Saturday 7 March 2009

Herne Bay

I've only been to Herne Bay once, back in the late nineties the Hamlet had an FA Cup tie here. I do recall the ground being half decent, but it had just been turned down by the Southern League ground graders, which I thought was crazy. Looking at it again now, as I visited the ground before another Hamlet game at nearby Whitstable Town, I cannot believe it was turned down.
Wandering around it you get the feel of a well kept, but at the same time almost ramshackle ground, despite it being tidy. Close your eyes and you can conjure up a picture of several thousand locals packed in for Kent League derby matches half a century ago. I don't know if that was the case, that's just how I imagine it!

As I was walking round a chap came out of the clubhouse, I explained I was just taking a few photos, & that I was a Dulwich Hamlet fan going to Whitstable. He was none to complimentary about them, and compared their fixtures to Celtic playing Rangers!

The ground is less than ten minutes from the station, easy to find, helped by these signs.

As you approach the ground you see the car park, and this view belies what a delight this ground is.

Club board outside. On the day I visited, & Kent League new boys Norton Sports-who groundshare here-were due to be at home. But there was nothing at all to suggest that Norton Sports are based at Herne Bay.

The general price for this level, but it's apparently cheaper in the equivalent leagues up north.

These are the turnstiles, from just inside the entrance.

Just inside the gates is this wooden shed, some sort of club building, though I'm not sure exactly what it is.

We're going to move round the ground in a clockwise direction, & along this side are the clubhouse, with the changing rooms & dugouts part of a strange small stand further along, the blue structure.

Before we walk along there we look across the pitch to the main stand on the far side.

Hard standing in front of the clubhouse.

From here we look back behind the goal, where there is some covered terracing.

Here we reach the stand/dugouts.

Built with the help of outside funding.

As you can see from this angle this 'stand' has the dugouts built in, and the small amount of seats in it are for home & away club officials only, now you know why i described it as 'strange'. I can't recall having seen anything similar.

Here is the home bench.

Past this stand there is open hard standing up to the corner.

Has a neighbours fence been broken deliberately, converted to a makeshift ladder, to retrieve balls hoofed out of the ground?

From the side we get our first decent glimpse of the cover behind the far goal.

Before we move round there we glance back down the touchline.

Behind the goal, it's more hard standing, up until the terrace.

Close up you can see it's an old, but smart example od decent terracing.

From the back of it we look to the left, at the main stand.

And down the right, where we've already been.

From the front you can see why this must be one of the best grounds in the Kent League.

From behind the goal (well ok, I did go on the pitch!) we see the main stand.

A view of the behind the goal cover before we turn round the next corner.

Down the side it's more hard standing, up to the stand.

Here we are right up next to it.

In the centre there's a set of gates, here is my poor attempt at an 'arty' shot!

At the rear is one of the poorest attempts I've ever seen at having a 'press box'!

Further down the stand we look down the rows.

And past the stand is more hard standing, with some grown over bankin behind it. I'm wondering if there is some ancient old terracing underneath it?

And we turn the corner for the last leg of our tour.

From behind the goal we look up to the other end.

Here is the clean, painted in club colours, terrace.

Good of serco to suppport the local club...shame they couldn't get their name right!

A look down the side where we started our walk around the ground, before we leave.

On the way out I spotted this sign on the wall, which amused me!


bazHBFC said...

Rabbler, many thanks for your tour of our ground and the pictures. Its not perfect but its where we call home, and lets face it with home crowds of around 120-140 these days you can get a great view of the game from anywhere in the ground. In places it certainly looks like it was built in 1957, but it still retains its appeal to me, that i had from visiting it back in the late 60's as an 11 year old for this not so young man anymore! 51 now and still enjoy watching my towns side play here. Pity about the car park but the costs to renew are way out of our clubs budget these days. Maybe another grant can be sought out to replace it one day. The hidden terrace you mentioned down the railway side i am afraid does not exist, as its just the mud and clay that the supporters club dug out and had no money to remove it when we built the car park end terrace. The mystery building opposite the turnstiles used to be the old bar eons ago, but is now used by a local charity radio station (Called Radio Cabin ironically!) If any ground hoppers have not visited Winch's Field its well worth the trip, as i cant remember the last time we had a 0-0draw at our ground. Well done and keep up the good work fella.

All the best Baz (HBFC Independant supporters forum admin man)

Rabbler said...

Thanks for filling in the gaps. Much as there's local rivalry between you & the Oystermen, you've both got two cracking little grounds! I like them both. (How's that for sitting on the fence eh!)

baz said...

The best thing about Whitstable mate is the No 6 bus out of there on to the Herne Bay road fella! Joking apart 2 completely different grounds thats for sure. I have posted your link onto the Kent league and the 'Independant HBFC forum' so that if anyone wants to take a look they may. Keep up the good work mate.

Cheers Baz