The final game of pre-season sees the Wands travel up to Suffolk to face Lowestoft Town with a 3pm kick off at Crown Meadow.
It’s fair to say that the pre-season programme has gone extremely efficiently for Cray unbeaten if you include the behind closed doors game with Welling over eight matches. After some fairly routine victories early in the programme, since the Leyton Orient match the Wands have cranked their game up a few gears and whilst being strong at the back have scored goals freely.
At Cray Valley on Wednesday there were some eyecatching performances from players Wands fans may not have been aware of like Anthony Adesite, Taylor McDonagh, Max Williams and Sid Njie. As well as the usual strong performances from team regulars like Grant Basey, Lea Dawson, Sean Roberts, Jay Leader and Karl Dent.
Tony Russell’s side complete their programme against higher league opposition as we take on a Lowestoft Town side returning to the Ryman League setup after a two season absence. This will be the ultimate test for the side with the side looking for tough competition with the league season starting in a week’s time.
Ady Gallagher’s Trawler Boys are no strangers to playing Cray having met the Wands for four seasons in our Ryman Premier days. The Wands famously won twice at Crown Meadow, winning 1-0 in March 2011 with a Mark Willy goal.
Then perhaps one of the more unexpected but incredible results in recent years winning 2-0 in November 2013 with goals by Danny Young and Jack Sherratt. In both seasons, Lowestoft ended up reaching the playoff final.
Lowestoft were a very big side in the Eastern Counties League throughout the sixties and seventies before a renaissance in the 00’s reaching the FA Vase final in 2007-08, the year they were promoted as Champions to the Ryman North. They won the North title in their first season thereby gaining promotion the Ryman Premier where they reached the playoff final for four straight seasons. They reached the Playoff final in 2010-11 losing a classic 4-3 at Tonbridge Angels. The following season they lost at AFC Hornchurch and then in 2012-13 were beaten at home by Concord Rangers. They finally gained promotion in 2013-14 with a 3-0 playoff final win against AFC Hornchurch meaning promotion to the Conference North for the first time. They were relegated last season but you feel they will be one of the top contenders for the Ryman Premier this season as they are always a fairly strong side.
There is a lot of anticipation around the club just at the moment with a change of division, new grounds to go and the team playing an attractive brand of football. With just seven days to go to the big kick off you can sense the feelgood factor at the club.
DIRECTIONS TO CROWN MEADOW
Suffolk NR32 2PA
Ground Admission: £8.00 adults, £5.00 concessions
If you are not travelling by coach tomorrow here are some directions to the ground. Follow the A12 all the way into the town centre, crossing over the water inlet and then following round past the station into Denmark Road. At the main junction turn right (still the A12) into Katwijk Way. At the next roundabout take the 1st left into Raglan Street and then turn right. Follow this road until the junction with Love Road and then turn left. The ground is a 100 yards down this road. There is plenty of street parking around the ground.
If you are coming by train then Lowestoft is the end of the line for most services either from Norwich or Ipswich. Come out of the station and turn left. Cross the road into Katwijk Way and then follow instructions as per driving. It should take about 5 minutes.
Train services from London Liverpool Street seem to be working normally tomorrow usually running on the hour with a change at either Ipswich or Norwich. If you want to spend the evening in Lowestoft then the last train back to London is at 21:07 via Ipswich returning to London just after midnight.
If you are looking for a pre-match pint as the ground is located so close to the town centre there are a vast array of pubs to choose from. At the South End of the ground is a Social Club, which welcomes away fans, whilst nearby in Love Street, just down from the Club Entrance is the Havelock pub. Triangle Tavern on St Peter’s Street and the Stanford Arms on Stanford Street. Both these pubs are listed in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide and sell beers from the local Green Jack Brewery. Also on Station Square is a Wetherspoons Pub called the Joseph Conrad.
Lowestoft is a port town on the edge of the Broads and is the most easterly situated town in the UK. It is well renowned for its fishing and trawling industry although this has been in something of a decline for many years. It was also a strategic naval base during both World Wars.
As a holiday destination If you wish to stop over night and it is a nice weekend, it has a very fine and wide beach with piers and the harbour and might get you in the mood for some of the coastal locations coming up over the next few months.
Lowestoft has also been the birthplace of the great English composer Sir Benjamin Britten and the home of the 00’s retro rock group the Darkness.