Saturday 6 September 2008


Before you say it...yes, yes I know Oakside is the home of Redbridge Football Club, and Barkingside are the tenants. But it is the ground of Barkingside Football Club; who had it taken over by Redbridge when they were Ford United & the tenant/landlord roles were reversed. As far as I am concerned this will always be Barkingside, just as Kingsmeadow will always be first & foremost home to Kingstonian, and not AFC Wimbledon!

I'm can't recall when I first visited here. It was midweek game in the nineties, and a Hamlet fan, Steve Child, was on the line. So I used that as an 'excuse' to visit. He is still in the middle, and now on the line for some Football League matches, & is still young enough to continue moving up the refereeing ladder. I wish him well.

I returned here for a Hamlet reserve match. The First Team weren't playing particularly well, and away to Basingstoke Town, not the most inspiring of places to visit year after year, being a crap town and a fair hike over untold roundabouts from the station. (Those were the days, I'd love to go to Basingstoke for a league match now!) The Reserves had a London Intermediate Cup tie away to Barkingside Reserves, so five of us went there instead. They never had a proper goalie and we still lost, while the First Team won! I was still drinking in those days, and we caned a couple of bottles of psirits behind the goal (a combination of whisky & gin, I think!) & we ended up BEHIND their bar that evening taking our photos with the London Senior Cup, of which they were holders!

These photos were taken in the recent close season, 2008, and I managed to eventually find a way in through a hole in the fence, & clambering through nettles & mud, of which I got covered in when I slipped at one stage!

Hope the photos are worth it! ;-)

The local signage leaves you in no doubt whose ground it is! The Underground station is adjacent, two minutes walk.

As you can see from this bridge, floodlight pylon to the left.

The entrance is through these gates, into the car park.
They were locked when I was passing through.

Here are the gates, from inside, my hand stuck through the bars fro this photo, with BS FC on them, a strange abbreviation for Barkingside Football Club.

From the just inside the entrance, here is the clubhouse.

And tea bar, followed by a stretch of terrace, leading up to the stand.

Here is the stand. Not the best as the seating is shallow, but providing an adequate view, and more than compiling with ground gradings, having previously been in Conference South.

The 'posh seats' for the officials!

A full view, from on the pitch.

Going onto the pitch from here, we look to the car park end, andu can see the playing surface still had a lot of work to be done on it.

But back to the seating area, we look back down this side.

Here is the open end behind that goal.

With another look down it, from the corner, giving us a glimpse of the covered terrace down the side.

We look back across to the stand again, from the pitch surrounds you can see how difficult it is to maintain the ground.

And a similar view, but through the goalposts.

Towards the corner is this fence. Presumably you needed segregation in place to enter the Conference South? Note the open gate, up to the grass banking, which drops down behind, on the other side. That's how I evenutually found my way in, after half an hour of searching!

We head for the cover down the side, with old hoardings, presumably dating back to the Redbridge 'Ford United' days.

A nice stretch of cover down here, I could imagine a cracking, intimidating din, if they ever had a big cup game here.

And a look back behind the goal from the side.

Further down the covered terrace.

And so to the open terrace behind the other goal. Strange in that you have a higher vantage point, leaning up against the railing, above the steps.

As seen here.

From up here we look back down the covered side, which ends our visit.

Sussex County Cricket Club

I'm not a fan of cricket. I don't mind cricket, I understand the basics, and have been to the very occasional game. The only time I was any sort of 'regular' was in the dim & distant past when the pubs used to shut from three til seven on a Sunday afternoon, & The Oval was a 'pissheads' convention when Surrey were at home in the Sunday League, as they sold booze all afternoon!

In fact The Oval is the only county cricket ground I'd been to, until this trip to Hove. I won two free tickets to a day at a four day match of my choice, given away by the league sponsors. Which is how I ended up at Sussex on a Wednesday, my midweek day off work, along with my mate Larry, who was still on break, as he's a teacher. He likes his cricket so I thought he'd enjoy the day out. Me? In case you hadn't noticed I was actually more interested in visiting the ground, rather than the actual match.

It was a nice day out, in good company, and could have been a lot worse. A fellow Dulwich Hamlet fan was up in Blackpool all week, supporting Surrey away to Lancashire. It was rained off completely & he never saw a single ball bowled!

These are the entrance gates, where we swapped out free voucher for a match ticket. We had 'saved' thirteen pounds each!

Just to the left of the gates is this pub.

On the support wall of the gates.

And the county crest incorporated into the ironwork itself.

As you walk in the club shop is on the left hand side.

With this portakabin type construction being the museum.
I wish we had something like this at Champion Hill!

We sat in this open area, and it from here, in a clockwise direction, that I will take you round the ground. Those buildings behind the goal are so ugly, whoever allowed them to be built should be hit over the head with a cricket bat!

A view across the pitch.

It can be quite a solitary experience being a cricket fan!

At 'half time', sorry the lunch interval, you are allowed onto the outfield to have a knockabout with your friends, and many people partake, as part of their day out. I was well chuffed as it meant I could easily stroll around snapping the whole ground!

Most of the spectator area is down the one side really. With a main enclosure, and members area. We could have paid five pounds 'extra' to sit there, but decided not to, as we were happy to perch in the 'cheap' seats.

The thing I love love about Hove is the 'higgledy-piggledy' mix of it all. One bit just tacked onto another, almost without any thought. Messy but oozing individual character.

Another angle, with the 'luxury' of being on the outfield.

This new building was in the far corner, and is where the players come down from. There is an old building behind the end where we entered the ground. I am only guessing, but presume that was the old pavilion before this was built. Though am more than happy to stand corrected.

Spot of lunch anyone? How civilized!

And looking back down the main stand.

I go up the steps to the balcony.

This is the view down to the far end, which is where I will be walking you to in a few moments.

Looking back across the pitch, the corner where we sat being to the right.

Back at pitch level, as children enjoy the break.

Foldaway chairs on a slight grass bank at the far end.

Traditional floppy cricket hat is de rigeur for many!

Looking back down the main side.

And further along the plastic seats give way for deckchairs & park benches! How much more quintesentially English can you get?

These stretch along to the far corner. Personally I couldn't sit in these, I'd get far too comfortable & nod off!

In the corner it's burgers & books!

I didn't really browse as I had very little spare cash on me. But they looked like cricket books in the main. Not surprising at a cricket ground, but I didn't dare look for any other sports, as I wasd scared I'd find something I'd want and go home gutted that I didn't have the money to buy it!

Down this side, opposite the main pavilions, is the 'freeloaders' section. The coporate world, and the 'friends of players' section.

A look across the pitch shows just how many people like to 'knock up' during the breaks. I actually threw a ball back to ne lad, so I can 'claim' to have played cricket at a first class county cricket ground! ;-)

Halfway down this side, bang opposite the main pavilion, is this lovely old scoreboard.

This plaque is on the wall behind the scoreboard. I didn't snap it clearly, but it says: "In memeory of Sir Hildbrand Aubrey Harmsworth Presented by his Sons 1930", if I've deciphered it correctly.

On the side of it is a more recent dedication.

And here is another view from behind the scoreboard, a nice view, as suggested to me by Larry!

Going on past the old scoreboard, back on the pitch, we pass the corporate executive suites.

Oh how the other half live! ;-)

This was tucked away in the corner, I bet this gets a lot of admiring glances when Kent are in town! ;-)

And so back to the end of the ground where we came in, and this forlorn looking building.

In case you were wondering it's the....

Presumably he was an important figure in his day to have a once major part of the ground named after him.

I went up the stairs, and almost wanted to sit down, just to get everyone's blood going as they would splutter: "I'm sorry, you can't sit there!"

Up here we look to the left, where I watched the day's play

Across to the main side, note it's interval, so I'm not disturbing the bowlers, as the sign requests.

To my right the 'freeloaders'.

And looking at the wicket through the TV gantry.

Back down below one last glance across...

Before returning to our seats

For the rest of the day's play.

With people relaxing with a beer or two, or catching a quick forty winks.