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Cray Wanderers 0
0 Kingstonian
Cray Wanderers

Grier's Guide to Cray Wanderers

When: Saturday 15th February, 3.00pm.

The Town: The name comes from the twin villages of St. Mary Cray and St. Paul's Cray, both centuries old but long swallowed up by sprawling London. However since 1988, when they weren't allowed to install floodlights at their own ground, they've shared in Bromley. They've now finally got the go-ahead for a new ground and hope to move in for the 2021-22 season.

The ground: Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent, BR2 9EF. Perhaps the  most characterful stadium in the league, Hayes Lane retains an old-school charm that is largely lost in non-league grounds. There are good sized, steep concrete terraces on the far side and behind one goal - you can imagine excellent atmospheres for big FA Cup ties back in the days when the competition drew truly big crowds. The other end used to have wooden benches at the top of a similar terrace, although that's now been replaced with a modern all-seater stand to keep pace with Bromley's aspirations - they're currently in the playoff zone in the Conference.

Directions: About a 15 minute walk from Bromley South station, reachable either direct from Victoria or with changes at Wimbledon and Herne Hill. A brief ride on any of the 119, 146 or 314 buses can cut down the walk a bit. By car it's in theory no longer than an hour but that very much depends on the traffic, with routes either across South London or round the M25 both prone to heavy traffic. You can usually park at the ground.

Our record there: We frequently locked horns with Cray between 2005 and 2014, as they were in Ryman 1 South with us and then came up through the playoffs the year we won the league. A 4-2 win the day after Boxing Day was a vital result in securing that title win but the most memorable visit was in the FA Cup in 2005. Ks lost 4-1 but more notably both sides were reduced to 8 (eight) men, Ks seeing Mick Brady, Mazin Ahmad and Damien Panter all sent off, the latter for an altercation with Tony Russell, who is now Cray's manager.

Players to watch: Joe Taylor is the league's top scorer with an impressive 29 goals this season, 23 of them in the league. He joined from Margate last season. Winger Jerome Federico had a short spell for Ks under Craig Edwards.

Recent form: Third in the league and after a recent wobble that included a 7-2 hammering at Bognor, they're now unbeaten in eight and top of the league's form guide thanks to an impressive 2-1 win away to league leaders Worthing. 

Crowd: 30 years of ground-sharing isn't ideal for building a big support - a cautionary tale for Ks - and despite their impressive form, their average crowd is just 214.

Drinking: The ground is in a residential area but with a bit of a detour you can go via The Bricklayers Arms, which looks as though it does hearty food and has Sky Sports on TV. It's next door to a small micropub, The Bitter End. The easiest place to go is The Richmal Crompton, a large Wetherspoons opposite Bromley South station.

Food: Again there's not a lot around the ground itself but if coming by train the station is at the bottom end of the High Street so there's plenty of choice.

Published Sunday 9th February 2020