Greenwich Borough v Cray Wanderers – Bostik South-East – 11/8/18 – Match Preview
Saturday sees the start of the Bostik League season for 2018/19 and after the hottest summer of the last forty years we see the return of wind and rain to welcome back football. Cray Wanderers start life in the newly formed Bostik South East League as part of a three tiered Step 4 with a local derby at Greenwich Borough. Kick off at the DRS Stadium is 3pm.
Cray will be looking to win their season opener for the first time in ten seasons but games against Greenwich Borough are always hard fought affairs and this promises to be a tough start.
After a satisfactory pre-season campaign, Cray head to Eltham looking to start the season in a positive manner following the disappointment of losing in the Playoff Semi Final last season. Looking back and with plenty of time for contemplation, there was much to be proud of last season as a Wands fan. Some tremendous football, 112 league goals and a goal difference of +66 indicated a side with a mean defence to go with it but the Football Gods decreed that Cray would fall just short of promotion.
Cray have been fortunate to keep many of last seasons team to remain with the club so the likes of Nick Blue, Jay Leader, Aaron Rhule and Michael Power amongst others staying with Cray is a major plus. Cray have added some good quality to their ranks with Mitchell Nelson, Jerome Federico and Sean Roberts returning along with Bradley Pritchard who arrives from Saturday’s opponents and Tom Phipp to the midfield add subtlety and bite to the side. Left back Archie Johnson has come to the club on loan from Welling United as cover for Matt George who is recovering from a recurring injury problem. With club centurian Michael Power and Freddie Parker in the forward area Cray have the basis of another quality side.
Greenwich Borough have reached the playoffs in the last two seasons and last season under Paul Barnes who took over in January came 4th in the Bostik South but were beaten by Corinthian Casuals in the Playoff Semi Final for the second straight year. The club had a bit of turbulence off the pitch during the off season with new ownership and then manager Aaron Taylor quit the club. Into the hotseat came a player well known to Wands fans, Luke Medley who will look to rebuild the side with many of last season’s side including league top scorer, Jack Barham leaving the club. All at Cray Wanderers wish Luke all the best at Greenwich and are sure he will be a great manager.
Greenwich begin their away travels next Saturday when they visit Sittingbourne, and in the FA Cup Preliminary Round are at home to the winners of the Haywards Heath/Lancing tie.
The last time the two teams met was on Easter Monday, 2nd April, and the game finished in a 2-2 draw with two Cray penalties from Charlie MacDonald and Michael Power cancelled out two goals from Barham. When the two teams played on New Years Day at Greenwich the match ended in a 0-0 draw.
The Wands and Borough were regular opponents in the Kent League days and played for twenty consecutive seasons between 1984-2004. Borough were elected to the Kent League in 1984-85 and won the title twice in 1987 and 1988 and were a very strong side at that level for a number of years.
Greenwich Borough v Cray Wanderers – September 1985 – The match ended in a 1-1 draw.
They did struggle for a few seasons but had a resurgence from the 2013-14 season with astute financial investment and became first a major cup side under former Wands manager, Ian Jenkins and then in 2015-16 won the Southern Counties East league to earn a crack at the Bostik League at their new home of the DGS Marine Stadium (Badgers Sports Ground) after a couple of seasons playing at Princes Park, Dartford. Overall, Greenwich have the better of the head to head with a record of P. 44 W. 11 D. 12 L. 21.
In a smaller league, less midweek games and a very Kent and Sussex feel (with the exception of Whyteleafe and Guernsey) it might take a bit of time to get used to but it is bound to be another exciting journey for the next nine months.
DIRECTIONS TO GREENWICH BOROUGH FC
The DRS Stadium 24 Middle Park Avenue Eltham London SE9 5HP
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.
If you come in to Mottingham the Royal Tavern opposite the station on the Sidcup Road is ideal if you have time on your hands. The nearest pubs to the ground are in Eltham High Street like The White Hart, the Bankers Draft (Wetherspoon), and the Rising Sun. 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 club house at the DRS Stadium (or Badgers Bar as I prefer) which is very good and one of the best in the league.
For a chippie I would recommend the Eltham Grill House in Chequers Parade near Argos that does fantastic chips, ideally open. There are chippies in Mottingham but I wouldn’t insult your taste buds by recommending them here. Perhaps the Fish Inn near Mottingham Station which does your fish and chips boxed.
For Indian food there are three good choices in Eltham, Spice Island, Eltham Yeti and Star of India all in the High Street. On the approach to the ground down Eltham Hill (from the High Street) is the Golden City Chinese restaurant,
Greenwich itself to me anyway (Sorry Bromley), is London’s finest Borough 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. 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. The Cutty Sark vintage tea clipper has now been fully restored since it burned down a few years ago and worth a trip but a bit pricey. There are loads of pubs in Greenwich but they tend to be quite expensive.
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.