Chalfont St Peter vs Fleet Town, Evo Stik Southern Premier Division One Central, 20/02/16, Mill Meadow, Match 29
With it being my children’s birthdays this week, we’d made the decision to head down to London, or more specifically Yiewsley, to visit my parents. Unfortunately we’d picked a weekend when Uxbridge FC were playing away, as their Honeycroft ground is viewable from my parent’s house, and I spent many Saturday’s whilst growing up over at Honeycroft. So I decided to cast my net a bit further, and noticed that Chalfont St Peter were at home. I’ve driven through Chalfont St Peter a couple of times, as I take my car to have its MOT done in Chalfont St Giles, and I had never realized that Chalfont St Peter had a football club.
My dad was to be joining me at today’s match, but he was working an early shift, so I was to make my own way to Chalfont St Peter, where he would meet me. My wife and my mum had decided to take the kids into Uxbridge, and I tagged along as I needed to go to Uxbridge to get the bus to Chalfont St Peter. After spending a morning marveling at all the changes in Uxbridge, it didn’t take long as there weren’t many, I walked off to the bus stop, and regretted it, as my bus was at 13.35 and I was at the bus stop for 13.10. After a very quick trip to WH Smiths, I found myself back by the bus stop, waiting for the 730 bus which would get me to Chalfont St Peter, it cost £3.60 for a single, and I began to miss my car.
Whilst on the bus, I began to check Twitter, as it was raining, and I was feeling slightly worried that the game would be called off, I was buoyed by the Chalfont St Peter’s twitters claim that they couldn’t remember the last time they had had a game called off, but then again they could have jinxed themselves. It was also good to see that the two clubs had been interacting with each other, and it was great to see them both saying how they were looking forward to seeing each other again.
I got off of the bus at the top of Gold Hill North, and walked down the road towards Market Place. The walk took around ten minutes, and I soon found myself dodging puddles on the walk over the car-park to the football ground. Once at the ground, I headed straight for the turnstiles and, after last week at Blackpool, I was glad to see a turnstile operator, it cost me £9 to get in which included the programme.
Mill Meadow is a good non-league ground, filled with character. As you emerge from the turnstiles, you have the option of turning left and heading past the Social Club, or turning right and heading to the seats behind the goal. Along the touchline, by the turnstiles, stands the Social Club, which provides cover for any fans who choose to stand on this touchline. Further along from the Social Club stands the dugouts, the refreshment hut is behind the dugouts, but more interestingly there is an old stand, which has been blocked off, on closer inspection it is clear to see why, as there are a number of holes in the structure, it’s a shame as it does look like a wonderful stand. Past the touchline, behind the far goal, stands a small structure which houses two rows of seating either side of a bit of terracing. Along the other touchline is a stretch of hard standing, and nothing else. Finally behind the goal, closest to the turnstiles, stands a newer looking stand which contains four rows of seating, unfortunately some of these seats look to have been vandalized, which is especially a shame considering the hard work put into maintaining the ground by hard-working volunteers.
Chalfont St Peter Football Club were formed in 1926, and spent their early days playing at Gold Hill Common. The outbreak of the Second World War ceased any footballing activity, and following the end of the Second World War, the club joined the Great Western Combination league for the 1949 to 1950 season. Chalfont St Peter then moved to the Parthenon League for the 1958 to 1959 season, but didn’t stay for long as the joined the London League in 1960, yet they were on the moved again after two seasons, and they joined the Spartan League in 1963. They stayed for longer in the Spartan League as they spent twelve seasons in the Spartan League, and their highest finish was a sixth placed finish. In 1976 the club joined the Athenian League Division Two, which merged with Division One the following season. Chalfont St Peter finished as runners-up in the Athenian League in 1983 to 1984 and this saw them gain promotion to the Isthmian League Division Two North. After two seasons in the Division Two North the club were transferred to the Division Two South, which the club won in the 1987 to 1988 season, gaining promotion to Division One. Following six seasons in Division One, they were relegated to Division Two, and following six seasons in Division Two they found themselves relegated to Division Three. In 2006 the club left the Isthmian League to join the Spartan South Midlands League when the FA restructured the leagues. They finished as runners-up in the 2007 to 2008 season and the 2009 to 2010 season, and finally finished as champions in the 2010 to 2011 season which saw them promoted to the Southern Football League Division One Central, where the club have stayed ever since.
Fleet Town FC were formed in 1890 and were originally known as Fleet FC, they first played in Watson’s Meadow, and moved to their present ground in 1923 when Lord Calthorpe of Elvetham Hall made the site available. From 1923 until the Second World War the club ran two Saturday teams and a Wednesday XI in the Aldershot and Basingstoke Leagues. During the war the club competed in the War Emergency League before returning to the Aldershot and Basingstoke Leagues when hostilities ceased. Fleet joined the Hampshire League in 1961 and in 1963, after changing their name to Fleet Town FC, they were champions of Division Three, which saw them earn promotion to Division Two. Further promotion followed in 1966 as the club won the league and moved up to Division One. Fleet Town moved to the Athenian League in 1978 and stayed there until the league was extended for the 1984 to 1985 season. As the new ground requirements could not be met for the Athenian League the club moved to the Combined Counties League for two seasons, followed by a season in the Surrey County Senior League and then a season in the Surrey County Premier. The 1987 to 1988 season saw the club playing in the Chiltonian League, basic improvements to the ground and facilities followed and the club gained acceptance to the Wessex League for the 1989 to 1990 season. Fleet Town finished as Champions of the Wessex League in the 1994 to 1995 season, and were promoted to the Southern League, in the next four seasons the club finished 19th, 20th, 13th and 18th. During their fifth season in the Southern League the club finished bottom, and were relegated back to the Wessex League. The club managed to regain their Southern League status at the end of the 2001 to 2002 season, as they finished runners-up in the Wessex League. Fleet’s second season in the Southern League saw them finished bottom of the Division One East, however instead of being relegated the club retained their status in Step 4, as they moved to the Isthmian League as the non-league pyramid was restructured for the 2004 to 2005 season. For the 2007 to 2008 season, the FA moved the club to the Southern League Division One South & West, however they weren’t to settle as the club were moved to the Isthmian League Division One South, the club were allowed to stay in this league until the 2011 to 2012 season when they moved to the Southern League Central Division, the club have stayed in this league barring a two season spell in the Southern League Division One South & West.
As I have mentioned, my dad was meeting me for the game, so I headed to the Social Club. The Social Club also doubles up as a playschool during the week, called Footsteps, and the walls were adorned with colourful pictures and children’s toys were stacked along one wall of the Social Club. I went to the bar and paid £3.80 for a pint of Fosters and a further 70p for a pack of crisps. I have to admit that I am used to Northern prices and my eyes watered at the £3.80.
Pint in hand I took a seat at a nearby table, and settled down to read the programme. Fleet were coming into this match on the back of an 8-1 away victory over Barton Rovers, so I expected their confidence to be sky-high. Chalfont St Peters, on the other hand, had lost their last game 2-0 to Beaconsfield SYCOB and must have been wanting to get back to winning ways. As I sat in the Social Club I noticed a volunteer with some teamsheets, and he very politely allowed me to take a picture of one, upon reading the teamsheet and consulting with the programme I was amazed to see that Fleet would be starting with a 16 year old in midfield, Ben Toye. My dad then arrived at 14.30, and he bought me my second pint of Fosters.
With both teams out on the pitch, we left the Social Club, and as it was raining, we decided to sit in the stand behind the goal, it took a couple of minutes to find seats at the back which weren’t broken.
Fleet Town took an early lead in the 14th minute, as their number 7, Jack French, broke into the box and placed a good finish past Michael Power-Simpson in the Chalfont St Peter goal. I began to hope at this point that Fleet would repeat their last game, and we’d be in for a goal fest.
There was little else to the first half, as both teams struggled to cope with the wet, muddy conditions. Long passes forward were getting stuck in the mud, and short passes zipped off of the wet turf.
Half Time: Chalfont St Peter 0-1 Fleet Town (French 14)
At half time, we took a walk around the pitch, carefully avoiding the puddles which were forming around the ground. As we reached the disused stand, I took the time to take some photos. Once I was finished with the photos, we headed round to the refreshment hut. The best thing about having my dad with me was that he got to his wallet first, and he paid the £3 for my cheeseburger, which was good, but still not as good as Chirk.
For the start of the second half we stood under the cover by the Social Club. We were joined under this cover by a number of people, including one chap who stated that as a referee he never had any swearing on his pitch, luckily for both sides he wasn’t in charge, as both sides would have seen their numbers drastically reduced.
Fleet made the first change of the game, in the 58th minute, as number 10, Ben Toye came off to be replaced by number 14, Chris Hall. Toye had played especially well, considering he is a 16 year old, who found himself playing against grown men, some of whom would have been twice his age.
We decided to move around to the opposite touchline, as the rain had subsided, and in my opinion we chose a good time to do so. Fleet’s number 2, Luke King received his marching orders for a rash tackle on the Chalfont number 11, Victor Osobu. From where I was stood the tackle had been poor, and the red card was deserved.
From the resulting free kick the ball was played forward, and found its way into the box, where Chalfont’s number 9, Michael Murray, was at hand to knock the ball passed Ryan Pryce. Immediately after the goal, Fleet made their second change as their number 16 James Scott came on to replace their goalscorer, number 7, Jack French.
Chalfont made their first change of the game in the 68th minute as their number 3, Craig Carby made way for number 12 Adam Louth.
The second Chalfont change came in the 75th minute, as number 16, Craige Tomkins came on to replace number 7, Lewis Ochoa. Tomkins is an ex-Uxbridge player, and I’ve watched him play a couple of times in the past.
Chalfont’s third and final sub came in the 81st minute, as they replaced their number 6, Alex Paine, with their number 15, Kofi Lockhart-Adams.
The next goal of the game came against the run of play, as Fleet delivered a sucker punch to Chalfont. In the 86th minute, the ball was worked down the right wing, and Fleet’s number 9, Ben White, was on hand to slot the ball passed the Chalfont keeper.
It seemed to be that if you scored for Fleet you were substituted, as Ben White made way in the 90th minute, for number 12, Brett Stanley. Fleet had begun to shut the game down, and Stanley seemed to have been tasked with chasing the ball down and keeping it up the other end of the pitch.
Final Score: Chalfont St Peter 1-2 Fleet Town (Murray 67 – French 14, White 86)
Today’s victory for Fleet sees them sitting in 16th position in the league, but to be fair they aren’t playing like a team in the bottom half of the table, and if they keep their form up they could easily climb up the table, currently they are 19 points off of the play-offs, so they might be too far out of their reach, but they could still earn a respectable position in the top half of the table. Relegation seems unlikely, as they currently have a 15 point cushion over Leighton Town who currently sit in 21st, although this is football and anything can happen.
Chalfont St Peter were very unlucky to lose this game, as they do have a number of good players in their ranks, and that shows in their league position, as they currently sit in 6th in the league and are 2 points behind 5th placed St Ives Town. With 12 games left in the season, if things go their way, Chalfont St Peter have a real chance of getting into the play-offs, which must be their aim now. Their reaction to this defeat will be very important, and I hope that they pick themselves up and dust themselves off.
Mill Meadow is a lovely ground, in a picturesque village, and I wish that I had set off earlier for the game, as I would have enjoyed the chance to explore the village a little more. Hopefully Chalfont St Peter will be able to stop any further vandalism to their ground, as their hard-working volunteers deserve more. Considering that I lived in London for twenty years of my life, I’m rather disappointed with myself for not finding this ground earlier, and I will be back to visit again.
Following the final whistle, we headed out to my dad’s car which he’d parked on the car park behind the social club, and it was a twenty minute drive through Uxbridge to Yiewsley. Once at home we found the Bournemouth vs Everton game on the BBC, because after watching a game of football, you sometimes need to watch more football.
Hat-tricks seen so far: 3
Money spent: £13.50
Next game: No plan yet, any suggestions leave them in the comments.
Thanks for reading!
Chalfont St Peter’s twitter: https://twitter.com/csp_afc
Fleet Town’s twitter: https://twitter.com/FCFleetTown
Chalfont St Peter’s website, including their match report: http://www.chalfontstpeterafc.co.uk/
For pictures of today’s adventure follow this link: My Flickr
(I’ve had to set up a Flickr as after 3 days of trying to upload photos I’ve given up on WordPress, I apologize for any inconvenience)