Grier's Guide to Tonbridge
When: Saturday 27 July 2019, 3.00pm
The town: Well-heeled commuter town in mid-Kent. The UK's speeding fine was handed out by Tonbridge Petty Sessions court in 1896, the guilty driver a Mr Walter Arnold of East Peckham who was fined one shilling for speeding at 8 mph in a 2 mph zone.
The ground: Longmead Stadium, Darenth Avenue, TN10 3JF. With a decent, covered terrace at both ends of the ground and covered seating on both sides it was arguably the best ground in the league until Angels got promoted last summer.
Directions: At least a half hour's walk from Tonbridge station, with trains running from Victoria this weekend instead of the usual Waterloo East due to engineering works. The ground, opened in 1980, was a relatively early adopter of the trend since followed by many clubs of being built on the outskirts of town to replace an original ground on prime town centre land. In this case, the original Angel Stadium is now a shopping centre. By car it should take just over an hour from Kingston via the M25 and A25. Parking at the ground is plentiful.
Our record there: Last season we lost a 3-2 thriller, despite scoring twice in first half injury time to wipe out a 2-0 deficit. It proved to be the turning point in our season - the next five league games were also lost and Leigh Dynan's time at the club came to an end.
Recent form: Tonbridge were promoted last year after a bizarre season. They raced to the top of the league early on, collapsed to 11th with one league win in two months, only to fly back up in the closing stages and defeat Hayden Bird's Merstham side in the playoff final and then Metropolitan Police in the "super" final. Their friendly results have included a 2-1 defeat to Sutton, a former club of manager Steve McKimm.
Players to watch: Goalscoring winger Joe Turner made the Isthmian Supporters' Team of the Year last season and as an ex-K our fans know what a threat he is. In fact his best moment in a Ks shirt came at Longmead when he scored after a run from his own half to see us past Tonbridge in the FA Trophy. Defender/midfielder Tommy Brewer, who joined over the summer, is also ex-Ks.
Crowd: Normally around 500 and they often make good noise behind the goal, helped by the covered terraces at either end.
Drinking: Plenty of choice on the High Street, which runs into Shipbourne Lane as you head towards the ground with many pubs along the way. The first you will come to is the Humphrey Bean, a large Wetherspoons. Next is Ye Olde Chequers, a traditional pub in a historic building which is opposite the Gatehouse, a recent refit offering good beer, live sport and cheap food. Fuggles Beer Cafe is next and very much catering to the craft market. Next is the George and Dragon, which is popular with Tonbridge fans and also shows big screen football, and the final pub before you turn off the main road towards the ground is The Royal Oak, another fairly traditional place.
Food: The hearty burgers in the ground have a reputation as among the best in the league. There are plenty of other options in town on the long drag up from the station including The Old Fire Station on Castle Street (which often hosts pop-ups), Fisk and Chips (a chippie near the station) and two Greggses within about a minute's walk of each other.