My eyes were fixed on my phone after I returned home from work on this wet Tuesday night. A journey through the Blackwall Tunnel to South East London wouldn’t take too long, provided the A12 was reasonably clear. Luckily, it was and I was able to take in my first Bostick South Division game at high-flying Greenwich Borough.
Competition: Bostick League South Division
Refreshments: £1 (tea)
Star man: Raheem Sterling-Parker
Who are ya, Greenwich Borough?
Boro or The Cannons as they are also known were founded in 1928 as Woolwich Borough Council Athletic Club. In 1965, due to a change in the borough boundaries, the club was renamed London Borough of Greenwich, and then adopted its current name in 1980.
Greenwich Borough has been Southern Counties East League Champions three times. The last of the three titles was won in 2016 and led the club into their current position in step four. In their history they have also been champions of the London Spartan League, The Woolwich & District League and The South London Alliance League.
The cub began life at Danson Park in Welling before moving to Harrow Meadow in Eltham in 1937. They remained there, with a couple of short stints away, until 2009. After a couple of brief, local groundshares Boro agreed a lease to share Badgers Sports Ground with Cray Valley PM in 2016.
- Greenwich Borough are currently managed by former Leyton Orient and Millwall stalwart Gary Alexander
- Ian Wright was spotted by Crystal Palace soon after signing a semi-professional contract with The Cannons
- Mohamed Eisa scored 57 goals in 100 games for the club before signing for Cheltenham Town this Summer
The Greenwich Borough experience
Train: Eltham is the closest station and can be reached via South Eastern Trains from Charing Cross or Victoria. It’s a 15-20 minute walk to the ground.
Car: Badgers Sports Ground is easily reached by road and is just off the Yorkshire Grey roundabout on the South Circular. Turn onto Middle Park Avenue and the club is on the right-hand side. Plenty of parking is available.
As is customary in this part of town a shipping crate had been cleverly re-purposed at the Badgers Sport Ground. This time it formed part of the entrance. After handing over my £12 for entry and a programme I was immediately struck by the presence of the club colours. Most of the surrounding fencing is adorned with Boro’s red and black.
There is a decent sized seating area on one side of the pitch, and on the other side there is a covered standing area next to the dug-outs. One end of the ground is covered courtesy of some scaffolding, but the other is entirely open. Lots of branding and sponsorship are in evidence around the ground, and this gives it a modern and clean feel.
The heavens opened shortly before kick-off which meant the decent mid-week crowd were evenly dispersed throughout the covered areas. Some brave souls even ventured to the open sections. This even spread of bodies made for a lively atmosphere and this was helped by a competitive game and a good turn out from the Carshalton faithful.
In the corner of the ground closest to the entrance there was a well-equipped tea bar, and the main club bar looked modern. It provided good respite from the elements for a large proportion of the crowd at half time.
Greenwich sat in second place in the league going into the game and were unbeaten at home. Boro had also won four of their last five games. Carshalton, on the other hand, had only won one of their last five and had been beaten on three occasions in that time.
The home side had scored more and conceded less than their visitors over the first 15 games of the season. Carshalton were still in seventh place in the league, however, despite their patchy recent form.
Greenwich started the game on the front foot and immediately put pressure on their visitors. They were largely attacking down the right-hand side through Paul and Babalola. Boro had a couple of early chances but the visitors began to get into the game. Just as the visitors began to settle Boro took the lead. Mark Phillips headed home, at the front post, from a corner.
From this point on, until half time, it was largely one-way traffic as the visitors took control of the game. They had a couple of chances but equalised from the penalty spot. A goal mouth scramble led to a foul by Greenwich keeper George Kamurasi. The penalty was coolly slotted home by the man with the star name Raheem Sterling-Parker.
A couple of cynical challenges in a row led to a brief scuffle and prolonged, animated discussion between multiple parties. As a result, the referee booked five players in one go, and a sixth after a helpful intervention from the linesman.
Carshalton came out strongly again after the break and underlined their status as the side dealing with the tricky conditions most effectively. They struck the, ultimately, decisive blow three minutes into the second half. A defensive error allowed Sterling-Parker in on goal and he once again finished well.
The hero became the villain a few minutes later when he was sent off for a second yellow. A late challenge followed by a few forward rolls from the Greenwich player led to a second yellow for the forward. He must picked up a first card as part of the aforementioned multi-party discussion.
Greenwich piled on the pressure with the extra man and came very close to levelling the game. Several long shots went close, and substitute (another with a star name) Kaka Dembele clattered the cross-bar with a terrific free-kick. The visitor’s keeper Billy Bishop pulled off a couple of great saves late on to give Carshalton the victory.
Final thoughts and ratings
Greenwich Borough was a great example of a non-league ground to visit. It was welcoming, well set-up and fortunately provided plenty of cover from the elements. It was a shame that the home side couldn't get a victory on the night, but it was a well-contested, exciting game.
Ticket availability: Entry was via the turnstile and plenty of room, even on a wet night. 9/10
Website/social media: The website is a generic club site and is a bit limited in information apart from results and fixtures. The Twitter account provides good match updates. They also have a YouTube channel with match highlights. 6/10
Travel: Badgers Sports Ground is easily reached via the South Circular and Eltham stations isn't too far away. 8/10
Ground: The ground is neat and tidy and has a good use of club colours and branding. There are good views available, but one end is uncovered. 7/10
Food and drink: The tea bar seemed to have a good selection and was well priced. The club bar looked modern and well-kempt. 8/10
Programme: The programme was well designed and had all the useful stats and some info about the opposition. Some more information about the home club would have been good too. 7/10
Atmosphere: The atmosphere was pretty good, and was helped by a competitive game. Plenty of away fans and everyone mixed in well. 8/10
Football quality: An equal game with consistent quality on both sides. The conditions weren't great but the visitors dealt with them better. 8/10
Cost: £13 spent all in all on entry, programme and a hot drink. The ground is close to a well-known fast food chain and I did spend a few extra quid there, but I won't include that. 8/10
Matchday experience extras: There were some raffle tickets on offer at the ground. You can also stand right next to the dug-outs which adds to the experience. 7/10