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We're on our way to Bishop's Stortford!

Bishop's Stortford

It's been a long, long, long time since we visited the FA Amateur Cup holders...

Simon Grier continued his guidance of Kingstonian's destinations in the previous home programme on New Year's Day. Here he does his thing concerning our opponents tomorrow, Bishop's Stortford.

The town: Essex commuter town next to Stansted Airport. Although its growth was rapid through the 20th Century it traces its history all the way back to Roman times. In 1825 a number of buildings in the town were set on fire, with threatening letters warning that, "Stortford shall be laid in ashes." A man named Thomas Rees was convicted of sending the letters and was punished by exile to Australia.

The ground: ProKit UK Stadium, Dunmow Road, Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, CM23 5RG. One of the better grounds in the league with a decent main stand, a smaller seated stand on the far side and covered terraces at both ends.

Directions: What should be a straightforward run by train is stopped by engineering works - an 80 minute rail replacement bus from Cheshunt is going to be only for the brave, so most fans will surely be coming by road. It's right by junction 8 of the M11 - turn left at the junction and then immediately left again. The M11 is almost directly opposite Kingston across London, so check the traffic before deciding which way round the M25 to go.

Our record there: The former Isthmian stalwarts used to be a regular opponent and in 23 visits we've recorded seven wins, six draws and ten defeats at Woodside Road. We haven't visited since 2004 though as when Conference South was created Stortford made the cut and we didn't. They stayed at that level until 2017 before eventually being relegated to the Southern League and then transferred back to the Bostik in this summer's restructure.

Players to watch: The only possible answer here can be Jamie Cureton - despite being 43 years old he's the league's top scorer with 14 goals this season and another three in cup competitions. He made his professional debut for Norwich against Everton in 1994, failing to score against Neville Southall in a 0-0 draw. He went on to bag over 200 Football League goals though, most notably for Norwich, Reading and Bristol Rovers. He's now Stortford's joint interim manager as well after Adam Flint quit after their 3-2 loss to us in September.

Recent form: Much improved under the watch of Cureton and his fellow interim Steve Smith, Stortford are up to eighth after a poor start to the campaign. They had reached as high as second but at time of writing three consecutive defeats - admittedly all against tough opposition - have set them back.
Crowd: Much like Ks their crowds are consistently around the high 200s/low 300s mark.

Drinking: Given the public transport difficulties and the ground's edge of town location it might be hard for anyone to do much drinking. The nearest pub is swanky-looking village gastropub The Three Willows while the town centre, about a mile and a quarter from the ground, has numerous options. The Nags Head half way between town and ground looks decent.

Food: The ground is right by Birchanger Green Services, which has options including Burger King, KFC, Subway and Harry Ramsden's, all presumably at greatly inflated prices from what you'd pay on the high street. Otherwise it's a long way from much else so you'd be looking at either a pub lunch or whatever the ground has to offer.



Published Friday 4th January 2019