Cray Valley PM vs Cray Wanderers – PSF – Tues 18th July, 7.45 pm – Match Preview

Pics: Ozay Booth

Cray Wanderers play the third game of pre-season on Tuesday 18th July when the Wands make the short trip to Eltham for an all Cray meeting with Cray Valley PM.  Kick off at the Arctic Stadium is 7.45 pm.

The Wands have got off to a good winning start to pre-season and after starting with a 2-1 win vs Welling United followed that up by beating Beckenham Town also 2-1 on Saturday.

Jack Holland in action at Beckenham Town 

With the team still gelling together and all the players getting some game time either at the start or off the bench these are still early days but the players seem to be enjoying being back in action.

Retained Cray Wanderers winger Rio Campbell vs Beckenham Town

On Saturday, Cray just had the edge through the game and a goal in each half from Cameron Black and a George Porter header made it 2-0 before a late Becks reply.

With no game on Saturday, Cray finish pre-season with games against Glebe, Westfields, Phoenix Sports and South Park before starting the Isthmian Premier season at Lewes on 12th August.

Archy Taylor gets forward for Cray Wanderers vs Beckenham Town.

Neil Smith’s side will be well tested on Tuesday against Steve McKimm’s Cray Valley PM side who have recruited well in the summer with two ex-Wands signing in Freddie Parker and Michael Ademiluyi.  McKimm who enjoyed great success at Tonbridge Angels became manager at Cray Valley this summer after a season at Carshalton Athletic as replacement for Kevin Watson now at Ashford United.  Other new arrivals are goalkeeper Sam Freeman, defenders Arthur Lee and Teddy Perkins, and midfielders Jensen Grant and Lyle Della-Verde signed from Enfield Town.   

Cray Valley began pre-season with two away wins at Glebe (3-1) and Punjab United (2-1) but were beaten at home on Saturday by Stansfeld (0-2).

The Millers like the Wands had a positive season in 2022-23 but only just missed out on the Isthmian South-East playoffs finishing 6th on 66 points, just a point behind 5th placed Hythe Town.  Cray Valley begin the 2023-24 season away to Sittingbourne on 12th August, while in the FA Cup Preliminary Round they will be away to the winners of the Lordswood/Egham tie.  In the FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round they will be away to Broadbridge Heath.

Meetings between the teams despite the close proximity have been restricted to pre-season games with the last in July 2018 with Cray Valley winning 1-0 and have yet to play in a competitive game but with the clubs just one division apart surely one must follow sometime soon.

Cray Valley Paper Mills were formed in 1919 and played in the Sidcup and Kent League representing the Paper Mills in St Paul’s Cray until its closure in 1981.  Since then they spent some time trying to find a ground but settled nicely at the Badgers Sports Ground in Eltham.  After many years in Intermediate football they joined the Kent County League in 2001 in Division One, gaining promotion in 2002-03 and won the Kent County League in 2003-04.  They remained there until 2010-11 when they moved into the Kent League at a time when there was no Step 6 league.  They achieved solid success and in 2016-17 won the London Senior Cup beating Met Police in the final and were runners up the following season.  Their centenary season in 2018-19 was the greatest in the club’s history winning the SCEFL Premier earning promotion to the Isthmian South-East (just missing playing the Wands who were promoted that season) and also made national headlines by reaching the FA Vase Final at Wembley losing to Chertsey Town. 

In the Isthmian South-East, Cray Valley were well placed in 2019-20 and were 3rd in the table and won 8 straight league games before the season was declared null and void. In 2020-21 similarly truncated Cray Valley reached the 1st Round of the FA Cup for the first time losing to Havant & Waterlooville.  Since then they have finished 5th in 2021-22 losing narrowly at Ashford United in the Playoffs and 6th last season. 

This should be a good test for both sides albeit still early in pre-season and an enjoyable evening for supporters of both clubs.


The Arctic Stadium

24 Middle Park Avenue


London SE9 5HP

Admission £5 all adults, U18s Free.

The ground is really easy to find if you are coming by car. It is located just off the South Circular A205 at the Yorkshire Grey roundabout. If you are coming from the A2 (either north or south), head onto the South Circular s/p Catford. At the roundabout take the second exit into Middle Park Avenue. The entrance to the ground is on your right hand side.

If you are coming up the A20 then when you reach the Cliftons Roundabout (junction with A205 South Circular) go all the way around the roundabout and head back onto the A20 then turn left immediately before Goals 5-a-side centre into Eltham Palace Road. At the end turn left at the roundabout and the entrance to the ground is on your left hand side. There is ample free parking at the ground.

The nearest train station is Mottingham and if you find yourself there it is about 15 minute walk away. Exit the station (from London turn left, from Sidcup/Dartford cross bridge then turn left) into Middle Park Avenue and follow this for about a mile. The ground is at the end of this road on your left hand side. A 124 bus from outside the station will take you half way up Middle Park Avenue but if you alight at the Bingo Hall at Eltham Hill/Kingsground just walk down towards the Yorkshire Grey roundabout (about 10 minutes) and the first left before the roundabout is Middle Park Avenue and it is a minute walk up that road. You can also catch the 160 bus which stops pretty much outside the ground which goes from Sidcup, Chislehurst or New Eltham.

From Eltham High Street it is around a fifteen/twenty minute walk up to the High Street and then at the church cross over the zebra crossing and go down Eltham Hill which can test the legs at a fast past. Once you get to the Yorkshire Grey roundabout (there is a McDonalds there) take the second exit into Middle Park Avenue and it is a one minute walk up that road.

The nearest pubs to the ground are in Eltham High Street like The White Hart, The Chequers, the Bankers Draft (Wetherspoon), and the Rising Sun (Greene King, going a bit away from the ground though) there is also a Social Club on Eltham Hill. In Passey Place just off the High Street are the Eltham GPO, an old post office converted to a pub and the Park Tavern opposite the Medical Surgery is very relaxed and pipes through classical music for the culture lovers amongst you. There is also the clubhouse at the ground (or Badgers Bar as I prefer) which is very good.

For a chippie I would recommend the Eltham Grill House in Chequers Parade near Argos that does fantastic chips, ideally open. ,

The ground lies in the LB Greenwich with its huge links to the Thames and British Maritime History and of course of being the main focal point of time from the Meridian. A bit out of the way I suppose but if you are in that area a nice stroll through Greenwich Park or a steep walk up to the Observatory and Meridian is recommended. Or perhaps a walk through the foot tunnel under the Thames (takes about five minutes) and from the other side you can see all of Greenwich in its splendour and enjoy the Island Gardens. The Cutty Sark vintage tea clipper is steeped in history and also the pier has plenty of eating establishments en routeit pricey. There are loads of pubs in Greenwich with many links to the Maritime past, The Gipsy Moth, The Trafalgar, The Yacht, The Cutty Sark,  The Old Brewery at the Old Royal Naval College, The Admiral Hardy and its maritime heritage, The Gate Clock (Wetherspoon), and The Lost Hour.

Much nearer to the ground is Eltham Palace, the former home of Henry VIII when he was a Prince is worth a look round the impressive gardens. Mottingham and Eltham feature as part of Green Chain Walk a 50 mile stretch of green walkways over 12 sections across South East London which you can get to from Oxleas Wood and also covers Middle Park, Avery Hill Park and the Tarnwood Park which is a bird sancturary and has an Ice Well and you could start your walk up Middle Park Avenue to the ground. From Mottingham Lane, the 8th and 9th sections take you to Beckenham Place Park. Also close is the Royal Blackheath Golf Club.