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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Witham Town 3 Edgware Town 0

Isthmian League Division Two
Spa Road, Witham, Essex

Witham Town’s Spa Road ground is just 20-yards or so from the main Norwich-London Liverpool Street railway line and in this very visible location has been an intended target of mine for a visit for a good number of years. Although I’ve travelled through Witham by train umpteen hundreds of times in the intervening years the last time and indeed the only time I had ever visited the place before was way back in my college days when I went on a junket to the foundry owned and operated by Crittall’s Windows.

Crittall’s started life as ironmongers becoming manufacturers of metal window frames in the late 1800’s, a product that would have a huge impact on the architecture of the 20th-Century, not least driving yours truly up the wall spending untold hours as I did in my first home, fitted out with said windows, sanding the things down and then repainting them. Ever tried applying a primer coat to galvanised steel? Anyway, between 1920 and the late 1960's Crittall’s were the largest employers in Witham although more recently their window manufacturing operation, and the companies workforce, have relocated 8 miles north up the B1018 to Braintree.

Witham Town FC moved to their current home at Spa Road in 1975 having previously played, among other places, at the Crittall’s owned “The Park”. The club’s roots however date back well before then with records showing their having competed in junior football well over 150 years ago. Like most clubs they struggled to keep going during the war years and their distinctive crest, featuring a phoenix rising from the ashes, emphasises this. They have slowly moved up through the ranks joining the Essex and Suffolk Border League in 1958 and becoming title winning founder members of the Essex Senior League in 1971-72.

Their next ESL title came in 1985-86, when they were also victorious in the Essex Senior Trophy, and this prompted the club to make the step up to the Isthmian League the following season. In 1996 they escaped relegation to Division Three on goal difference but were not so lucky in 2000 when they were demoted, although they are now back in Division Two owing to a regional reconstruction of the league. At a national level their best endeavours came in 1986-87 when they reached the 5th round of the FA Vase before succumbing to Falmouth Town 2-1. This game also set Spa Road’s attendance record of 600.

Today’s match programme notes inform us that Edgware “Don’t appear to have entered” either the FA Cup or FA Vase this season, and I would have been none the wiser for the reason why if it hadn’t been for a conversation during the second half with one of the small number of travelling Edgware supporters. Edgware it seems failed to get relevant approval from the Middlesex Football Association to enter either competition having failed to pay a number of outstanding fines from last year. They are naughty boys it would appear, not on the field but rather off it, with all number of sins committed administratively whilst the club went through a series of boardroom upheavals. Apparently even their youth side were banned from competing for a number of months when a team registration deadline was missed.

The Town of Edgware had a side back in 1915 although Edgware Town FC was founded as late as 1939 and – boardroom battles aside - has enjoyed a spectacularly average time of things since. Corinthian League runners-up in 1953-54 and Spartan League Champions twice in 1987-88 and 1989-90 they joined the Isthmian League the following season. Division Three Champions in 1991-92, they spent nine seasons in Division Two before relegation in 2001 but, like Witham, they now find themselves back in Division Two owing to the reorganisation of the league. However, the club has produced some half decent players in recent years including Brian Stein (Luton, Chelsea & England) and Dave Beasant (Wimbledon, Newcastle, Chelsea & Nottingham Forest).

Close to a month into the season and this is only the second league game of the 2005-06 campaign for Witham (3rd) and for that matter only the third for visitors Edgware (2nd) so billing today’s game as a top of the table clash is somewhat meaningless. Just thirty games apiece for sides in Division Two of the Isthmian League this season as the league prepares to reorganise next summer as part of an overhaul to the national pyramid structure below Football League level. A new Associate Members Trophy (AMT) has been established to make up for a lack of league action for the divisions sixteen teams so this season Witham will compete in six different cup competitions, and over the past four weeks they have already taken part in the opening rounds of the three of them: FA Cup, FA Vase and the AMT.

A relatively even first half with a limited number of opportunities gave way to a second period that gradually saw the home side take command and eventually take the lead through Bennett after 71 minutes. Bennett’s goal, after Edgware failed to clear a free kick, was followed five minutes later by Witham’s second when Rose headed powerfully into his own net and the third came shortly afterwards when Rowell side-footed home from close range.

One standout player was the Edgware Town ‘keeper who made a number of great stops particularly in the second half. My Edgware friend for the afternoon had never seen him play before and a more unlikely looking keeper it would be difficult to imagine. Without getting into pie master analogies (I’m hardly one to prattle on about the overweight) parallels between the visiting keeping and one Fatty Foulkes who was Chelsea’s first goalkeeper and first captain were easy to draw (for a fertile imagination such as mine anyway). Foulkes played for the Londoner’s in their inaugural 1905-06 season and despite weighing in at 22 stone was by all accounts a very agile and accomplished glovesman.

Match: 23 (2005/06) 1,267 (Lifetime)

posted by chevblue at 7:44 pm

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extreme groundhopping

a (mainly) pictorial account of one man's obsession with football stadia, floodlight pylon's and ipswich town football club

recent posts

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Ground Visit Record


AFC Bournemouth
(Fitness First Stadium)

AFC Portchester
(Wicor Recreation Ground)

AFC Sudbury
(King's Marsh Stadium)

AFC Totton
(Testwood Park)

Aldershot Town
(Recreation Ground)

Alton Town
(Alton (Bass) Sports Ground)



Aston Villa
(Villa Park)



Basildon United
(Gardiners Close)

Billericay Town
(New Lodge)

Birmingham City
(St Andrews)

Blackburn Rovers
(Ewood Park)

(Bloomfield Road)

Bolton Wanderers
(Reebok Stadium)

Bolton Wanderers
(Burnden Park)

Boston United
(York Street)

Bradford City
(Valley Parade)

Braintree Town
(Cressing Road)

Brantham Athletic
(Brantham Athletic Sports & Social Club)

(Griffin Park)

Brighton & Hove Albion
(Withdean Stadium)

Brighton & Hove Albion
(Goldstone Ground)

Bristol City
(Ashton Gate)

Bristol Rovers

(Hayes Lane)

(Turf Moor)

(Gigg Lane)

Bury Town
(Ram Meadow)

Cambridge City
(Milton Road)

Cambridge United
(Abbey Stadium)

Charlton Athletic
(The Valley)

Chelmsford City
(New Writtle Street)

Chelmsford City
(Chelmsford Sport & Athletics Centre)

(Stamford Bridge)

Chester City
(Saunders Honda Stadium)

Colchester United
(Layer Road)

Cornard United
(Blackhouse Lane)

Coventry City
(Ricoh Arena)

Coventry City
(Highfield Road)

Crewe Alexandra
(Gresty Road)

Crystal Palace
(Selhurst Park)

Dagenham & Redbridge
(Victoria Road)

(Watling Street)

Debenham Leisure Centre

Derby County
(Pride Park)

Derby County
(Baseball Ground)

Diss Town
(Brewers Green Lane)

(Sparshatts Stadium)

Ely City
(Unwin Ground)

(Goodison Park)

Fareham Town
(Cams Alders)

FC Clacton
(Rush Green Bowl)

FC Fleetlands
(Lederle Lane)

Felixstowe & Walton United
(Dellwood Avenue)

Framlingham Town
(Sports Ground)

(Craven Cottage)


(Emerald Park)

Gosport Borough
(Privett Park)

Great Yarmouth Town
(Wellesley Recreation Ground)

Grimsby Town
(Blundell Park)

Hadleigh United

Halstead Town
(Rosemary Lane)

Hamble ASSC
(Follands Park)

Harwich & Parkeston
(Royal Oak)

Havant & Waterlooville
(West Leigh Park)

Heybridge Swifts
(Scraley Road)

(Glass World Stadium)

Horndean Town
(Five Heads Park)

Huddersfield Town
(Leeds Road)

Hull City
(KC Stadium)

Hull City
(Boothferry Park)

Ipswich Town
(Portman Road)

Ipswich Wanderers
(SEH Sports Ground )


Leeds United
(Elland Road)

Leicester City
(Walkers Stadium)

Leicester City
(Filbert Street)

(Victory Road)

Leyton Orient
(Brisbane Road)

Lincoln City
(Cincil Bank)


Long Melford

Lowestoft Town
(Crown Meadows)

Luton Town
(Kenilworth Road)

Manchester City
(Maine Road)

Manchester United
(Old Trafford)

(Ayresome Park)

(The New Den)

(The Den)

MK Dons
(National Hockey Stadium)

MK Dons

Needham Market

Netley Central Sports
(Station Road Recreation Ground)

Newcastle United
(St James' Park)

Newmarket Town
(Cricket Field Road)

Northampton Town
(County Ground)

Norwich City
(Carrow Road)

Nottingham Forest
(City Ground)

Notts County
(Meadow Lane)

Peterborough United
(London Road)

Petersfield Town
(Love Lane)

Plymouth Argyle
(Home Park)

Port Vale
(Vale Park)

(Fratton Park)

Preston North End

Queens Park Rangers
(Loftus Road)

(Madejski Stadium)

(Oakside Stadium)

Romsey Town
(Bypass Ground)

Rotherham United

Saffron Walden Town
(Catons Lane)

Salisbury City
(Raymond McEnhill Stadium)

Scunthorpe United
(Glanford Park)

Sheffield United
(Bramall Lane)

Sheffield Wednesday

Shrewsbury Town
(Gay Meadow)

Shrewsbury Town
(Prostar Stadium)

Soham Town Rangers
(Julius Martin Lane)

(St Mary's)

(The Dell)

Southend United
(Roots Hall)

St Albans City
(Clarence Park)

Stanway Rovers
(New Farm Road)

Stockport County
(Edgeley Park)

Stoke City
(Britannia Stadium)

Stoke City
(Victoria Ground)

Stowmarket Town
(Green Meadows Stadium)

(Stadium of Light)

Swaffham Town
(Shoemakers Lane)

Swindon Town
(County Ground)

Thetford Town
(Mundford Road)

Tiptree United
(Chapel Road)

Tottenham Hotspurs
(White Hart Lane)

United Services Portsmouth
(Victory Stadium)

(Vosper Thornycroft Sports Ground)

(Bescot Stadium)

(Fellows Park)

Walsham Le Willows
(Walsham Sports Club Ground)

(Vicarage Road)

Wembley Stadium

Wembley Stadium

West Bromwich Albion
(The Hawthorns)

West Ham United
(Upton Park)

Whitton United
(King George V Playing Field )

Wigan Athletic
(JJB Stadium)

(Plough Lane)

Winchester City
(Denplan City Ground)

Witham Town
(Spa Road)

Wivenhoe Town
(Broad Lane)

(Kingfield Stadium)

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Woodbrige Town
(Notcutts Park)

Worcester City
(St. Georges Lane)


Cardiff City
(Ninian Park)


(Pittodrie Stadium)

Heart of Midlothian
(Tynecastle Stadium)


Northern Spirit
(North Sydney Oval)


SW Wacker Innsbruck
(Tivoli Stadion)


RSC Anderlect
(Constant Vanden Stock Stadium)

FC Brugge

SV Zulte-Waregem


FC Kobenhavn
(Gladsaxe Stadion)

Helsingor IF
(Helsingor Stadion)


FC Flora
(Lillekula Stadium)


HJK Helsinki
(Finnair Stadium)

(Hietalahti Stadium)

Tampere United
(Tammelan Stadium)


(G.Guichard Stadium)


1. FC Koeln
(Mungersdorfer Stadion)

Borussia Dortmund
(Westfalenstadion )

1. FC Union Berlin
(Stadion An der Alten Försterei)


AZ Alkmaar
(Alkmaarder Hout)

AZ Alkmaar
(Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam)

FC Dordrecht
(GN Bouw Stadion)

FC Groningen

FC Utrecht
(Galgenwaard Stadion)

(De Kuip)

NEC Nijmegen
(Goffert Stadium)

PEC Zwolle

PSV Eindhoven
(Philips Stadion)

SC Heerenveen
(Abe Lenstra Stadium)

Twente Enschede
(Arke Stadion)

Twente Enschede
(Diekman Stadion)

Vitesse Arnhem

Willem II
(Willem II Stadion)


Bray Wanderers
(Carlisle Grounds)

Dublin City
(Tolka Park)


Inter Milan
(San Siro)


Avenir Beggen
(Stade Josy-Barthel)


Skeid Oslo


Widzew Lodz
(Stadion LKS)


(Nou Camp)

Real Madrid
(San Bernabeu)

(Luis Casanova)


Orgryte IS
(Gamla Ullevi (Old))

Helsingborgs IF
(Olympia Stadium)

Landskrona Bois

Malmo FF
(Malmo Stadion)

Mjallby AIF

Trelleborgs FF

IFK Goteborg


Chicago Sting
(Comiskey Park I)

Chicago Sting
(Wrigley Field)

Chicago Sting
(Chicago Stadium)

Chicago Sting
(Rosemont Horizon)

Chicago Sting
(Rockford MetroCenter)

Chicago Vultures

Milwaukee Bavarians
(Bavarian Center)

Schwaben AC
(Schwaben Center)

Tampa Bay Rowdies
(Tampa Bay Stadium)