From ‘the’ Holmesdale to Holmesdale FC!

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Saturday 28th April 2012- KO 12:30pm – The Championship – at Selhurst Park, Admission – Season Ticket, Programme (special bound edition with extra pages £3). Palace 1-2 Cardiff, att 15,510, ht 1-0.

KO 15:00pm – Kent League Premier – at Oakley Road, Admission £5, no programme today Frown
Holmesdale 1-2 Corinthian, attendance 32, ht 0-1.

A foul day to watch football, and not only that my car had been playing up on me over the last few weeks, so what does one do? Of course, jump in the car and get out to two games in a day, that’s what!

Football games are often spoken of as a game of two halfs, literally, and often in reality in respect of how different each half can be. Well in the case of Palace, season 11-12 has been a season of two halfs. The first superb, sitting in the top half, for a while in the play off zone, qualifying for the League Cup Semis. But, come the second period from Jan 2012 it’s been pretty disastrous with four wins from twenty five games, and numerous injuries hampering what had looked initially a promising season.

The crystal girls warming up the crowd on a damp afternoon.

Indeed today was a game of two half’s. Palace competed well in the 1st half with an injury hit team full of square pegs in round holes and lack of experience, scoring a good goal from wonder kid Zaha. Cardiff looked quite hesitant and Zaha was giving their back line no end of problems. Palace fans started to dream of all three points, our first in nine games. Ht 1-0.

Cardiff needed a point to guarantee the play offs. Good turn out from South Wales.

But Cardiff took control in the 2nd, and Palace never seriously threatened to equalise even though Pedroza looked lively when he came on. A pretty impressive Bluebirds turnout of about 3,000 for an early start in foul weather. Cardiff scored direct from a free kick well out near the corner flag from Peter Whittingham, which we wondered how stand in keeper Lewis Price had let go by him, and then they added a second from a cracking fifteen yard volley from Don Cowie in the 62nd minute. The confidence the second goal gave them was evident, and Palace created little in the way of clear cut opportunities after this, with once again Glenn Murray disappointing. 

Palace attacking the Holmesdale in the second half.

Dougie Freedman claimed on the FL show we had “exceeded expectations” this season. I’d suggest with 4 wins from 25 in 2012, most Palace fans would not agree. ‘Met’ expectations maybe, IE, never involved in a relegation battle. Palace fans hope and expect better in 12-13, and more realistic after match comments from Sir Douglas! We have numerous quality young players, including Eng players at U17 and U16 level, as well as current Wales U21 Jonny Williams, Eng U21 Wilf Zaha, with the addition of some more experience added in the summer we remain optimistic. But sadly to finance those signings will probably mean the loss of Natty Clyne to one of the bigger Premiership clubs. We hope for at least five million as he has the potential to be a future England right back.

A grey and depressing Selhurst Park, what happened to the spring?

So leaving my seat in the Holmesdale Stand a few minutes before end of play (I was very confident we wouldn’t score). I was back to my car by two thirty, thus allowing me thirty minutes to do the 7.7 miles to Holmesdale FC at Oakley road, which is near Bromley common.

Thankfully the traffic was not too bad and I pulled up in their small car park, which is reached by a small track from the busy Oakley road, a good 4/5 minutes before kick off. Enough time to pay in, be advised no programme had been produced today, which was very disappointing for a one off tick, and find myself standing by the porch of the clubhouse as the club secretary read out the teams with his roving mic. As is usual, they were read too fast for anyone to actually write them down. This being my major bug bear about all levels of football, surely the most important aspect of any game, is ‘who is playing’. But so often this important information can become secondary to the club telling you all sorts of useless information, then rushing through the team lines as the teams run out.Thankfully today they were read at a sensible pace, but  I still didn’t get all the names, but the helpful secretary was very patient with me as I wrote the missing names down in my book, whilst after giving me a little run down on the history of the club.

Porch to clubhouse and changing rooms at Oakley Road.

Holmesdale FC had been on my radar for a few seasons since they joined the Kent Premier League, but I had always wondered about their club name, as the Holmesdale Road has always been the home end at Palace (“Walking down the Holmesdale Road to see the Palace aces”). These days the Holmesdale is a double-decker seated stand, built in 1995. Prior to that, it had been a very large open banked terrace, in all it’s life since Selhurst was opened in 1924 it had not been covered, always a major issue with Palace fans, for reasons of acoustics and more importantly that if it rained, you got wet!Now the club history you read below, both listed in their programme ( I managed to blag an old copy) and on Wikipedia suggests the club was originally formed in the ‘same’ Holmesdale Road before Palace moved in, by those attending the Baptist church there. Now I’ve been going to Selhurst since 1970 and I’m not aware of any churches directly on the Holmesdale Road, although there is a well known Baptist church on Selhurst Road, which is just down the road from Selhurst station. I suggest in fact, it was from this church the original Holmesdale FC club were formed?

Holmesdale F.C. is an English football club originally founded in the 1920s in South Norwood, London SE25.

The club was re-established in 1956 as Holmesdale Baptist by the 3rd East Surrey Boys Brigade Company. The word Baptist was dropped from the club’s name the following year. In 1987 the club gained promotion to the then named Surrey Intermediate League where after six years the club won the First Division championship, which sealed promotion to the Surrey County Premier League. The following years saw the club progress on and off the field and the club’s home in Oaks Road, Shirley, was developed into a senior status venue. However, the club were not permitted to install floodlights or a licensed bar area due to the ground being under the ownership of the local council.

The decision was made at the turn of the millennium to move to Oakley Road, Bromley.

Oakley Road has a rural feel to it, although only 100 yards or so from a main road, where from the Heath Robinson designed main stand one can occasionally see red London buses, but because it is surrounded by greenery and seemingly farm fields, it could quite as easily be situated in the heart of Kent on the Weald rather than in this northern Kent/south london location.

As the game began in drizzle I slowly ambled around the nearest goal toward the stand opposite. Lingering on the way, and seeing from behind that goal Alfie May scramble in for Corinthian after just seven minutes.

From the only other covered area looking towards he HR stand! Holmesdale in yellow/green.

On arrival at the stand, I became aware of how steep the rake was, and also immediately how wet the sets were! Thankfully tissues came in handy, but these didn’t stop the wind blowing the rain into the stand as the roof really didn’t shelter those of us brave enough to watch from here. What was clear was that Corinthian looked a stronger team so far. I was informed Holmesdale were missing a few regulars due to injury and holidays, but on the balance of the first half Corinthian were a little unlucky to only be one to the good at the break. Corinthian FC in Kent are not to be confused with the famous old London based Corinthian FC who morphed into the present day Corinthian Casuals FC, but Corinthian FC Kent, have an interesting history of their own. And I like their ethos.

Corinthian FC was founded in 1972 by Ron Billings to provide football in a safe environment, whilst teaching the players the principles that he believed to be important in sport.

The motto was simply “pro omnium beneficio”- for the benefit of all, but on the pitch the principles were simple; “Hard, but fair”. Losing wasn’t considered before the game, but if the result went against them then the team were taught to take it graciously.

View from the stand at Oakley Road.

Rather than sit in the blowy and frankly wet stand for the second half I stood opposite for a while before ending up back behind the goal under the shelter. Ryan Johnston added a second for Corinthian in the 51st minute, and one would then assume, game over. But in actual fact Holmesdale bounced straight back with a neat finish from Prescott-Kerr in the 53rd minute, and then spent most of the rest of the half in the ascendancy, without creating an enormous amount of chances, although Corinthian keeper Zack Foster-Crouch made a couple of cracking saves. One when at full stretch pushing the ball onto the post.

This stand was not manufactured by IKEA!

With no let up in the foul weather, Corinthian managed to hold on for the three points to finish 7th in the table and Holmesdale 13th. Corinthian have the added bonus of the Premier League cup final v VCD to look forward to at Cray Valley on bank holiday monday May 7th. On a nice day with good weather, this will probably be a game worth watching. All in all I’d recommend a visit to Oakley Road, but maybe only in good weather, and also suggest you check with them first about a programme if it is important to you!

Side on view of Holmesdale’s unusual structure.

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