Ground hopping: Hayes & Yeading v Darlington 16th April 2011

By the time I have posted the blog of my trip to The Church Road Ground @ Hayes, the ground is no more, it has ceased to exist, it is an ex –football ground. It has fallen off its perch….. [Enough Monty Python type puns]

On Saturday Tom & I had a free afternoon as Orient were playing away at Exeter. I had never been to Hayes & Yeading (H&Y) before, so a drive across London was in order.

We had once previously been to watch Yeading in a home game in the FA Cup in January 2005.  I say a home game, but it was actually played at Queen’s Park Rangers ground, “Rangers Stadium” at Shepherd’s Bush in West London. Back then, Pre their merger with Hayes, Yeading drew Newcastle United in the FA Cup 3rd round. The game had to be shifted on police advice from Yeading’s own ground to QPR.

That game resulted in a comfortable win for Newcastle in front of 10,824 people, most of whom were Newcastle fans. This game was expected to produce a slightly lower crowd. Darlington for example were not even running a coach for away fans. H&Y are also one of the clubs in the Blue Square Bet Conference National with the lowest average gate.

This was to be the 2nd last game at the ground. The site has been sold off for housing. This was Hayes FC’s own ground before the merger. I understand the plan is for Yeading’s old ground to be redeveloped. The last game was on Tuesday 19th against Gateshead.

So, where is Hayes & Yeading’s ground? It is 5 minutes walk from the centre of Hayes, a small town near Heathrow Airport. The social club has to be one of the most impressive looking buildings you are likely to find as a clubhouse.

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Well, its certainly a homely looking place. H&Y are trying to boost their gates by giving 1/2 price admission to holders of season tickets at other clubs. The size of the crowd expected was shown by the fact the only turnstiles open were the 2 shown in the picture below

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Home and away fans go in through the same turnstiles. There is no segregation in the ground. Neither club has a reputation for any form of trouble making fans. Yet despite this, parker just outside the turnstiles was this

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You can clearly see 6 police officers in the photograph. There were others still in the van. Why? You may recall earlier blogs when the police claim they can’t cut expenditure without putting safety at risk. Well Met Police, here are numerous officers who could be deployed elsewhere. Incidentally, there was not a single police officer in the ground. Thus showing that there was no realistic expectation of trouble.

Public funds being squandered again?

 

Tom & I took our orient season tickets and got in for £7 and £4 respectively. A bargain in this day and age. The view when we got into the ground was of a traditional old ground. Open terraces at both ends, an off centre covered terrace and a small seated stand on the other side. Note the wheelchair facilities.

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The main stand was built in the days before minimum criteria for grounds existed.

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The stand straddles only part of the touchline. Admission to the stand is by paying £2 to the chap at the top of the stairs as shown in the top right picture. Thee bottom left picture shows 2 rows of seats – around 48 seats in total. These seats are in front of the stand and were obviously necessary to increase the seating to the minimum 450 seats required for a club to be in the Conference. On one side of the stand are a few steps of terracing and on the other side is a flat tarmacadamed section of standing.

The short section of terracing is in front of the snack bar and its al fresco dining section. Now, I’m not sure if it says much about the football standard but the seats are located so as not to be in view of the pitch.

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Now, many non league clubs make money from a raffle draw. H&Y are no exception. In front of the club shop was the stall selling raffle tickets and showing the raffle prizes.

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No, I am led to believe it is an offence to bring alcohol into a football ground and also to have alcohol in sight of the pitch. Look careful at the raffle prizes, crate of Budweiser, whisky, Baileys, vodka etc. Seem these are all alcoholic. I kept looking at the gates expecting the Metropolitan Police outside to be smashing the gates down and arresting everyone in sight. It figured now why there was such a large police presence outside the ground.

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The next set of pictures show various views of the ground from the open terraced end opposite the entrances. At one time this ground would have had a decent capacity, but without any barriers on the terracing, safety limits would be quite low now. However, given H&Y are vacating the ground soon, it is understandable little has been done to the ground.

Now, there was one aspect of the ground that puzzled me. Safety is a key issue at sporting grounds and rightly so. All exits have to be clearly signed. This ground has 3 exits which were clearly signed.

EXIT C – out past the toilets

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EXIT B – out the main gates

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EXIT A – ermmmm you decide where it leads

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Any clues where this exit is? Perhaps you need to bring your own road workers drill and tunnel out?

I think the sign used to be in situ here

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Which now forms part of the building site for the new homes to be put on the ground. So, why if the exit doesn’t exist does the sign remain in the ground?

The game itself was interesting, with lowly H&Y going in 2-0 up at half time and adding a third shortly afterwards against an out of sorts Darlington. However, when it was 3-0 Darlington woke up, got 2 goals back and then missed 2 open goals. The game ended up 3-2 to H&Y.

One final comment. H&Y have a club shop in their ground. It is in a container from a ship and stocked the usual programmes, shirts, scarves etc. – and seemingly from the photo below – prams!

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The crowd 432

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About spen666

I'm a 40 something football fan and cyclist. I've been a football fanatic most of my life and have completed the 92 football league & premier league grounds Added to this numerous non league grounds, a number abroad and you start to get the picture. I took up cycling in around 2000. Although my father was a former World Vets Champion, I got into cycling accompanying my son to ride in London. This was followed by my commuting to work each day into Central London. Then doing some Sunday rides, then some audax events (www.audax.uk.net) and then a week's cycling holiday in France with a friend. From there, I got more and more into cycling and in 2009 completed LEJoG and in 2010 rode in the USA with the Police Unity Tour. I completed blogs for those events at www.aminearlythere.blogspot.com and www.bothesidesofthepond.blogspot.com Feel free to read them and learn more about me. I live alone which suits me as it gives me time at weekends to pursue my interests of cycling and football. (Well what did you expect me to say? That I'm sad at being single?) I'm currently looking for my next challenge. Any suggestions gratefully received.
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