Ground Name: Woodside Park Capacity: 4,000 (298 seated) Address: Dunmow Road, Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire CM23 5RG Main Telephone No: 01279 306456 Pitch Size: n/a Team Nickname: Blues or Bishops Year Ground Opened: 1999 Home Kit Colours: Blue and White Official Web Site: http://www.stortfordfc.co.uk About Woodside Park Bishop’s Stortford F.C play their home games at the 4000 capacity Woodside Park which was opened with a game against Norwich City in 1999. The grandstand is covered and all seated with the addition of press facilities and directors box. There is a paddock at either end of the stand with refreshment/wc facilities. Both terraces behind the goals are standing only and are covered. The far side terrace is uncovered. Turnstiles are located at both the town and airport ends of the ground. Access to the club bar is direct from the ground and located off the paddock at the town end. Programmes are available just inside both sets of turnstiles and from the club bar. On the far side, there is a smaller seated stand with a capacity of 200 which was erected during the 2006/2007 season to bring the ground to the minimal League standard. How to get to Woodside Park One of the easiest grounds to find as it is just 3 minutes from the motorway. Exit M11 at Junction 8 for Bishop’s Stortford and Services NOT the Airport! On the M11 roundabout take 2nd exit (1st exit is for the services only). Within 200yds is another roundabout. Take 1st exit. After about 400yds take first right (opposite the golf club) into Industrial Estate and follow the road around to your right. The ground and car park are straight ahead. The nearest station is Bishops Stortford which is on the Liverpool Street to Cambridge line. Fast & frequent services and some Stansted Express trains stop at Stortford station and the journey time is between 35 and 47 minutes (fast or all-stops trains). The ground is a good 20 minute walk from the station, but there is a taxi-rank immediately outside the booking office. How to get a ticket for Woodside Park With average crowds just less than a 10th of the capacity turning up a few minutes to kick off is not a problem for league matches. Admission is £10 for adults, £4 for under 16’s and Lolly sized people are free. Our Last visit – November 2010 Now here was a turn up for the books. Me, in London, on a Tuesday? Well too bloomin’ right. And lo and behold not just one game this week, but TWO! First up was a trip up the M11 to watch the mighty Rooks trying to extend their 3 match unbeaten run under Tim O’Shea at Bishop’s Stortford and then just 24 hours later I was making my long heralded return to Upton Park to see Giggles Grant’s team take on West Brom. Confidence was obviously high in the Rooks camp after their biggest, in fact, only away win of the season at Weston-super-Mare on Saturday. The team had discovered a hard belly, being prepared to fight to the death for their points. Exactly what the team had lacked in previous seasons, but a little over the top after mass brawls against Bromley, Dartford and Weston had resulted in two red cards and countless bookings. Fixtures sometimes seem to conspire against teams, and after the longest away trip of the season to Weston on Saturday, Lewes headed north up the M11 for the 3rd longest road trip just 72 hours later. Despite it being a cold and wet Tuesday night, the number of Rooks who arrived at Woodside Park was surprisingly high. Of course the board were well represented with Mr Marber, Mr Williams, Mr Leith and Mr Dobres all wearing their colours and joining the dozen or so hard core regulars – well they could hardly all fit into Stortford’s compact and bejous boardroom at the same time. A quick turn around at TBIR towers, and a dream journey saw me pull up in the car park in Woodside Park less than an hour later. I headed into the bar and found the Lewes Lunatic Fringe propping up the bar along with Chairman Ibbo, complete with his mysterious Chairman’s bag (similar to Danny Last’s Non League Bag but with added cigars and fine wine). Bishop’s Stortford 1 Lewes 0 – Woodside Park – Tuesday 9th November 2010 Last season when Lewes came to the furthest corner of Hertfordshire the home fans generated some real noise and passion. Bash the Bishop, a member of the clergy who had a big drum and wasn’t afraid to use it, generated some real noise for the “Blue Brazil” but it was sadly lacking tonight. A quick count of the crowd saw varying numbers close but ultimately under 200 (later “official” figures suggested it was 268 although I am sure you cannot count the players as part of the crowd) which was very disappointing. The draw of Lewes at home on a Tuesday night in November obviously didn’t match an evening of Australian Masterchef – what is wrong with people today. The Lewes players looked fit. Not in a FHM Swimwear special way but in an energetic way. They used the ball well, with Murphy in his fancy dan boots providing some tricks down the left. And it was the youngster who came closest to opening the scoring when his well struck free kick hit the foot of the post and rebounded too quickly for Hutchinson to take advantage of, before Hutchinson then saw his header well saved by the Stortford keeper. The response from the LLF was a Marber inspired rendition of “We are Community, I’ve got all my members with me” to the tune of We are Family, although the take up rate was rather muted. Seconds left in the half and a rare slip in the Lewes defence saw a Stortford forward through on goal. Winterton tried to push him wide but clearly took him out. With the home crowd baying for a red it was with relief (and some laughter) that the referee produced a yellow for the keeper. And of course just to rub salt in the Stortford wounds, he proceeded to save the resulting penalty. The second half was a battle of attrition with both teams flirting around the edge of the area. Lewes’s new secret weapon, the “Rory Delap” throw in of Porter caused a few problems but not enough to really worry the Stortford keeper. Twenty odd minutes to go and a rare mix up in the Lewes defence saw Hutchinson dawdle, Winterton hesitate and Stortford’s Duane Jackson pounce to score the only goal of the game. Defeat is not a word in O’Shea’s vocabulary at Lewes and so there would be no beer stops on the way home tonight, which meant that Deaks and Dave had no intention of travelling back on the team coach, opting for Fuller taxi’s back to Bromley. March 2010 – Lewes Question: What do you get for £400 at West Ham United, £250 at Reading, £120 at Lincoln City and £50 in the non-leagues? Answer: To have the privilege to run out onto the pitch as a mascot (children only before anyone gets too excited!) And what do you get for that? Well in the case of Lincoln City, just abouteverything actually..For your £250 at Reading you have to supply your own kit, West Ham you get a copy of Match of the Day on DVD but what about your £50 at the non-league level? Well read on to find out… So this weekend we headed back up the M11 for the battle between two of the worst teams in the Blue Square South based on current form. Bishops Stortford, with just one win from their last six and Lewes, with three draws and three defeats from theirs was hardly impressive form, but for one day the football was taking a back seat. You see since coming to Woodside Park back in September we have had a soft spot for the club thanks to their general outlook on the football world, and we noticed a bargain when we saw one. And so when the whole TBIR family drove into the car park at the ground at 2pm, it was not just to watch the game but to “be a part of it” as Carlsberg would say. For not only was this very blog sponsoring the Match Ball, but the littlest Fuller’s were both mascots. And as an added twist, Lewes official photographer, match reporter and general man in the know, James Boyes, was unable attend so he asked me to pen the details and snap a few snaps. One hat tick, two hats hmm, three hats you what? But four hats. Well with a head as big as old big head himself I decided to give it a go. I will not reveal how much of our hard earnt beer money had to change hands but when I was told by John Turner, the club’s commercial maestro and officially in the “Footballest nicest man” gallery about the deal he could do me, I almost bit his hand off. Christmas presents sorted all round. It wasn’t about the fame and fortune that goes with sponsorship at this level (after all look what happened to Bob Evans Taxi services Ltd when they sponsored Dorchester recently!) but it is about putting something back. John himself welcomed us in, sorted kits out, signed programmes and a tunnel pass before explaining he doesn’t do this to make a profit, but to “see the happy faces of families”. FIFA 5 stars to you John. With the EFW team rolling into town as well with the Lewes Lunatic Fringe it was sure to be an interesting afternoon. The girls were excited. In Lolly’ s case it was same old, same old as this would be her third run out in the middle. Nothing like the big stage as she had previously led out London Irish at Twickenham (aged just 3) and last year England Under 21’s versus France. However, this was all new for Littlest Fuller and her nervous excitement was probably due to the fact she was going to her first ever concert at the O2 for the X-Factor Live at 7pm (oh how I was looking forward to that one). It was also a rare afternoon out for CMF as she is normally on child care duties, but today was enjoying the facilities to the full with an offer from me to act as chauffeur for the day. So after the girls were kitted up and taken to be amused on the pitch by a couple of the Bishops Stortford girls team we were able to enjoy a well earned beer for being “The Best Parents in the World”, apparently. Now there are a few things you never see at football. I have never seen a badger, or a Reliant Robin, or even a photo of Jimmy Saville. But I had also never seen a vicar, complete with his dog-collar on. And outside of football I had never seen a vicar carrying a drum, nor a drummer selling raffle tickets. But here, in the bar was a drum carrying, raffle ticket selling vicar. One for the trivia album! The buzzer sounded and it was time to see the girls big moment. “Just wander onto the pitch if you want to take pictures – the referee wont mind” added John as they walked out…so we did. Stortford had just about accumulated enough points to avoid the drop from the Blue Square South. Essentially, Weymouth were down already, and then it was two from three involving Weston-super-Mare, Worcester City and Lewes. So this game could either keep Lewes’s season alive for a few more weeks, or put the home team 15 points clear of the drop zone. Since our last visit top scorer Charlie Sheringham had driven up the M11 (and along the A14 for a mile) to Histon, leaving the blues without a striker, and it is no co-incidence that since his departure goals had virtually dried up. Bishops Stortford 0 Lewes 0 – Woodside Park – Saturday 20th March 2010 Last week we wrote about our trip to Odense in Denmark under the heading “Never go back”, and that is exactly how Stortford returnee Duane Jackman must have felt as he hobbled off in his first game back at the club after fifteen minutes following a clash with Rikki Banks in the Lewes goal. One became two when they lost a second player a few minutes later. Two substitutions in the first twenty minutes? It had to be Lewes’s day surely. After failing to win a league game away from home for well over a year could this be their day? The team came into the game seven points from safety but with two games in hand and an all important six pointer away at Worcester in a few weeks time, and they certainly tried to play like they meant to win. The Lewes Lunatic fringe stared in disbelief when Walder’s shot skimmed the crossbar and the giant Nick Morgan in the Stortford goal had to make a good save from Jack Walder soon after. The girls busied themselves in the first half by taking pictures and mocking a young Spurs shirt wearing lad who thought it was like something out of The Firm or Football Factory to run across the terrace we were on shouting “You can’t score”, “You are going down” and “You’re not going to score in a minute”…Tell us somethng we don’t know! After a brief half time cup of tea in the boardroom, adorned with the glories of yesteryear, and of course the smiling mug of Jeff Stelling on the wall telling us about the latest scores from the rest of the country it was back out into the action. Danny and Deaks, both sporting fetching TBIR badges for the day had brought their cakes with them and taunted the rest of the away following with “We’ve got cakes, we’ve got cakes, you ain’t”. So what can I remember about the second half? Well it rained, alot. Neither team created a chance until the 75th minute when Stortford’s Reece Prestedge should have scored when set up by a great run down the wing from Pavett but he headed wide and we spotted the Stortford Manager Mark Simpson sporting a West Ham tracksuit top whilst parading around in the technical area with the initials “MD” on, which is a tad strange. Simpson certainly didn’t like the major incident in the second half, going ballistic at the linesman when the referee sent off Ali Abdullahi near the end, not realising that he had been booked already. It was the first time I had heard a manager apologise for his words in a long time. So with time ticking down the final chance to wrap up all three points fell to captain Anthony Barness when his shot from distance through a crowd of players failed to take the necessary deflection and Nick Morgan smothered it well with a host of Lewes players waiting for a mistake. Nil Nil it ended and it hadn’t been a classic on the field, but off it it was a great afternoon out for the girls. After a few handshakes in the boardroom and a quick pork pie we were off down the M11 for a night with the X-Factor finalists. Whatever you do Lewes, “Don’t stop believin'”… If you are desperate for some more, have a read of the EFW day here. Video thanks to Ben Dellows from Bishops Stortford FC Our Last Trip – Bishops Storford 2 Dorchester Town 0 – 19th September 2009 So five weeks after the start of the 2009/10 Premier League season I had the chance to see my first Hammers game. “Unloyal supporter” some of you may chant, but during that period where I had actually seen ten games around Europe West Ham have only played at home in the Premier League once! The game versus Spurs which was moved due to TV clashed with my flights over to Denmark so I had to miss the game (and the Millwall riot too) against our bitter rivals. In that five weeks we had played away on three occasions, and had three international games – brilliant scheduling….and talking of scheduling lets give Transport for London three cheers for chosing this Saturday to do engineering works on the two lines that run to Upton Park and thus no tubes would run close to the ground. Their advice was comprehensive – train to Barking or Forest Gate and then either a 45 minute walk (but they would be putting up extra signs for us bless) or local buses – now they would be run to get on after the game! Lolly and I had been handed a Danny Last Golden Ticket (see his blog for some examples of how he manages to sneak a game in at every opportunity). The West Ham game was not due to start until 5.30pm with Liverpool (TV again!) so we had a chance to get in a 3pm local game….Littlest Fuller was off to Rainbow Roundup at a local E-Coli(we hope) free petting farm, which meant CMF had the day to herself and was treating herself to a day at Ikea. So out came the Famous Fuller Crystal Ball….tempting was the return of the legend that is Julian Dicks at Grays Athletic but I fancied continuing my run of Blue Square South games, and so the mist cleared and we saw Bishops Stortford. Just up M11, only 20 miles and (in theory) 25 minutes from Upton Park, we would have time to see 75 minutes or so of their game with Dorchester Town before heading south. I was keen on this one as goals had certainly been on the agenda at Woodside Park recently – twelve in the past three games including the 5-1 defeat to Bath City. They also had Charlie Sheringham, son of Teddy, leading the line, and he was the leading scorer in the Blue Square South with nine goals so far, including five against Weymouth and a hatrick away at Hampton & Richmond. In keeping with the theme of the day, Woodside Park is also the venue of West Ham United’s reserve team this season. Now there’s an interesting topic. Reserve team football. West Ham had certainly shared around these games in the past using Leyton Orient’s Matchroom stadium, Southend’s Roots Hall, Dagenham & Redbridge’s Victoria Road and Grays Athletic in the past. This season, with more emphasis being put onto the Premier Reserve League the club had done a deal to play in Hertfordshire. Crowds rarely reach three figures despite the quality of some of the players on show. West Ham’s first reserve home game this season, the 6-0 demolition of Birmingham City (at Upton Park) had seen new signings Alessando Diamanti, Manuel Da Costa and Franck Nouble, returning from injury Valon Behrami plus promising youngsters Josh Payne, Zavron Hines and Anthony Edgar…oh and Nigel Quashie! So anyway, back to Bishops Stortford. The neat little Woodside Park stadium (capacity 4,000) sits almost at the end of Stansted Airport’s runway, separated by a golf course and the M11. It is one of the simplest grounds at this level to find – turn left at junction 8 of the M11, past Welcome Break and take 1st right and there you are. What else can I tell you about the club? Members of the Blue Square South since 2004, and almost reaching the Premier in 2007 but lost in the play offs to Salisbury City. Average crowd of around 4,000 and local rivals are Braintree who are a dozen miles straight down the A120. Last season they finished in 9th place and Lewis Smith was top scorer with 12 goals, only 3 more than young Mr Sheringham has already! Two other notable facts for you…. 1. Bishops Stortford played the last “association football league” match of the 20th century when on the 30th December 1999 they beat Chertsey Town 5-3. 2. The club were the last winners of the FA Amateur Cup, joining such esteemed yet now unknown clubs such as Old Carthusians, South Bank, Crook Town, London Caledonians and Middlesborough, in 1974 at Wembley Stadium when they beat Ilford 4-1. After the game the FA decided that the term “amateur” no longer applied to football and took away the trophy in a paddy. Dorchester Town were the opposition for this one, themselves floating around the bottom of the table, and arriving with five defeats in a row on the road, shipping in sixteen goals in the process. So two teams that liked to concede goals – surely this had a nil nil draw written all over it! Another easy journey saw us park up in the car park within 45 minutes of leaving home. A bargain £10 for the two of us, £2 for a programme, £3.60 for two Hot Dogs, £4.00 for a couple of drinks and our customary golden goal tickets (17 and 62 today) beats our £20 budget from last week’s game, again underlining the difference in value in watching football a few divisions lower than the Premier. The only disappointing element for the club must be the attendance – 401, including a visit from Sir Edward of Sheringham, there to see his Charlie (not the same Charlie that everyone seems to be looking for in Amsterdam). It’s a nice neat stadium, perfect for football at this level. The club have those pop up sprinklers which before the game liberally watered the grass. A great idea, but in this case they seemed to spray water over the terraces rather than the goal mouth. That’s fine for those fans in the know, but for fans on their first visit who are busy having a beer and reading the programme it is not so good as I got soaked, much to the amusement of the few fans who were around me (including Lolly). Stortford always looked like the form team. Brayley and Sheringham created early chances before the latter smashed the ball home from 10 yards after an excellent knock down. They then looked to double the lead with the lively Ashley Nicholls creating chances for Bowditch and Sheringham. 1-0 wasn’t a fair reflection on the game but at the end of the day 3 points were the main objective. The second half started slowly, with most of the ball failing to leave the midfield. Dorchester started to come back into the game and they were unlucky not to equalise when a Bishop’s Stortford defender nearly diverted a cross into his own net. The game was competitive but never malicious so it was amazing that the referee decided to send off Dorchester’s Vickers after a mild disagreement with a Stortford player in the penalty area after a free kick had been awarded. One can only think it was for foul and abusive language because most fans could see no other reason. The second goal for Stortford sealed the match and caused us to run back (well stride) into the ground as we were leaving, when substitute Duane Jackman followed in a loose ball in the penalty area. So 2-0, a third consecutive win for the Blues and we were on our way south.