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Saturday 14th July 2012 ko 12.30pm

Pre-season Friendly

HOLMESDALE 4 (Carnegie 16 Hiwood 37 Spain 64 Wells 89)

ELTHAM PALACE 2 (Axell 38 Harris 71)

Att 19 (h/c)

Played at Chislehurst Recreation Ground, Empress Drive

Entry FREE

Nothing for sale

It was an apocalyptically bad drive round the M25 to get to the London Borough of Bromley, in fact at the road’s a southern-most tip by Cobham the rain was bad enough to make 6 lanes of traffic slow.

If my recent trip to Bacon’s College was an exercise in renewing my acquaintance with central London, then this one was a reason to enjoy its south-eastern suburbs. John Betjeman waxed lyrical about London’s north-western suburbs in “Metroland,” but he could have done similar work about this part of the world. There’s a pleasing mix of the urban and rural, the major chain shops together with a duck pond complete with children attempting to fish in it!

This is also Richmal Crompton country too, and you could imagine William Brown and The Outlaws playing in the woods, while his father caught the train, “To do something in the city.” The local Wetherspoon’s pub in Bromley is named after Crompton, and you get the impression that little has changed since the 1920’s when, ” Just William” was set. Even the lamp-posts look as if they’ve been converted from gas!

With the weather as bad as it was, I did wonder whether the game would be on, but ever the optimist, I stumbled on and upheld by intermittent hope, I parked up in Empress Drive, with its large Edwardian houses, and narrow road built without mass car ownership in mind. The ground entrance is in the far corner, an unlikely place, almost an apology, strange given this place has a “Friends of Chislehurst Rec'” group for it. The stream of muddy children leaving told me my journey had not been in vain, and there was the bonus of a little cover too!

The Rec’ is used by Holmesdale as a training base, and although the pitch is short, it held up to the deluge well. The trouble is that everything surrounding it didn’t, and I quickly regretted not wearing boots! The match saw a match-up between Homesdale of the step 5 Kent League, against Eltham Palace, newcomers to the Kent Invicta League at step 6.

Unusually the game was played in three 30 minute periods, which did create a small issue for both benches, as neither could come up with a suitable term for the two breaks. It clearly wasn’t “half time,” and “third time,” just doesn’t sound right! Other than that, and the rolling substutions, you could have been forgiven for thinking this was a normal league game. Both teams worked hard, and their fitness will be all the better for it. The final score flattered Holmesdale, but only slightly, the difference being that extra sharpness in front of goal.

I have to say though I found myself enjoyed this more for the surroundings than the football, good though the game was. That, I suppose is a back-handed complement for a side (Holmesdale) that I’ve managed to see play “home” games twice without ever having visited them at Oakley Road.