tolworth’s insalubrious  greasy spoons, you know you’ve had a shocker. Sorry Corinthian Casuals, it’s a massive ‘could try harder’ from Pigeon Stands HQ.