Surround Sound

Combined Counties Football League Division 1 – Warlingham FC v Staines Lammas FC
Wednesday, 14th December 2011, 7.45pm
Church Road Stadium (Whyteleafe FC)
Distance 16 miles, Attendance 38
The World Wide Web is, in my rather humble opinion, the one of the greatest inventions of my lifetime. I bloody love it. It’s not as engaging as live sport, nor as uplifting as my children’s smile, nor even as satisfying as Marmite on toast, but, it is endlessly intriguing. And its thanks to this wonderful development that, last night, I left home clutching all the documentation necessary for my next “best laid plan” and drove a familiar route around South London. The clock was ticking and the traffic slow but I had no fear, I had Google Earth. Then again, this is where the cracks started to appear.
A Luddite would wonder what was wrong with maps of The Ordinance Survey variety? Google have spent years documenting our roads from every angle, covering both public and private* spaces and then posted it all over cyberspace. We, on the other hand, spend our time imitating the latest Dyson by sucking up said information without showing much regard for its validity. Google would also, it would seems, test all their journeys driving at maximum speed, on a permanently full tanks, in perfect working cars, on open roads, with no red lights, nor road works, and without restless children in the back. I needless to say, being mortal, arrived later than planned and far later than Google suggested. The internet’s next flaw in my meticulous planning was this…
Realising it was a wild goose chase, we had to survive some ribbing from squash players, before making a desperate run to the correct venue. We eventually got to the home of Whyteleafe FC, and temporary home to Warlingham FC (via at least one obstacle Google had missed), the game was about to kick-off. My companions were an old college friend and his daughter who plays for Millwall U11s. Cheekily leaving the car in the players’ car park we rushed to the turnstiles. Children were free but for an adult entrance AND a programme it was just £4. FOUR POUNDS STERLING for a close match in one of the best grounds I’ve visited recently. Worth, every, penny. The chap on the gate even went a got the team sheet for me as there wasn’t a tannoy and we’d missed the warm-up. Why exactly can’t professional teams provide such service?

With the pitch was nestled low between stands, a hill, and walls of trees meaning any sound bounces around the ground wonderfully, and the game was a close fought encounter belying its Level 10 status. Good end to end attacking play, mixed with sensible officiating. Staines Lammas had the better of the early exchanges but it was Warlingham to the delight of the locals who went ahead. Following some tidy play down the right, Stefan Joseph (bizarrely known as “smash” – someone will tell me) headed home from a great Kieran Dias cross. Then just before the interval Staines Lammas get the ball in the net too but it’s ruled out for offside, against any one of about four players. This leads to a totally unjustified barrage of abuse from the West London team towards the officials and continues to the changing room. After the break the game is much more even. The Wars seem buoyed by their unexpected lead and attack quite freely, whilst Staines Lammas desperately try to get back into the game. Huge gaps start appearing about the pitch, along with some very untidy play. Then mid way through the final 45 the away side get what really they’d deserved for some time, as Ben Whatford (that’s close enough for me) puts home a loose ball from close range. From then onwards it felt like the game was never going to change from the untidy pattern it had developed and a draw seemed inevitable. The only tidy thing was religious positioning of the ball by the away keeper at goal kicks (OCD?). When, seconds from the final whistle, the game was settled the small home crowd celebrated joyously. Who scored? No idea really. The ball floating in from the left (our right) was headed towards goal by either Joseph or Whatford who were marking each other at the time. Stefan Joseph wheeled away celebrating a winning brace but in truth it was probably a Ben Whatford brace that sealed the game. The Wars were ecstatic, Staines Lammas were silent. When surrounded by such sound, and with such great acoustics in the ground, it was very obvious that this was the first time the on-pitch language had dropped below an 18 rating.
It’d been a terrifically cold night but between goal celebrations, excellent bacon rolls and the piping hot tea, we were warmed by the experience.

Warlingham’s a great little club, if you can find it, and plays at a ground with the best acoustics I heard in a long time. Pay it a visit, you won’t regret it.
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This entry was posted in 2011-2012, Combined Counties Football League and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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