I was ready to get back on the non-league scene after a couple of weeks of chipping away at ‘the 92’. There were a few potential new grounds for me to visit including Dagenham and AFC Hornchurch. I decided, however, to visit my third Isthmian North team of the season. I knew nothing about Cheshunt FC, but it looked easy to get to, via the A10, and they had a very good website.
Competition: Isthmian North Division (Step 4)
Refreshments: £2.50 (tea and kit-kat)
Star man: Manny Osei
A brief history of Cheshunt FC
Cheshunt, known as the Ambers, formed in 1888 and originally played in black and white stripes. After 43 years of amateur football the original version of the club fell into debt and disbanded in 1931. The current incarnation of the club was then established in 1946 when a group of local businessmen decided to form a new club for the town. They used a local junior team, who played in amber and black, as the foundation for their new team.
The 70s were a purple patch for The Ambers as they enjoyed significant success in cup competitions, including Mithras, London Charity, Athenian League and East Anglian Cup wins. In 2004 the club were promoted to the Isthmian Premier Division and then transferred to the Southern League Premier Division the following season after Hornchurch went bust. They were relegated in 2008 and have been in the Isthmian North ever since.
The club was taken over by Cheshunt Sports and Leisure Ltd in 2011 and has seen significant investment in its facilities. The stadium has been completely refurbished and state of the art 3G pitch has been installed next door.
Interesting Cheshunt FC facts
- Ian Dowie made 34 appearances and scored two goals for The Ambers between 1983 and 1985.
- The Cheshunt Stadium, formally the local rubbish tip, has previously been kitted out with seats from White Hart Lane and Stamford Bridge.
- During the 2003/04 season Cheshunt striker Darrell Cox was called up to the Grenada squad for a World Cup qualifier. Unfortunately Cox didn’t appear in the game.
- In 2006 the club sold Lloyd Opara to Peterborough for £22,000. The striker had been on trial at Chelsea earlier that year.
Cheshunt v Mildenhall Town preview
Prior to kick-off Cheshunt were lying in the bottom three of the division with only one win in their last six league games. They’d found the net 17 times in their 13 league games but had also conceded 29, giving them a lop-sided goal difference.
Mildenhall Town were on a similarly mixed run of results in recent games and had only won two of their last six games. One of these wins was an impressive looking 3-1 win at Barking who I’d seen earlier this month.
The Cheshunt FC experience
One thing is very obvious when you enter through the turnstile at Cheshunt FC. The club is very well organised. Thought has gone into everything, and the ground is well designed. Just behind the main stand is a large concrete area, adorned with a trail of picnic tables that lead to the tea bar.
The main stand is a nice, modern seating area that bares the striking black and amber colours of the home side. At each end are small covered terraces, which were being well used by some of Cheshunt’s younger fans. On the far side of the pitch you can still see the remanence of the old stand behind the modern fencing and dug-outs.
Train: Theobalds Grove Station is a five minute walk away. Come out of the station, turn left onto the high street and then take the first left up Theobalds Lane. The stadium is 800 yards up Theobolds Lane.
Car: Easily reached via the A10. Follow signs for Cheshunt/Waltham Cross and turn left onto the high street. Theobalds Lane is the first left after the station. Plenty of parking is available.
There was a decent crowd of 142 for this mid-week clash, and most were situated in the main stand or its neighbouring standing areas. It makes sense to be close to the tea bar as winter approaches. Music was pumped into the main stand in the build up to kick-off which helped get the locals in the mood. The teams then made their way out onto the pitch past the large club branding in the corner of the stadium.
Early on the atmosphere was very much like a meet-up between some old pals in a quite country pub. Once the action got going, however, the home support began to get behind their team. It wasn’t clear if many away fans had made the trip down. If they were there they kept themselves well hidden. It was easy to move around the Cheshunt Stadium, and good views were available all around the pitch. There is also a small 3G pitch next to the tea bar that kids can use for a kick about.
The Cheshunt FC website is also very well designed and fits the overall club theme of being neat and tidy. It offers some great insight into the goings on at the club and its history as well as parts of the club that can be hired out.
Cheshunt started the game positively and used their attacking wide players to good effect. They created a couple of good chances but unfortunately went a goal behind after 13 minutes. A Mildenhall corner was headed home by Luke Butcher.
The Ambers keep on attacking despite the set-back. They soon benefitted from a slice of luck as a defensive error allowed Tom Bruno to race clear and finish well. The game became an end-to-end thriller as both sides looked dangerous in attack.
The visitors were next to strike and regained the lead. A miss-placed pass allowed Matthew Green to get a shot away, and the ball swerved past Joseph, courtesy of a deflection. The home side were behind at the break but it was clear they were still in the game.
The Ambers took more control in the second half and continued to threaten the Mildenhall goal. Osei scored a superb individual goal to cap a great performance. He collected a clever pass from Hallett, weaved into the box and drove the ball into the corner.
Seven minutes later Osei was fouled in the box and the referee gave the penalty. Bruno finished from the spot for his second of the night and the winning goal. Cheshunt survived a few nervy minutes towards the end to secure a much needed win.
Final thoughts and ratings
Cheshunt FC was a great place to go and watch football. The people in charge of the club clearly have a clear vision of how they want The Ambers to progress. They’ve had some indifferent results in the league this season but played some good attacking football.
Ticket availability – Tickets were easy to come by at the gate and were £10. 8/10
Website/social media – A really well designed and user-friendly website for this level. The Twitter account is also good. 9/10
Travel – Easy to get to by car and lots of parking available. The train station is also only a 5-10 minute walk away. 8/10
Ground – A well organised and smart looking non-league ground. It could, however, do with some additional covered areas. 7/10
Food and drink – A nice little tea bar with some picnic benches. A mix of hot and cold food as well as drinks are available. 7/10
Programme – The programme was well designed and had some interesting information about the club and opposition. It was, however, potentially lacking some information on the players. 7/10
Atmosphere – It was quiet to begin with but the home fans in the main stand got into an exciting game. It could, though, do with some more fans at the ends of the ground. 7/10
Football quality – There was lots of good attacking football on display. Both sides looked like they needed to strengthen in defence, however. 6/10
Cost - £12 for entry and a programme, plus a few quid for a hot drink and a snack. Feels like this league should be slightly under £10 entry but it seems to be a fairly standard price. 7/10
Matchday experience extras – A small 3G pitch for kids to play on was a nice touch. Some decent music played over the tannoy too. 7/10