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Non League Football Under The Microscope

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Eastbourne Borough fans celebrate - August Bank Holiday Monday 2003                                Photograph by Sam Hicks

Carshalton Athletic FC

War Memorial Sports Ground
Colston Avenue
Carshalton
Surrey
SM5 2PW

Telephone: 0208 642 8658

Website

Nickname: The Robins

Gate from dressing rooms onto pitch

Covered terrace & view towards turnstile end

The near touchline, before & after the fire

Mill Lane Mission was founded in 1903, but records show that the Mission then, was used as a recreational facility for young boys aged 13 & 14. It wasn’t until 1905 that a Senior side was formed and officially registered as Mill Lane Mission FC with the Surrey FA later that year. An amalgamation with another local side, Carshalton St. Andrews (known as the Robins) followed at the end of the 1907/08 season whereupon the club became Carshalton Athletic FC.

Until the outbreak of War in 1914 Carshalton played on the Wrythe Recreation Ground. This was no longer available when football resumed in 1919, but fortunately the club was lent a field half a mile away, known as Culvers Park. In a foretaste of what has become fairly commonplace today, after just a year the District Council announced that they wished to build on the site, and Carshalton were homeless again.

Fortunately, the sympathetic council granted the club a lease on five acres of land in Colston Avenue, that was no longer needed for agricultural purposes; and before long the ground had been enclosed, and a small clubhouse and dressing rooms built. The estimated cost of the work was £1,000 and the opening match was played on 1 January 1921 against Thornhill, some seven months before the work had actually been completed. The new ground was named in memory of players and officials who had lost their lives in the Great War.

The first stand was erected in 1926, and had previously been used by members of the Jockey Club at Epsom Racecourse. The structure was dismantled, transported and re-erected by supporters and officials, and stood until 1968 when it was brought down by severe gales. The old stand was replaced by a temporary structure until a permanent replacement was erected in 1972. Sadly, this too bit the dust in 2000 when a suspicious fire destroyed it, along with the clubhouse (circa 1959) that stood adjacent to it.

Additional seats were added to a much newer stand further along the touchline that been constructed in the interim period, and which now serves as the main stand. This has an official capacity of 240 and provides a good view of the action, although to one side of the half-way line. A smart new clubhouse and dressing rooms have also been constructed since the fire.

The most impressive feature of the ground is to be found on the far touchline, which boasts a very impressive covered terrace along its entire length. This was first laid in 1953 and covered in sections over the subsequent ten years as and when funding permitted. It is these additions that allegedly created the fine stepped roof, although I remain unconvinced of this. Whatever, it certainly lends the ground a bit of character and the terrace must surely be one of the finest examples anywhere in the country. However, one would imagine that the absence of any crush barriers limits its official capacity quite considerably.

In recent years, further shallow covered terracing has been added at the turnstile end of the ground. The area behind the far goal has hard standing but is as yet uncovered. The floodlights were officially opened on 13 December 1967 against Crystal Palace in front of 1,600 spectators. The official ground record stands is stated as 7,800 for the visit of Wimbledon for a London Senior Cup in 1959. However, other sorces cite a figure of 8,200 when the Robins took on local rivals Tooting & Mitcham United in an FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round tie in October 1950.

There is reasonable but not extensive car parking, although additional spaces can be found in the surrounding streets.

Ground details
Capacity: 8,000
Seats: 240
Floodlights: Yes

Directions
From the M25 Take exit No 8 on the A217 passing Lower Kingswood, Kingswood, Burgh Heath, Banstead, Continue until roundabout before sign to Sutton, bear left still on the A217 continue until you reach the Rose-Hill roundabout (approx 2 miles), take the 4th exit into Wrythe Lane, continue for 1 to 1.5 miles turn right Colston Avenue just before railway bridge. Ground 100 to 150 yards on right. Private road leads to stadium and car park

From London Pick up the A23 at the Elephant & Castle or the Oval. Continue along the Brixton Road A23 through Brixton, up Brixton Hill A23 continues Streatham Hill A23, Streatham High Road A23, At traffic lights (junction St. Leonards Church) cross into Mitcham Lane A216 continue Streatham Road A216, bear left at traffic lights at Figgs Marsh, London Road A217, through Mitcham Bishopsford Road A217 until reaching the Rose Hill Roundabout. Take 1st exit into Wrythe Lane, continue for 1 to 1.5 miles turn right Colston Avenue just before railway bridge. Ground 100 to 150 yards on right. Private road leads to stadium and car park, sign posted War Memorial Sports Ground.

By rail
Carshalton (BR) -  200 yards