Tuesday 3rd October 2017 ko 19.45
Southern League Challenge Cup 1st Round
HAYES & YEADING UNITED 3 (Ofusu 28 54 Hutchins 34p)
ASHFORD TOWN (MIDDX) 0
The history books state that Hayes FC and Yeading FC merged in 2007 and the new club moved into Hayes’ iconic Church Road ground. The idea was to redevelop Yeading’s home “The Warren” using funds raised by the sale of Church Road. The tale ever since has been one of mystery and disappointment as despite a good start- the new club reached the National Premier in 2009, the money ran out.
It meant that development at the Warren stuttered then stopped, and with Church Lane sold, the club became homeless in 2011, sharing at Woking’s Kingfield and latterly at Maidenhead United and Beaconsfield SYCOB. Clearly the club had to move back to the Warren to have any long term future but work in the ground ground to a slow crawl.
Firstly the 3G training pitch opened, then for the start of this season the announcement finally came, the new ground was ready. They moved in, played against Aylesbury United, then had to move out again due to the lack of a safety certificate. Thankfully it was a false start rather than anything more sinister, and so the ground is now finally permanently open. But there is one burning question to answer if you’re a groundhopper.
The question is does the SkyEx stadium count as a new stadium? Each hopper will have their own rules, which of course will all be completely logical so I’ll stick to the facts of the matter. There is a section of terrace from the old Warren in the car park behind the goal. It shows that the pitch has moved longitudinally around 20 yards, but there is clearly a massive overlap of the old facility and the new, so please apply your own rules! The odd part is that when you look at the pictures of the work in progress it’s clear that this was to be a simple rebuild, I’m not sure why and when the decision was to move that 20 yards!
Even though the ground is now open, it is still very much a work in progress in a similar way that Slough Town’s Arbour Park was around a year ago. The players still change in the Warren’s changing room block, rather incongruously on an umbilical cord to the stand, and within that stand the bar and conferencing facilities are not yet complete. Elsewhere it’s flat hard standing, a symptom of the troubles the club has been through, they were relegated 3 times in 5 years and now ply their trade in the Southern League’s Eastern Division. It makes the one stand seem too large for their needs at present.
But at least they’re home even if the feel of the ground that famously was the stage for all the footballing action in the film “Bend it like Beckham” has been lost. I was only able to orientate myself with my memories by using the remaining bits of the old ground.
On the basis it’s horrible to see a good club on it’s knees I was happy to see H & Y win even if it was clear neither side were remotely prioritising this competition. But in amongst the temporary fences, and the unfinished concourses there was the real story. After 5 long years Hayes & Yeading are home, have drawn a line and are building, both physically and metaphorically for the future.