Saturday 8th February 2020 ko 16.00
Southern Counties East – Division One
MERIDIAN V.P. 0
GREENWAYS 8 (Cross 9 25 36 Lear 41 48 81 Akers 58 A Kleman 82)
You couldn’t help but see the Meridian Sports and Social Club in Charlton as a converted works ground, it’s typical of so many you see in non league, Ashby Ivanhoe’s NFU Sports Ground being a good example. Here’s though, there is a twist.
The club used to be Siemens’ Sports Ground from 1933 to 1967, the firm’s factory was in Woolwich roughly where the Thames Barrier is today. A series of mergers saw the firm become part of Associated Electrical Industries (remember The Bell (AEI) Rugby?) but the Sports and Social Club closed when AEI was in turn taken over by General Electric in 1967 and the site lay derelict for a decade. Eventually the lease on the site was offered to Greenwich Council for £1 per year and in 1977 the club re-opened. Thamesmead FC played here in the early 1980’s before renaming themselves Thamesmead Town and relocating to Bayliss Avenue in 1985.
Surprisingly Meridian football club’s roots don’t lie here. They were started in 1995 by Dwinder Tamna as a five-a-side team and slowly built there way up from their beginnings at the Mayplace Playing Fields in Crayford. They entered the Kent County League in 2003 as Meridian Sports & Social FC, but I suspect it was the creation of the Kent Invicta League (now the Southern Counties East Division One) that gave the club the means and the time to find or create a home that would allow them to progress. The club changed names to Meridian VP after swallowing up Valley Park FC in 2013.
It has long been my opinion that the Kent Invicta League’s great legacy that it gave a slew of county-level teams both the time and the impetus to improve their grounds. Here’s is a classic case of it, with the first XI’s pitch enclosed, floodlight, and an “Arena” Stand installed. I suspect it’ll win few awards for architectural ingenuity but it ticks all the relevant boxes. On the multiplicity of side pitches no end of other games were taking place, some featuring other Meridian teams others not.
I must admit I didn’t know the visitors, at least until kick-off, mainly I suspect because they groundshare at K Sports. But they inflicted a complete a disemboweling on Meridian imaginable, well since that mad Friday night in Southampton anyway! As with any game this one sided it was a mixture of home incompetence and giving up at some points as much as away excellence.
Maybe Robyn and I caught Meridian on a bad day, the league table would suggest so, but as we departed, via a labyrinthine car park payment system we reflected on an afternoon that proved to interesting beyond just the game.