About Me

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Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
I'm a director of Maidenhead United Football Club. For ten seasons one of my roles at the club was to produce the match programme. The aim of this blog was to write football related articles for publication in the match programme. In particular I like to write about the representation of football in popular culture, specifically music, film/TV and literature. I also write about matches I attend which generally feature Maidenhead United.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Finchley not for turning

Wingate & Finchley deservedly edged a tight Isthmian League Division one contest at Summers Lane when Leon Smith headed in a winner in injury time.
This was my first visit to the Harry Abrahams stadium and I think I can safely say its the neatest non league ground I have ever been to. Entry was a little steep for this level at £8, although I guess that's standard for this division, and a professionally produced programme set me back a fair £1.50.  
The verdant pitch, despite its slope was unsurprisingly judged to be one of the top two in the whole of the league last season, and to their credit the home team were keen to use it, regularly exhibiting some neat passing moves.
The ground is dominated by a 500 seater stand (mainly benches) which is double sided so it can be shared with the back to back rugby pitch.  This means it is set well back from the action with a hedge & palm trees unfortunately obscuring the view of the near corners if the pitch corners.
The terraces are likewise well constructed with two sections of cover although there is barely room for more than one person to pass in most of the surround.  Not that this is a problem as I counted just 70 people watching when the game kicked off.
Wingate & Finchley bear their Jewish origins with pride as shown by a cursory glance at the badge and the impressive clock in laid with the Star of David.  This is quite appropriate as the Wingate name is taken from the General who created the Israeli army. The club was formed by ex soldiers post World War 2 to battle anti semitism on the field of play. In historic terms Wingate were very much the junior partner compared to the Finchley club which dates back to 1874, however these days it seems the second part of the name merely reflects the club's location.
The PA played Magic FM which topped off the sleepy suburban feel of the area, backed by the hum of the north circular in the background, and the sweet briar smell of a pipe smoking spectator.  Even the name Wingate & Finchley sounds like a Building Society.
Their opponents Redbridge are of course descendants of Ford United, with the club's fall from being founder members of the Conference South to bottom markers of the Isthmian league acting as an apt metaphor for the fortunes of the Ford Motor Company.
Following a slightly delayed kick off Wingate & Finchley took the early initiative with some great football, Leon Smith hitting the post early on, with Marc Weatherstone proving himself to be a well spring of inspiration at right back.
In reponse Redbridge opted for the direct route, trying to hit target man Anton Agdomar at every opportunity.  Thus the first half fell victim to the English disease of high tempo, Redbridge's superior strength and fitness enabling them to get a foothold in the game.
The game was goalless at the break with all the action taking place in the second half.
Wingate & Finchley took the lead through a clever back header from Smith following a corner.
The man in the middle Steven Rea gave a good display exhibiting clear commands and signals, using assistants well to work as a team.  This was exemplified when a nasty incident midway through the half saw him give due consideration before dismissing a man from either side.
Unsurprisingly the game developed into a niggly affair and when Smith missed a gilt edged chance to seal the points when through on goal, Redbridge equalised with the goal of the game.  A swift counter attack seeing Perry Christian deliver a perfect cross for Alex Read to convert at the far post.
This fightback came in vain though when Smith took advantage of a goalkeeper error to restore Wingate & Finchley's lead deep into stoppage time.


Paul said...

Hi Steve,

I really like your article. I hope you don't mind but I wish to print it in the next Wingate & Finchley programme, which is the game against Harlow on 3rd May...?


Paul Lerman
Wingate & Finchley FC

Steve said...

Please do. Best of luck for the play offs.