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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

Snapshots - Wingate & Finchley FC

Wingate & Finchley vs Flackwell Heath. Isthmian (Ryman) Division One North, 27 January 2007, The Abrahams Stadium. Score 4-0. Attendance 45
I took advantage of yet another postponement at Eastbourne Borough to travel to North London for the second time in a fortnight, this time to visit arguably one of the most interesting clubs in the English Non League Pyramid, and enjoy one of the most unique grandstands as well. Wingate & Finchley FC was formed as recently as 1991 by the merger of one of the oldest clubs in the country, Finchley FC (founded in 1874); and Wingate FC, originally formed as a Jewish Football Club in 1946 as a means of combating anti-Semitism. The club features the Star of David on it’s crest; whilst the club colours mirror those of the Israeli national flag. Then there is the stand: built in 1930 and a fine example of Art Deco architecture, and made even more interesting by its adaptation the following year into a two-sided structure to provide specatator accommodation for the rugby club next door.

With so many Non League clubs competing for support in the local area, not to mention the proximity of Arsenal, Spurs and Barnet, gates tend to be pretty sparse and this was no exception with only 44 other paying spectators joining me for the visit of bottom club Flackwell Heath. The home side started strongly and was no surprise when a good strike by Ahmet Rifat gave them the lead on 13 minutes (pic 6). Fifteen minutes later Dean Williams added a second (pic 10) after the Heath keeper fumbled a corner. Only then did the visitors really come to life and it required a couple of fine saves from the Blues’ keeper Ed Thompson (pic 12) to prevent them from pulling a goal back before the interval.

The visitors began the second half as they had ended the first but, despite a lot of possession were seldom a serious threat to the home goal. A goal might have completely changed the course of the game, but against the run of play, it was Wingate captain Craig Ellis who sealed the points mid-way through the half; with Williams running through for his second of the afternoon just a couple of minutes later to complete what was ultimately a comfortable 4-0 home win. DB