On The Road With The Crows….
Next Up: “The Sweeney” of Guildford City FC
Guildford City v Royston Town
Kick Off: 3pm, Saturday 13th April 2013
The Spectrum Football Ground, Parkway, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 1UP
So with the Crows firmly in the play off mix and on top of a resounding victory at Eynesbury Rovers, we pack up our troubles in our old kit back and head off on another visit to deepest darkest Surrey and dear old Guildford.
I know exactly where the stadium lies as we passed it twice in error on our way to Godalming! That day is now a dark memory for me, lovely town, lovely people but not such a lovely result.
Anyhow, so onto a little bit of insight into our hosts….
The Saxon town of Guildford owes its roots to the gap between the North Downs and the River Wey..hey…hey. Nope got it wrong, just the River Wey. Guildford was the home for many years of the Royal Mint. In later years the town became famous for its Olympic size lido (swimming pool to you and me) and the magnificent Cathedral.
Famous residents include the honey that is Jodie Kidd, BBC News reader Michael Buerk and Celia Imrie, who played Miss Babbs in Acorn Antiques. Younger Crows probably have no idea of this fantastically made, quality sitcom of the late 80’s/early 90’s.
The town is also famous for being the home of that fantastic new wave rock group “The Stranglers” with their massive hit “Always the sun “. I am reminiscing now, with the song playing on my PC. I do listen to some very diverse music. Perhaps I’ll play it for you on Saturday? Anything is better than the CD out of Alan’s car! Would you believe he is trying to blame that one onto his children? Shame on you Alan!
The very first club in the town was a junior amateur side simply called Guildford. They were formed in 1877, the year Thomas Edison patented the phonograph, a machine that could record sound. He could have invented something more useful like the light bulb? Hang on… he did! This though was his very first invention. I invented something once, but it wasn’t very good. Anyhow, this Guildford club were known as “The Pinks”.
In 1920, after much discussion in the town about forming a professional club, Guildford United were formed and accepted into the Southern League. Their opening game was in front of 5,000 fans and they won 2-0 against Reading Reserves (They would probably still beat them today on form!).
When Guildford became a Diocese and with it a Cathedral, the club changed its name to Guildford City and played in their familiar red and white stripes. This happened in that wonderful year of 1927. So, an appearance on next seasons Downton Abbey is on the cards then?
The club had several successful runs in the FA Cup, culminating in a 4-2 win against QPR in 1929 (Again, they could probably achieve this today on current “R”’s form!).
In 1938 and 1939 the club became champions of the Southern League with another defeat of Reading in the FA Cup. The following year they were runners up to Colchester United by an inchy binsy one point. This successful period of the clubs history was brought to an end by the outbreak of War.
During the War, as Uncle Albert would say, the ground was extensively used for top secret military purposes! Wonder what those were? So they could not rejoin the Southern League until 1946.
In 1952 the club now in deep debt sold their best player Jimmy Langley to Leeds United for a then record £2000. Wur Jimmy eventually played for Fulham and won 3 England caps. Oh what might have been if he had stayed at the City.
In 1959 the Southern League was revised (how many times has that happened?) and “The Sweeney” da de da da, were placed in the First Division. Former Chelsea coach Albert Tennant took over and led them to promotion.
In 1963, the club won the Southern League Cup defeating Nuneaton 2-1 over two legs.
Yet again, financial issues dogged the club and after severe budget restrictions the club ended up in 16th place. So financial issues in football clubs are not a new thing then. You would have thought that many clubs would look back at history and learn.
Further great cup runs followed including a defeat of Brentford in 1968 in front of 7,500 fans. Custodian Peter Vasper was sold to Norwich City to ease their financial burden, but their plight was far worse than they could possibly imagine.
In 1969 the club were relegated from the Southern Premier and their Joseph Road ground was sold.
With a new board of Directors in place, there were high hopes for the future. They decided to merge with local rivals Dorking. Their last ever match at Joseph’s Road was against Folkstone in front of 625 fans. In effect, senior football ended in the Town and would not be realised again until 2004.
AFC Guildford played in the combined counties league and won promotion from Division 1 in 2004. At this point they were ground sharing with Cranleigh FC. Later on this year the club returned to the Spectrum Leisure centre.
In 2005 the club changed its name to Guildford United FC (We are getting there Crows, I promise you) but changed it again very shortly too Guildford City. YAY after 30 years and several left turns, across roundabouts and a three point turn (Which I’m not very good at doing!) The name had returned to the City!
Last season was a fantastic one for the club. They captured the Combined Counties League title by a point from Windsor.
This season, like us, they are determined to make their mark in this league.
Their Season So Far
A brief spell as league leaders was brought to a halt by the Crows in November last year. Unfortunately for the Sweeney, their play off ambitions are almost out of sight, but it has been a fantastic season for the returning Guildford City.
Their stats read won 19, drawn 5 and lost 13. The opponents' onion bag has been breached 75 times and their keeper beaten 62 times. Their defence is the worst in the top half of the division.
Last time out saw the Sweeney heartbreakingly defeated in injury time by Beaconsfield Syco’s (Sorry SYCOB’S) by a score line of three goals to two. Romeo got the winner deep in stoppage time, so not much love there then!
At home they have a pretty good record against the top sides. They held much fancied Godalming Town on Easter Monday and beat leaders Rugby 2-1. On Saturday the Crows will definitely not have it all their own way!
Ones to Watch
Although they have a leaky defence, they are totally potent in front of goal, so here we shall start.
A signing from Croydon Athletic in 2011 Dan Moody is a winger with the taste of goals. 25 goals for Danny boy so far this season, he found the net 32 times last year and won the Supporters player of the year. Deadly from a spot kick, his pace can cause problems in even the top teams defences. This lad is definitely one to watch.
With 9 goals to his name this season, forward Joel Hughes will give Msr’s Jason and Joe (Yep fellow Crows, Jack Bradshaw is suspended for this one) something to think about. The former Holmesdale, Lingfield, East Grinstead and Erith Town target man is not afraid to get stuck in. Also effective in wide positions, he is extremely skilful on the ball and commanding in the air. Second spell for Lil Joel at Guildford City.
In midfield there is nothing Junior about Junior Kaffo. Standing at 6ft 4ins this lad is well taller than your Jez (mind you that’s not difficult is it now?) A new signing this year, this lad has plenty of experience with Walton & Hersham, Dulwich Hamlet and Whyteleafe (Wonder if there is a team called Brownleafe?)
Former Scunthorpe United favourite Kevin Rayner is the current incumbent in the Guildford City hot seat. Kev started out at Chelsea before joining the Iron of Lincolnshire. Former manager of Farleigh Rovers (yep, never heard of them either), he moved onto Carshalton Athletic and then Croydon Athletic. In 2009 he joined Guildford City and led them to their most successful seasons of recent times. Just like our Paul, Kevin does amazing things behind the scenes. He lives and breathes Guildford City. Kevin, we salute you and well done to the Board of Guildford City. You put Chelsea and their trigger happy owner to shame.
Have We Met Before?
We did play Guildford & Dorking FC many years ago in a pre-season friendly, but no-one can remember the score. However, our first competitive meeting was in November last year in the pouring rain at Garden Walk. The Sweeney faithful sang their hearts out and the cheetah and dolphin played their part in a thoroughly entertaining match. The result went in favour of the Crows with a 3-2 win courtesy of goals from Carl Edwards, Ryan Lockett and Ross Colins. The Sweeney scorers were Dan Moody and Ben Raynor. Attendance that day was a healthy 207.
How To Get There?
Signposted from A3, follow signs to ‘Leisure Centre’. There is usually plenty of free parking within a very short walk of the ground. Please use the Spectrum Leisure Centre car park – the underground car park is closest to the entrance.
This also made me chuckle….. Please contact the club if you wish to land by Helicopter!
Match Day Information
Under 16’s: £1.00
Important Notice: Season ticket holders of any club and Armed Forces personnel showing their ID card will receive half price entry.
Food & Drink
Still waiting a response on how much tea, burgers and programs are, but they do sell the award winning Hogs Back. Lovely stuff (Shame I am driving). Might ask Matt if he could bottle some of it for me!