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Tuesday 10th September 2019 ko 19.45

Isthmian League Cup – Group 10

CHERTSEY TOWN 2 (Baxter 80 Cozens 84)

Bennell sent off (serious foul play) 41

CHIPSTEAD 3 (Hudson 26 55 Miller 63)

Att 110

Entry £9

Programme £1

The dichotomy of having visited well over 2000 football grounds is that although my options for a midweek tick are fairly limited these days, I have built up a huge database of wonderful grounds for me to take Robyn to see. A distinct advantage is also a trip to Surrey commuter belt from Oxford is a lot easier than some of my more far-flung destinations!

It had been well over a decade since I’d visited Alwyns Lane. Then the club were in that short-lived oddity the Isthmian League Division Two, with Divisions One North and South above it. Other than the ground the visit was memorable for “Royal Family” actor Ralf Little playing full back for Chertsey and then Fire Brigade’s Union chief Andy Gilchrist being amongst the crowd watching!

Since those days Chertsey have risen to the heights of the Isthmian Premier, and sank down to the Combined Counties League. Last season saw them win both that league and the FA Vase so a long overdue return to the Isthmian League was achieved.

As yes it was overdue, as the Curfews’ (after the church bell that used to ring the curfew in Chertsey) Alwyns Lane ground deserves regional football. The quite wonderful wooden stand dates from the 1950’s but elsewhere this is the kind of place that demands to be explored. In fact the only issue was working out exactly what we were watching!

The simple answer is that the Velocity Trophy is the Isthmian’s League Cup, and used to be known as the Alan Turvey Trophy; after that it starts to get a little complicated. All the clubs in the league’s 3 Division Ones are placed into one of ten 5 or 6 club mini divisions with each team playing the other once. The winners of each group go into the last 32 together with the 22 Premier Division clubs in a straight knock-out competition. All games feature 5 substitutes, all of which can be used. In a rule borrowed from the Football League Trophy, there’s 3 points for a win, one for a draw, but in the event of a draw a penalty shoot out decides a bonus point. In fact thinking about it, maybe both the EFL and the Isthmian League borrowed the idea from the Amateur Football Association’s Argonaut Trophy?

It seems unnecessarily complicated, and it soon became clear that Chertsey’s priorities were more on their league campaign than this cup.  Their cause wasn’t helped by the dismissal of Danny Bennell for a quite dreadful challenge on Raheem Sterling-Parker but Chertsey were already a goal down. Sterling-Parker hobbled up into the stand for the second half and was heard on his phone rather ruefully commenting “Yeah, injured again” but he did get the chance to watch his team mates go on to win the game.

And at 3-0 Chipstead were cruising, but allowed themselves to ease off and once you do slow down it’s virtually impossible to speed up again. Chertsey ran in two late goals but it would have been a travesty for them to have taken anything from this game and the visitors did manage to hold on for the win.

It was lovely to be back home within an hour, but as the the car reached home in Oxford that hour was just enough time to reflect on just how wonderful Alwyns Lane is. It was also good to be home ahead of curfew too….