Tuesday 20th November 2018 ko 19.45
Southern League Premier Division South
CHESHAM UNITED 0
WALTON CASUALS 2 (Farrell 72 Roberts 83)
It was a filthy night as I picked my way down the hill from Amersham to the roundabout ready to turn left into Amy Lane. For Robyn it was her first visit to the Buckinghamshire market town, but for me it was something of a sentimental journey.
I do find it hard to believe this pretty town is on the London Underground, you can hear the Metropolitan Line trains from the football ground, heading into the capital from the network’s furthest outpost, some 25 miles north-west of Charing Cross. It may well be at the very edge of Metroland, but this is an extremely affluent area.
I used to work here, back in the dying days when insurance companies still did door-to-door premium collections; my initials went on hundreds of premium receipt books. Twenty-plus years later I wonder if any are left?
It was one of those customers, sadly long forgotten that helped push me towards the non-league scene, and away from watching Oxford United home and away. He worked a turnstile at The Meadow, the one for concessions, and he told me “Just head for my turnstile, I’ll let you in half-price.”
Back then the club had just been forced to turn down promotion to the Conference on ground grading issues, but when I emerged from the turnstile block I remember how I felt. I stopped in my tracks, and just wallowed in that wonderful terracing. So all those years later I let Robyn go first through the gate, and yep, exactly the same reaction!
The sadness of the piece is that Chesham’s days here could be numbered. Last February they announced plans to move to a new ground, possibly in Ashley Green, funded by the sale of The Meadow. You can see why, everything about The Meadow you can see in these photos, so the proposed 28 acre development gives the club and community a sports hub to be proud of. But…… what is lost is beyond value.
I’ve seen it at my club, I’d have the Manor back in the blink of an eye. These grounds are part and parcel of England’s sporting heritage, but seem criminally undervalued by those who determine ground gradings. And other than wanting to show Robyn one of the great grounds of the area, the chance to point a camera at a place like this is something not to be missed. There was something else to capture too, or should I say someone.
Chesham United striker Jefferson Louis has never played higher than League 2 level but at the age of 39 he’s now very much a veteran. What makes him unique is that Chesham United is his 37th different club and he’s been transferred 42 times in 20 years! That figure in includes 3 transfers in 2018 alone. His most famous moment came in 2002 when in the colours of Oxford United, when he scored the winner in a televised FA Cup game against rivals swindon town, to earn the U’s an away tie at his beloved Arsenal. His bare-buttocked celebration in the changing room shown live on the BBC is the stuff of legend.
He’s become a far more intelligent player since he was used as little more than a battering ram by Ian Atkins at both Oxford and Bristol Rovers, but time is creeping up on him, and Chesham are struggling at the wrong end of this Step 3 league. There wasn’t much he or his team-mates did wrong, but when you’re struggling tiny errors hurt you.
Here it was two, one allowed Kyron Farrell to open the scoring, and the other ironically by another player with Oxford United on his CV- Taurean Roberts. It wasn’t that Walton Casuals were demonstrably the better team, but Chesham can’t do right for doing wrong at the moment.
It was such a shame; I’m used to wonderful grounds being slightly disappointing on the revisit. Here both The Meadow and Chesham United managed to enhance their reputations. They were friendly to a fault, and the ground managed to blow me away again after all those years.
You cannot help but want only the best for them, I have history here, and it’s a mystery to me as to why I didn’t go back when I got promoted and worked closer to home. My worry for Chesham is that what would best for the club would also destroy the ground that I, Robyn and many others have grown to love.