Saturday 17 July 2010

Haverhill Rovers-Hamlet Croft

I had the pleasure of visiting Haverhill Rovers for their last ever game at their Hamlet Croft ground, which has been their home for almost a century! Truth is, & I realise this will make me seem extremely sad, but there you go, the reason I am here is not just because of that. It is because, as a Dulwich Hamlet supporter, I have always wanted to visit the ground that has my club name in the title. I didn't think I would, when I read that they were leaving, but with the Isthmian season finishing the week before, & this being my Saturday off work, I jumped, & drooled, at the chance!

There were a large number of groundhoppers present, some of whom I recognised as fellow 'Kempsterites', & many more who I am sure were, but don't know. Perhaps they will spot themselves in this portfolio of my first ever visit to an Eastern Counties League match!

Presumably this is the road from which the ground gets it's name? Or was it the other way round?

They play in the Eastern Counties League, sponsored by Ridgeons.

This drive is the way up to the ground.

Admission is free today, to celebrate their last ever match, & there is a special commemorative programme on sale. Included are a number of pictures from their Club history book, which was on sale at the special price of only £6. Money well spent!

Pass the hut & there is a training area, some of it a car parking area, to the right. And then the pitch, which you can see here, looking over to the stand, & assorted club buildings, set up above the pitch.

Behind this goal, indeed all the way round, is open hard standing.

We are going to head clockwise round the pitch, first up we look across the playing surface.

Simply railed off, with the hard standing to the corner.

Looking behind us, during the pre-match warm up.

Due to the floodlight pylons being inside the barrier, you are a bit of a way from the touchline down the far side.

A 'corner flag' snap, where you can clearly see the club initials, HRFC, clearly marked out in the stand, for the first time.

Concrete hard standing down the side, but plenty of green grass & tall trees behind, to remind you that this is a long way from the inner cities, which is more what I'm used to!

Over the halfway line we see the stand, and the small dugouts at the side of the pitch.

A similar shot, but a few yards further along, as the home team warm up pre-match, for the last time.

The hard standing path continues along to the next corner.

Again the path is set some way back from the touchline, and you can see where the path rises in the next corner, up to the clubhouse.

From this end we look back down the open side, and another of those 'groundhopping types' is clearly snapping away too!

The next 'corner flag' picture, with kick off getting closer the car park is filling up in the background.

Behind the goal now, the bar straight ahead.

A last peek down the open side before we crack on.

Behind the goal, looking over to the stand.

Now past the goalnet.

I'm not sure what the old green shed is. Presumably equipment for the groundsman?

Tucked behind it is the visitors' minibus.

At the last corner now, you can see the unusual slope, which puts spectators way above the pitch.

Here we look down from up above, behind the 'pitch' barrier.

There is plenty of hard standing up on the main side of the ground. Note the man with the camera, the whole day was filmed with plenty of nterviews. Players, fans, officials, & even some of the groundhoppers present. I made sure I steered clear! ;-)

Here is one of the home officials under interrogation!

Behind them is the bar.

There was also club memorabilia placed out on display.

The next building is the changing rooms.

Steps lead down to the pitch from them.

The stand from down below.

Moving further along pitchside.

Park benches make the dugouts regulation size! You wouldn't have got this past the Isthmian League management committee!

Here we some one of the dugouts close up, with the tea bar the building behind.

Unusually there are 'halfway' flags, not the same as the four red corner ones, but Carlberg ones!

Another angle, looking up to the stand.

Back above the grass bank once more, looking at the stand.

In front of it satisfied customers from the teabar.

Here is the view, to the left, from the rear of the stand.

Across the pitch.

And glancing right, to the other end.

Another look left, where you can see the training area behind the goal where we came in.

Lots of hungry groundhoppers congregate around the teabar.

The wide footpath doubles up as an access road, which is how the visitors minbus got behind the goal.

Here is the hatch for the tea bar.

Moving along & there is a rail along the top, as the hardstanding for fans follows the top of the slope, away from the access road.

Turning round we glance back at the congregation of spectators at the tea bar, stand behind.

Still along the top of the path on the main side, we look over the centre of the pitch.

Moving along again, we head toward the last corner.

From up here we see the path below, behind the goal, where we started.

Here we look directly town the path.

Before we go down behind the goal we look along the higher path.

Down the slope we look over the pitch & the tree lined open sides beyond it.

Now we're down on the level.

Here we see down the touchline, time to head back up the slope, as the game is about to start.

The two teams get ready to enter the field of play for the last ever match at Hamlet Croft.

And here are the historic line ups.

Down the steps they go.

A wonderful 'guard of honour' being formed for the Walsham-le-Willows manager, who is retiring after ten seasons in the hot seat.

The customary handshakes before the start.

A larger than usual crowd find their vantage points.

I head for the stand.

This is where I sit for the first half, in place for kick off.

This is my view to the left, as Haverhill attack, from a free-kick.

And eyes to the right...

In the second half I venture behind the goal, the 'training area' is very popular with young kids having a kickabout, a number-refreshingly-wearing Haverhill junior team colours.

Moving round we look up at the crowd lining the popular side, once more.

A little bit of match action for you.

Another shot, with the majority of the crowd in the background.

A goalkeeper's life can be lonely!But at least he has all his equipment...hat, towel, water bottle!

Back on top again, as the game nears the end. A number of the crowd sit atop the slope.

Beer in hand,he seems to be enjoying the company better than the match!

Game over, the last ever 'team huddle' on their ground. I was actually waiting for a team photo, but was surprised one wasn't taken.

On the way out turn to glance back for a last ever look at Hamlet Croft.

Before we leave I'll show you this snap of a certain 'Kempsterite' hogging the camera... ;-)

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