Welling United

Saturday 26th February - Conference South
Welling United 1 v Weston-Super-Mare 0
Gate : £11

Atten: 470
Ground: A ground mixed with old and new. The old stand was quirky
Food: Coffee 60p & Crunchie 50p
Match Enjoyment:An enjoyable game played at a decent pace , not too many clear cut chances 5/10

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It turned to be a funny old day from start to finish as i ended up at my 7th choice game Plan G the next plan was Plan H and that means Home !. My original choice was a trip to the Chasetown v Mansfield Trophy Quarter Final a ground and game is was really looking forward to. But due to the kindness from an individual from Chasetown they called me early to inform me that the game will be called off and not to travel. A really grand gesture that which will lead me to spending an extra 50p in the club shop when i do finally get there !.

Even on the M25 i was still not sure which game Linda was taking me to as on the result of frantic phone calls games were being called off every few minutes.All games were called off due to waterlogged pitches but despite me messing Linda around badly numerous times that morning , she never complained.Despite  the pouring rain and quick phone call confirmed it was game on at Park View Road - Home of Welling United FC.
Welling's history is an interesting one and can be found  here

The ground is very easy to find and i parked up without any problems and headed off for a well earned breakfast in the pouring rain. It was fortunate a cafe was not too far away so despite getting soaked everything was ok now. I ordered my Breakfast Special Number 3 and asked the server if usage of a toilet was available. As she eyed me up and down noticing how wet i was , she replied with a chuckle "you can also have a bath up there" ... i was still trying to workout her answer as i went upstairs to the flat above and then my answer was given immediately i opened the door and saw the bathroom ..... It was then i decided to decline her "kind" invertation.

The bathing opportunity i was offered , but reluctantly declined !
After polishing off my Special #3 with ease i made my way to the ground. Even after paying my entrance fee i learned that the game was still in doubt , there was no way i could return to the car to tell Linda , in order to seek another destination, so i would know for sure when the ref finally arrives but on hearing the groundsman's view it was touch and go still.

Welling actually share the ground with Erith & Belverdere who play in the Kent League and the two stands are a case of old (Welling) and new (Erith) but it seems to work well. The old stand was a quirky one with little hidden passages and tunnels everywhere. I did take the wrong passage on more than one occasion and ended up in the Presidents Suite by mistake.

The game finally got the go ahead and deservedly so after all the work put in that morning from the ground staff.  The first half was a very even affair played at a decent lick without many clear cut chances.
When you dont need a bus - 3 come along at once !
 One of the quirky features about the ground is that throughout the game double decker busses passed on the adjacent high street giving the passengers on the top deck and excellent view of the game , albiet very brief.

It reminded me of the old sit com On the Buses with Blakey and his "i 'ate you Butler" catchphrase. I believe was based not too far away in either South-east or East London

The second half was better with both teams going for it again with little openings but The Wings were flying now and they scored a decent goal from a headed corner.  But i must point out the loyalty of some fans for a team they follow as i counted the army of away supporters ....... 3 ! At the final whistle as the Weston players applauded their "traveling army" they had actually out numbered them !!
But was the performance from their team worthy of such support ? , not really as Weston produced nothing and were more Mare than Super !
But on the whole i had an enjoyable day despite the weather my trip to Park View Road was interesting in more ways than one and one that i shall remember.


Saturday 12th February - FA Vase 5th Round
Stanstead 0 v Dunston UTS 2
Gate : £5
Atten: 430 
Ground: Very basic ground , which lacked atmosphere. Only one side with a stand the rest just railings around on a cricket pitch - 2/10
Food:  Homemade Sausage Roll £1 Coffee 80p
Match Enjoyment:Not the most exciting of matches. Dunston in full control, mainly due to more experienced players . In truth Stansteads big day never really 'took off' ! 3/10

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Contrary to belief its not always easy being a ground hopper and today was no exception. As a hopper you are always prepared to make a last minute change to the best prepared plans and today was a classic example of that. For some reason it was difficult to chose which game to see in this round as several of the matches were appealing and in the end i ended up at not my intended first choice. Originally i was going to Kings Lynn a ground i was really looking forward to visit and the fact that the opponents were local rivals St Neots only added to the occasion , i also heard that segregation was in place for the game which i don't enjoy as it limits the chance to wander freely , but due to numerous events this morning i decided to go to Poole v Spennymoor but the very basic ground was of putting but the North v South thing added interest. To be honest i was not feeling in great form due to some kind of fever but in the end i knew it was only Vase Fever !

When i left home i was still undecided and in the car i actually asked 'Linda' (my sat nav) to take me to Norfolk , home of Kings Lynn. But for some reason after the going through the Dartford tunnel i turned left instead of right going against Linda's wishes , my new direction was Stanstead Airport !

I was now heading for Stanstead v Dunston UTS. This game appealed to me for a few reasons it was a classic example of North v South , two teams from completely different parts of the country and people with very different accents.

Stanstead FC ply their trade in the Essex Senior League and actually won the league last season. In fact their very good run has continued this season. They are in fact previous winners of the Vase in 1984 when they beat Stamford 3-2 in the final. I spoke with their manager before the game and he seemed very confident of his boys and the rise from the bottom when he took over four years ago was something he was very proud of.
After 34 games this season they had only 4 defeats and were flying high at the top again.

Todays Visitors are Dunston UTS from the Northern League. Dunston is known as where Gazza started his playing days.
Full history of Dunston UTS history can be found here ...  Dunston History

Hargrave Road - Main stand at Stanstead's ground.
As usual on Vase day i always go for a fry up and today was no exception as after the  busy morning food is what i needed on arrival at the town centre of Stanstead. I was directed by a local to a cafe on the high street called "Yummy's" the name itself was good enough for me. As it was Vase day the House  8 item Special was ordered and eaten with ease.

As i came out of the cafe and walked down the high street towards the ground i bumped into Isaacs another ground hopper friend of mine but what was he doing here i asked as he was supposed to be at the Poole v Spennymoor game, as we laughed he asked me the same question as for him i was supposed to be in Kings Lynn !!

The ground itself is a very basic one no where near the charm of the previous round at Herne Bay. Only one little stand here and the rest of the pitch was protected by railings on the cricket pitch. The charm factor was very low.

Directors Box
On the positve side the stand they did have was a little quirky.

Today was a big day for the club and the local radio were there to cover the game and for a step 5 club that was unusual.
Players Tunnel

There were many hoppers present at todays game from all over the country.The crowd looks to have exceeded expectations and around 400 plus had gathered as the game started

The opening 15 minutes were very good and a decent game was in the making. But then Stanstead had to make a change as a defender went of injured and from then on they never really recovered

The opening goal for Dunston was due to a mishap on the edge of the Stanstead box the goalie and two defenders left the ball for each other and then through sheer panic was toe punted out for a throw in but before the ball could go out a quick thinking Dunston player knew the goalie was off his line and first time chipped the ball over everyone into the back of the net from the right touchline. Silence had over come the shock of everything as it all happened so quickly. But in reality it was a piece of decent skill by Dunston

The boys from Gateshead now appeared to have a foot hold on the game, as Stanstead offered very little.
Midway through the second half they made the game safe from mistake by a Stanstead defender who instead of heading the ball clear let it bounce and lost sight of it in the low setting sun. Dunston pounced and scored the vital goal to kill off any faint hopes the Essex boys had.
Dunston players celebrate with their fans
The rest of the game was played in full control by Dunston and as the final whistle blew geordie celebrations were loud and very well deserved.  Stanstead's big day landed with a bump and they  failed to really ever take off !!
Travelling back i heard of the very decent games at both Poole and Kings Lynn , had i picked the wrong game to go to ? maybe, the ground was not the most scenic and atmosphere not brilliant especially by the home supporters at least Dunston supporters made some noise. But the day had unfolded in an enjoyable way and i have no regrets as it is all part of my Vase journey. There is something very special about the Vase and i cant wait for monday's draw to see where my next day out will be.