Sunday, 31 July 2016

Tonbridge Angels 5 Thamesmead Town 0

Match 09/16/1317 - Saturday, 30th July 2016 - Jon Heath Testimonial

Tonbridge Angels (1) 5 Scannell 22,85 Blewden 70 Heath 83
Kwayie 89

Thamesmead Town (0) 0
Attendance: 255

Entrance: £4 Senior
Programme: £1.50
Mileage: 38/1,247

Saturday, 30 July, of course, holds special memories for all English football fans with the winning of the World Cup 50 years ago. For 255 supporters, the date will give them a reason to also say, "I was there" when Jon Heath scored.

If there was ever a man fully deserving of a testimonial it is Jon Heath. The ultimate one-club man whose career was sadly blighted and brought to an end by injury, he nonetheless, made 308 appearances for the Angels but never, in a competitive fixture scored a goal. There were, however, two other goals scored in friendlies at Tilbury and Bedlington Terriers.

The programme carried great tributes to Heath from ex-Angels who played alongside him. Frannie Collin sent the message: As a player he was deceptive since although he was not particularly large, he seemed to be able to get in the way of players - I would have hated to have to play against him. Jon Main wrote: Injuries, of course, unfortunately held him back and he certainly could have played for longer and arguably at a higher level. Ben Judge recalled him as one of the best left backs he had played alongside. There were other testimonies from John Beales, Lee Browning and his old manager, Tommy Warrilow (in charge of today's opponents, Thamesmead Town) who all made the same point. Jon Heath is a great guy.

As you would hope against opposition from Ryman North, Tonbridge were pretty much dominant from the opening whistle to the last, but for over an hour it could be said that they were making hard work of their task. After a couple of early chances, one in which saw Andre McCollin outpace the visiting defence only to pull his shot wide, the home side took the lead after 22 minutes with the sweetest of volleys by Damien Scannell from the left hand angle of the six-yard box following a deep cross from Tommy Whitnell.

Tonbridge continued to create chances for the rest of the half, with Anthony Di Bernardo only stretched the once.

It was a similar pattern in the second half, but after Scannell had laid on the second goal for Luke Blewden to slide in from close range, the floodgates rather opened.

McCollin had a goal disallowed before Heath's champagne moment arrived. From a Nicky Wheeler corner, Heath rose high above the Thamesmead defence to plant a firm header into the far corner. It was pure fiction.

A fine Tonbridge move two minutes later opened up the visitors on the right for Scannell to once more pick his spot. And there was sufficient time left on the clock for young substitute Tashie-Jay Kwayie to skip a couple of challenges in the box before placing his shot purposefully into the far corner.

It was a good exercise for Tonbridge, but more importantly, it gave the Tonbridge faithful a chance to say farewell and thank-you for one of their greatest ever servants.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Dartford 1 Gillingham 2

Match 08/16/1316 - Tuesday, 26th July 2016 - Pre-Season Friendly

Dartford (1) 1 Hayes 13
Gillingham (0) 2 Osadebe 48, Quigley 65
Attendance: 801

Entrance: £5 Senior
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 72/1,209

Match Report

There is, without doubt, plenty to work on before Southend in a couple of week's time, but it does appear that things are starting to take shape. Barring one crucial aspect, everything seemed so much sharper at Prince's Park than a week ago at Concord Rangers.

The passing and movement was really good on the eye, but it continually lacked, especially in the first half, the finishing touch.

Paul Konchesky, Gillingham's most recent summer signing, will bring a whole lot more than just experience to the team. In the early stages of this game his sweet left foot produced wonderful crosses that might, in fact should, have produced an early goal. After three minutes, a cross to the far post saw Luke Norris head back across the face of goal but Joe Quigley was only able to turn his shot wide of the upright.

Dartford went ahead in the 13th minute with a nightmare moment for Gillingham's number two goalkeeper, Tom Hadler. An overhit pass towards the box saw the ex-Tonbridge loanee scuff his clearance to Ryan Hayes who cleverly lifted the ball over the stranded Hadler and into the unguarded net from 30 yards.

Konchesky produced another great cross to the back post but Jake Hessenthaler's header was blocked.

Within the front two for Dartford was another ex-Tonbridge player from last season, Ellis Brown, trialling to earn a contract at Prince's Park. His work rate was good, but as with last season, his finishing lacked the killer touch.

Before the break, Deren Ibrahim in the Darts' goal, was called upon twice to make decent saves from Hessenthaler and Billy Knott.

Cody McDonald, an old favourite at Princes, was a second half substitute for Luke Norris and brought an early save from Ibrahim.

Gillingham's equaliser came from a well rehearsed source. Ryan Jackson's long throw into the box was met by the head of Emmanuel Osadebe who steered it into the far corner of the net.

Hadler made a good save with his legs before Gillingham went ahead after 65 minutes. Lee Martin fired in a low hard free kick towards the near post for Quigley to get across his marker and divert the ball into the net.

The final moments brought another positive for the visitor's in the shape of 16-year-old full back Henry Arnold who replaced Konchesky, at the other end of his career, for the last ten minutes. A superb link up with Knott ended with the youngster firing in a shot that Ibrahim had to be at his best to turn away to safety. It brought encouraging praise from Knott.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Tonbridge Angels 0 AFC Wimbledon 0

Match 07/16/1315 - Saturday, 23rd July 2016 - Pre-Season Friendly

Tonbridge Angels (0) 0
AFC Wimbledon (0) 0
Attendance: 246

Entrance: £4 Senior
Team sheet: 10p
Mileage: 38/1,137

Match Report

On a day when temperatures closed in on 30degC, with the referee enforcing mid-half water breaks, both sides did their level best to serve up an entertaining match.

Longmead looked resplendent, a testament to the volunteers who have poured hours of work into the pitch and its surroundings during the summer period.

AFC Wimbledon fielded their Under-21 side but there were some strapping youngsters among their squad. The two centre halves were dominant and their goalkeeper was assured throughout and leading the line their centre forward was also a big lad for his age and a handful.

Tonbridge fielded no trialists, suggesting that the crop from the previous games haven't convinced Steve McKimm that they would improve his squad. George Beavon was on holiday so new signing Ugo Udogi slotted into central defence alongside Sonny Miles.

Tonbridge opened the game on the front foot and created a couple of half chances in the opening minutes with Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson featuring strongly down the right hand side.

Wimbledon had a sniff of a chance from a corner that was eventually poked wide, whilst Nick Wheeler had a shot on target saved low to his right by the Dons' goalkeeper, Joe McDonnell.

Tommy Whitnell, ultimately getting the full 90 minutes on the pitch, and partnering Luke Allen in the middle of the field pulled a shot narrowly wide after 25 minutes. In Luke Allen, I believe, Tonbridge have someone very special on their hands. Hopefully he will go far with the Angels, but I'm convinced he is destined for a higher grade.

Tonbridge deserved to go into the break with an advantage and, on the stroke of half-time, McDonnell once again thwarted them with a very good save to turn a Luke Blewden shot around his post. From the resultant corner, Nathan Elder failed to get the ball out from under his feet before it was cleared.

The home side picked up the momentum from the outset of the second half, a shot from Fortnam-Tomlinson was parried into the air by the goalkeeper with a defender completing the clearance from behind him and a shot from Allen cleared the bar.

Arguably though, the best chance of the game fell Wimbledon's way just on the hour when Tonbridge failed to clear a free-kick into the box and when the ball fell at the feet of a Wimbledon attacker he lashed it against the underside of the crossbar.

Tonbridge's best chance the win the game in the second period fell to Elder with 12 minutes remaining. Damien Scannell, who had been a early second half substitute for Udogi, served up a pinpoint cross to the head of Elder, who failed to direct his header either side of the goalkeeper.

There was a final chance for another substitute, the youngster Tashi-Jay Kwayie, but he scuffed his shot leaving McDonnell with an comfortable save.

The heat and a resolute, young Wimbledon side had made it a tough workout for Tonbridge, who, despite still seeking their first win of pre-season, are making steady progress towards their first league game on 13 August when they entertain Wingate and Finchley.

N.B. to a Russian page viewer (I am assuming that it is a single viewer) that has amassed over 500 page views in three days, please leave a message. I am fascinated to know of your interest in the lower levels of English football.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Concord Rangers 1 Gillingham 2

Match 06/16/1314 - Tuesday, 19th July 2016 - Pre-Season Friendly

Concord Rangers (1) 1 King 18
Gillingham (0) 2 Norris 52, Knott 90 (pen)
Attendance guess: 200-ish

Entrance: £5 Senior
Programme: None
Mileage: 106/1,099
New Ground: 290

Match Report

The joke went along the lines of, when Gillingham conceded the opening goal, that's us relegated then; the equaliser took us to mid-table obscurity whilst the last minute winner spelt promotion! It was a jolly jape, we were all seasoned Gillingham supporters that have seen pre-season's without a win end with a promotion and, once, a ten-game unbeaten pre-season that finished with relegation. There is no rhyme or reason to results at this time of the year.

That be said, the first half of this hastily arranged match, due to Braintree Town's pitch not being ready, was a long way short of impressive.

Gillingham's pre-season has been blighted by injuries with Aaron Morris a likely long-term casualty. Deji Oshilaja and Bradley Garmston are also on the treatment table for the forseeable future. Everyone a defender, this obviously leaves Justin Edinburgh short at the back. Emmanuel Osadebe filled in alongside Max Ehmer in the centre of defence, but this surely cannot be considered an option going into the league season.

There were several trialists on view. In the first half, Rhys Murrell-Williamson, last season at Dulwich Hamlet played on the left flank with Marcus Williams (ex-Scunthorpe) at left back. In the second period, Tom Wraight, who played against Tonbridge in the play-off semi-final for East Thurrock played left back with Josh Lelan (ex-Northampton) filled in at right back.

The hosts went in front after 18 minutes when a cross into the box found the unchallenged head of Steve King who planted a firm header past Stuart Nelson. The defending was bad enough for the relegation joke to seem all too real.

Murrell-Williamson put in a teasing cross that just failed to find the feet of Bradley Dack in Gillingham's only purposeful attack of the first half.

The second half at least saw an increase in tempo from the League One side and they found an equaliser seven minutes into the half when Wraight crossed for Luke Norris to score from close range.

In fairness, Gillingham pressed hard in the second period without having too much of a cutting edge. They finally got a probably undeserved winner in the last minute when Rory Donnelly was brought down in the area leaving Bily Knott to convert from the spot.

Personally, I didn't find Concord's Thames Road ground the eyesore that some people have portrayed it. The playing surface was good and there is a decent sized covered seating enclosure along one side. Two small seating stands are either side of the dug-outs with a bit of covered terracing behind one goal. The point so often told about Canvey Island are the mosquitoes, fact is I didn't get bitten once.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Blyth Spartans 1 Tonbridge 1

Match 05/16/1313 - Saturday, 16th July 2016 - Pre-Season Friendly

Blyth Spartans (1) 1 Reid 1
Tonbridge (0) 1 Wheeler 85
Attendance: 213

Entrance: £4 Senior
Programme: None
Mileage: 38/993 (from South Shields)
New Ground: 289

Match Report

Day Two of the North-East tour would take us to the coastal town of Blyth and Croft Park, the home of those doughty FA Cup giant-killers, Blyth Spartans.

First stop was to be the Angel of the North, the Angels of the South meeting their northern counterpart. The Sir Anthony Gormley structure was far more impressive than I had envisaged through photographs alone. Thankfully, it has largely escaped the graffiti artist, just one minor blemish that will, hopefully, get scrubbed away very soon. The Angel would form an impressive backdrop for the rickety set of goalposts in the field below if a match was played.

Next stop was Blyth Beach on the beautifully unspoilt Northumberland coast. Without so much as a ice cream kiosk to blight it, I was more than a little envious of the dog owners who were letting their dogs run, free to frolic in what was probably quite cold water. I would love to have somewhere close by to allow my dogs such freedom.

After a brief look around Blyth, not a great deal to recommend it, it was off to the football.

From the outset, it was clear that the set up at Croft Park was a massive step up from the previous evening at Bedlington. The pitch was a lush carpet; a good sized main stand; a covered terrace opposite that would house a fair few when packed on an FA Cup night and covered terracing behind both goals.

The search for the wife's elusive glass of Merlot was once again frustrated in a well appointed clubhouse, but she said the house red was very passable! I would suspect that the clubhouse does very well on non-footballing days with it being geared for functions of all sorts.

As with Bedlington the welcome was friendly with the gate man hearing our story about the mowers at Dr. Pit Welfare and pouring scorn on the excuse telling us that the mowers were out of action when he was there a couple of years previous. Once again, no programme was produced but a guy in the club shop was glad to offer me a copy from their first pre-season game against Gateshead.

Last season, Spartans suffered the same end-of-season play-off agony as Tonbridge, losing in the semi-final, although in their case they were the highest finishing club.

The match began on a warm, but blustery afternoon with the visitors suffering a nightmare start. James Folkes gave the ball away with a misplaced pass from which the recipient was allowed to run to the edge of the box without a challenge. When one was finally made, the ball broke to Shaun Reid who thundered a 25-yarder into the top corner.

For 20 minutes, I sat a little uneasy in my seat fearing the worst as the north-easterners over-ran their visitors, but Anthony Di Bernardo was hardly stretched during this period. 1-0 at half-time was undoubtedly a fair reflection of the game at that point.

The second half saw Tonbridge quickly get a foothold in the game and created an early chance when Nathan Elder was sent through but failed to lift the ball over the advancing goalkeeper.

A further chance arrived when Luke Blewden headed over following a terrific cross from Folkes and with 10 minutes to go, the goalkeeper smothered the ball at the feet of Blewden after being sent through by Stephen Panayi.

At this point, Tonbridge had had so much of the ball during the second half, I was moved to comment to the wife that they really deserved something out of the game after such a shaky start. This duly arrived with five minutes remaining when a Blewden pass opened up space for Nick Wheeler to rifle a shot into the bottom corner for the equaliser. Considering this was their second game in 24 hours, their strong finish had been a testament to the fitness of Steve McKimm's squad.

We departed Croft Park wishing each other well for the coming season, the Blyth folk had been very hospitable and I will be watching their results with interest.

A night in Newcastle was the final act of the weekend and proved to be an eye-opener for a 65-year-old! This city has to be the maddest place on earth. Stag parties, hen nights, girls tottering around on the highest of heels all intermingled with Newcastle's Gay Pride. We made our way down to the quayside where we settled for a drink whilst watching the world go by with the wife finally getting her glass of Merlot.

Bedlington Terriers 1 Tonbridge 1

Match 04/16/1312 - Friday, 15th July 2016 - Pre-Season Friendly

Bedlington Terriers (1) 1
Tonbridge (1) 1 Allen 28 (pen)
Headcount: 80

Entrance: £2
Programme: None
Mileage: 713/955
New Ground: 288

As a 65th birthday treat, Bedlington Terriers would not feature too highly on many people’s wish list of destinations. But a two match pre-season tour with Tonbridge Angels offered a good weekend in Newcastle and with an accommodating wife, brother and sister-in-law happy to indulge me; it was off to the north-east.

The masterplan was to head initially for Manchester, where we would take in the National Football Museum on Thursday afternoon before heading for Tyneside on Friday morning. Unfortunately, anything that involves the M6 rarely goes to plan. Despite a short delay on the M25, by the time we reached our mid-point and a stretching of the legs at Hilton Park, we were making good time before grinding to a halt around Stafford. Previous knowledge of many a trip to Old Trafford when England were on the road stood us in good stead in coming off the motorway before Crewe and winding our way, Doris-aided, through the A roads of Staffordshire and Cheshire. Ultimately traffic consumed our time and the museum had to be put on hold until the following morning.

For any football supporter, the museum is an absolute must. We set aside a bit more than a couple of hours, but could easily have doubled our time. Fascinating memorabilia, interactive games that would engross children and adults alike and a special section celebrating our World Cup win of 50 years ago. And all, essentially, for free. A £3 donation allows you to lift the Premier League trophy for photographs and a couple of other attractions.

We were making our base in South Shields which gave us easy access to the games at Bedlington and the following day at Blyth Spartans, but also had a metro station that would transport us into Newcastle for a Saturday night of a couple of beers while watching the world go by.

The half-hour journey up to Bedlington took us through the Tyne Tunnel to the Dr. Pit Welfare Stadium home of the Northern League Division Two Terriers.

At the turnstile there were a gaggle of kids who seemed quite keen to get, but only if it was free! Which it was for them.

Once inside, the first thing that became apparent was the pitch ... oh dear. The grass was ankle height in the best places with huge clumps scattered randomly that were a couple of inches higher. An enquiry as to why it hadn't been mowed brought the sorry tale that the red mower needed repairing and the blue one broke down.

A quick word with Nick Wheeler, who said that pitch was actually worse than it looked from the sidelines.

There was a main stand that had a few seats alongside some covered terracing, and in the corner was the clubhouse and changing rooms. In one corner was a giant electronic scoreboard and screen, that was very high-tech in comparison with everything else.

Into the bar and there were a dozen or so Tonbridge supporters already on their first (or second) drinks, these were joined by several more who came up on the players coach making about 20 in all that had made the long trip north.

Now, my wife is no wine snob but she knows what she likes, she has done her share of practising! So when she asked for a Merlot, I'm afraid the choice of white or rose, didn't exactly fill her with joy. It invoked memories of a 1985 trip to Liverpool for Gillingham's famous FA Cup tie with Everton when a request for a glass of red was met with an answer of there is only white.

That be said, the welcome was very friendly. No programme for the game was issued and when I asked for any programme from last season, one of the bar staff went and found me one.

The pitch, apart from the length of the grass was rock solid and hardly conducive to good football and neither side had threatened much before a long ball into the Tonbridge penalty area was met with a free header to give the home side a 15th minute opening goal.

Tonbridge responded well and had a penalty appeal turned down after the referee had initially pointed to the spot. Luke Allen, who was head and shoulders the best player on the pitch, jinked his way into the box before being tripped leaving the official this time with no option but to awarded the spot kick. Allen, literally dusted himself down, and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way for a 26th minute equaliser.

The second half was the normal pre-season procession of substitutions with the goalkeepers largely untested.

The final whistle brought the gaggle of kids to the player's entrance and it was good to see Sonny Miles high-fiving every kid that wanted one before leaving the pitch.

So it was back to South Shields and the hotel bar in search of the wife's Merlot. She remained disappointed and had to make do with a Cabernet Sauvignon, it's a hard life.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Hampton & Richmond Borough 4 Tonbridge 0

Match 03/16/1311 - Saturday, 9th July 2016 - Pre-Season Friendly

Hampton & Richmond Borough (3) 4 Hippolyte-Patrick 5,45+2, Lowe 38, Kabamba, N. 61
Tonbridge (0) 0
Attendance: TBC

Entrance: £4 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 128/242
Played at Corinthian Casuals
New Ground: 287

Match Report

Professionals within the game always manage to take a positive pre-season from even a heavy defeat such as this one. Whether that is minutes on the pitch, fitness or team shape. Personally, this was a bit of a 'mare and it's hard to draw anything from it. In these days of modern gizmos, sometimes a simple old-fashioned aide is worth its weight in gold. Fearing the M25 becoming a car park, I left home in plenty of time to complete the nearly 60 mile journey to Surbiton, the home of Corinthian Casuals, a ground I haven't previously visited. The M25 did what it was supposed to do, allowing free-flowing traffic to circumvent London. A minor delay ensued as day-trippers descended upon Chessington World of Adventure, but nothing that was putting my arrival on time in any doubt. The satnav was steering me towards the final roundabout before taking me onto the A3 Kingston By-pass. You have reached your destination, Doris proudly announced. Thank-you, got to be somewhere down here then. For the next half-an-hour, I progressed down one side of the bypass, up the other without so much as a sign of a football ground.

I stopped and asked a group of people in a bus stop. Corinthian Casuals, are they a rugby team? The mobile phone was deployed, Google Maps, that will find it. Down the by-pass once more, back up the other side. But this time, I had spotted the slip road that both devices were trying to tell me to go down. Even though I was now on the right road, the King George's Arena was still devilishly tucked away without any signposting. Two signposts, one at the top of the slip road, and the other pointing towards the entrance would have saved me half-an-hour of frustration and a missed kick-off. It's not rocket science, although the GPS system is, of course.

Once through the turnstile and with a very nicely produced programme in hand, it was easy to be impressed with the wonderful playing surface that Corinthian Casuals had produced for this four-team tournament in memory of a previous chairman, Geoff Harvey and their legendary president, Jimmy Hill. Unfortunately, the beautiful carpet had already produced the first goal and it had gone to last year's Ryman Prmeier League champions. Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick, a Tonbridge loanee last season, the scorer.

The first half was very much one-way traffic with Hampton doubling their advantage after 38 minutes when Jamal Lowe shot into the bottom corner after being sent through on goal.

The game was over as a contest in first half added time when Hippolyte-Patrick cut in from the right and fired a low shot into the far corner across the face of the advancing Anthony Di Bernardo.

Tonbridge made a better fist of the second period but their chances were very few and largely untroubled the goalkeeper. Hampton completed the scoring just after the hour mark when Nicke Kabamaba beat Di Bernardo at his near post with a strong shot.

New signing, central defender George Beavon, took a nasty knock to the head and needed substituting after both players involved received quite lengthy treatment on the pitch.

The one positive that I can draw is that if I ever need to re-visit Corinthian Casuals in the future, I know where it is.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Rusthall 0 Tunbridge Wells 1

Match 02/16/1310 - Tuesday, 5th July 2016 - Pre-Season Friendly

Rusthall (0) 0
Tunbridge Wells (1) 1 Atkins 39
Attendance: 240

Entrance: £3
Programme: None issued
Mileage: 38/114

Match Report

In conversation with Tunbridge Wells’ supporters prior to the game there is a sense of optimism for the coming season that they will see a great improvement (albeit they were a beer or two to the good!). Of course, a case can be made that it could hardly get any worse but, with a new chairman set to take over the reins after the AGM in a couple of weeks’ time, there is good reason to believe that a fresh start is precisely what the club needs.

The recurring theme of those conversations was that nobody wanted to see a repeat of the revolving door of players that hallmarked last season. Jason Bourne has retained the nucleus of the squad that finished the season and made some useful additions that suggests that they will be challenging in the top half of the Southern Counties East this season at the very least.

For this first pre-season run-out, both clubs fielded different teams for each half with the Wells playing a mixture of senior and under-21 players, who, without any team sheet produced, were unknown to the majority of supporters.

Only one player, Rusthall’s goalkeeper, Sean Ingleson, who had a very decent game, played the full 90 minutes.

Tunbridge Wells dominate proceedings in the first half although it was Rusthall who brought the first save from Ryan Chandler when he clawed the ball away from the top corner following a shot from the ex-Tunbridge Wells player, John Sinclair.

Impressing in midfield for the Wells was Ollie Bankole, who similarly saw a shot destined for the top corner saved by Ingleson. Bankole was considered to be a good prospect as a youngster at Tonbridge but has drifted a little from club to club. I get the impression that he needs to be loved at a club.

Ultimately the winning goal was scored after 39 minutes with a thumping header by Richard Atkins, very reminiscent of Wales’ Sam Vokes' goal that had seen off Belgium a couple of days earlier. Atkins is a burly striker that, with the right service, could prove to be a real handful for SCEL defenders. The peach of a cross supplied by Bradley Large is exactly the type of service that he is going to need. It will be interesting to see how Bourne is going to utilise his strikers as Ryan Crandley is going to require a completely different type of service from that of Atkins, utilising his pace with balls put behind the opposition back four for him to run on to.

The second half introduction of Joe Nwoko showed the strike power that the manager has at his disposal. Nwoko, with his pace, caused the Rusthall defence a lot of problems but a second goal failed to materialise.

Rusthall have installed floodlights since my last visit with some covered seating along one side; whilst the access for parking has been greatly improved. With a new management team in place they also will be looking for an improvement on the pitch after a poor season last time.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Glebe 3 Erith Town 0

Match 01/16/1309 - Saturday, 2nd July 2016 - Pre-Season Friendly

Glebe (2) 3
Erith Town (0) 0
Headcount: 45

Entrance: Free
Programme: None issued
Mileage: 76/76

You are told when you a child and fall off your bike, get straight back on. This weekend I should have been in Paris for a classic European Championship Quarter Final with England playing the hosts France, instead I'm at a sports ground in Chislehurst watching a random pre-season friendly with cricket being played on an adjoining pitch. But it's the start of a new season; time to put that disappointment to bed and get back on the bike (metaphorically speaking).

One of the few joys of pre-season (let's face it the football is never great) is getting to grounds outside of the Leagues in which your clubs play; time for the groundhopper in me to tick off a few boxes. Glebe, this season in the newly-formed Southern Counties East Division One, were a good opportunity. Having watched their exciting Kent Invicta Trophy Final back in May in which they won the trophy in extra time against Sutton Athletic and given there were only two choices of matches in Kent, one of which was being played on a 3G school pitch, it was a good time to tick Glebe off the list. Sadly, even that plan ended in disappointment to a certain extent.

Presumably because, at this early stage of the summer, their pitch was not ready to be played upon, the game was switched to the sports field behind their clubhouse. The Old Elthamians Cricket Ground had a football pitch roped off for the match and beyond that a cricket match was in progress. A glance inside Glebe's Foxbury Avenue ground saw a small, but perfectly formed, grandstand and, what appeared to be, a set of brand new floodlight pylons. Everything looked to be in good order and, if anything is needed at all, it would not take much to bring it up to SCEL Premier League standard.

There was no programme or team sheet so the reporting is going to be a little on the sparse side. Glebe dominated the game from the outset and went ahead after 14 minutes with a sweetly struck shot curling into the top corner. After 28 minutes they doubled their advantage when the inside left tucked a shot underneath the goalkeeper.

The second half progressed quietly along with the sound of leather on willow only punctuated by the voice of a frustrated Ian Jenkins, Erith's manager, on the sidelines.

Glebe wrapped up the game with ten minutes remaining when a through ball saw the goalscorer round the keeper and touch it into the unguarded net.

It wasn't Paris, it wasn't even Glebe (that is to be ticked off properly at a later date), but season 2016-17 is up and running.