Thursday 22 January 2009

Thamesmead Town

I've got to hold my hands up but Bayliss Avenue, home of Thamesmead Town, has never been one of my favourite grounds. No particular reason, it's just comes across as soulless & windswept, with very little by way of spectator facilities. I've been here a few times before, to watch the Hamlet reserve & youth sides. Both on the main pitch, and the second one, adjacent.
But with Thamesmead Town having earned promotion to the Isthmian League last season as Kent League champions I was foolishly hoping that it was vastly improved. With very few games being played due to the big freeze on Saturday 10th January I took the chance to re-visit for a dour Kent League encounter between their tenants Erith Town & Croydon FC.
My only conclusion is there is no such thing as ground gradings anymore! Don't get me wrong, I've never been the greatest fan of these rules & regulations, & Thamesmead don't even get gates of over a hundred, but what is the point of gradings if there is no uniformity to them? This ground, as it stands, is without a doubt the worst Isthmian ground I've ever been to. Adequate enough for Thamesmead Town, which is all that really matters, but as far as I'm concerned it makes a total mockery of various League & Football Association officials pretending that gradings are a serious matter.

Anyway that's enough of my moaning! Walk round the ground with me, and judge for yourself.

As you approach the ground from the road you walk through the car park, with the club house ahead. The pitch is behind this building.

Walk through/round the clubhouse & to your right is a somewhat long 'tunnel' back to the changing rooms.

To your left is the turnstile block. This is a new construction since my last visit, which was pre-season 2007/08.

Just inside is this portacabin, from where the tannoy operates. With a helpful chalkboard for the team changes. Why every club does not do this I do not know.

Past this, to the left of the main pitch, is the second one, simply roped off down one side.

With basic dugouts on the far side.

Back 'main pitch' side, and you can see it is very basic. Merely a hard walkround, with a small stand further along, by the halfway line.

But not all the way round! Looking back behind the goal & there is no spectator standing at all! Merely the wooden perimeter fence.

Walking further along there is this small stand. A bland modern construction, which has-somehow!-been made uglier by the scaffold overhang.

Here is a view from the back of it, looking towards the far goal, where you can seen the new construction, that presumably masquerades as a 'covered terrace'.

Mustn't block anyone's view.

Here's the stand again, from the other end of it.

On towards the corner, just hardstanding. A tarmac training area to the left, note the youngster playing in there. Clearly the only way to keep warm at a Kent League match in freezing temperatures.

From the side that cover doesn't look too bad... looks a bit ropey from here...

Before we have a good look at it we can glance down the main side.

And here is the brand new 'modern' terrace! Scaffolding & netting, with wooden boards on the floor! Bloody awful!

Moving on past it we look down the open far side. Ground now 'fully enclosed' by ugly mesh.

An old roller tucked in the corner. I've no idea if it's still used. But it was crying out to have it's photo taken.

One look back at the 'covered terrace', before we head down the side.

Yeah! A 'corner flag' snap! Looking across to the stand.

Now we're walking along the side, towards the dugouts. I realise that wooden fencing must have been too prohibitive financially, but that white mesh is awful.

Moving along, to the dugouts on the halfway line.

Looking across again, it wasn't the view of the stand I was after, but the 'side profile' of the lino!

Here is the stand from directly opposite.

And on past the dugouts, towards the far corner.

And once reached, we look back down this touchline.

And so to behind the goal, where we're not supposed to go.

But I'll continue anyway, I'm too lazy to walk all the way back round!

A close up of the net!

Here's the Kent League sponsorship board.

And the far inferiour Isthmian League one. Perhaps you only have to tack up your Ryman hoarding to earn your grading! I recall, a few years ago, Herne Bay being denied promotion due to gradings. I dread to think what goes through their heads when they have to visit here!

And here we are, back on the 'main' side, where we began our tour.




Why did DH fuck their great ground up though?

Rabbler said...

ks for looking in. To answer your point...yes the ols ground was great, but it was falling apart, practically condemned under modern post-Hillsborough helath & safety rules. If we hadn't worked with Sainsburys by surrendering what was left of the lease (We never owned the ground, we sold it in the early seventies) there is no question that THERE WOULD BE NO DULWICH HAMLET FOOTBALL CLUB TODAY!

Kevski1977 said...

You obviously haven't done your homework at all!

The scaffolding over the stand, the covered standing area, the wodden fencing to enclose the main pitch and the tarpaulin to block views from outside the ground, were all put up to meet ground grading.

This set the club back £10,000 (the fencing being the main cost) and all work just being in existance for one year as the construction of a brand new £4.2m stadium for the club and the local community begun in May 2009.

If you bothered to read the website (or even a quick look on Wikipedia) before your visit, you would have noticed this.

I find your comments very scathing concidering the remedial work that had been carried out by a dedicated few to ensure that we are playing Ryman League football.

Rabbler said...

Oh dear, seems I've hit a 'raw nerve' here, which wasn't my intention!

I simply comment honestly on grounds as I see them, that's all. And one of them MUST be the 'worst one' in each division.

You're right I haven't studied your website, I often don't when I go to matches, &/or visit grounds.

But having now realised that you are planning a brand new stadium, it clearly doesn't make sense to do anything other than bringing your current one up to the bare minimum, using the least expensive materials, until the new one is ready.

I've only responded now, as I've only just noticed your comments, I wasn't meaning to be rude by not responding.

I certainly look forward to going to your new ground when it's built.

Dickie Davies said...

Gawd bless Thamesmead. Thamesmead itself, not the football ground, was used as a location in Clockwork Orange. Rather apt really.
I've been to Bayliss Avenue a couple of times and now that my team - Whitstable Town - no longer have to play the Mead I have to confess I don't miss it.
Mind you, the Mead have got some nice supporters. I remember one who use to come to away games dressed in a frog costume. We need more of this kind of thing.