Hayes & Yeading United vs Cirencester Town, Southern Premier League, 22/10/16, Honeycroft
With a visit down south to see my parents long overdue, it was to be this weekend as I was fortunate to have the Monday off of work, which meant that after finishing work on Friday, we could drive down, and spend Saturday and Sunday with my parents before heading home on Monday. Unfortunately the works at West Drayton for the new Crossrail had sliced through the cables for the phonelines and internet in West Drayton and the surrounding areas, which is why this blog hasn’t been published until today.
The non-league scene in London is packed with a number of clubs, which has always meant that it has been easy to find a game to watch on a Saturday, especially those Saturdays where, as a kid/teenager, we weren’t travelling up to Shrewsbury. I think it is safe to say that my love of non-league grounds began at Honeycroft, home of Uxbridge FC, as my childhood best friend’s dad was a steward at Uxbridge FC and would regularly bring his son, Declan, and myself along with him, and we’d get in for free, before spending an afternoon playing ballboy. I’m sure I would have discovered a love of non-league football at one point of my life, but Alex “Big Alex” Maltman you definitely helped, thanks.
However after a scan of the internet for this weekend’s fixtures, I was disappointed to see that Uxbridge were away from home. That being until an odd thought entered my mind. Recently Hayes & Yeading United have moved back to the Warren, Yeading’s old home, and despite numerous years of building work, the local council have decided that there are issues with the safety side of things, and have effectively kicked H&YUFC out of their home, which has led to them playing games around the county, including recently at Beaconsfield Sycob. With this in mind I checked the Hayes’ website, and crossed my fingers, and then scared the hell out of my wife, as I ran around the living room celebrating the fact that Hayes’ recent stadium misfortune means that they were due to play their game against Cirencester at the closest football ground to my parent’s house. Which would mean no driving for my dad or I, and the chance to have a beer, or two.
As well as spending a large number of Saturday’s watching Uxbridge, my dad would take me along to Church Road, where we would meet up with some of his work friends and watch Terry Brown’s might Hayes. I continued to watch Hayes & Yeading after the merger, and whenever possible I made my way down to Church Road, as well as keeping up with their scores whilst I was away at uni. Whilst at uni, I was a Shrewsbury Town season ticket holder, and unfortunately Hayes had a habit of playing Wrexham, away, on the days Shrewsbury were at home.
Anyway, after a quick trip down to Yiewsley High Street, where no retailer was able to take a card payment due to the lack of phonelines, at 14.05 my dad and I left my parent’s house, and wandered off to Honeycroft, we decided to take the scenic route through Stockley Park, which was unfortunate as they’ve sealed the hole in the fence, meaning instead of arriving in about 5 or 10 minutes, we arrived at 14.20, and made our way to the clubhouse, for a quick pint before the game. Finally at 14.45 we decided to enter the ground, after paying £10 for entry, £2 for a programme and £1 for a 50/50 draw ticket, plus a free teamsheet, I was back where I spent a hell of a lot of my childhood, time definitely well spent.
Hayes & Yeading United were formed in May 2007, through the merger of Hayes FC and Yeading FC, a merger which was meant to see the club become a super club of the Middlesex area. The newly formed club took a place in the Conference South and began life playing at Church Road, Hayes’ wonderful, paradise of a ground (I may be biased, but to me Church Road was simply amazing). In their first season the club finished in 13th place, but were to go even further in their second season, as they finished 4th, which led to a place in the play-offs, after beating Eastleigh in the Semi-Finals, they beat Hampton & Richmond in the final, in a game which finished 3-2. Hayes & Yeading were then to have a good first season in the Conference National, with a 17th place finish. For their fourth season, the 2010 to 2011 season, the club turned professional, and in this season they reached the First Round of the FA Cup, where they lost to League 1 Wycombe Wanderers. It was also in the 2010-11 season that H&Y played their final game at Church Road, as on the 19th April 2011, H&Y beat Gateshead, and West London lost one of its finest football grounds, this season saw H&Y finish 16th. They then moved in with Woking, at the Kingfield Stadium, as work was undertaken at The Warren, to bring it up to standard. I’ve never understood the decision to groundshare at Woking, and then Maidenhead, but I’ll discuss that later. Garry Haylock resigned as manager on the 28th May 2011, with Nas Bashir taking over, in the 2011 to 2012 season the club returned to the Conference South. Bashir then left on the 4th February 2013 with Tony O’Driscoll taking temporary charge, before then becoming the permanent manager on the 25th February 2013. However O’Driscoll only lasted as manager until the 4th April 2013, as he returned to his role as Director of Football, with Hayes & Yeading finishing 17th in the league. Phil Babb took the reigns on the 9th May 2013, however the club only escaped relegation during the 2013 to 2014 season due to the demised of Hereford, who’s expulsion from the Conference Premier seeing Chester and Hayes & Yeading receive relegation reprieves. In the next season Hayes once again narrowly avoided relegation, finishing 19th, Phil Babb left in February 2015, however Hayes & Yeading finally succumbed to relegation from the Conference South in the 2015-2016 season as they finished second from bottom. Recent poor form has seen Mickey Lewis leave the management role, and Director of Football Tristan Lewis has taken temporary charge, until a replacement manager can be found.
Cirencester Town were formed in October 1889, and were found members of the Gloucestershire County League in 1968, however in the 1969 to 1970 season, the club joined the Hellenic League Premier Division. They were relegated to Division One in 1978 and remained there until they finished as runners-up in 1991. The club finished as runners-up in the 1991 to 1992 season, before being crowned champions in the 1995 to 1996 season, which saw them promoted to the Southern League Southern Division. In the 1999 to 2000 season the club were transferred to the Western Division, before being promoted to the Premier Division in 2003 to 2004 season, as they finished third. Cirencester were to stay in the Premier Division until 2008, as they were relegated back to the South and West Division. However their stay in the South and West Division was to be short lived as they returned to the Premier Division in the 2009 to 2010 season, as they won the play-offs. Unfortunately they were relegated again in 2012, before winning the South and West Division in the 2013 to 2014 season.
Going into this game, both sides find themselves near the bottom end of the table, with Hayes & Yeading sitting in 19th position, and Cirencester in 21st. Hayes have played 15 games, and have won 4, drawn 4 and lost 7, picking up 16 points in the process. Cirencester have played a game more, won 4, drawn 3 and lost 9 with 15 points earned in total.
Honeycroft is situated just on the edge of Stockley Park, with good links to the M4, and other areas of London. From the landing of my parent’s house the floodlights are visible, and it has always been one of my favourite non-league grounds. The club benefit from a large clubhouse, which extends from the changing rooms. Through the turnstiles, you emerge behind one of the goals, with the main stand to your left. The Main Stand is a cracker of a stand, which straddles the halfway line, behind this stand are the directors lounge and a tea-hut. To the left of the Main Stand, is a covered terrace which is bordered by Stockley Park, opposite the Main Stand, is a crooked little seated stand, which is crooked due to the unevenness of the pitch, either side of this stand is hard standing. Behind the goal, closest to the clubhouse, is a covered terrace identical to the one at the other end of the pitch. Earlier in the blog I mentioned that I couldn’t understand the decision to groundshare at Woking and Maidenhead, and the reason for that is simple… Honeycroft. Now admittedly I don’t know the details of the groundshare agreements at Woking and Maidenhead, but I can imagine Hayes were paying some sort of rent. In all fairness I can’t understand why they didn’t just move in with Uxbridge for a few years, it would’ve been better for the fans, as it’s a lot closer to Hayes. I’ll admit that I’m not sure whether Honeycroft would be Conference standard, but it can’t be too difficult to make it Conference standard, a couple of temporary seater stands, and a few more turnstiles, and it would’ve been fine, I’d imagine. Anyway, hopefully Hayes & Yeading will get the Warren sorted soon.
Strangely the two sides emerged to a Little Mix song, “Black Magic” which must have been the tamest entrance music I’ve ever witnessed. Surely it can’t be difficult to get “Firestarter” by the Prodigy on the tannoy, can it?
Both sides showed good attacking intent, and my eye was drawn straight to H&Y’s number 9, Melford Simpson, who in all fairness, must be about 6 foot 4, maybe taller, and he’s a big old lump, he caused no end of problems for the Cirencester back line, and was unfortunate not to get on to the end of some of the chances Cole Brown, H&Y’s number 7, was creating. Melford seemed to be everywhere, and was determined to close the ball down at all opportunities, which unfortunately saw him take a powerful clearance to his “special” area in the 12th minute, causing every bloke in the crowd to wince.
An evenly matched first half looked like it was going to go into the break on an even score, and around the 45th minute, I decided to suggest that we head down to the clubhouse, unfortunately as we left our viewing point, Jerson Dos Santos, H&Y’s number 8, was fouled in the box, and now we were down at the other end of the ground, as H&Y’s number 4, Olu Durojaiye stepped up to take the penalty. His run up was one of those slow starts which have become popular recently (And I have to agree with the man that tells him to “Get on with it” in the YouTube video of the highlights), his penalty was dispatched nicely, and he put H&Y into the lead.
Half Time: Hayes & Yeading United 1-0 Cirencester Town (Durojaiye 45)
At half time, we headed back to the clubhouse, where it was my round and I paid £6.60 for a pint of Fosters and a pint of Best, which for London prices isn’t bad, (the clubhouse at Uxbridge also shows the majority of Premier League matches, so if you ever find yourselves in the area, pop down and have a pint!). I also decided to visit the refreshment hatch in the clubhouse, and bought a cheeseburger for £2.70, which was lovely!
For the second half we decided to stand near the home dugout, which was to be a good decision, as the Hayes & Yeading bench provided great entertainment, with club stalwart Delroy Preddie, getting rather overexcited, and then getting himself in trouble with the officials. Honestly H&Y probably don’t need to look too far for their next manager, in my opinion Delroy would be a fantastic choice, especially with Tristan Lewis as Director of Football. #DelroyForManager
H&Y came out of the break the stronger of the two sides, and Cole Brown was having a stormer of a game down the right wing, and they were unfortunate not to double their lead, but Harvey Rivers in the Cirencester goal, was having a good game, and he was equal to everything H&Y threw at him.
Against the run of play, Cirencester found themselves back in the game, as in the 65th minute, Louis Wells, H&Y’s keeper, parried a shot into the path of Cirencester’s number 9, Aidan Bennett, who made no mistake, netting the equaliser.
Both sides needed freshening up, but it took until the 79th minute for the first change of the game to be made, as H&Y switched their number 15 and 12, Yannis Ambroisine and Dylan Kearney for their number 6 and 9, Sam Humphreys and Melford Simpson.
Both sides were pushing forward looking for the winner, but both keepers made fantastic saves to keep the scores level.
Cirencester made a change in the 85th minute, with their number 10, Elijah Chilekwa leaving the field to be replaced by their number 12, Kalum Youngsam.
Final Score: Hayes & Yeading 1-1 Cirencester (Durojaiye 45 – Bennett 65)
At the final whistle, we headed back to the clubhouse to watch the final scores, and another disappointing result for Shrewsbury popped up. If that wasn’t enough, Chorley also lost, and I consoled myself with my pint of Fosters. There wasn’t enough time for another, as my dad was going out for a workmates’ birthday, so we headed home.
I’m guessing that as I didn’t actually see Uxbridge at home, I can’t really tick this ground off, on my list of grounds attended. (I know I’ve seen Uxbridge countless times before, but I’ve been keeping a list of all the grounds since I started this blog) Which means that I’ll have to go to Honeycroft again, however will I cope?
Honeycroft is a great ground, which I’ll never hide my love for, and I’m looking forward to attending again, this time for an Uxbridge match. Hopefully I’ll also be able to get to The Warren soon, as it would be nice to see H&Y at a ground they actually own. Fingers crossed that all of the necessary groundwork is completed soon, as the hardcore H&Y fans that have followed them to Woking, Maidenhead and other grounds deserve to be rewarded.
A point for H&Y sees them sit in 19th place with 17 points on the board, hopefully they’ll sort out their management situation soon, and will begin to climb up the table, as this club should probably be higher up than they are at present, but then again past glory and league positions count for nothing in the present, and there is a lot of hardwork needed. Although H&Y have a good number of players, who have the quality to get the club up the leagues.
Cirencester have pulled themselves out of the relegation zone and now occupy 20th position, and are only a point behind H&Y, saying that they are only a point about St Ives Town, who have a game in hand, so if results go against them, Cirencester could find themselves back in the relegation zone.
Finally I don’t normally like to criticize the officials, as they do a difficult job, but I feel that I should mention the linesman, who occupied the touchline in front of the dugouts. He had a good game, he didn’t make any game changing mistakes, but I just feel he could have handled the H&Y bench better. I’m not making any excuses, as the H&Y bench were vocal, and did make their feelings known, but telling them to “Shut up, shut your mouth” isn’t professional. If the bench is being abusive or are providing a distraction, then get the ref to deal with them. As I’ve said this isn’t a criticism as god knows the officials at all levels do a difficult job.
Hat-tricks seen so far: 0
Hayes & Yeading Twitter: https://twitter.com/handyutd
Cirencester Town Twitter: https://twitter.com/CirenTownFC
Youtube Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14HJljouaQ0