Joking aside, the Combined Counties League is one of the very few footballing areas of the country that I am yet to visit and this was in fact my first CCL ground visit. Astonishing. In all honesty The Orchard was not my first choice for this evening and had it not been for Holland FC's rearranged fixture being swapped to today, I would have been on the seaside freezing my bollocks off instead of outside Heathrow Airport. Not that I was bothered, the main thing for me was that I was getting myself out to a new ground and after a three hour crawl through the Friday night rush hour down the M6, M40 and M25, I made it into Bedfont. The blue and yellow crested high-flyers started the night in 2nd place, but with two games in hand on league leaders Sheerwater you had to fancy them to climb to the top if they could overcome lowly Kensington Borough, who have a slim chance of ending the weekend in the dropzone if Bagshot, Fleet Spurs and Deportivo Galicia all claim victory. So far the only side to topple the Yellows in the league were Tooting Bec and with that being their latest game, I was predicting them to bounce back on this rainy Friday night encounter- 4-1 was my guess. Not too far off!
|Love me a night under the floodlights|
As I was a good 40 minutes early, I made my way into The Orchard Bar and got lost in conversation with an old cockney bloke who follows Hendon and Edgeware Town, both whom reside at Silver Jubilee Park. The newly retired former London Underground workman now spends 99% of his time groundhopping and claimed to already be on 80+ matches for the season- compared to my meagre 19th outing on this occasion, he's not doing badly for a chap who can't drive. We spent the pre-match propping up the bar and talking about Sporting Khalsa, London's non-league scene and his ventures in the 80's and 90's following Man United in Europe. Amongst all of the excitement, 8pm had crept up on us and we supped up and headed out into the windy and wet conditions alongside the other 80 or so in attendance. After a quick mooch around, I housed myself in the main stand with a good majority of the crowd, ready for some CCL action!
|Blending in with the locals, apart from my notable Sporting Khalsa scarf|
|Surely you'd rather come here for a big game than the San Siro...|
|That's more like it|