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Friday 6th July 2012 ko 8.00pm

Pre-season Friendly

FISHER FC 4 (Wilson 19 Telesford 38 Mustafa 43 Haidana 87)

AFC CROYDON ATHLETIC 1 (Jansen 66)

Att 64 (h/c)

Entry & Programme £3

Coffee £1

At Bacon’s College, Rotherhithe, London

I love visting London, in fact when there’s time, I love driving across the capital. With Bacon’s College being set in the heart of Docklands, just below the Surrey bend of the Thames, I saw some of the sights on the way, Tower Bridge, Madame Tussaud’s and so on, it was seventh heaven street for me!

It was easy to park in the new-looking residential streets around the college, and being around an hour before kick off I caught the end of a graduation prom just leaving the college. They looked very cosmopolitan, and smart. The gaggle of groundhoppers waiting, looked a good deal less of both but one, Dermot, pointed out that Fisher’s old ground was just a short walk away. The Surrey Docks Stadium, was once meant to be a football league ground in waiting, but now lies derelict – a victim of a dispute between a now defunct club, and an intransigent landlord. The phoenix club would like to move back there, away from a groundshare at Dulwich Hamlet, but that looks a long shot. In the meantime, an annual visit to a 3G pitch 100 yards away provides some succour.

There’s some similarities for AFC Croydon. Caught up in the maelstrom of the Pakistani cricketers spot-fixing scandal they found themselves in a fix not of their own making. Owner Mazhar Majeed, agent to the three cricketers jailed, was given a 32 month sentence, and there’s still an investigation as to whether Majeed used the club for money laundering purposes. On 2nd October 2010 club chairman David Le Cluse was found dead with a bullet wound to the head, in a garage in Sutton. The club folded in December 2011, and was immediately resurrected by the fans. With the club’s home, the Keith Tuckey stadium unavailable, the new club will spend this season sharing Croydon FC’s Sports Arena, playing in the Combined Counties League. This was AFC Croydon Athletic’s first ever game.

Frankly, it showed. Whilst the facilities wre unsuitable for a step 6 club to use Bacon’s College as a permanent base, the 3G pitch was excellent, and Fisher soon made their class tell. It wasn’t that Croydon, still using the old club’s Ryman League branded kit, were substantially poorer, it was that Fisher were sharper. Perhaps that game I’d watched at Arkley a few days earlier had been of more use than I’d thought! With multiple rolling substitutions slowing the game down, the evening became more of a social occasion, and as the red sun sank, the skyline took on a life of its own. The Shard, Gherkin, and the Docklands Towers gave an unimportant game a spectacular backdrop. For the record, Lee Jansen had the honour of scoring AFC Croydon’s first ever goal, but it mattered little, for both sides this was about picking a side for a season a full month away.

I gave a hopper sporting a plastic boot a lift to the nearest station, and set off on a slow drive back across London, this time making no attempt to avoid the congestion charge. When you’ve got time, and the charge isn’t applied after 6pm, you can afford to linger, but not too long, the close-ups can get rough!