South Kilburn FC are a non league football club based in North West London. The club were formed in 2005 and immediately gained membership of the Middlesex League.
At the end of the 2010-11 season South Kilburn applied to move sideways in the league structure to minimise travelling to join the Combined Counties League.
I had a walk and then took the 245 bus to Vale Farm and was soon finding my way inside the arena. The main sports centre block housed the changing rooms. The pitch was surrounded by an old overgrown shale running track which was once home to Middlesex Ladies Athletic Club. This had a rail fence round it and some raised banks. The actual pitch had a new fence around it, complete with dug outs and hard standing around the majority of the playing area. The whole arena was enclosed by a high mesh fence which would mean anyone could watch for free if they wished. There were four floodlight pylons but I wasn't sure if they were satisfactory for night matches.
There was scope for some covered accommodation which would be required if promotion was gained. The club had done tremendously well to reach the status they had in just five years.
South Kilburn 0 Epsom Athletic 1 (Saturday 25th August 2012) Combined Counties Division One (att: approx 20)
I was on early shift at work before a week off to head to Scarborough for a week of football and cricket. I also had mates heading to Wembley for the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final and Yorkshire were playing in finals day of the T20, so I had to juggle and fit in a game that I could easily get to and then back to a pub to meet with the others.
My colleague kindly came in a little early for me, so in no time I was on a bus at Wembley Park and heading for Vale Farm. No sooner had alighted for the five minute walk to the ground than the heavens opened and produced a storm of Biblical proportions. To say I got wet would be the understatement of the season.
I dived inside the sports centre reception and waited for the rain to abate for ten minutes before treading carefully round to the entrance to the arena, where there was nobody collecting cash or selling programmes. I headed to a small shelter with wooden benches that had been erected since my last visit, where some other poor souls were taking refuge.
It was the strangest of structures, made of metal, but with holes in the top where bolts were intended. This produced a culindar type effect as water seeped through, much to the amusement of all of us.
I got chatting to some visiting officials who saw my Scarborough Athletic jacket, who had visited my old club with Sutton United many years previously, as well as a local programme collector and judge called Phil Watkins.
The pitch held up pretty well as lightning filled the skies in the distance, although the surrounds proved totally inadequate in bad weather if the venue ever expected to deal with any numbers. I was told that the home manager had the programmes and to have a word with him, which I did. was asked to see him at half time.
The match was pretty awful. The referee was the widest man I'd ever seen in a kit and the home side had a forward who was about seven feet tall and built like a heavyweight boxer. His team mates called him Drogba. I would have plumped for sir! The linesmen weren't bad, but the Kilburn boss Mick Jennings was giving all three dogs abuse, along with his own players.
At the interval Mr Jennings tore into his charges outside the changing rooms. They looked more than a little sheepish. I approached him about a programme, but he then told me to see him at full time. He received a ticking off from the ref about filling his team sheet in incorrectly, which produced a laugh when he had gone.
Both teams continued to huff and puff without creating too much of worth. The referee, who it had to be said while totally imobile, wasn't the worst, was getting it from Jennings. His language would have had Chubby Brown blushing by that point. He was asked to move the players kids from the dug outs to behind the fence, which brought more dissent. By now the temperature had got better and it had stopped raining, so Jennings removed his jacket. Underneath he was wearing a white top, the same as his players. Not unreasonably, the referee Mr Seuke, asked him to put another top on. This brought more whining.
Epsom took a just about deserved lead through Wayne Cathcart. A visiting forward made a late challenge on the Kilburn keeper shortly after, which brought more complaints and awful language. Unfortunately this prompted the Epsom bench into shouting and complaining about everything as well. It was thoroughly depressing.
Mr Seuke added lots of time on at the end of the game. If I'd have been him I'd have blown for time as soon as possible. The subs chatted with me and seemed far more pleasant than some at the ground. They appeared to be a little embarrassed if anything. I took a photo of the programme cover owned by one of the friendly visitors.
At full time I didn't hang around. I didn't have the time or motivation to wait for a programme. I'd gone out of my way to purchase one, which included the admission fee, but the attitude of the man in charge did little to encourage me. I headed off chatting to a Hendon fan coming out of his game along the way. I walked to Sudbury Town station and took the train to Shepherds Bush, where I was eventually joined by my mates from the rugby in the Walkabout in time to watch Yorkshire come desperately close to lifting the cup.
I went home, nearly dry, but still trying to get my head around the game I'd seen several hours earlier.