Combined Counties League, Eastwood Leisure Centre, Football, groundhopping, Non League, Sandhurst Town, Sheerwater, Surrey, The Jam, Woking
Tuesday 26th October 2021 ko 19.30
Combined Counties League Cup 1st Round
SANDHURST TOWN 0
No extra time, Sandhurst won 4-3 on penalties
If Woodbridge Town was about a club in danger of losing their ground, then this was what hopefully and in time what the Eastern Counties League outfit can aspire to. I’ve always had a soft spot for Sheerwater, the district of Woking where all three members of the Jam are from, and in fact they met at Sheerwater Secondary School, a mere 100 yards to the right of Sheerwater’s new ground. But I digress….
Sheerwater used to play at Woking Athletic Ground which wasn’t ideal. For one thing they had to play the end of each season on the railed-off pitch outside as the athletics had sole use of the stadium then. When they could use the stadium it wasn’t that they didn’t have floodlights, it was that the floodlights only lit the running track. I remember thinking “You really couldn’t make this up could you?” On my visit the sense of other-worldness was compounded by the fact that they were playing the madness that was AC London with one or two hints that afternoon that football in general was sick to death of their antics.
But there was a sense of sadness too. As unsuitable as the athletics stadium was, it was doomed to demolition. Sheerwater moved into a groundshare at Woking FCs Kingfield at the end of the 2017/18 season without anything more than a Politian’s promise as to where and when they’d be getting a ground of their own.
The key to it all was the construction of the Eastwood Leisure Centre, situated so that if you’re stood under the stand you’ve got the site of the old ground to the left and the Secondary School on the right. It all seems to, well appropriate. Now I’m sure a few groundhoppers will see a 3G pitch at the back of a leisure centre and assume the place is going to be awful, well it really isn’t.
It is a work in progress; the turnstiles aren’t in use yet, and soon you won’t have to walk through the leisure centre to get to the pitch- there’ll be a walkway to the right of the building in the first photo. But you can walk round the pitch, there’s cover along the entirety of one side, and the club have a bar/kitchen for their exclusive use on matchdays. The oddity is the single line of seats in that stand a long way back from the pitch and since many do stand in front the view is often impaired.
But here’s the point of it all, and to a large extent this article. Put yourself in Sheerwater secretary Trevor Wenden’s position. He’s served the club for nearly 50 years so for the first time he’s got a ground that’s lit, fulfils ground gradings and his club has access to it throughout the season. And dear reader anything else is just details.
Which all means I have to now talk about the game… perhaps I shouldn’t. It was poor, let’s leave the 90 minutes bit at that, but the fun really started in the penalty shoot-out. You think that 4-3 sounds reasonably normal? Well it took 8 rounds of penalties to produce that result, with Sandhurst managing to miss 4 consecutive penalties and still win the shootout. That has to be some sort of record doesn’t it?
But as remarkable a statistic as that might be, this was night for a little empathy. What Sheerwater have got isn’t perfect, but it is suitable and while it may not be everyone’s cup of tea it does allow the Trevor and his club to look forward for the first time for many years. All the very best to them.