SCEFL: Crowborough 1-2 The Wells
Is there anything better than a game against your local rivals? The expansion of the SCEFL has seen the arrival of a few more teams, some new grounds to visit, and also a reason to visit the non-descript town of Crowborough. Sitting just 7 miles along the A26 from Royal Tunbridge Wells, famous for a statue and a cross roads, Crowborough is a sleepy place and not exactly the hotbed of non-league football. However, with a squad full of ex-Wells players and an ambitious management team who had made some bold statements over the summer, this had the makings of a proper derby fixture.
We’ve had a pretty decent summer so far, and as it draws to a close anyone expecting the August Bank Holiday fixtures to be bathed in sunshine and played on pristine early season pitches was in for a shock. As the rain lashed down in biblical proportions news began to filter through that the weather is likely to play another prominent role this season. Throughout the afternoon there were game cancellations, abandonments and even a flood covering the shiny new Whyteleafe plastic! Credit therefore to The Crows for getting this game on and the pitch in such good condition.
With the South Stand Choir assembled under a covered stand, surrounded by flags and hoppy ale the teams took to the sodden pitch. The Choir were really up for this one and in good voice. Despite having endured a pretty turgid display versus Woodstock we were fully behind the team and looking for an immediate response. It was also good to see Lark’s back in the dugout; although I’m not sure if the scowl was a result of his jetlag or the rain having ruined that smart new M&S jumper. With that the first chants went up and the ref was allowed to start the game.
As starts go, this wasn’t a particularly good one and within the opening minute The Crows had taken the lead… queue a brief moment of shock for the Choir, some strong words of ‘encouragement’ from Nick Davis and a look of further distain on the face of Larks. In fact the only thing missing was any sort of cheer from the home fans who were obviously more interested in their warm drinks and how we would react.
They needn’t have worried though. We’ve seen too many games to worry about a minor setback like this and quickly upped the volume levels, getting behind The Wells and even offering some constructive and supportive coaching for our old friends Andy McCrow and Barts. The Wells also responded on the pitch, the Wizard beginning to seize the initiative in midfield; and with Rhys Lawson full of running their fullback surely wished he’d stayed on the local fracking site.
As the pressure continued to mount on the Crows defence it was clear that the more experienced players signed by Lark’s were able to adapt to the conditions better and were even able to string a few passes together. It also looked like the Sussex goalkeeping coach has done little to improve Michal’s kicking as he managed to find the head of The Wells players with better frequency than he did last season. Surely it was only a matter of time…
Boom! Shortly before half time the ball found its way through a crowded penalty area and Brendon Cass was able to calmly slot the ball home. 1-1… now it really was game on! The players celebrated and the South Stand Choir went crazy. Derby Day, what a day!
They say location is everything; however this would appear to be lost on our friends from Crowborough. The Crowborough Community Stadium is a tidy little ground, but why they choose to advertise it with the wrong postcode and cover in Ryman league signs is anyone’s guess. However they do have the ‘Crow Arms’ (again strangely situated in the far corner of the ground) and with gazebos positioned nicely, we were able to refuel on finest Sussex ale, ready and expectant for the second half.
The second half kicked off in front of what can only be described as the quietest set of home fans to have ever watched a derby game. Michal’s kicking got worse, McCrow became more disillusioned and Arron Lacy began to assert his influence on the game, most amusing was the request for further ‘development and growth’ from the linesman. Rhys was also having his most influential game of the season, by his own admission a pre-season regime working on that glorious tan wasn’t the best preparation, however he’s now starting to find his legs and Barts has clearly lost his.
It was inevitably a right footed cross that was met with a towering, thumping, glorious Nick Davis header. What a header! It flew into the top corner of the net and the South Stand Choir erupted, we’d waited patiently for this over the last two games and were going to make the most of it. Unfortunately we couldn’t make any more of the ale as that had gone all over each other and the pitch, but who cared. It was derby day, and The Wells were in front.
From this point on The Wells controlled the game, Rhys eventually tired and left the pitch well worth his MOTM award and The Choir got an opportunity to see a little more of Jamie O’Connell. It was then just left for the referee (having turned toaster with a flurry of cards as the weather and tackling got progressively worse) to blow the final whistle.
This was a hard fought and important victory for The Wells. Following last season’s FA Vase triumph it was nice to let the football do the talking and take two from two in the derby.
The Wells (starting XI):
Lawrence, Bourne, Spackman, Davis, Bryant; Lacy, Fuller, Beecroft; Lawson; Powell, Cass
The Wells goal scorers:
Cass of the Culverden & Davis
South Stand Choir attendance:
South Stand Choir… we are the 12th man!