Friday 18 July 2008

Greenwich Borough

Widely accepted in Kentish footballing circles as the worst ground in the Kent League, Harrow Meadow,home of Greenwich Borough, is certainly not much to write home about! I'm not sure when I first visited here, but it was a good few years ago now. Over the years I've seen a number of Dulwich Hamlet pre-season matches against them, though never a competitive fixture. We even staged a 'home' pre-season here, on a Sunday, against Windsor & Eton.
Their main pitch used to be the 'second pitch' beyond the current First Team one. And adjacent to the current one a second pitch was being cut and marked out, which was to be the reserve pitch; with the one down the bottom let out for local football.
Sadly the future of this ground is currently in doubt, as Greenwich Council claim over one hundred and fifty thousand pounds is owed in rent! The land is sadly crying out for houses to be built on it. There may not be much here, but Greenwich Borough have been around since 1928, and i hope they survive here.
I took thes snaps at the end of May 2008. There was a man at work on the pitch, and he asked if he could help as I walked in. I asked if it was ok if I could take a few snaps, and he was fine. We chatted for a few minutes, and he was really upbeat about the forthcoming campaign. The enthusiasm was contagious. I said I'd pop along if I had a spare midweek date, and he said they might even try a Friday night game or two, to try yo attract some local support. Certainly, if you're a local non-league fan, you could do a lot worse than to pop along here & give your gate money to a grassroots club that will appreciate it.

This is the clubhouse, which includes the changing rooms.
You enter the ground to the right of this building.

From the clubhouse end I will walk around the pitch in my
favoured clockwise direction. This is behind the goal at this

We move along the side, looking back to the club buildings.

There is no seating at all, which goes against minimum
ground gradings. But when you compete in a league like
the Kent League with a shortage of clubs, I don't suppose
they want to forcibly demote anyone. There are two small
areas of cover along this side. Here is one of them.

Here is the other one. Note the wooden bench, moved beside
the first one, and under this one. Maybe that's what does for
'seating' in these parts! ;-)

Who needs plush seats with benches like this?

This tattered flag was hanging up on one of them. Presumably
left up after their big FA Vase match at home to Hungerford
Town, as local 'cup fever' kicked in!

Looking back down the 'spectator side', with the second
pitch behind it.

And looking from that second pitch over to the main one.

This is behind the far goal, not much room to stand behind
the barrier.

Behind those trees is the old pitch, which is where they used
to stage First Team matches, until it was deemed too far
away from the changing rooms, I think.

Back to the main pitch, behing the goal. It was a nice day
when I was taking these pictures. Clearly someone had not
been so lucky on a previous visit!

Again, no facilities down the full length of the far side, just
railed off with a path.

The dugouts are probably the sturdiest structure in the

And that is Greenwich Borough FC.


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.