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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

Saffron Walden Town FC

The Meadow, Catons Lane, Saffron Walden, Essex CB10 2DX
Telephone: 01799 522789
Nickname: The Bloods
Eastern Counties League

Note Saffron Walden Town FC is believed to be the oldest club in Essex, having been formed in 1872, although that incarnation of the club only lastest until 1889. After being dormant for a year, the club was re-formed, and by the autumn of 1890 a lease of £3 per annum had been negotiated with local landowner Lord Braybrooke for a field in Loftís Lane; subsequently named Catonís Lane after William Caton who lived in a big house further down. After the Great War ended in 1918, a new ground was proposed behind the Gas Works but lack of funds meant that this did not come to fruition. Over the years various structures have come and gone at the ground, something that continues to this day. Two shelters were in place by 1927, with new changing rooms built in 1933. All have since disappeared, although the current wooden grandstand survives, and was opened on Boxing Day 1937.

The Meadow is blessed with an attractive setting, and once the ugly Portakabins that stand behind the near goal are removed, the ground will be even better. A new brick and steel stand was erected on the far side of the pitch a few seasons back and, built into the shallow bank that extends the length of that touchline, looks quite impressive, although the seven roof supports are an inevitable nuisance. It nevertheless offers a refreshing change from all the modern prefabricated clone stands that are springing up everywhere. It is understood that a similar structure may ultimately replace the aforementioned Portakabins. When I visited in August 2004, I was horrified to discover that the old stand may suffer a similar fate but hopefully a sense of history will prevail as there are too few stands of this vintage surviving these days. The far end of the ground is blessed with a lot of attractive foliage and the imposing church provides an excellent backdrop. The clubhouse is located in one corner of the ground, and is capacious enough if somewhat tired looking. DB