Tuesday 1st June ko 19:00*
Hertford & District League Centenary Trophy Quarter Final
KULTURE KLUB ATHLETIC 3 (35, 83p 85)
ALLENBURYS SPORTS 3 (J Armes 16 Barton 35 Colbourne 90)
Att c35 at Henry Barrass Stadium, Edmonton, London
It had been an eventful trip to North London. I knew I was likely to be tight for time, and the M25 behaved as the M25 usually does at rush hour- at one point I watched the police shut down the road, thankfully from my rear view mirror! I suspected the game might not kick-off right on time, grassroots football does tend to involve a little time slippage! The game kicked off roughly 15 minutes late, handy at the time for me, but all there were to have mixed feelings about that slippage later on.
But why would I ( and roughly 20 more hoppers) be so interested in game roughly 9 promotions from the EFL? With all respect due to hosts Kulture Klub, the appeal was more to do with the ground than anything else- and in particular, that stand.
The ground used to be home to Edmonton FC, and was opened in 1925 with a friendly against Tottenham Hotspur. The ground was eventually named after Henry Barrass JP, who served Edmonton Council from 1897 to his death in 1935. It is a measure of the esteem in which he was held that the ground was given his name during his lifetime.
I suspect being so close to such a big club was a hindrance to any club who played here, and throughout its history no club can claim to have thrived here, Edmonton FC folded in 1927 after the London FA took exception to them playing on a game on a Sunday.
It’s worth remembering that at this point all there was here was the football ground, the adjacent Jubilee Park was opened just before World War II in 1939 ( 4 years late and 2 kings after George V’s Silver Jubilee) so while what you see now is an open space, having a 37 acre park next door allowed the council to improve the football ground, and they did need an anchor tenant!
A stand was moved from the local dog track to be placed at the southern side of the pitch and that attracted a new club, Edmonton Borough to move in 1947. They played in the London League until a merger with the rather nomadic Tufnell Park in 1950 to become Tufnell Park Edmonton. The new club took Tufnell Park’s place in the Isthmian League, which necessitated further work to the Barrass Stadium with the stand you see today being constructed but with 500 seats.
At this point the stadium was an extremely well-appointed municipal facility with grass banking and an 8 lane cinder running track as this quite incredible 1959 footage of the Edmonton Horse show reveals.
The ground improvements didn’t improve fortunes for the football club. After just two seasons in the Isthmian League, finishing bottom in both, the club dropped into the Spartan League, then after another two years into the Delphian. The club tried changing name, becoming Edmonton FC (again) and when the Delphian League disbanded in 1964 they were placed in yet another league with a Greek name – the Athenian.
But none of it seemed to generate any great success, and the beginning of the end happened in 1966 when the clubhouse burned down, the result of an arson attack. The club organised a friendly against West Ham United, and you can imagine the number of World Cup winners that could have featured in that game, but as as venue for pyramid football it all looked rather unsuitable.
The problem was, and still is the open nature of the place. All those Greek league names pointed to the amateur game, but clubs still needed to take a gate, and as 1966 proved, to protect themselves against vandalism. Edmonton FC wanted to split the ground in half and redevelop their half as an enclosed ground. That found no favour with the council who suggested that Edmonton move out and merge with Haringey Borough, and put up £11,000 to upgrade Coles Park. The club took up the offer, moved out in 1972 and the new club was named Edmonton & Haringey until 1976 when the Edmonton prefix was dropped.
The Barrass Stadium eventually became home to Old Edmontonians of the Amateur Football Combination and a whole a slew of clubs in the Edmonton & District Sunday League. The pagoda-esque changing room block was put up by Old Eds, and its a shame they folded 4 years ago.
So until Kulture Klub started playing Hertford & District League games here from the start of this season, Sunday football was your only option to see a game here. The league is a feeder to the Hertfordshire Senior County League, and although much of the stadium in its pomp has gone, the 1950 stand, shorn of its seats does still remain, and let’s face it, that edifice is the main reason I and others were there.
I found myself comparing the ground to that great Scottish footballing graveyard, Glasgow’s Cathkin Park. There the major club, Third Lanark left a little earlier, in 1967 due to bankrupcy, but that feeling of seeing the ghosts of footballing past is still very much in evidence at both grounds.
We saw a frankly bizarre game, the kind I love to delve into the lower reaches of the footballing pyramid to experience. Frankly Kulture Klub missed enough chances to win the game easily and were made to pay for their profligacy when Allenburys headed home from a corner with seconds left. But remember the game had kicked off 15 minutes late, so it was getting rather gloomy!
The sensible option would have been to go straight to penalties, but for reasons best known to himself the referee opted to play extra time, of 10 minutes each way, with the second half being somewhat truncated. As so often happens it didn’t produce a winner so at 9.45pm, 15 minutes after the park was due to close, and at roughly the same time a floodlit 7.45pm kick off would have finished, we had a penalty shoot-out in the dark.
In fact so dark was it, that two groundhoppers humorously attempted to provide a little artificial light courtesy of their mobile phones, and its fair to say that the referee wasn’t amused! I’ve not edited the final photo to give you an idea of just how dark it was!
Of course with this little light it took 8 rounds of penalties to produce a winner, and if you are a hopper then I suspect you’ll be pleased Kulture Klub won it. It does give you a 50/50 chance of visiting the Henry Barrass stadium for the semi-final. Just keep an eye on Full Time.