Football, Garon Park, groundhopping, Non League, Old Southendians, Southend, Southend United, Wakebury, Wakering Sports
Monday 10th February 2020 ko 19.45
Southend Charity Shield Section A Quarter-Final
WAKEBURY 3 (Little 59 81 89)
WAKERING SPORTS 0
Att 36 at Garon Park 3G, Southend-On-Sea
There are some games you know that the groundhoppers will travel to in their droves, there are others however, that are only ever going to attract the committed and then there are the few that only those with questionable sanity are going to head to. This is the story of one of those.
Garon Park is named after the Garon family who were major retailers in Southend for several generations with Norman Garon donating the land the park lies on to the town in 1885. There’s a leisure centre, a cricket ground and Old Southendians FC played Essex Olympian League games at a pitch just behind the new 3G facility where this game was played.
Old Southendians have moved in to new facility and I note that Southend United have played youth team games here when their nearby “Boots and Laces” training ground pitches have been waterlogged. But why was I there on a night when an icy gale whipped from the North Sea over a fairly standard 3G pitch in a cage with one part of one side available for viewing and no shelter pitch side?
The answer, save for the usual, “Its a game of football, therefore of course I’m interested” was due to two factors. One, being on 3G it was almost certainly going to be taking place, and secondly the appalling weather we’d endured in the UK seemed to be abating. Sat in my office that afternoon I made a pact with myself that if the weather was okay at home time I’d go.
5.30 came, and as I strolled over to the car the wind had dropped, and it wasn’t raining, so that was an easy decision to make. I got to the M25 and the storm returned in earnest. It was a wind-hindered trip from there, and along the Southend Arterial, yes I did question my sanity and no I didn’t didn’t turn back- I was committed,
The wind cut through me as soon as I left my car and that was the case throughout my time there, save for half-time when thankfully the pavilion was open and hot drinks were available from a dispenser. It wasn’t the greatest hospitality I’ll ever receive but I was nevertheless grateful! At all other times the hardy souls present shuddered against the cold and the howling gale. It was a thoroughly unpleasant evening to be outside.
The game pitched two Essex Olympian League teams together, Wakebury play in the fourth tier Senior Division 3 whilst Wakering Sports play one notch higher, in Senior Division 2. Or for the uninitiated we were watching teams at nominally Steps 9 and 10 of non league.
But with the conditions this bad all those present really wanted was no extra time, and yes we did check beforehand! Those who’d been at Laindon Orient last year found themselves remembering how close we’d came then, and for the vast majority of an hour here it looked like the spectators were on for an even closer brush with hypothermia!
Thankfully, and with all due respect to all at Wakering Sports Charlie Little’s sharp hat trick banished that horror! At the final whistle we scattered to wherever each could find some warmth, for me that was the McDonald’s near Garon Park’s entrance. It took a good half-an-hour and several hot drinks before I could contemplate the drive home!
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