Thursday 7th May 201k 18.45
Kent County League-Premier Division
GURU NANAK 0
STANSFELD (OXFORD & BERMONDSEY) 2 (Jolley 24 33)
Very much with my GroundhopUK hat on I’d love to see a hop game at an ethnic club like Gravesend’s Guru Nanak. For me the clubs I like to see on these events tend to be those who give a little local flavour to their visitors, and a Sikh club with their cuisine and culture would be as much an education as it would be a football match.
The club are named after the founder of the Sikh faith and their first of eleven gurus, the final one being the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy scripture. They were formed in 1965 from a group of Indian construction workers, and despite some fairly obviously racist opposition managed to maintain an outward looking mentality, entering the Gravesend League and working their way up. They linked up with their local Gurdwara (Temple) which provided both sponsorship and a ground, and its that £15million place of worship that provides the spectacular backdrop!
These days the club runs 9 teams, and the policy of looking outward continues. All players are welcome irrespective of creed or colour, and the teamsheet bore testament to that policy. In fact the banner on the club website says, “United by one religion- football.” I cannot think of a better slogan.
The Guru Nanak Sports Ground is unusual even if you ignore (difficult I admit) the Gurdwara. Whilst there’s no cover, there’s a 2-lane running track around the 2-pitch facility. That gives hard standing on 3 sides of the main pitch with the added bonus of water fountains too! In the near corner there’s terracing, and although the view from there isn’t ideal, roughly half the crowd opted to watch the game from there. Perhaps it was the backdrop!
One resident used the fenced to dry her saris and salwar kameez and there was a convivial late-season atmosphere even if the referee kicked-off a little late for comfort given the setting sun. Sadly for our hosts they had no answer to Stansfeld’s Billy Jolley, whose movement and power saw him notch two quick goals to give the visitors a deserved win. They’re an interesting club too, named after Dr John Stansfeld, an Oxford University scholar who set up a Christian boys’ club in to alleviate poverty in Bermondsey. But that’s a visit for the future, even though they do groundshare at Metrogas in New Eltham.
Originally I elected to attend this game for two reasons, to avoid the furore over the General Election, and for the backdrop. In the end there was so much more to enjoy.