I decided to end my (English) season of 'hopping' with a 'proper' journey. I looked through the many grounds I needed to visit in the south, at either Step 3 or 4, then see if I could get a deal on the train. I popped Hastings in to the search engine and it came up with a ridiculously cheap price, so it was to East Sussex I made my way today.

This game could have been a vitally important one  for Hastings as, up until last weekend, it looked like they would need a win to secure their Isthmian Premier League status, but an 'against the odds' win away at 3rd placed Lowestoft Town meant their tenure was secure for another season.

In fact, reading in the match programme, this was the first time in Hastings' 5 year spell at Step 3 they wouldn't be going into the final game of the season needing to get something. Therefore there was a celebratory mood at the Pilot Field today.

Celebratory was hardly the word I would have used to describe my mood as I travelled down on the train as, the further south I got, the more persistent the rain. Naturally, as a paranoid groundhopper, panic starts to set in as to whether the game would be on, as in this day and age the slightest bit of drizzle can cause a referee to 'brick it' and call a game off.

Some last minute pitch forking
from the groundsman
London Bridge, where I had to go for my connection south, was my point of no return, so to speak, as once I was on that train it was Hastings or bust. Numerous phone calls to the club failed to get a response, so in the end I spoke to the opposition secretary, from the Metropolitan Police, who told they were travelling as they hadn't been told otherwise. That was good enough for me, so I decided to travel too.

The Dolphin
Fortune favoured the brave and upon arrival at the ground the pitch looked in absolutely immaculate condition, so I should really never have worried.  The wondrous Pilot Field is actually in a quite hilly part of town, which was OK to walk down after the game, but i'm so glad I was offered a taxi share by 3 other Hastings fans as it would've been a pretty arduous walk up the hill pre-match, especially after my pre-match GBG ticking!

On the subject of which, suppose I best get that out of the way, I managed to pay a visit to 3 of the 4 GBG entries for 2012. The Dolphin, The Stag and the quite superb First In Last Out, which produces it's own ale range, of which there were four FILO ales on tap (right), all of which were absolutely gorgeous. The was also a large open fire, which was a real treat on a bitterly cold and wet day.

Back to the ground, and as mentioned  it is on a hill so the ground has been built into the hill but obviously levelled out. The main stand, with its wooden bench seats, is actually held up by buttresses (right) and there are two other covered terraces behind each goal. There is also the remnants of a speedway track, though the ground hasn't hosted speedway since the 1940's!

The 'current' Hastings United have played at the Pilot Field since 1985, when the original Hastings United were liquidated. They were the original tenants of the ground, when they were known as Hastings & St Leonards, but were re-located to the adjacent upper pitch in 1948 when Hastings United were formed.

In 1985 Hastings & St Leonards, now known as Hastings Town, moved back to the Pilot Field after a gap of 37 years and in 2002 Town they then changed their name to Hastings United. Phew!

As mentioned earlier, United had already secured their place in the Premier League for next season so today's game against the mid-table Metropolitan Police was effectively a dead rubber and, to be honest, it was played like it was.

In defence of both sides, the weather was absolutely foul with driving rain, strong winds and a distinct chill in the air. I think I would have rather been anywhere else but out on that pitch (ideally back at the FILO by that open fire, with a pint of Crofters!)

There was lots of possession football but no real attempts at goal that troubled either goalkeeper. The game was settled in favour of the 'boys in blue' mid-way through the second half when, after 64 minutes, substitute Mu Maan curled in a beautiful effort from the edge of the box then, after 72 minutes Staforde Palmer fired home to seal the points.

A disappointing result for the homesters, but I think the majority of the crowd went home happy in the knowledge that the hard work was done last weekend.

Finally, after all that waffle regards Hastings, I never once mentioned 1066...oh b*gg*r, just did!!



 Saturday 28th April 2012
Isthmian Premier League
Hastings United 0-2 Metropolitan Police
Attendance: 564


A cheap train deal, booked months ago, led me once again to the capital. Obviously when I booked it was in the hope that there would be a game that still had something riding on it, and not just an end of season dead rubber.

When I set off on my journey at a ridiculously early 5.15am (that's why it was cheap!) the plan was to take in Harrow Borough v AFC Hornchurch but, having studied the tube maps, and being influenced by the opportunity to partake in a few pints of real ale, I opted in the end for Chesham United v Frome Town.

Thinking about get back to Euston after the game, Chesham, being at the end of the Metropolitan line, would be the more easier journey ie no changes. It was therefore to Meadow Park I headed.

For Chesham this was a vital game in their quest to get into the end of season lottery that are the play offs. At the start of play they occupied the final play off berth (5th place) but there were just 6 points separating 2nd place and 7th place, so it was all up for grabs.

Frome Town on the other hand were comfortably in mid-table and had nothing to play for but pride. As it turned out this was good for the homesters as they comfortably cruised to a two goal victory.

Once James Potton rose, completely unmarked, to head 'the Generals' into a 12th minute lead there was only going to be one winner. They doubled their advantage on the half hour mark when Potton turned provider for Chris Watters to side-foot home.

The second half was pretty much an non-event as Frome never looked like troubling Shane Gore in the Chesham goal and the homesters seemed quite content with what they'd got.

The visitors cause was not helped when Josh Brigham was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Bruce Wilson. It looked a bit harsh from where I was stood, admittedly this was in the clubhouse as, by this time, the heavens had opened.

The result lifted Chesham up to second place, with AFC Totton and Cambridge City losing, but they still need a win at Leamington next Saturday to be certain of securing their place.

Meadow Park is a decent set up, with a large stand and plenty of covered terracing. There is an arena stand behind one of the goals, which I'm not particularly fond of, so in my eyes that is the only blot. However, on a positive note, from this end of the ground you do get fantastic views of the surrounding hills, as the town of Chesham is located in the Chess Valley, so at least you do have something better to focus on!

The final act of the afternoon was to get the tube back to Euston and head to the fantastic Bree Louise for a couple of cheekies. This fabulous establishment is just 2 minutes from the main entrance at Euston and has plenty to keep you going, being handpulls or on gravity.

I opted for Milestone - Maid Marian, Tring - Side Pocket of a Toad, Itchen Valley - Hampshire Rose and Ascot - On the Rails. Very nice they were too, a fine way to end the day.


Saturday 21st April 2012
Southern Premier League
Chesham United 2-0 Frome Town
Attendance: 439