Friday 18 July 2008


Claremont Road. Home of Hendon FC. One of the last great, if somewhat sadly dilapidated, old London amateur grounds. It was the second away ground I ever went to with The Hamlet, my brother took me by bus, in the mid seventies. A number 12 to Oxford Circus, and then another one from there, which took us to the far side of the park, where the ground is tucked in the corner. I've lost count of the times I've been back since, too many to recall. There was the early season league match in 1984/85. Our manager Eddie Presland had gone to Hendon, and taken the majority of our squad with him. While we appointed Billy Smith from Corinthian-Casuals and he brought their entire squad to Champion Hill. So we knew more of the Hendon players than our own that night!
This ground has also been used for rugby league, Harlequins, in some of their previous guises, having staged a few games here. I saw one against Wigan in the Challenge Cup. One rugby league game had left their clear pitch marking prior to one of our games, and we were greeted with green paint being applied with a hand brush prior to kick off, on the indtructions of the referee. Which completely ruined our Pink 'n' Blue kit, as it ended up with fresh green paint all over it!
A group of us also walked here one year, doing a sponsored walk to raise money for Club funds. It was the day of the Hillsborough disaster. I will never forget getting numb-& not just from the drink-as the death toll rose with every news flash.
There was also the 'Bartman' game! A few locals, not genuine supporters' but mates of their players, were dishing out racial abuse throughout the match. It continued in the bar afterwards. And Carl Bartley literally flew through the air to rain punches on them! It was all over in a flash, and he became a Hamlet Superhero to us lot behind the goal!
The last time I was here was for the 2004 London Senior Cup Final, when we beat the old enemy t*****g & mitcham 2-0. Marvellous, but hollow, as it came only 48 hours after we'd lost a re-organisation promotion play-off at home to Wealdstone, on sudden death penalties. Even winning the London Cup didn't lift our gloom.
Hendon are living year to year at Claremont Road, another ground soon to be lost, indeed the future of the club itself is uncertain. I, for one, hope this proud club continues.

Claremont Road is one of those grounds with the bar outside
the ground, almost a 'stand alone' pub.

Behind the bar is their function suite, and the large car
park. I can't recall the name of the player, but I do recall
being told of a player who was in dispute. The chairman wanted
him out, but he was under a good contract, so the chairman
made him train alone on Sunday mornings, expecting him
to tell him where to go, and thus save money by fining
him each week. Except the player dug his heels in, and
was forced to jog round this car park each week, as the chairman
drove slowly behind him in his Rolls Royce!

An entrance in the corner of the ground, by the bar.

To the right of that entrance are the turnstiles. Luckily
for me one of these wasn't locked, so I jumped over the
turnstile to take these snaps.

As you come through them I will turn left, and walk clockwise
around the ground. This is a strange 'stand alone' bit
of terrace. I have no idea what this was used for. I'm guessing
maybe some sort of ticket office from their amateur heyday
in the sixties.

Just past this is the tea bar, and club shop, with a few
steps of terrace in front. I do recall a midweek visit here in the
nineties. They had a fanzine which was constantly slagging
off Dulwich Hamlet at the time. I took great pleasure in walking
into the club shop, and taking my own personal 'direct action' by
picking up a large bundle of them, and proceeding to rip them
to bits!

We turn the corner and look down the side, towards the

Old signs,cluttered in a messy groundman's hut, just before
we get to the seating.

Not the biggest of stands. Old and pokey by modern
standards. With pillars obstructing the view.
But at least it's got character.

The players tunnel in the middle.

And looking down the full length of the stand.

With a view of it again, from the other end.

Past the stand is a path to the far corner. It is possible
there may be some terracing beneath that undergrowth,
but I can't be sure!

Behind the goal is some decent old, open terracing.

With a look at the stand, from behind this goal.

And our first peek of the far side. Note the roof in the middle.
Until a few years ago this ran the whole length.

The pitch surround is old. And some of it is concrete. On one
of our Hamlet visits we surged forward after we scored & a
section collapsed. Luckily there wasn't too many of us & nobody
was hurt. It probably did Hendon a favour, as not long after
they were at home to Notts County in the First Round
Proper of the FA Cup, and it probably averted a more serious
incident then.

Claremont Road is quite rare, in that it is a ground with four
'old fashioned, traditional' floodlight pylons. This is the one
in the far corner, behind this goal.
Yes I could have climbed it for an aerial snap, but while I'm
crazy, I'm not that crazy!

This terrace stretches all the way along the far side. As I
mentioned, it used to have cover all the way along, but most
of it was taken down for safety reasons. And note the
boards at the back. This blocked off some of the terrace.

An attempt to brighten up those boards at the back.
Now fading away, like the ground.

A glimpse behind the boards.

Not many grounds have a telly gantry! This was left behind
after the filming of a digital telly programme a few years ago,
called FASH FC, starring the former Millwall & Wimbledon
player John Fashanu.

I might have bottled the pylon, but I gingerly clambered up
the ladder to the gantry. These pictures might not be
too good, but I was shaking a bit! ;-)
Here we look back to the end where we entered the ground.

A glance across the roof.

Across the pitch.

Back to the far end.

And finally under the covered terrace!
Can I get down now please?

Phew back on solid ground!
This is the terrace going past the remaining cover.

And now behind the goal, at the back of the terrace, looking
across to the stand.

From the same spot, looking back down the side.

And from behind the goal, towards the stand.

This is the open terrace at this end. See the bricks at the
bottom right? This leads to the turnstiles, where we
can in.

I leave you with a picture of the toilets, as we leave, which
are just inside the turnstiles. While the latrines are a bit of a
khazi, don't make the mistake of comparing Claremont Road
to one. Think of this ground more as one of the last
'grand old stagers of the amateur game'

If you haven't been here before I would urge you to
try and see a game here before it's gone for good.


Anonymous said...

I visited this ground in spring 2008 and I must say it was a pleasure. It is a sad loss to football. To think of the history that we seem to throw away so carelessly is maddening..

gee said...

its gone , passed in summer and it was all open ready to be demolished but like most amateur sides they have only themselves to blame. they had the possibility of promoting the only football outside of arsenal and they didn't in any way.I just hope Finchley get more support now that hendon are gone but its the same old story , no one knows theres even a team there unless you are an enthusiast.Edgware went as well. We should try to form a group of supporters and go to struggling teams to boost their gates, that could be good. I'd really hate to see Clapton go but its on the cards

Rabbler said...

Abonymous: Agree totally. One of the last great old amateur grounds gone. Very few left!
Maria: Not as simple as that. People just aren't interested in local non-league.It is extrmely hard to promote non-league sides in big cities such as London. How many people do you really think would go round to struggling clubs to boost gates? A dozen, if you're lucky. And their 'once in a while' visit is hardly going to swell the coffers that much. I wouldn't be able to anyway, as I'd be supporting the Hamlet.

Whitmarsh's Whiskers said...

Supporters and the board at Hendon spent a lot of time and effort trying to promote the club and get people through the gate. Posters were put up around the local area advertising matchdays, hundreds of free tickets were given to local schools, we sent numerous press releases to local papers not all of which were published. As Rabbler says, it is very very hard to promote a Non League club in London where there is so much competition for what is effectively a niche market.

gee said...

teabooze in my opinion gets it wrong, no one ever knew if hendon were playing, there were no posters in north london, none in finchley, i know these two areas and they missed out on a vast catchment area. as there are n o reserve games now they could have had at least one hundred of the scum and maybe another hundred from spurs when spurs wern't at home. that would have doubled their the truth is they thought they did a lot but didn't. take the esl they cant even put a web site together and clapton too, theres absolutely zero info on them, like not one enthusiast willing to set up a site on the team.Moral of the story is
You have a huge piece of real estate=no one gives a monkeys bout your football=only 100 odd people go in an area of one million=the fans who go dont care anyway=you end up with ground sold=no one cares=should we even have all these huge non league spaces with like 70 people going=Clapton are a true disgrace, theyve got zero positive thinking

Rabbler said...

Good grief! You've surpassed yourself there. You really do live in cloud cuckoo land!

le canard rouge said...

I was interested to learn that you consider Clapton a disgrace. Please explain.

gee said...

read the thing I wrote, I think I said all, they have no web site no nothing, and the ESL hasnt got one that functions, do you need a telegram sent from a smoke signal. And if I live in CCL then non league football grounds should pack up and be used for housing, cos 200 people a game is ccl

Rabbler said...

Yes, I've read what you wrote, & you are talking absolute rubbish! It's MY blog, MY opinion! If you don't like that then tough! You don'r have to look in on here. It's not a discussion board, perhaps you might want to discuss it properly at somewhere like where you will find the vast majority of non-league fans will think you are talking out of your arse!
As I said..MY blog, so stick to talking about grounds. Using your logic there would be very few clubs at any level if people through the gate was the criteria for survival. I, for one, admire historic clubs like Clapton, who have very few fans, but still try to be at the heart of their community, & don't have houses built on their grounds.
Personally I'm getting bored of your nonsense, so unless you stick to talking about grounds then you will have your future comments deleted. That's not cloud cuckoo land..that's reality!