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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

Crockenhill FC

Wested Meadow
Eynsford Road
Crockenhill
Swanley
Kent

Telephone: 01322 662097

Website: None

Nickname: The Crocks

Stand & touchline - note the oildrums

The Victorian turnstile

Goal at the Crockenhill End

Far touchline and dugouts

Football in Crockenhill goes back to the 1920s when two clubs represented the village in the Dartford League: Crockenhill FC and Crockenhill United FC. The latter played at Wested Meadow, which is home to the club today.

The present day club was formed in 1946 following a Boxing Day friendly between Crockenhill Youth and Mudhole Dynamo. The Mudhole is the local name for the nearby Fruiterer’s Arms pub, and many of the Dynamo side were former United players.

Pre-war, Wested Meadow was undeveloped with no facilities and was commissioned as a site for a barrage balloon, with a Nissen Hut built on concrete footings. The owner of the land however, a Mr Miller, was a football enthusiast and lent the field to the reformed club. By 1951 the club had erected a small grandstand plus dressing rooms, a tea bar, office and a loudspeaker system.

The 1968 the Crocks were founder members of the Kent League, lifting the championship in 1982/83. In 1999 however, the club lost its senior status due to lack of floodlights and had to drop down the Kent County League. A great season in 2003/04 saw Crockenhill finish as champions but once again, continued lack of lights meant they could not be promoted.

The relative lack of development of Wested Meadow is a major part of its charm; indeed it is a boast of the club that nothing has been built with the aid of a spirit level!  Far from being in a decrepit state, the ground is well looked after and the club seems content to exist within its means.

Although it may not appear particularly obvious, the ground does in fact have quite an interesting history. During the 1960s, the clubhouse was created around the old Nissen Hut and the entrance extended to include a superb (and very narrow) Victorian turnstile acquired from the ground of Thamesside Amateurs. Before that it is believed to have been at the old ground of Gravesend United.

In 1987 the roof of the clubhouse was destroyed by a fallen tree during the October Hurricane, and had to be replaced. Soon afterwards the roof of the stand was removed and eventually replaced with a new corrugated iron version, thereby retaining its rather rickety appearance. In those days the stand was painted green, but today sports the club clolours of red.

Adjacent to the stand is a small area of terrace, that has been covered in more recent years. Underneath is seating, improvised from a series of painted oil drums with a plank laid across.

Despite its proximity to the A2 exit from the M25, and busy town of Swanley, Crockenhill and Wested Meadow retain an astonishingly rural outlook. The remainder of the ground is comparatively undeveloped, although the grass bank next to the wooden dugouts on the far side, provides a good elevated view when the weather allows.

The fact the Wested Meadow is well-known to groundhoppers is largely down to acknowledged expert in the genre and leading grounds photographer Mike Floate, who also happens to be the Secretary at Crockenhill. Mike’s ‘Football Grounds Frenzy’ site is well worth a visit, and the Crocks’ clubhouse contains a number of examples of his photography. Below, Mike adds a few words of his own about his beloved Crocks (follow the link for more photographs) ...

“I first came to the village where I now live to see the Crocks play Cray Wanderers, a year after the home team had won the Kent League following the brief stay at the club of Tony Cascarino. At the time the stand featured amazing extensions to include loudspeakers and baffles to stop the rain getting onto seated spectators.

Whether the red was rust or paint is a matter of speculation. The stand has survived but with a replacement roof, and the red is paint - I painted it! Quite what the charm of the ground is cannot be easily described, but it must be something to do with football being played at a quaint traditional venue, earth banks at one end and one side, being untroubled by floodlights and other modern trappings, with a delightful view from the far bank. There really is no ground quite like it”.

http://www.mikefloate.clara.co.uk/crocks.htm

Ground details
Capacity: unknown
Seats: 150 approx.
Floodlights: No

Directions
From Swanley take the B258 to Crockenhill and a T junction turn left into Eynsford Road. Weested Meadonw will shortly be found on the left. There is an overflow car park a little further along on the right.

By rail
Swanley (BR): 2 miles.