Arcticterntalk.org

The blog of a travelling psychiatrist and football lover. Who happens to be a halfway decent photographer. Takes a cynical view of the world

Archive for the tag “stompond lane”

The Sad Demise of Walton and Hersham Football Club


For those unfamiliar with Walton and Hersham football club they are a Ryman South club needing only four promotions to achieve football league status. A simply astounding but mathematically correct statement. For many years they  were my “non league” club and in fact I have been watching them for around 50 years.

IMG_2088

 

Most people are unfamiliar with their claims to fame of having won the FA Amateur Cup at Wembley in 1973, and perhaps their greatest “achievement ” was getting Wimbledon into the football league many years ago. The Walton manager and most of the decent players simply moved to Wimbledon and it was that team that got promotion to Division 4. The manager was Allen Batsford and the players included Dave Bassett. Since then things have changed substantially for the worse. In fact their last meaningful club honour stated in the programme is Ishmian League Premier Division Runners Up from that same season they won the FA Amateur cup. The last meaningful thing I recall was a 0-0 result against Brian Clough Brighton at their ground Stompond Lane in front of 4000 spectators and a 4-0 victory in the replay at the Goldstone Ground.

IMG_2128FullSizeRender-7

I cannot summarise their subsequent history in a simple article but the club has been in almost constant decline in the 40 years since then to the extent that they need a new ground and there is a debate going on as to whether that should be a rebuilt Stompond Lane or a groundshare with the other Walton club Walton Casuals.

On weekends when I am not watching Brentford I will visit and often photograph at non league matches and I took the opportunity to see Walton and Hersham v Hythe Town on 27th February and came away maybe more demoralised and sad than from a game for many years. The simple facts are that Walton lost the game 1-3 and the reality was it that should have been more like 1-10, that the ground was in a dreadful state of disrepair, that there were no smiling faces and if I was looking for a welcome, then I had come to the wrong ground. The standard of football was frankly of a park standard and a glance at the league table suggests that relegation is a real probability this year . There must also have been a changing of faces at the club with new players coming in ( and in my opinion soon going out) as the tannoy announcer could not pronounce many of the Walton players names. A few players stood out as being less dreadful than others. Alfie May for Hythe looked like he could play football and could play certainly one division higher. Richard Parquette for Walton is still a box finisher and looked in fact the only player capable of scoring for Walton.

IMG_2145

Admission costs £9 which is a reasonable price for Ryman South football, combined with free parking, £2 programme and £3 Burger , gives a total cost of around £15. The lady at the turnstile entrance was friendly enough but there it stopped, there were a small group of maybe 3-4 men giving an impression of guarding the “free” gate nearby glaring at anyone daring to enter. I counted a crowd size during the dismal game of 67 spectators and the stated crowd was just under 100.

The ground potentially is a decent ground, with terracing behind one goal and in the past covered terracing alongside the whole of one side of the pitch. The stand is also of reasonable size but has been allowed to decline to a sad state. A few new red seats have been installed but the majority of seats were covered in bird mess, mud and unspecified debris, and no one in their right mind would have chosen to sit on them. The old terracing stand has been covered up and closed down due to danger with the roof structure, and fences had blown down behind the goal making passage around the ground troublesome.

IMG_2134IMG_2106FullSizeRender-1IMG_2099IMG_2098

The clubhouse was boarded up and inside was more like a damp cupboard than a clubhouse with maybe 3-4 souls drinking beer before the game. In short the ground was unfriendly, as were most souls I came across, even the nice ladies in the burger bar were wishing the end of half time when they could close their van ( nice burger in a toasted bun was the highlight of my afternoon), and the general state of all the standing areas was poor.

IMG_2133

IMG_2135

Seats in stand

IMG_2131IMG_2114IMG_2126IMG_2101

IMG_2095

Xmas tree growing on the terrace maybe?

FullSizeRender-2

Rear of Condemned Stand

IMG_2090

The only set of toilets outside the clubhouse. Boarded up

IMG_2089

Clubhouse Boarded Up

This is a club and a ground in total demise. Would I return here? Not in the distant future to be sure. The football and welcome at other local clubs, who also have problems, like Molesey FC is far superior.

I don’t know what the future holds for Walton and Hersham but decisions need to be made. Frankly 2 separate grounds for 2 separate teams in one town in Walton does not seem a viable option, when the total of both clubs home support combined is less than 200. But things need to improve or this club will die. The worst memory was of the astonishingly poor standard of football played by Walton and of a comment, serious I think, from a Hythe town player during the warm up ” only 90 minutes to the bar lads….”. Maybe he had not been inside the bar there?

IMG_2146IMG_2142IMG_2140IMG_2130IMG_2129FullSizeRender-6

 

 

 

Walton and Hersham 1 East Grinstead 1 . A poor game


As I have been watching Walton since the days of their FA Amateur cup win at Wembley, where then the bulk of their team was the team that became Wimbledon under Allen Batsford,  maybe it is fair comment to say that last saturday was one of the worst games of football I have ever seen there and indeed am struggling to think of anywhere else. I realise this is Ryman South but for 9£ standards need to be a little higher than sunday park football.

The ground is starting to look derelict with the terrace area along the pitch now boarded up for safety reasons. It is also fair to say that there was no air of positivity in the crowd, which recently hovers around 100 hardy souls.

Here are my photographic memories. The most memorable moment? The Walton keeper hitching his shorts up in some strange manner, which clearly put off the East Grinstead striker who subsequently took a poor penalty that was easily saved.  The second most memorable moment? The cheeseburger.

IMG_2668IMG_2666IMG_2664IMG_2661IMG_2653IMG_2641IMG_2629IMG_2626IMG_2593IMG_2610IMG_2575IMG_2573

Referee Mr C Green Ryman South

Referee Mr C Green Ryman South

Football Ticket Prices Fall and Potentially Football is Free now in 2014


Going to football games is not a cheap hobby. Let me give you an example. A ticket for an away Brentford fan at Peterborough on New Years day costs £25 if bought in advance and £28 on the day. This is for a standard league 1 game. It is good to see a few initiatives from football clubs to overcome this and potentially help themselves too. Lets not forget that ticket revenue is only one source of income, sales of items from club shops, burgers and programmes also contribute. At a recent home game Brentford in league 1 took around £11,500 in catering income alone, and let me tell you their catering is no Fat Duck.  Lets examine a few of the good guys:

  1. In 2013 Brentford had a ” pay what you want” game. The deal was simply you choose what you pay and anything over 5£ for the ticket was donated to a sports charity. The only thing asked was that the ticket was bought in advance. They also had a similar venture in 2012 however sadly on that day the game was postponed due to adverse weather.
  2. In 2014 on February 3rd, the game between Hastings v Walton and Hersham in Ryman South , is a ” choose your own admission fee” game. The rationale here is that the game was previously abandoned after 61 minutes and this now has to be replayed. The only costs that Hastings are aiming to recover are the travelling costs for the away club ( fair enough) and the match officials. All other monies will be donated to St Michaels Hospice. A great and sensible initiative . Any locals who do not normally watch Ryman league football should come on down and give it a try, potentially at zero/little cost.
  3. As a season ticket holder at Brentford we have a great offer for all season ticket holders to be able to purchase up to 4 tickets each for £5 for the home game versus Port Vale on Jan 11th. They must be bought in advance and not available on the day. Yet another piece of good marketing and good common sense from Mark Devlin and the team at Brentford.January is a fiscally challenging month for most and initiatives like these do really help.
  4. In 2014 on Jan 4th Basingstoke v Tonbridge Angels in Conference South (Skrill South) is essentially pay what you want minimum £1. On the excellent club website, Sarah Parsons explains“‘This is a gesture to the whole town and outlying districts, we are giving something back to the community by allowing people to come to the match for a price which they decide. We know that January can be tough on family budgets so come to the football match and spend the day with us, and in the clubhouse afterwards. We really want to open our doors for people to come and see us, old fans and new fans, everybody is welcome. Maybe family, friends or workmates of existing fans have always been shy to come along in the past. We have the exciting prospect of a new ground in the pipeline but why not come along and start supporting your local football team now? We know many will still support the likes of Arsenal & Chelsea in the big Premiership matches, that’s fine, but maybe if people came along to see football at this level they may be pleasantly surprised. Ultimately the Town’s football team will be what we as citizens of the Town make it. We have to set a £1 minimum entrence fee due to rules but hopefully people will give us more as every penny helps a small club like ours to grow to become something that the whole Borough can be proud of in future. Tonbridge Angels are a good side in our league and we anticipate a good competitve league match. Our team currently sit in or very close to the league play off positions so it would be great if as many people as possible came through the gates to roar their Town on and hopefully towards victory on the day and ultimately promotion to the Conference National league at the end of this season “This is an initiative that should be supported and encouraged.   www.basingstoketown.net/the-club/town-announce-happy-new-year-day/. Lets us hope that more clubs will go down this route. Nonleague football is a great game and often skill and excitement levels are equal to those in some of the lower leagues. The catering is undeniably better than at league clubs!Image-620x350

Stompond Lane. The Home of Walton and Hersham FC


Stompond lane has been the home of Walton and Hersham, who now play in the Ryman South division, ever since I began watching the club almost 50 years ago.  There have been some famous moments. Walton have played FA Cup first round games here in front of thousands of spectators including against Exeter and Brighton, managed then by Brian Clough. Walton also won the Amateur cup in 1973. Things however have been declining since then almost consistently. Far from being one of the best non-league clubs they are now one of the smallest in crowd terms at their level and things may get even worse. The council plan to redevelop Stompond Lane and force Walton and Hersham to share with their neighbours, also in Ryman South, Walton Casuals.  This plan has not been met with joy by either club however statements only  a week ago suggest that this plan to redevelop Stompond Lane is becoming fairly final.

I do not know enough to really make an informed decision here however one can see a number of aspects that make some sense. The crowd base of both clubs is around 100 each and does this warrant two individual football grounds in Walton? The population of Walton, which is where the club is based, a few miles from Hersham, in 2011 was 24,137.  Neither ground is perfect, although each has character and reasonable parking.  Yesterday I visited to see Walton play Ramsgate.  The crowd was 102. Down at Walton Casuals yesterday the crowd was 163 boosted somewhat by the good start Casuals have had to the season where they top the league.  What is currently proposed is that the two clubs share Walton Casuals ground. What might equally be proposed is that these two clubs if this happens might be candidates to merge in the future. Should either of these things happen?

  1. Stompond Lane is becoming very run down. The whole ground, and I love this ground, is becoming almost untenable. The clubhouse looks sad and jaded and does not invite visitations. The main stand has a huge number of seats missing, plastic bucket seats, that are attached to wooden benches. Many have been removed.
  2. The stand opposite the main stand had warnings yesterday that it could not be used. When this is combined with the fact that no-one stands behind the goals, as the pitch has a running track around it, meaning that behind the goal is almost placing spectators in the centre of the town, the net effect is that this is now a one sided ground with little or even zero atmosphere.
  3. The council have recently introduced parking restrictions on Stompond lane, meaning that 2 hours is the maximum one may park before being fined some hideous amount. Realistically most fans spend nearer 3 hours at each game. This means that parking is now effectively limited to the club’s car park, which is ample and fine for the kind of recent crowds, but gives little hope that the crowd base if ever improved would have anywhere to park.
  4. Should the clubs ever consider amalgamation, they would concieve a club that had a fan base at lowest of around 200 and potentially more like 250-300. This is moving towards the size needed for Ryman Premier football. Although Walton Casuals sit top of the league, should they get promoted one wonders whether things will be in any way successful or lead to an immediate return to this level.  The clubs might consider Inverness, who before joining the Scottish football league had three separate clubs. They all combined and have risen as of yesterday to actually top the Scottish Premiership. Maybe this kind of success might not happen in Walton but maybe also it should be considered. Who should vote on this? Certainly not myself, a visitor now maybe 2-3 times a season, but the 263 fans who do come week in and week out.

On my football grounds website I have many photographs of Stompond Lane and should the club move I shall add many more http://www.footballgroundz.co.uk

A good report on recent matters can also be found here

http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/local-news/new-plans-submitted-stompond-lane-5908373

A few here however just to introduce the novice to the ground that is and was Stompond Lane.

Stompond Lane. Copyright. Chris Bushe

Stompond Lane. Copyright. Chris Bushe

Stompond Lane. Copyright. Chris Bushe

Stompond Lane. Copyright. Chris Bushe

IMG_5164 IMG_5167

Stompond Lane. Copyright. Chris Bushe

Stompond Lane. Copyright. Chris Bushe

 

 

Walton Casuals 1 Eastbourne Town 2. Walton Casuals a consistent team.


A somewhat pleasant day where the sun threatened to shine and photography was halfway possible without floodlights, not that one notices when they come on at Walton . A good day out though, decent game, crowd 106 and the best burger I have had at football for some while.

Walton Casuals if nothing else play in one of the better strips and today there was a riot of orange, red, yellow from both teams. Walton also are consistent having not won a home league game all season and that is why they are second from bottom of the Ryman south League.

The first half was all Eastbourne and until Walton scored with almost the last kick of the half, it looked like it would be a 5-0 type of game. the second half was all Walton and  they were unlucky not to equalise.

The football standard in Ryman South does seem variable this season and although neither of these clubs would fancy their chances against the top sides, they did play a good open game in a decent spirit, and the game was well refereed too.

Mu Maan may be the most important player for Walton judging by how the programme had him down playing at both number 8 and number 10. I did wonder before the game if he might be a large gentleman needing two shirts, however in fact he was of normal size and in fact never really caught the eye today.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Walton V Dulwich Photos


Walton 0 Dulwich Hamlet 3


Just when i was getting excited about watching Walton again, as Rochdale seemed a little too far to travel today to watch Brentford, they go and lose two games in a week without scoring a goal. In mitigation on tuesday night Whitehawk were a good team, maybe one of the most accomplished teams at this level I had seen for some while, and Dulwich also sit near the top of the table. The game started brightly and for the first half for 43 minutes Walton were on top but without looking like scoring and the game changed with Dulwich scoring a penalty just before half-time. The second half was dull and Dulwich always looked like scoring more goals, whereas Walton looked like their players had never met before. the Walton players who caught the eye were Rodney Chiweshe, the keeper, and Adriano Moraes playing in midfield, who I learned by eavesdropping, he is Romanian and 33 yrs old and played profesionally there.

The main talk however at the club is about the council forcing them to move grounds. Put simply it seems the club thought they had a deal whereby a few houses were built on some of the land, the athletics club moved out to a new stadium ( funded by said houses ) and the ground was essentially rebuilt and modernised. Not much has happened to modernise the ground in the last 50 years – no exagerration there either. The council want Walton to move in with their Ryman League neighbours Walton Casuals , and that ground will be improved. In the clubhouse for the next month there is a model of the proposed amends to to the existing site and petitions to be signed and forms to be filled in. On balance I dont want the club to move and the online petition can be found at http://www.waltonandhershamfc.org.uk/thefuture. The club can be emailed at waltonandhershamfc@yourshout.org with any comments or questions. There however is another side of the coin. Crowds at Walton have been poor for years reflecting a number of poor seasons with sides that change almost weekly giving no real consistency for fans. There also seems to have been little attempt by the club to make links with other local sides in the league to get players on loan. Finally I have not seen any efforts to really try and increase crowd size, like free entry for children or any other campaigns to get Walton noticed. So, we have a club that gets crowds of around 100, with playing staffs changing monthly,  towards the lower end of the league in a ground with poor facilities ( like an almost total absence of toilets). Despite these foibles I am very fond of Walton having seen them since 5 years old and recall well David Bassett and others playing for them.

Anyway, make your own mind up , but I would like them to stay. But the deal is this for my support. Please dont just recycle the same 3 songs before the game and at half time! If you want some music just ask me and I can put some on a disc or whatever suits! I think we had Sweet Child of Mine twice or three times today. Lastly, they do have the best burger van i know of. It is well worth eating your tea there, burger and chips at very reasonable prices!

Rodney Chiweshe beaten by penaltyStompond Lane home of Walton and HershamTerraceMain stand at Stompond LaneCurious clearance from dulwich defenderMichael Gordon, interesting winger and great hairstyleWhat happened next when rodney missed the punch?

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: