Extra Preliminary Round (replay)
Tuesday 21st August 2007
Kick Off 7:45pm
Weather: Cool, dry
Distance travelled: 500 yards (and back)
Chertsey is a small town tucked in between the Rivers Thames and Bourne and the Motorways M3 and M25. You don't pass through Chertsey, nor end up there by mistake. You only go to Chertsey if you plan to go there. Chertsey is not a football town. The ground is hidden away, out of sight, at the foot of Alwyns Lane in amongst the Victorian terraces. The town makes no boasts about its club; it does not get any mention in the free local newspaper (that honour goes to Walton & Hersham). Its shop windows do not advertise its games. There are no pubs displaying the team colours (blue and white). The only way a stranger would know there is a football team here was if he spied the sign pointing (with hope rather than any real purpose) to the ground or if he happened to spot the photo of Chertsey Town youth team in the chippy.
Chertsey ply their trade in the Combined Counties League Premier Division and any attendance over 100 is good. I imagine their ground is typical at this level, but I can't say as I haven't been to many games at this level. A single turnstile into the ground (£6) and (although it goes without saying) it is soon evident that there is no Abramovich or Shinawatra here to throw the big bucks around. The ground has a slightly run-down feel to it, flaking paint and ageing concrete.
However, the passion is there. Clubs at this level rely on the many who work tirelessly in the name of the club. And they were out in force tonight for the big cup game. The turnstile operators, the bar staff, the 90 year old groundsman, the suited club officials.
And a reasonable crowd (138), of which (I'm guessing) 4 were from Wick (near Littlehampton).
3-0 was a fair result. Chertsey were strong on the night, solid at the back and gave Wick few sights of goal. The standard of football was good; speed and strength most important, with glimpses of skill thrown in for good measure. Tackles were uncompromising, it certainly wasn't a game for the feint-hearted and to prove the point Wick had a player dismissed late on for a challenge that catapulted a Chertsey winger into the crowd.
And I think the locals were happy. We even had renditions of "We're all off the Wembley, we're all off to Wembley, na-na, na, na...".
The romance of the cup.
Just don't tell anyone in the town.
A full match report can be read on the Chertsey Town website. There are also a large number of photos from the game. I am actually part of the "crowd" scene in a number of the shots, but I'm not saying which ones! The Wick FC website also carries a match report, you will need to scroll down the page to view.