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Wednesday 4th November 2015 ko 19.45

Kent Invicta League


SUTTON ATHLETIC 1 (Desagne 68) Heather sent off (foul and abusive language) 87

Att 27

Entry & Programme £4

For those who didn’t know already, the Kent Invicta League was created in 2011 as a Step 6 bridge from the Step 7 Kent County League to the Step 5 Kent League (now the Southern Counties East.)  As such one of the major issues it faced was getting enough stadia that fufilled the FA’s ground grading rules. The most expensive part of those gradings tends to be getting floodlights, so a side that already has access to them was always likely to get quickly elevated, and so it came to pass…

The oddities have got in, AC London being an obvious, and probably temporary example, but Lewisham Borough are a far more sensible case of the league co-opting in new clubs. They were formed in 2003 as a three-way merger of Moonshot FC, Ten Em Bee FC and Elms FC, and entered the Kent County League. They reached the KCL’s top flight never finishing over 8th, but were founder members of the Invicta but have struggled in recent years.

I’m sure that to the casual watcher, the Ladywell Arena isn’t the type of place that immediately attracts. It’s an athletics arena, with a hospital’s incinerator at one end, and there’s no cover. You may remember my visit to another of the genre, Wodson Park and I remember commenting that it was the worst Step 6 ground I’d ever been to. So you’d think that the Ladywell would be just as bad wouldn’t you? And you’d be wrong.

Sometimes its the imponderables that make a place endear itself to you. It could be the trains trundling past, or the the line of terraced houses beyond the floodlights. But more than that what makes this place somewhere to stop and stay is the people. It’s not easy having a sunny disposition when you’re rock bottom of the league, but “The Boro” manage it. From the lady on the gate to chairman Ray Simpson, everyone seemed happy to be there, and happy to welcome.  The result was that somewhere that wasn’t intended for football felt like a home.

The game took time to spark, and no doubt Sutton will rue a litany of missed chances. Eventually substitute Arlie Desagnes fired them into the lead, but all bets were made null and void when Sean Heather was dismissed for something untoward shouted at referee Kenan Dogan. The net result was a last-minute equaliser, Venance Gbeyo reacting first after a shot had hit the crossbar. I’m not sure it was merited on the balance of play, but it was difficult to begrudge a friendly, community club their 4th point of the season.

It was my any standards a far more enjoyable evening than could ever have been expected. But then the great pity is that all too often people forget that it’s people who make football clubs, not bricks and mortar. And Lewisham Borough are the living, breathing proof of that.