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.