Saturday, 23 August 2008

Walton & Hersham

To say Walton & Hersham is not one of my favourite places is an understatement! That's no fault of the club itself. The fans are a decent enough bunch when you visit. But down to my total dislike of any grounds that stage football with running tracks. They are an abomination and should not be allowed! I' not sure of the exact details but I think that they are looking to either redevelop here, or relocate. Whatever they do Stompond Lane is a terrible place to watch football as far as I'm concerned, and sadly becoming very run down. But it's still home to their loyal fans, fair play to them for supporting their team there. I know I couldn't watch my football regularly at running track venues.

Despite that I've still been here many times to watch the Hamlet, since the late seventies. Back in those days we always had a full supporters' coach. It always left after the final whistle, & after one game the coach got out of the car park, but couldn't get through Stompond Lane, because of double parked cars. So the 'big blokes' at the back jumped out, and literally bounced it out of the way. Cue one angry owner running out of his house, then retreating when seeing a couple of dozen jeering South Londoners!

A few years ago I had a bad cold, and was spluttering and coughing away all through the match. Unfortunately we were standing right by the bloke who was videoing their games, & throughout the second half you get to hear me drowning out almost everything else!

As I said it's a small side turning. You can see why that coach got blocked in!

A council run ground, which perhaps explains why it looks so neglected.

Here is the entrance block. the ground is set behind it.

As you enter, to the left, you see the club house. Note the tribute to those who died at the Hillsborough disaster on the board.

The bar is a 'stand alone' building inside the ground, and neatly painted in club colours.

A garden shed for selling programmes, it all adds up to a club whose fans care, & take pride in their club.

Walking straight ahead from the turnstiles you come into the stadium, and this grass bank is on the left as we enter. Underneath this grass are a few shallow step of terracing.

Practically hidden, but still visible.

From here, as in most areas of athletics grounds, you are a fair way from the action.

We get a sight of the terracing behind the goal.

And a decent covered terrace down the far side.

As we walk round there's just a path in the corner.

I do like this terracing. But it's just so far from the action. Almost a waste of a construction.

Who on earth stands on it? The athletics facilities even obscures your view of the goal itself!

Just stand at the back & you can look behind at the tennis club, if there's anyone playing!

From here we look to our right, and see the main stand, the only decent vantage point in the ground.

There is a gap in the terrace for these exit gates.

As I said, you're a heck of a distance from the pitch!

The terrace cruves round to the corner, and here we see the covered terrace on the horizon.

Again just a narrow path in the corner to reach it.

A look across the pitch.

A lovely length of terrace. Imagine how good this would be if there was no track & it was almost on the touchline.

There are exits at the back, not a modern safety requirement, but with old concrete steps down behind. I dread to think how often this has been used as a 'temporary toilet' by fans needing a leak, but not prepared to yomp round to the other side!

A look across, with the hurdle emphasizing that this is an athletics ground first, as if the track wasn't enough on its own.

Towards the far end we look back down. At least you're elevated above the track at the back of it, so the view, at least, isn't 'as bad' as it could be.

Reaching the end we look behind the far goal. No terracing here, just a path.

Apart from ballboys I cannot imagine anyone watching a match from here.

We're almost on our 'last leg' of our tour, and here you see the stand, and grass bank before we get there, along the side.

Tucked in the corner is a disused brick building, which was once both a tea bar & club shop.

This banking leads up to the stand.

The main stand looks impressive from the pitch...

With the dugouts in front.

Park style benches inside them, one with an inscription on it. Was Harry Lucas a Swans fan? Or an athletics fan perhaps? Or maybe a genuine park bench, relocated here by the council?

The League sponsors sign is tattered. Not what you would expectwhen the owner of that company Theo Paphitis is actually a Walton & Hersham director!

When you get up into the stand you realise it's not a smart as it looks.

Even the 'posh' seats are hard, solid, uncomfortable old plastic.

As I mentioned the vantage point is better from up here.

Is there a store of odd coloured seats to replace broken ones somewhere?

I should say broken or burnt!

And so it's back to where we started.

With one look back at the stand before we're on our way. Much as I'd rather watch every single Dulwich Hamlet match that's simply not possible, as I have to work every other Saturday in my job, and it's the work that pays for a roof over my head, and the football. I won't be shedding too many tears if Walton & Hersham away is when I am working!


Jack Daniels said...

Liked this review, i always enjoyed our teams visit to Walton (or the hissing swans as we nicknamed them because of their moaning fans)
Oh and you were right about the temporary toilet behind that covered terracing...we used it on many an occasion ;-)

Rabbler said...

Cheers for you kind words, & being in agreement! ;-)