Saturday 28 March 2009

Croydon Athletic

Croydon Athletic play in the Ryman League Division One South. It's a decent enough small ground & their officials have always been welcoming. The only gripe-not just mine but from lots of visiting fans-is the poor state of the approach road, about a quarter of a mile long in total, which is full of huge potholes & has no lighting. I kid you not whenever the Hamlet have a midweek game here our fans bring their own torches for safety!

I'm not sure when I first visited here, but I've probably been here a couple of dozen times, on various First Team, Reserves & Youth games supporting the Hamlet. Come to think of it I think my first trip was for a reserve game, when they were still in the London Spartan League. For some reason it was an early evening Saturday kick off, & a few of us dashed over from a First Team fixture at Kingstonian. Since then the ground had improved surely but slowly. Which is the way to do it. Add something when you can afford it.

I must confess that if even the unthinkable happened & Dulwich Hamlet ever went out of existence, this is a club I could easily go to watch on a regular basis...if I didn't turn into one of those dreadful groundhopper types! ;-)

They love their signs here. This one is on the approach track.

On the wall of the clubhouse.


Ugly gates maybe, but fair play for taking time to spruce them up in club colours.

Some Hamlet fans arriving by cab from Belair Park, in West Dulwich, where we'd lost in the morning to Bromley supporters'.

This is the only turnstile block in use.

Here, looking right from the turnstiles, the players come onto the pitch.

To the left, behind the goal, there is an electronic scoreboard! I would very much doubt if anyone else has one of these at this level.

From in front of the turnstiles we look right again, with a view of the stand, but we're going to walk round the ground the other way, going clockwise.

A couple of small steps of terracing, to the corner.

Looking behind the goal is a covered terrace. Notice the mesh gap between the wall at the back & the roof. Which makes it bloody useless when the driving rain & hail comes through it, as it did this afternoon!

Looking across the pitch from the corner flag you can see the Croydon Crematorium building in the background.

Behind the goal is hard standing, with a little bit of terracing behind the goal.

From here we get a good glimpse of the turnstiles, from inside the ground.

And a shot of the stand.

We now reach the terraced part of this end.

This covered area is known as the Paul Muir Stand. A Croydon Athletic player who was attacked by thugs on a night out, from which he tragically never recovered, after being in a coma for several months. There used to be a large sign saying the 'Paul Muir Stand' on the roof, behind the goal. But this is now covered by a club banner, but this plaque is on the wall behind the goal. Croydon Athletic stage a pre-season game in his memory every year for the Paul Muir Cup.

The Croydon Athletic fans pose for my camera in front of their flag!

Moving further along we view the two sections of cover alog the side, with the dugouts in the middle.

This is the view from the corner, down the touchline.

Before we head down there we take a last look along the covered end.

Hard standing here, no steps of terrace until we reach the covered bits.

Another look across the pitch to the stand.

And now we reach the cover, at least your back doesn't get wet, as the wall goes up to the roof!

The club sign, presumably with the old 'Paul Muir Stand' one underneath.

Hamlet fan 'Ollie' points up to a leak in the roof! He also goes to watch Croydon Athletic, & saw AFC Wimbledon play here a couple of years ago. Then it was raining, & he couldn't move because of the packed crowd, & he was stuck under this very leak, which is why he was pointing it out to me! He actually played here, when it was literally just a field, back in their Norwood FC days, back in the sixties & early seventies.

It looks a bit grotty behind the dugouts, but I don't suppose it matters as I doubt anyone has ever stood here.

Looking across the pitch, at the stand again. from in between the two dugouts.

Moving along, there is another stretch of covered terrace.

From the corner we look back down, with more hard standing.

And here we see some of the Hamlet fans heading for the bar & tea bar at half time.

From this corner flag we look across the pitch again.

Not much space to stand in this corner.

But it widens further along.

From here we can see the inside of the dugouts, which are some of the most attractive I've seen at this level, thanks to the careful coats of paint.

Moving to the final stretch, in this corner we have the most substantial bit of terrace in the ground.

Presumably there was once a rail at the front, but now it's just green poles sticking out of the concrete!

Now we're almost at the stand, with the pull out tunnel in view, just one of many pointless expenses at this level as we all have to worship the false god of ground grading.

As it was half time I could get a snap down the tunnel.

Set back behind is the club building, which houses the changing rooms, bar & tea bar, as well as the boardroom, all under one roof.

This is the same building, from behind the stand.

Here we see the steps, up to the directors' area of the stand.

The tea bar, from the ground. There's another hatch that opens in the bar itself.

A look across the stand. A nice one, for a modern construction.

This is the officials area, note the door, which is where those steps at the back lead to.

Moving along, we've almost completed our full circuit of the ground.

The last small steps of terrace, that leads along to the turnstiles.

Friday 27 March 2009

Sporting Bengal United/Bethnal Green United

Whilst a home is surely better than no home, Mile End Stadium really is a municipal dump! Maybe I'm a little more critical than I should be because I don't like 'running track' grounds & being from South London have a natural aversion the the east end 'over the water', each to his own eh?
Mile End is home to Sporting Bengal United, of the Kent League. Why they're not Essex Senior as is logical I have no idea. It is also currently the venue for Bethnal Green United, of the Middlesex County League, who moved from their Meath Gardens public park home at the start of the season.
These photos of the ground are from my recent trip to watch Dulwich Hamlet Under eighteens lift the London Cup, beating Thamesmead Town 5-1! I've been here for several London Cup finals on the past, as well as a Sporting Bengal home game, in their first Kent League season.

These old gates are at the entrance to the park by the stadium.

This sign gives the history of the stadium area.

Here i the entrance to the ground, through the stadium reception area.

This is a full on view of the main stand. I thought I'd show it to you first because, stadium wise, it's all downhill from here!

But before we stroll round the ground I bring you the 2009 London Under Eighteen CHAMPIONS!

I'm sitting in the stand. From here we will walk round the ground, clockwise. Over on the far side is a fairly new leisure centre, which has only been there for a few years. On my first visit that was still open park, with a few steps of open terracing, now gone, but you can see it by clicking here.

Still up in the stand we look over to the end on our right...

And over to our left.

Before we begin our walk around the ground here is a view looking up across the stand.

And a similar angle, but from in front of it. note the recent blue paint at the back, and a blue circle. There used to be a large clock here on all my previous visits.

No terracing in front, just hard standing, which is the case most of the way round.

We now going round the ground, just past the metal storage containers you can see the only terracing left in the stadium.

A glance back to the stand before we get to the terrace on the curve.

As we go along you can see the open standing is a long way from the pitch, precisely why i don't like these sort of grounds.

From the side the pitch looks distant from here.

This is the shallow terrace, if the track wasn't here this would be a lovely bit of a ground.

As I mentioned, there is no more terracing. Just hard standing all the way round, as you see here.

Though if you stood 'behind the goal' you'd be a very long way from the goal!

it contnues down the far side, where the terracing I mentioned earlier usde to be.

Looking down the touchline.

From the corner the goal is dwarfed by the athletics cage!

Now we are heading down the far stretch.

Looking across the pitch toward the stand.

Overflowing rubbish bins...sums up my feelings for this soulless place.

Our third goal has just gone in..& the Thamesmead coach is getting his marching orders for disputing it!

Another look over to the main stand. not the old warehouse type building behind it, this is home to the Ragged School Museum, worth a visit if you're ever in the area. unfortunately it doesn't open on Saturdays, when you're most likely to be in the area for football.

Even the dugouts are vandalised!

Another shot of the stand, from behind the Hamlet bench area.

Moving on we head behind the far goal, if possible even worse for viewing than the other end!

Not sure if I can face that yet, so another shot of the stand...well there's not much else to photograph! ;-)

By neccesity the barrier has to be behind the track, I doubt if anyone has ever watched a match from here.

Or here! With athletics equipment obscuring half of the pitch.

And certainly not here, in between the storage containers!

Tour nearly over, round to the last bend, our return to the stand in sight!

Note the man on the bench.

He has the half time refreshments for the match officials. Even they don't fancy the long walk back to the changing rooms!

One last look across the pitch..

And here we are! all that walking's tired me out, I'm off back to the seats for the rest of the match.