Isthmian League Division One South
Stompond Lane, Walton-on-Thames
Match Rating: 2
Coming into this season, I had just two more grounds to tick off - both in Walton-on-Thames, and having ticked off Walton Casuals' Waterside Stadium on the first day of the season, today I decided to return to the town to tick off the off ground in Walton-on-Thames. A good job that I did, as it has recently been announced that plans are being accelerated for both grounds to be consigned to history as the local Council looks to redevelop Stompond Lane for housing and build a new stadium for both of the town's football clubs close to Walton Casuals' existing home.
Stompond Lane is about a 15 minute walk from Walton on Thames railway station, and evoked some love-hate feelings inside me. Much of the ground exudes old-fashioned character, and hasn't really been upgraded / updated for decades, apart from the odd lick of paint. One enters the ground through a turnstile block, and then there is a programme hut, snack van and the clubhouse in an open area before one approaches the ground itself, and the imposing main stand, which offers excellent elevated views of the action - arguable the only place to gain such good views, as the pitch is surrounded by an athletic track. Never a popular feature at any football ground, at least the track is narrow and the perimeter fence closely borders the track, so views are not as distant from the lengths as they are at some grounds doubling up with its football and atheltics facilities. The stand has a mixture of bench seating and seat tops placed on the benches, and views are slightly obscured by pleasantly old fashioned floodlight pylons. Either side of the stand are grassed banks, with a small amount of grassed terracing to the side where the entrance is. Along the other length is a lovely, old-fashioned stand spanning the entire length - but it is now inaccessible to spectators, with green boarding along its entire front, as it has been condemned as unsafe, although one can watch from the now narrow path along this length. Behind one of the goals, some nice old fashioned covered terracing stretches around the crescent, although it is not a place to watch the action from, so distant would one be from the pitch and with athletics equipment in the way. Behind the other goal is just a walkway, so even less appropriate to watch the action from. Despite its athletics track, it is a ground that has some old-fashioned character, and so will be a miss when it is demolished in the not too distant future. The programme was fairly standard fare for this level of football, but adequately informative.
With less than seven miles separating the two clubs, this was very much a local derby between, on paper at least, two very average teams. Walton and Hersham went into this game in 14th place in the 24 team division, with nine wins and two draws from their 22 games, two points and four places behind today's visitors, who have played a game more. These two clubs have already played each other this season, with Corinthian-Casuals winning 2-0 back in mid August.
Ahead of kick-off, both teams assembled for a joint "Football Remembers" photo to mark the 100 year anniversary of the unofficial ceasefire on Christmas Day during World War One, when British and German soldiers played an impromptu football match against each other. Following the recent prolonged rain, beautiful clear skies appeared today, although with that brought very cold conditions, with the overnight frost still evident along the length of the condemned terrace stand. So the apparently slippery conditions, and a pitch that did not look in the best of conditions anyway, probably contributed to a game that was low on quality, littered with poor control and aimless passes. Walton and Hersham did look the more threatening of the two sides though, and took a deserved lead on 28 minutes when a high ball into the box was misjudged by a defender, and Andrew Mensah tucked the ball home low inside the near post. Corinthian Casuals occasionally looked threatening in rare forays forward, and just before half time they couldn't quite force the ball home after the home keeper failed to hold on to the ball coming in from a corner.
The second half was possibly a slight improvement on the first half's fare, and similarly just about deservedly, the home side doubled their advantage in the 68th minute. A ball over the defence sprang the offside trap, allowing Dylan Cascoe to run through on goal and after fleetingly toying with the keeper, shot into the net from the edge of the area. Although the visitors had a couple of shots that went just wide of goal in the second half, Walton and Hersham held on fairly comfortable for the three points which lifts them above Corinthian Casuals, and into 12th place.