A world of adventure

FA Cup, Extra Preliminary Round (replay) – Chessington & Hook United v Colliers Wood United
Tuesday, 23rd August 2011, 7.45pm
Chalky Lane
Distance 4 miles, Attendance 70
Having lazily avoided researching non-league properly at this point I still had no idea where Bashot Lea was, so that replay was completely off the cards, but I knew Chessington. Its brings me out in a cold sweat every time my children ask to go there; an “attraction” of unpleasant queues and (other people’s) shouty children. On a positive note Chessington was close enough to slip out after the kids had gone to bed, see a game, and get back without my lovely wife getting too perturbed.
Arriving at Chalky Lane for the first time is quite something to the uninitiated. It seemed a little run down and over grown, and compared to Cobham in need of a lick of paint. Passing through the gates the carpark was full but using all the skills I developed as a student I squeezed the car into an unfeasibly tight hole and wandered in the direction I thought the pitch was. A minute later I’d turned and tried another way. Just before the pitch, in the gloom, I found two boys sat on stools asking for money; I was half expecting to hear “Penny for the guy, mister?”. There were no  turnstiles, but there were tickets, and raffle tickets, and programmes. This was more like it. As I left them I found myself at the pitch corner, to my left a shallow covered terrace with tea hut in the far corner, across the pitch the dugouts, and to my right was a small stand. Being tired, the Darby & Joan stand seemed just right. There I quietly sat in the front row of five and stared at something I hadn’t seen since I last played subbuteo… You really don’t see many flags on the centre line anymore!
By the time kick-off arrived the stand was home to about fifteen others mainly supporting the opposition. The programme had promised a “fiery encounter” of local rivals, but sadly this was not to be. The game was end to end stuff, with both sides missing complete sitters. If memory served me correct Colliers Wood opening the score before half time and Chessington & Hook equalising and then going ahead in the second period. By this time the darkness and mist had completely engulfed us all, though the game continued with the away side desperately trying to find the net again. The stand was now filled to bursting with youth players having finished training on the next pitch.
Then with seconds remaining, Colliers Wood were awarded a penalty. The yellow card was shown and the players settled down, or thats how it appeared through the gloom. The only camera I had was my phone and chances of capturing this on film are remote, especially in the damp and the dark, from fifty-odd yards away. The final kick of the game, which could take the tie to extra time…

Diving to his left the Chessington & Hook keeper guessed right, parrying the ball away. The whistle went and the Colliers Wood players trudge off disconsolately with the score still 2-1. Suddenly the “fiery” promise came true. The Blues were revolting. In an act of total petulence a few of their number wouldn’t let it go with the ref. In the end two saw red before reaching the changing rooms.
For the second time in five days I went home in a FA Cup glow, but this time everything had changed. A plan was being etched in my mind…
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