A game played by Gentlemen…part 2


Part two of our look at those pioneers of the English game, the first ever FA Cup winners from 1879 to 1883. Part one can be found here.

1879 – Old Etonians – Home ground – Slough Road, Windsor
The six times finalists in the period between 1875 and 1883 were the last “true blue” team to win the cup in 1882. The team, essentially the “old boys” club from Eton school first entered the FA Cup back in 1873 although they never fulfilled their fixture with High Wycombe. A year later they reached the final for the first time, taking Royal Engineers to a replay before losing 2-0 at Kennington Oval.

In the 1878/79 season the shocked the footballing world by beating the almost unbeatable Wanderers 7-2 at Kennington Oval. They followed this up with victories against Reading and Minerva before they came across Darwin, the new great hope from the north west. In a remarkable game the two teams shared ten goals, before a replay produced a 2-2 draw. Finally the students overcame the mill workers 6-2 and after disposing of Nottingham Forest in the semi-final they met Clapham Rovers in the final at Kennington all in the same week, beating them thanks to a goal from Charles Clerke in the 59th minute.

At the time the team played in Slough Road in Windsor before moving a few hundred yards to Dutchman’s Playing Fields in Pococks Lane, Eton in the early twentieth century. Old Etonions can still be found playing close by the original ground in the Arthurian League Premier Division.

1880 – Clapham Rovers – Wandsworth Common, London
Back in 1869 at a meeting of a noble chap from Clapham called W E Rawlinson suggested that a sports club be formed to play on the recently established sports fields on Wandsworth Common. It was decided that the club, called Clapham Rovers would play Association Football one week, and Rugby Union the next. On 25 September they played their first ever football match, beating the then legendary Wanderers team 1-0. Two years later they were one of the teams who responded to an invite from the Football Association to play in the first ever FA Cup. On 11 November 1871 Jarvis Kenrick secured his place in history by scoring the first ever goal in the competition in the three-nil win over Upton Park. Their progress was halted by eventual winners Wanderers in the next round.

Continue reading

A game played by Gentlemen…part 2


Part two of our look at those pioneers of the English game, the first ever FA Cup winners from 1879 to 1883. Part one can be found here.

1879 – Old Etonians – Home ground – Slough Road, Windsor
The six times finalists in the period between 1875 and 1883 were the last “true blue” team to win the cup in 1882.  The team, essentially the “old boys” club from Eton school first entered the FA Cup back in 1873 although they never fulfilled their fixture with High Wycombe.  A year later they reached the final for the first time, taking Royal Engineers to a replay before losing 2-0 at Kennington Oval.

In the 1878/79 season the shocked the footballing world by beating the almost unbeatable Wanderers 7-2 at Kennington Oval.  They followed this up with victories against Reading and Minerva before they came across Darwin, the new great hope from the north west.  In a remarkable game the two teams shared ten goals, before a replay produced a 2-2 draw.  Finally the students overcame the mill workers 6-2 and after disposing of Nottingham Forest in the semi-final they met Clapham Rovers in the final at Kennington all in the same week, beating them thanks to a goal from Charles Clerke in the 59th minute.

At the time the team played in Slough Road in Windsor before moving a few hundred yards to Dutchman’s Playing Fields in Pococks Lane, Eton in the early twentieth century.  Old Etonions can still be found playing close by the original ground in the Arthurian League Premier Division.

1880 – Clapham Rovers – Wandsworth Common, London
Back in 1869 at a meeting of a noble chap from Clapham called W E Rawlinson suggested that a sports club be formed to play on the recently established sports fields on Wandsworth Common.  It was decided that the club, called Clapham Rovers would play Association Football one week, and Rugby Union the next.  On 25 September they played their first ever football match, beating the then legendary Wanderers team 1-0.  Two years later they were one of the teams who responded to an invite from the Football Association to play in the first ever FA Cup.  On 11 November 1871 Jarvis Kenrick secured his place in history by scoring the first ever goal in the competition in the three-nil win over Upton Park.  Their progress was halted by eventual winners Wanderers in the next round. Continue reading

All the Gore-e details


It’s been a big week in the Fuller household.  On Wednesday CMF celebrated her birthday and as one of her presents I agreed to take her (and the Littlest Fullers) out for the day.  Conveniently, due to their inept performance in the FA Cup back in September at Chertsey Town, Lewes didn’t have a game so going “football free” for a weekend wasn’t too much of an issue, especially as I had the small matter of ten games in five countries in eight days coming up.  The hardship, I am sure you will agree.

But you all know I am an addict for a game in somewhere new, and if I played my hand just right I could take them out for a cracking day AND get to a game surely. I then came up with a cracking idea.  Thanks to the inspiration of the lovely Lucie at work I planned to take the girls on a “treasure hunt” in Windsor.  Well, actually, they were going to do a treasure hunt around the historic town centre for a couple of hours as I had done it before.  So what could I do whilst they were trying to find where H G Wells worked as a draper’s assistant? If I was quick I could get in a game if there was one close by?

One quick Tweet to @therealfacup and I had my answer.  No more than 10 minutes up the road Burnham were hosting Bishops Stortford in the FA Cup.  Ten minutes there, ninety minutes with fifteen minutes for half time, ten minutes back..I needed to add a tricky question in the middle of the treasure hunt to stall them for a bit longer.  Uncle Google came up with the goods:-

“Buy a CD from Windsor’s most famous current singing resident”

That would fox them for a while (the answer is of course Lisa Scott Lee – the one we all wanted to S^@g from Steps) and give me a chance to head over the M4, making sure I followed the right way.  A left here and I would be passing village green’s, country pubs and the home of Jimmy Carr.  Turn right and it would be the industrial estates of Slough.  I don’t want to slag off Slough, I will leave that to someone much better with words than me. Continue reading

Who killed Kenny? Why the Crays obviously


Life must have been swimmingly for South Park FC up until Trey Parker and Matt Stone shared a beer in a bar in Colorado in the mid 1990′ and came up with the characters Stan, Kyle, Eric and Kenny who became the worldwide cult TV series South Park.  Overnight the club and its fans became the butt of jokes about chocolate salty balls and Mr Hankey.  The Barmy Army, as the club are also known as could do nothing but to ride out the storm in Crawley & District Leagues.

However, things started to change on the pitch.  The club were promoted in 2006 to the Combined Counties Football League, step six in the pyramid and thus allowing them to enter the national competitions for the first time.  Last season they made their debut in the FA Vase, losing in the second round to Shoreham.  This year it was the turn of the FA Cup.

In early August they played Greenwich Borough in Bromley, beating them 2-1.  In round two they thrashed Horsham YMCA of the Isthmian League 4-0 setting up their biggest game in their history against Isthmian League Premier Division team Cray Wanderers. Continue reading

The Magic of the FA Cup in deepest Essex


The FA Cup returns to Essex

The FA Cup returns to Essex

Every year, like quite a few football fans I vow to start a “road to Wembley” and follow a team all the way from the opening qualifying rounds up until the final.  And of course like most other people I find better things to do with my weekends.  However, with West Ham not playing until Sunday I had a free Saturday, and with CMF wanting to start from Christmas shopping I scanned the fixtures looking for a local game.  And there it was in all of its perfection.  Just 3 miles from the retail cathedral of Lakeside was the Blue Square Premier club Grays Athletic, at home in the FA Cup final qualifying tie against FC Totton.

The New Recreation Ground is another one of those grounds like Aldershot Town where I had never seen a game, yet had played there on a number of occasions in my years at East Thurrock United.  It is a real old fashioned ground, almost hidden from the streets outside.  It has been developed over the past few years to comply with Football League standards, and now boasts a small covered stand with 5 rows of seating, running the whole length of the pitch and the glories of the VIP Seating stand which was basically a cover over 2 rows of seats on the far side of the pitch.  Overlooking the stadium were some executive flats with balconies where a few people had taken a plastic picnic chairs out for a perfect view of the action.  As part of the deal to develop the land for the flats, the builders had to construct some new dressing rooms and so the teams now emerge from a converted living room directly onto the pitch – no fancy tunnels here.

Grays had not had the best start to the season.  Their league form had seem them fall into the bottom three of the Conference as they simply lost the ability to score goals.  The past few seasons had been the stuff that dreams had been made of.  They had played in the lower Southern Leagues (The Isthmian League) until 2004 when the Non-League Pyramid was re-structured and they became founder members of the Conference South.

In that first season they stormed the league and were crowned Champions long before the end of the campaign.  They also made it through to the final of the FA Trophy in May 2005 where they beat Hucknall Town at Villa Park on penalties.  Just to show that this was no fluke they carried on the form under Mark Stimson in the Conference Premier where they remained unbeaten for the first fifteen games in the season, topping the table well into November.  Unfortunately they were competing against local rivals Dagenham and Redbridge who always stayed on step ahead and eventually the club finished in third place and then surprisingly lost the play off semi final to Halifax Town.

However, they did have some cheer as they qualified again for the FA Trophy final, this time played locally at West Ham’s home at Upton Park.  Again they showed their metal for the big games by beating Woking 2-0 in front of a crowd of 13,800. 

The last few seasons have seen a number of managers coming and going at the club as the team’s performance on the pitch deteriorated and they set an unwanted record of fielding over 50 players in the 2006/07 season under 4 managers as they avoided relegation by just a few points.  Last season wasn’t much better for the club and so it is no surprise on the form this season under Wayne Burnett.

Visitors FC Totton had also had a good few years.  Only formed in 1975 they were founding members of the Wessex League and were promoted up to the Southern League as champions last season.  They also won the FA Vase in 2007 when they beat Truro City at Wembley in front of 36,232.

So after negotiating the very confusing one way system, and avoiding the temptations of signs of Grays Beach (sounds as good as it looks – make your own mind up at http://wikimapia.org/#lat=51.4682316&lon=0.3311884&z=16&l=0&m=a&v=2&search=grays).  We went into the club shop and whilst it wasn’t exactly well stocked it was really good to see that they were trying to provide value for fans.  Many clubs continue to charge top prices for last season’s kit but Grays sensibly charged £5 for shirts and with a little persuasion Lolly soon had her first ever Grays Athletic shirt – a momentus moment in any person’s life.  At £13 for me, and £4 for Lolly is was also good value and sensible pricing.

Grays Athletic 2 FC Totton 0 – The New Recreation Ground – Saturday 25th October 2008
We wandered around the terrace at the south end of the ground and took a seat in the shallow stand.  The teams soon emerged from the living room opposite, and I would suggest that this is the only ground in the top five divisions that does not have a tunnel.  FC Totton looked very smart in their salmon pink shirts and started the more purposeful, making a mockery of their relative position.

After ten minutes we were joined in the seats behind by a non-league WAG and her mother.  For the next thirty minutes we were subject to a dialogue of so much tripe it was unbelievable.  “My Barry” could do no wrong.  Every missed pass or lost ball would be blamed on a team mate, and every attack that did not see the ball head off to him would be deemed as stupid.  The classic moment came just before the drab goal less half came to an end when she said “I know I am not manager but if I was I’d make my Barry captain so he could take all of the free kicks”.  Stick to the shopping darling and stop embarrassing your boyfriend / husband.

The second half didn’t fair much better until Grays took the lead thanks to an excellent strike from just inside the penalty area from Elliott after Totton had failed to clear a corner.  We headed off with a few minutes to go, and unfortunately missed what would have been the high point of the day as Grays 2nd goal was scored from the penalty spot by none other than “Our Barry” in the 88th minute.  It would have been pure comedy to see the reaction from WAG and co.

So Grays go into the 1st Round Draw and the hope of a big gun such as Leeds United, Leicester City or even a chance to renew acquaintance with local rivals Dagenham and Redbridge or Southend United. 

POSTSCRIPT – SUNDAY 26th OCTOBER 1.17PM
So after the 1st round draw my idea of following a club all the way comes to a crushing end as Grays could not have been drawn further away – Carlisle United AWAY!  At least Bazza might get 90 minutes peace and quite!  I think I’ll turn my attentions to local neighbours Hornchurch at home to Peterborough United!

About the New Recreation Ground
The New Recreation Ground is not new at all.  It has actually been home to Grays for over a hundred years, although it has been redeveloped a number of times since.  Whilst the capacity today is 4,500, the record attendance is over 9,500 for an FA Cup tie with Chelmsford City.  It is a miss mash of different stands with one relatively new 5 row covered stand that runs along the west side of the stadium.  Behind the south goal is the covered indoor pitch and in front of that is five or so rows of terrace.  The away end is an open terrace that covers 50% of the north end, and along the east side is a couple of shallow terraces and the infamous VIP stand. 

Recent residential developments overlook the ground, with balconies providing flat owners the chance to watch the game for free.

How to Get There?
If you can negotiate the very confusing one way system in Grays town centre then follow signs for “The Beach” around the Morrisons roundabout and take a left into Clarence Road.  At the roundabout at the end turn right into Bridge Road.  You can then park anywhere in this area.  If you are coming by train then Grays station is a 5 minute walk away.  Simply turn right out of the station and follow Crown Road under the bridge and around the corner.  Then take a right into Clarence Road.

How to Get A Ticket?
With a capacity of 4,500 and average attendances hardly ever breaking the four figure mark, tickets for all games are available on the day from the ticket portakabin on Bridge Road.  Ticket prices are £13 for Adults and £3 for Children.  This allows you to either stand on the open terrace at the south end of the stadium, or take a seat in the covered west stand.