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Ten Sixty-Six and All That

On The Ning Nang Nong

On the Ning Nang Nong

Where the cows go bong!

And the monkeys all say Boo!

There’s a Ning Nang Nong

Where the trees go ping!

And the tea pots Jibber Jabber Joo.

On the Ning Nang Nong

All the mice go Clang!

And you just can’t catch em when they do!

Spike Milligan (1918 – 2002)




Monday 11th August 2014   Ryman Isthmian League   k.o.:- 7.45pm

Division 1 South

Hastings United                                               1

Frankie Sawyer 73,

Whitstable Town                                             1

Jake McKenzie 78,

Referee:- Simon Finnigan                       Attendance:- 445


This was a special occasion match. Chris had carefully choreographed his last few visits to new stadia so that he could accommodate Hastings United on the occasion of his 1,066 new ground. When I was a lad, the then equivalent of today’s “Horrid Histories” was a tome entitled “1066 and All That” which had been written in 1930 by WC Sellar and RJ Yeatman – initially as a series of articles in ‘Punch ‘ magazine.

This was a parody of English history from The Romans to the end of WW1 and included a surfeit of glorious errors such as The Disillusion of the Monasteries and Broody Mary. There was also reference to The English Civil War where the Royalists were ‘Wrong but Wromantic’ and the Roundheads were ‘Right but Repulsive’. On a Shakesperean note, ‘The Split King’ was Henry IV – parts one and two!

Enough of this nostalgic nonsense, Chris drove down to Hastings with Jack and Graeme and me and in appalling traffic, the journey took nearly seven hours! I’m not entirely sure that the choice of  anti-clockwise round the M25 past Heathrow and Gatwick, rather than across the bridge over the Thames at Dartford, was the shorter or quicker route! Suffice it to say, we left Lutterworth at 11.30am and it was 6.00pm when we arrived at Elphinstone Road in Hastings, which, apparently, is in East Sussex and not in Kent, as I had thought!


The ground is pretty impressive. The large old stand which looks Victorian but which was actually built post war, could probably seat 1,000 spectators and there was cover behind both goals. At one time, there had been speedway racing at the stadium, but local opposition eventually killed it off. There was a lot of land around the ground and, I should think, plenty of scope for development if any future success demanded it!


Presently, however, they are languishing in the lower reaches of The Ryman Isthmian League and there is a substantial incongruity between the stature of the ground and the status of the team!


We were right royally welcomed. Chris had e-mailed the club and received replies from no less than four separate sources, including one from the groundsman who intimated that should the game be called off because of the ground being unfit, that he would eat his hat …………. well, he would if he had one! We were soon spotted loitering at the entrance and invited into the boardroom for tea/coffee and cheese and biscuits. A team sheet was provided for us and just before the match, were repaired into the bar for drinks. There was a wide selection of (bottled) real ale and Jack and I sampled that whilst Chris stuck to coke and Graeme, abstemious as ever, to a half of lager  shandy!


 Graeme and Chris before the match


Jack, on ornithology watch, catches a cracker! 


This was my first visit to Elphinstone Road, but I had made a visit to tonight’s visitors, Whitstable Town, at The Belmont ground (Saturday 29th September 2012 FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round: Whitstable Town 2 Harrow Borough 0 attendance:- 161). Both teams had won their opening fixtures of the league season, but there was a gulf in class between the two clubs, Whitstable’s derivation being the Kent and Aetolian Leagues whilst Hastings had been heavyweights in The Southern League (champions in 2001/02) and the expectation amongst the four of us was that Hastings would have a reasonably easy victory.


Half-time came and went with neither keeper being seriously disturbed. During the interval, Chris was invited onto the pitch for an interview (see below) and when he explained about the 1,066 grounds, some of the home fans around us suggested, quite erroneously, that he ‘couldn’t be married’. Obviously they have an alternative view of marital bliss in this part of the world!


The deadlock was finally broken after 73 minutes when Frankie Sawyer, who had earlier spurned at least four half decent opportunities, skated round the right back, cut in and fired low and true past the visiting keeper!

Hardly five minutes later from a corner at the opposite end, Jake McKenzie powered a header through the goalkeeper’s despairing arms and into the net. Once again, the teams were level and that was how it was destined to stay.  To be honest, a draw was a fair result.

We drove home amidst flashes of lightning and bursts of thunder with occasional, but prolonged, lashings of precipitation. The A21 was closed just outside Hastings, The M25 and The M1 had double lane closures, but nothing deterred the smooth and steady return journey to Lutterworth. It had been a pretty impressive experience. Chris had chosen well, but what will be his next landmark? Perhaps number 1215 and The Magna Carter at Runnymede?



St Leonards Stamcroft FC 

Before we entered Pilot’s field, home of Hastings United, we went for a wander next door at The Firs, the former home of St Leonards FC. They were founded in 1971 and rose to the dizzy heights of The Southern League Premier Division during a thirty year period which ended with mounting debts and resignation from the Southern League and the club eventually folding in the middle of the 2003/04 season whilst struggling in The Sussex League.


The ground is now defunct and impossible to gain access to. Part of the area has been turned into a five a side football court and the old club house now acts as a changing facility. Above, you can see the trees and bushes growing along the front of the stand which ran down the side of the pitch.

It had been a long day., but well worth it! I’m due down in this part of the world for a holiday in a few weeks time. I think we’ll travel overnight!!!!

Matches this season:- 21    New Grounds:-  14

Matches this year:- 141      New grounds:- 94




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