Last Saturday I joined 11 other Wingate & Finchley fans in a walk for charity from the Abrahams Stadium to Waltham Abbey’s Capershotts ground. We were lucky with the weather, Friday’s rain being just a damp memory on the pavements, and by the time we got to the outskirts of Enfield the sun was trying to break through the overcast and giving some beautiful light for photography. Passing through Enfield Playing Fields, beside the Great Cambridge Road, it was good to see the next generation of footballers playing their Saturday League fixtures. One team were in a strip reminiscent of the Leyton away strip – sad because Leyton FC went to the wall midway through this season 😦
I enjoy a good walk, always something to see and photograph – and I was looking forward to reaching Waltham Cross as I have seen lots of photos of the various buses operating in that area courtesy of a friend on Flickr. Some of them are quite rare types, at least from my London area experience, and I hoped that I would get at least one ‘on film’ as we walked through the area. In particular, I was hoping to capture some of the varied fleet operated by Travel with Hunny (TWH) – must be a Pooh Bear connection there somewhere! – so it was really sweet to photo one of their Alexander Dash bodied vehicles.
We arrived in time for lunch in The Angel – contrived I suspect by our ManU contingent who wanted to watch the match on the tv. But this is McMullens country so I was happy to sit with my back to the screen discussing football, music, etc, and enjoying a nice pint of Cask. The locals are mainly Tottenham fans – it’s a short train ride to White Hart Lane from Waltham Cross – and we had a chat with a couple of them about the origins of Wingate & Finchley and the Leyton-Wingate connection.
Lunch and ManU over, we strolled down to The Abbots Capershotts ground. It’s fair to say that it isn’t the best ground I’ve ever been to though the facilities are adequate. For photographers and goalies alike, the winter sun streaming straight down the length of the pitch is a bit of a pain and both keepers opted to wear caps when at the eastern end. The pitch was in a bit of a state – quite uneven with missing divots from previous matches. Even warming up along the touchline was a bit of an effort, Lewis joking that it felt like he had diving boots on. There was also a lot of mud on the ‘concrete’ standing areas and I was still depositing Abbots Mud in Finchley on Monday morning!
Although The Blues just about had the best of it, playing in our yellow away strip, the game was very even. Gary Burrell scored twice with good strikes only to have the lead pegged back by equally good strikes from The Abbots, the first of which was a beautiful volley by Ryan Maxwell. With around 15 minutes to go it was starting to look like a draw would be the final result.
However, substitutions can change things and this was to be the case on this occasion. As fans we often wonder what is in the managers mind when he takes a particular player off, especially when the player going off seems to be the one who is really making a contribution. The new man was literally that – Murat Karagul, signed from Ware FC during the preceding week and making his Blues debut. The first chance came when a defensive backheader looped over the Abbots keeper, who was running forward to get the ball near the edge of his area. Fastest to the ball was Murat, beating the defender and slotting home from close range. He did get chopped down immediately afterwards but I bet it didn’t hurt as much as it would have if he’d missed 🙂 So, we had the lead and were maintaining the pressure. Murat was on hand again to finish The Abbots off by scoring from close range off a Josh Cooper free kick. A great debut and 8 wins in a row for The Blues.
A quick mention here for our young keeper – Sam Bailey. He couldn’t kick for toffee (Everton or otherwise), which may have been partly down to the state of the pitch, but he put in some good saves and the two shots that beat him were excellent strikes that most keepers wouldn’t have got near. Talking to Gavin in the bar at half time revealed that he hopes to be fit to play again in 6 weeks after breaking his hand despite the club news report that he would be out for the rest of the season. We’ll watch that one with interest.
Anyway, the next game was against Great Wakering over near Southend on a wet Tuesday evening. Weekday matches can be a pain for me to get to – so I wasn’t there to see us lose 3 – 2. The end of the winning run but Murat scored his 3rd goal for the club so he looks to be a good signing at a time when we say goodbye to Chasey who, I understand, has moved to Maldon. Chasey was always fun to watch and a real character so I’d like to wish him well with his new club 🙂
All thoughts expressed are my own and do not represent the views of Wingate & Finchley FC.