Saturday 14 June 2008

Phoenix Sports, 2007/08

Phoenix Sports is a very low level, having just won the Kent County League Division One West championship for 2007/08. They play at Mayplace Road East, Barnehurst, DA7 6JT; which is about a ten minute walk from Barnehurst station, or from the other direction about fifteen minutes from Crayford station.
Not a venue I would usually visit, but as I often go to watch the Dulwich Hamlet Under 18's compete in the Kent Youth League on Sundays I do get a chance to 'tick off' some of these lower level, obscure, intermediate grounds.
In fact this was my third attempt to get here for this fixture. First time round there was too much frost in the ground, and it was finally called off fifteen minutes before kick-off, just as I arrived! When re-arranged it was a rare Sunday of snow in London, & I got the call to confirm it was off again, just as I was changing buses at Woolwich.
So it was 'third time lucky' when I took these! It was Sunday 27th April & the Hamlet won by the odd goal in seven, coming from behind. Marvellous!

There were a number of small sided junior matches adjacent
to the main pitch. You can see the club house & changing
rooms in the back ground; the main road, & entrance being

As you can see, very basic.

Railed off down one side only.

The dug outs on the far side, our half time team talk is
the players sitting on the remains of some sort of old
stand or terrace.

Probably a more than adequate structure in it's day.

Another view of the spectator side.

A close up of the dug outs. Not the home one in the
distance, with no roof!

Charles Sage Stadium, JA Drancy, France.

I visited JA Drancy at the start of the 2006/07 season...almost! I had been in Paris to watch Red Star, and on the Sunday they had a friendly with a Red Star XI, I had seen a CFA league match the day before. So I went to Drancy, and found the ground locked up at kick off. it had been pouring down with rain, so I assumed it had been postponed. I was pissed off to find out later, via the excellent Red Star website, that the match had been played, but they'd brought forward the scheduled kick off! this had been mentioned on the French pages of the site, which I don't look at as I don't understand them, but not on the English one. Presumably because they thought no Englishman would be foolish enough to go!

So when I was in Paris for the last weekend in March I was pleased to see that JA Drancy were at home. Again I thought it might be off, as it poured down with rain, what is about this town? ;-)

I posted about it on the Kempster site:

"And so to my last match of the weekend. This time in the north-east outer suburbs, in a place called Drancy. This was for a Championnat Division Honneur clash between JA Drancy & Lusitanos Saint-Maur. It had been raining all morning, & it was a 3.30pm kick off, so again, I thought it might have been off. But I was pleased to get to the ground ten minutes before the start & see people in the ground. This was the Stade Charles Sage, and easy to get to from Drancy station, not Metro, but overground on the local RER service, which you can catch from Gare du Nord. It was a mere ten minute stroll. Cross the bridge & turn first left, turn right into Rue Bernard, & carry on walking. As simple as that. It was a nil nil draw, played in driving rain, & windy, but no less of a spectacle because of the conditions. The home side were well on top, but just lacked in the final third, creating chance after chance, but not making use of them. According to some groundhoppers out there I shouldn’t count the match as there were no goals. Sod that! Each to your own, & it’s definitely a ‘tick’ for me! The ground is open on three sides, with a running track around it, but a strange one. It only has two lanes! Obviously some sort of practice track, but nothing I’ve seen before back home. So you actually weren’t too far from the action, if you stood on the far side. Enough flat standing for one abreast, with the concrete perimeter wall behind. But it wasn’t hard standing, just grass. In the middle third of the opposite side was an elevated stand, with a couple of steps of terracing in front. It was up here where the majority of the crowd took shelter. Though the vast majority sat, there were no actual seats, just steep concrete steps. I’m not sure what the gate was, & I didn’t do a proper headcount, but it looked about 300 or so. I sat at the back, near the centre & had a great view, though I was right by a portable speaker, which blasted out both music & announcements. At the front, to my left, was a small group of mid-teenagers, who sang throughout, about seven or eight of them, and they had lots of flags & even some flares! Their banners were more terrifying than them: ‘Ultras Kommando Terror Drancy’! There was also a black bloke with a bicycle type horn, who shouted ‘Allez Bleus!’ almost non stop, and had a scarf wrapped over his head, bandana style, with a one piece top to toe blue outfit, which he’s adorned with words of support in white, honouring his team! He looked about fifty, and another one you’d file under the ‘character’ section! I asked if I could take his photo, and he said only if I bought him a beer. How could I refuse? To the left of the stand was a wooden beer stall, and a plastic tarpaulin covered BBQ stand, doing sausages. On admission there were a couple of home officials, but they weren’t taking any money, so I assume admission was free, & they handed out a double sided A4 sheet, for a programme. Which incidentally had the full club name on it. JA Drancy stands for Jean d’Arc de Drancy. I have no idea of the significance of that. I’ve only heard of the Joan of Arc woman, presumably Jean id French for Joan! The only other thing of note was a concrete wall just inside the entrance, which had a frieze of three athletes running on it. "

These were dotted around town, there were similar
ones for the local rugby team.

No turnstiles as such, you just pushed open the white
gate on the right.

This was just inside the entrance.

From the main gate I caught a flare being let off, at a
non-league game!

Despite the rain I took a stroll round the pitch, anti-clockwise.
In the corner was a basic electronic scoreboard.

This is the far side, that is opposite the stand, a few
hardy souls braved the rain there. Note the unusual two lane

From the halfway line, the stand at kick off.

A banner on the halfwayline, opposite the stand.

A view of the stand, from behind the far goal.

This was the food stall along the side.

And the beer stand.

Sitting at the back of the stand.

Trust me, the soundsystem was LOUD!
I didn'tt stay here for long!
Not sure if this bloke was a local reporter, or a
French groundhopper with his notebook!

An absolutely barking mad home fan!

The Drancy 'firm'!

Though, to be honest, I didn't find them too
intimidating! ;-)

Collier Row

I think I went here three times with The Hamlet from memory. Twice midweek, in the London Senior Cup, and once on a Saturday, when Romford were playing there in a pre-season match.
To be honest I don't remember too much about the ground, it was down a path, off off a small B road, and it was about 15 minutes on a bus from Romford station. It was surrounded by fields, and to me, in the sticks, even though-technically-it was still within the boundary of Greater London. I do recall a few of us having a go at the ref & some of their players towards the end of one of the London Cup ties, and the locals took offence. A couple of 'heavies' from their committee stood on the door of the bar as we went past & said we couldn't come in. We told them we couldn't care less, and we were going back to civilisation, which was South London! The off licence by the bus stop did good business!

I decided to try to see if anything was left of the Collier Row ground when it cropped up somewhere on the Tony Kempster forum a couple of months ago. someone said you could see the old pylons from the road, but didn't know if anyone still played there. Being the sad git that I am I decided to find out the answer...

Which is a most definate NO!

The ground is wrecked & derelict. tons & tons of 'topspoil' has been fumped on top of the old pitch, and the remains of the covered terrace 'peep' out of the top of the current raised 'pitch', which has been flattened. I have no idea what they plan to do with the land.

Th only entrance from the road wasn't there, though it was a Sunday, there was a garage, down which path it may have been. But the gates were bolted. I walked back, and went down a footpath, and through fields around the back. Then past the next field, until I found another path that led me to the fields behind the old ground. I managed to reach the old outer perimeter fencing, and fortunately found a gap, and went through it, jumped over the small stream, and clambered up a mud bank, to get 'inside'. Turn away now if derelict grounds depress you...

I could see the pylons 'teasing me'

Friday 13 June 2008

Leyton Orient 2007/08

I had a right touch for this visit to Leyton Orient versus Leeds United. It was 5th April 2008, & the attendance was 7,602. A match in which Leeds were the comfortable winners, as they won 2-0.

My brother is a lifelong 'Cockney White', and had bought a ticket for the O's sections, just in case he couldn't get one for the Leeds bit. Easy to do with a London address. He managed to get a Leeds one, and with Dulwich Hamlet being at home the night before, on the Friday night, he gave me the O's end ticket for free! Happy days!

My first visit to Brisbane Road was in 1979/80. I saw an FA Cup Third Round Proper replay, when the O's won by the odd goal in three. I was in the away end, supporting the non-leaguers, & was thirteen. I found their northern accents very strange, & difficult to understand. There was one player whose name they kept on chanting. Someone called Al Tay. I finally asked a stranger what number he was, & he looked at me as if I was mad! Probably had every right to, as they were chanting 'Alty, Alty!' Whoops!

I've been there a few times with Millwall too, and I also saw Dulwich Hamlet play here, when we lost to Croydon in the 2002 London Senior Cup final.

I was also here for a Sunday match, against Brighton & Hove Albion, which I went to for the occasion of the 1,000th League appearance of Peter Shilton, who was in goal for the O's, in the latterpart of his career, in 1997.

Brisbane Road is a modern ground, with blocks of flats
funding the club, being built in the corners.

This stand is almost identical, and was the one I was in.

This was the stand to my right, the newest, I think.

This is the corner to my left, the Leeds fans had the entire
old stand, down the left.

Which was the old main stand, the only side of the ground
that hasn't been completely rebuilt.

Another couple of views of the far end.

To my right, at half time, a 'traditional' flask of tea.
I was surprised it was allowed into a Football League ground,
such are the draconian regulations in force up & down the

The back of the new main stand.

A local heritage plaque is displayed on it.

Here is the visitors' team coach. from Yorskhire, of which they
are all so proud...

But not proud enough to stop them hiring the bus from
Lancashire! Shame on them!

One of the many visitors' fleet of coaches, getting ready for
trip back home.

How football has changed! These two would never have got off
the maze that is the London Underground system, unscathed
twenty years ago!