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Tuesday 24th March 2015 ko 19.30

Combined Counties League Division One

EVERSLEY & CALIFORNIA 0

CHESSINGTON & HOOK UNITED 3 (McLaughlin 11 54 Bowles 68og)

Att 23

Entry & Programme £5

After the exertions of the Lowland League Hop I wanted something reasonably local and after 1700 or so grounds the Hampshire side of the border with Berkshire is just about as good as it gets for a floodlit tick these days!

It’s fair to say Eversley is an extremely affluent area, with the Prep schools dotted around the executive houses and the forests, Will Carling lives in this area, reckoned to be the least deprived area in the UK. Of course as is usually the case none of that helps the local football team.

They play at the Sports Association at the edge of town, on land reclaimed after a Cement company vacated it. There’s cricket, including an indoor net, with a multiplicity of pitches for aged-based football. And that is where the casual visitor may miss the entire ethos of this club. People wonder why there is the suffix “California” and its because in 2012 Eversley merged with California FC a youth side based at the California Country Park in Wokingham. Or to put it another way this is club that has many youth teams, with an adult side at its apex.

Eversley FC won the Surrey Elite Intermediate League in 2010 and entered the Combined Counties League and that in many ways is where many of their problems started. The elevation required massive improvements to the ground, and in any area this affluent erecting floodlights are always an issue. In this case there really shouldn’t have been too much of a problem, this isn’t a club trying to convert a public park surrounded by houses after all.

However negotiations proved to be fraught, bats were discovered in two houses locally which apparently is an issue, although it is one that East Midlands Counties side Basford United managed to work around. And yes, the irony of an indoor cricket centre with no end of bats isn’t lost on me! Eventually the local council allowed the lights but decreed that they can only be used from October to April.

When E & C finished second in Division One in 2013-14 they thought that the improvements would see them promoted. However Combined Counties rules state that the lights have to be functional from August to April so they have been forced to stay in Division One, and they’ve struggled since.

Tonight was a case in point with the visitors being just that little bit sharper in both thought and deed. 3-0 was perhaps a touch harsh but the 3 points deserved to go to Chessington and Hook.

Now I suspect many hoppers will visit here and see the Arena stands, wince and write this place off as generic. The truth of Eversley and California is that this is a club doing wonderful things for the community at large, and trying their best to thrive when so much is against them. For that I wish them all the very best.