Tueaday 26th September 2017 ko 19.45
Combined Counties League Premier Challenge Cup 1st Round
CB HOUNSLOW UNITED 5 (Roberts 30 44 Ireland 55 Morris 71 G Bamford 82) J Watt missed pen 82
EVERSLEY & CALIFORNIA 2 (Robson 28 Brown 43)
Around 10 years ago one of my earliest forays into the Combined Counties League saw me visit CB Hounslow’s former home at Osterley Sports & Social Club. It was an interesting place, if extremely run down and the lack of basic facilties made it obvious that the club would either have to move, or accept relegation back to the Middlesex County League. My only surprise is that the move took 10 years!
The CB in the club’s name stands for Cater Bank, the club’s main sponsor, with connections to the club via the chairman. You’d tend to assume that sponsorship is how the club firstly won last season’s Combined Counties Division One, and managed to find the £1.5M to move the 4 miles or so towards Heathrow Airport and build a new ground from scratch.
Yes, you really do notice the planes, taking off as they are from the world’s second busiest airport! However unlike at the two Bedfont grounds you’re seeing the planes take off rather than land and the noise is very noticeable, perhaps that how a football club came to be built rather than the usual houses.
But once you’ve got used to the planes the quality of Hounslow’s new ground is what blows you away. Even now, the ground fulfils Isthmian League gradings and it’s been achieved without cutting any corners. Not for CB Hounslow is the “Arena” catalogue with an ugly, squat stand with poor sightlines behind dumped on a concrete base a few weeks later. This stand is from Stadium Solutions, not a cheap option, but one that patrons would actually choose to sit in.
Then look at that clubhouse, with multiple changing rooms to allow the 2 grass pitches outside to be used simultaneously with the main stadium. The income to the club renting those out will be important, and that’s why the tea bar is on the outside with the club’s own burger van on the inside of the ground. I’m bound to say the service at the tea bar will need to improve as attendances improve. This wasn’t a large crowd, and they struggled.
And that for CB Hounslow would be my only worry. It’s a concern that as a groundhopper I knew over half of the crowd here, doing as I was doing and ticking off a new ground under lights. What happens when the groundhoppers have all visited?
Perhaps success will attract more spectators, and there’s plenty here to encourage people to visit here. That includes the team who in an attractive game were matched by their Division One opponents for more than an hour before rather running out of steam. The scoreline rather flattered the hosts in the end.
You’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel sympathy for Eversley & California who like Hounslow went to the time and expense of providing themselves with a suitable home only for a colony of bats to put restrictions on the use of their floodights, preventing promotion. The irony of their ground also being a cricket academy is not lost on them either.
The final plane whooshed overhead, and time was called on an entertaining evening. The hoppers scattered to the four corners of the country, as I dawdled slightly, quietly taking in what has been achieved here already.