Thursday, 7 March 2019

Vauxhall Road - Hemel Hempstead Town

Hemel Hempstead Town - Vauxhall Road

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Hemel Hempstead Town Football Club
Vauxhall Road
Hemel Hempstead


Hemel Hempstead Town were formed in 1885, but then were known as Apsley End FC. They joined the West Herts League in 1891 and were renamed Apsley Football Club two years later. The club were league champions in 1894–95 and 1897–98,  and in 1898 they were founder members of the Hertfordshire Senior County League. They went on to win the league in its second season, 1899–1900. The league was split into two divisions in 1901, with Apsley placed in the Western Division. They were divisional champions in 1902–03 and won the championship play-off against Northern Division champions St Albans Amateurs. The club had continued playing in the West Herts League and won the title for a third time in 1904–05. After winning the Western Division of the Hertfordshire Senior County League again in 1906–07, they defeated Northern Division Champions Hitchin Union Jack 5–3 in the championship play-off. In 1922 Apsley left the Hertfordshire Senior County League to join Division Two of the Spartan League. They were Division Two runners-up in 1923–24, after which league reorganisation saw them placed in Division Two A. They were Division Two A runners-up in 1926–27, but were demoted to Division Two West following further league reorganisation in 1928. More reorganisation in 1930 saw the club moved into Division One for the 1930–31 season. The club were Division One runners-up in 1931–32, earning promotion to the Premier Division. Although they were relegated back to Division One at the end of their first season in the Premier Division, the club were Division One champions and League Cup winners in 1933–34, earning an immediate return to the Premier Division. In 1955 the club was renamed Hemel Hempstead Town. They were Delphian League runners-up in 1961–62, and when the league was dissolved in 1963, they following most other Delphian League clubs into the new Division Two of the Athenian League. They were promoted to Division One at the end of the 1964–65 seasons, and were Division One runners-up the following season, earning promotion to the Premier Division. However, after finishing bottom of the Premier Division in 1967–68, the club were relegated back to Division One. A second successive relegation followed in 1968–69 when they finished second-from-bottom of Division One. In 1971 the club merged with Hemel Hempstead United from the South Midlands League to form Hemel Hempstead Football Club. The new club took Hemel Hempstead Town's place in Division Two of the Athenian League, but moved to Hemel Hempstead United's Vauxhall Road ground. In 1999 the club was renamed Hemel Hempstead Town for a second time. They won Division Two in 2001–02 but were denied promotion due to their ground failing to meet the necessary criteria. They were moved to Division One North in 2002, and a sixth-place finish in 2003–04 was enough to secure promotion as the creation of the Conference North and South led to many clubs moving up the leagues. At the same time the club were transferred to the Southern League and placed in its Premier Division. The following season saw the club finish in the relegation zone, resulting in relegation to Division One West. However, a fourth-place finish in 2005–06 meant the club qualified for the promotion play-offs; after beating Swindon Supermarine 3–0 in the semi-finals, they won the final against Brackley Town 3–2 to earn an immediate return to the Premier Division. The club finished fourth in 2012–13; in the play-offs they won 2–0 against Chesham United in the semi-finals, before losing 5–4 on penalties to Gosport Borough in the final. The following season saw the club win the Southern League Premier Division title, earning promotion to the Conference South. In 2014–15 they reached the first round of the FA Cup, eventually losing 3–1 at Bury.  A fifth-place finish in 2017–18 saw the club qualify for the play-offs. However, they were beaten 3–2 in a penalty shoot-out by Braintree Town in the qualifying round.


Hemel Hempstead Town 1-2 Dartford
Tuesday 5th March 2019
Vanarama Conference South

Tonight would be my usual Tuesday night off from work. I hadn't had much planned, only really this game would be the main one and perhaps some back-up games in order but then even then I didn't have many games I looked at anyway. 2 reasons on visiting Hemel Hempstead was 1, of course it's a new ground and another one done in the Conference South, and the other being Hemel were playing Dartford, who of course my good mate Phil supports who came with me to Three Bridges vs Sevenoaks Town not so long ago. On the day of the game, I left home shortly after half 4 and arrived into London Bridge around 5.20. I met Phil at London Bridge, we then got the train towards St Pancras, then walked to Euston. We arrived into Hemel Hempstead around 6.40 and braved the walk to the ground, although luckily it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, as in the end it would only take us 35 minutes to get there, which of course saw us arrive to the ground at 7.20pm. I did my usual lap of honour of walking round the ground taking photos, grabbed a bite to eat at the ground and before we knew it, it was kick off.

The 1st half wasn't really too much to report, both sides going into the break even stevens at 0-0. 2nd half, I felt Dartford had the more chances and they finally broke the deadlock on 80 minutes, Phil Roberts heading home from a free kick putting the visitors in front. Hemel equalised on 88 minutes through a penalty which was scored by Jordan Parkes and looked like to be heading the draw, but Dartford thought otherwise. A superb volley from Phil Roberts again getting the winner on 90 minutes. A great win for Dartford, and of course sent my good mate Phil going home very happy indeed. After the game, we waited around 10 minutes for a taxi which we got at the ground as luckily there is a taxi firm at the ground, and got back to the station just before 10pm. After leaving just before half past 10, we got back to London at 10.50, and I arrived home shortly after midnight. Tonight would be my 153rd Ground.


Hemel Hempstead Town have been playing at Vauxhall Road since 1972 after the club merged with Hemel Hempstead United. The club previously played at grounds Salmon Meadow, Gee's Meadow and Crabtree Lane. Crabtree Lane was sold for housing in 1972 with the club moving to Vauxhall Road. The ground holds 3,152 with around 534 seats. Although according to Google Maps, Apsley is the nearest station to the ground by foot, the easiest station to get to is Hemel Hempstead. It takes around 50 minutes walk wise but I braved the walk and only took around 35 minutes. At Hemel Hempstead station, there is a taxi rank and also at the ground there is a taxi firm, should cost no more than £10 return.


Thursday, 28 February 2019

The Dripping Pan - Lewes

Lewes - The Dripping Pan

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Lewes Football Club
The Dripping Pan
Mountfield Road
East Sussex


Lewes Football Club were formed in 1885. They were established in a meeting at the Royal Oak pub on 23rd September 1885. 11 years later, they were founder members of the East Sussex League. The club finished bottom of the league in 1898–99 and again the following season. The league was expanded to two divisions in 1899, with Lewes placed in the Senior Division, going on to finish last for a third consecutive season. After finishing bottom of the Senior Division again in 1900–01 without winning a match, the club left the league. They later joined the Mid-Sussex League, entering its Senior Division in 1905. The club were Senior Division runners-up in 1907–08 and again in 1909–10 before winning the league in 1910–11. After World War I they spent the 1919–20 season in the Brighton, Hove & District League. In 1920 they were founder members of the Sussex County League. The club were runners-up in 1924–25 and again in 1933–34 and 1958–59, also winning the League Cup in 1938–39. After finishing as runners-up in 1963–64, Lewes won the Sussex County League title the following season and moved up to Division Two of the Athenian League. They were Division Two champions in 1967–68, earning promotion to Division One. After a third-place finish in their first season in Division One, the club won the division the following season (on goal average) and were promoted to the Premier Division. In 1977 they transferred to Division Two of the Isthmian League, in which they finished as runners-up in 1979–80 to earn promotion to Division One. Lewes remained in Division One of the Isthmian League until being relegated to Division Two at the end of the 1990–91 season. The club reached the first round of the FA Cup for the first time in 2001 drawn at home to Stoke City, the match was moved to the Britannia Stadium with Stoke winning 2–0. The club finished the season by winning the Division Two title to secure promotion to Division One South. After winning the Division One South title in 2003–04, Lewes entered a series of play-offs for promotion to the newly formed Conference South; they defeated Yeading 1–0, Basingstoke Town 4–1 and Kingstonian 1–0 to earn a place in the new sixth tier division. In 2006–07 Lewes reached the first round of the FA Cup again, losing 4–1 at home to Darlington. The following season saw another first round appearance, ending in a 3–0 defeat at Mansfield Town. After winning the Conference South title at the end of the season, the club were promoted to the Conference National, having carried out works on the Dripping Pan. However, after winning the title, manager Steve King and all-but-one of the first team squad left the club. The following season saw them finish bottom of the Conference National, resulting in relegation back to the Conference South. In 2010–11 Lewes were relegated to the Premier Division of the Isthmian League, where they played until being relegated to Division One South at the end of the 2015–16 season. They were Division One South runners-up in 2017–18, earning promotion back to the Premier Division. In the same year they launched Equality FC, with the aim of paying their men's and women's teams (who play in the second tier of women's football) the same amounts.


Lewes 0-0 Tonbridge Angels
Wednesday 27th February 2019
Isthmian League

My next Groundhop visit would be another visit to Sussex, as previously 2 weeks ago was a visit to The Saffrons home of Eastbourne Town. (Blog here) Ticking off Lewes ground on a midweek via train was always a bit dodgy for me due to relying on specific trains hoping they wouldn't be cancelled, but after looking more into it, it turns out it would be fine. The start of the week would turn out to be great, Gillingham winning 1-0 on Saturday at Wycombe would turn into a superb day. Onto the day of the game in Sussex, I left home half an hour earlier than usual on a midweek, leaving home just after half 4. With changes at Tonbridge, St Leonards Warrior Square and Eastbourne, I would arrive at the ground 20 minutes just before kick off.

After taking photos of the ground, I would take to my spot behind the goal. Tonight although it was a Groundhop trip, I would still be following Tonbridge Angels due to them being fairly local to me, so I would be standing behind the goal where they were shooting at. The game kicked off, and it probably was safe to say once again it wasn't a classic game. Tonbridge I felt probably had slightly the better chances, especially the 1st half which saw Tonbridge's Joe Turner's shot saved to go out for a corner. The resulting corner with a good header from Sonny Miles into another good save. 2nd half was all much the same with Lewes getting a penalty which was saved by keeper Jonathan Henly. A poor penalty I thought but none the less a good save. Highlights of the game below from Lewes official YouTube page. After the game, I got straight onto the train which saw me get home shortly after midnight.


Lewes have been playing at The Dripping Pan since the club's formation in 1885. The ground holds 3,000 and was previously used by Lewes Priory Cricket Club. Lewes railway station is close by to the ground, no more than a 5 minute walk.