Grier's Guide to Bishop's Stortford
When: Wednesday 1st January, 3.00pm
The town: Commuter town next to Stansted Airport on the Herts/Essex border. 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 best grounds in the league with a decent main stand, a smaller seated stand on the far side and covered terraces at both ends.
Directions: Bank holidays are normally for derbies so it's not really clear why we've been paired with an opponent on the other side of the Isthmian map. It's around 35 minutes from Liverpool Street and then a mile and a half's walk to the out of town ground, with the local buses appearing not to run on New Year's Day. South Western Rail's strike will still be ongoing to compound the public transport difficulty. By car 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. You can park at the ground but it's £2 a car, on top of a £12 entrance fee.
Our record there: The former Isthmian stalwarts used to be a regular opponent and in 24 visits we've recorded eight wins, six draws and ten defeats. Last season we turned in a highly impressive performance to win 3-0 and go second in the league, giving the fans a real belief that promotion could be a possibility. Sadly there can have been few more dramatic collapses in non-league history as what followed - Ks lost their next six, Leigh Dynan was sacked and we barely avoided relegation.
Players to watch: The only possible answer here can be player/manager Jamie Cureton - despite being 44 years old he's still leading the line and has scored 12 this season. 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.
Recent form: Very much midtable but at time of writing they've won their last three games, overcoming Cheshunt in the league and East Thurrock in both the league and the Velocity Trophy.
Crowd: Much like Ks their crowds are consistently around the high 200s/low 300s mark.
Drinking: The nearest pub is the Nags Head, a large chain pub that does decent value food. The Belgian Brewer make their own Belgian-style beers just a few minutes' walk from the ground but sadly their taproom is only open on Saturdays. One to bear in mind for next season, maybe.
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're looking at either a pub lunch or whatever the ground has to offer.