Raynes Park Vale 3 Westfield 0
I have a history with Raynes Park having almost got there once before, but not quite. The story goes like this. I had planned to visit Chessington & Hook only on arrival at the ground to discover that the match had been rained off. A couple of other hoppers were there & one suggested we re-rout to Raines Park as he knew the way. We hurried to the station & caught a train with just enough time to make the game. We left the station at Raynes Park and our leader led the way with a purposeful stride. After about 10 mins, he ground to a halt and announced that we had gone the wrong way. We re-traced our steps and set off down another road. A recreation ground loomed with just 2 minutes before kick-off but once again proved to be the wrong location. I trudged home despondent at having a wasted Saturday. On getting home, I discovered that the match had been called off anyway. Only on this trip did I realise how we Had Gone wrong. The Londonbound platform & Surreybound platform are about 200 yards apart and have different exits. I’m guessing that our leader set off to find the ground thinking he was at the exit he had used before, but he wasn’t! Anyway, I have had a bee in my bonnet ever since wanting to get this ground ticked off. As I was due at a silver wedding party in the evening, I couldn’t go far & Raynes Park fitted the bill perfectly.
On leaving my station, I was standing next to a hen party group with the bride fitted with a veil, L plates & badges. I was tempted to follow to them to see what they got up to but the bridesmaids & bride only looked about 14 years old. There was the usual bundle for seats on the train & I boarded a carriage with a first class section in the middle. This was deserted as usual apart from one person. At the next stop, a bunch of people got on and many of them sat in the first class area. Needless to say a ticket inspector arrived just as many of those seated were leaving the train. It left an Asian couple & another Asian lady. The inspector checked the tickets and promptly fined the couple for having the wrong ticket much to their disgust. The lady spent most of the time ignoring the fact that she was in the wrong & instead, asking why nobody else was fined. She pointed at the lady sitting alone who was then also fined. What a classy act – Not!!
On arrival at Raynes Park, I went on the hunt for food. I was on the verge of selecting a chippy, when I spotted an arch through to more shops. I decided to have a look and came face to face with the Raynes Park Tavern. I went in to check-out the menu and immediately saw a blackboard advertising a 5oz rump steak with chips, tomato & peas for £3.25. I ordered this before having second thoughts and it arrived promptly and was great. Washed down with an IPA, I took an immediate liking to this place. I found the entrance to the ground easily enough which is next to an enormous playing field. I counted nine football pitches which all had games going on. When one game finished on a pitch, another started. I sat there on a warm day for about 45 mins thinking that I was probably entitled to tick off 9 new grounds!
Raynes Park Vale’s ground itself is looking a little in need of repair. There are broken hoardings, ripped netting & hoes lying around all over the place. Despite all this, I kind of liked the place. There is a covered stand with bench style seating, a clubhouse in a portakabin with a bar and tea, coffee & filled rolls that had been poured and prepared in advance of half time. Brilliant! The pitch has an end to end slope but looked in quite good condition.
The game itself was Premier against first division as two Combined counties teams clashed. Raynes Park were always the better side despite looking potentially vulnerable to a counter attack in the first half. Raynes Park got a goal after 15 mins and then another two in the second half that killed the game off.
I went home delighted to have got the Raynes Park monkey off my back and what a great day I had.