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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.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Guerilla Groundhopping

Where am I?
With no Maidenhead United game to go to and a free afternoon I opted to eschew the hoopla of the FA Cup first round and continue my quest to visit every senior football ground within the M25 with a taste of the white heat of the East Surrey derby between Chipstead and Redhill.
Chipstead is a remarkable place in urban football terms, a mile from the nearest bus stop with dire warnings on their website about walking a similar distance from the nearest railway station due to the perilous nature of a pavement free road connecting the two. A bit of a mission to get to and if you will a case of guerilla groundhopping, trekking through the wilds of the Surrey countryside to find a tidy little ground in a surprisingly bucolic setting. 
Walking up a steep hill it was clear that this was going to be a big tick, a feeling which grew as I headed onto a footpath and then a virtually deserted village green, the lonely church and war memorial looking particularly poignant given the time of year. At this point I realised I was lost so with no tell signs of floodlights to guide I opted for the right hand fork of a country road which eventually brought me to semi civilisation in the form of a pavement and the shouts of footballers warming up for the forthcoming game.
Despite their location Chipstead FC appear to be a thriving institution with an FA Charter Standard. This reflects a busy junior section and their commitment to the wider community further shown by the cover of the programme (complimentary with £9 entry) showing a Zambian team wearing a hand me down Chipstead strip lining up for a game alongside their opposition wearing presumably a similarly donated Manchester United kit.
Evidently the people living a few miles away in suburbs such as Coulsdon and Purley not to mention the village of Chipstead itself (again a good mile or so away) have a local club to be proud of, although the crowd at the tidy, functional ground numbered not much more than 60 with a good proportion travelling from Redhill.
Chipstead pride
Both teams are struggling for form in the Isthmian League Division One South so it was not surprising that the opening stages of the game were very tight, with little in the way of goalmouth action. Naturally the home team's 4-4-2 was trying hardest to be 4-2-4 but the Redhill defence marshalled by the lanky Jordan Anderson soaked up the early pressure and began to try to exploit an obvious of ploy of an early ball forward to pacy gloved striker Javlon Campbell.
View from the main stand
This option bore fruit midway through the first half when Campbell ran clear only to miss his one on one opportunity. This proved to be a cause of regret within minutes as the Stakhanovite industry of Derek Tieku was rewarded when he was fouled in the penalty area, Dan Moody converting the spot kick.
Despite the deficit, Redhill looked to have the better of the first half and deservedly equalised just before the interval when Connor French broke through the offside trap to score.

Does this seat count towards the ground grading?
After the break it was Chipstead who played the better football, with some slick passing in the final third which gradually wore down the Redhill defence. Man of the match Moody who was an inspirational presence on the right wing almost completed the comeback when his deflected shot was well saved by Redhill goalkeeper Michael Hunter. The home team then had a let off when Joe Bingham missed an open goal from ten yards out with Chipstead goalkeeper Milan Stojsavljevic stricken on the ground.
My sympathy for the home team was starting to waver due to Jack Buckle's constant moaning at the referee, but their claim for a first win in seven games was fully justified by an absolute thronker of a goal from twenty yards by Adam Willis.
With Redhill also on a poor run of one win in nine matches the dying minutes were a little desperate with pained shouts of "keep it in the corner". By this point I was standing under the roof behind the goal ready to make a quick exit. I soon realised I was standing in front of someone who doubtless calls himself the Bantmeister General, judging by the way at half time he had announced his arrival in the Gents with a comment to no one in particular of "this is where it all hangs out", and provided the final minutes with a background commentary of the Mike Hunt scene from Porky's, all of which made the sound of the final whistle something of a relief.
Can you see Mike Hunt?

Muddy boots tea bar on the far right

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