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Metropolitan Police

Grier's Guide to Imber Court

When: Saturday 5 December, 3.00pm

The club: Formed as a works club for London's police force but they've long abandoned the policy of requiring players to be police or civilian staff. Their honours include three Surrey Senior Cups.

The town: Representatives of London but playing just outside the capital in a residential area around the borders of Esher, East Molesey and Thames Ditton.

The ground: Imber Court Sports Club, Ember Lane, East Molesey, KT8 0BT. It has a decent main stand and a shallow covered terrace behind one of the goals. Given the closeness to Kingston and how often we've played there over the years, it's hard to imagine there are many regular Ks fans who have never been. 

Ticket prices: TBC, though their pre-season friendlies were £5..

Covid security: Even at the best of times, Met Police home crowds don't trouble the maximum permitted 600 so there shouldn't be trouble getting in. Tickets were sold on the turnstiles before lockdown, so assume the same unless they announce otherwise. Security measures include a compulsory track and trace form, and social distancing markers within the ground.

Directions: From Kingston, head to Hampton Court and then past the Tiffin sports ground, turning right at the roundabout. Thames Ditton is the nearest station but it's also walkable from Esher, Hampton Court and, at a push, Hinchley Wood. From Kingston the 411 bus goes reasonably near as well.

Our record there: Generally not good, with our last visit being a 5-3 Surrey Cup exit under Kim Harris' caretaker management as the 2018-19 season unraveled. We've lost three cup finals there in recent years as well as many league games.

Recent form: The former Isthmian stalwarts were deeply unhappy when the non-league restructure of 2018 saw them moved to the Southern League, in part because it was the catalyst for their long-serving Essex-based manager Jim Cooper to leave the club. The switch doesn't seem to have done them much harm though - they almost went up in 2019 but for losing the 'super playoff final' and now they're in contention for promotion again, sitting fifth in the league.

Players to watch: Attackers Max Blackmore and Jack Mazzone both offer a strong goalscoring threat, including between them managing all five goals in that win over Ks - two for Mazzone and a hat-trick for Blackmore.

Crowd: The Met are not known for having a large or vocal fanbase but given the closeness to Kingston it's usually a ground that we travel to in good numbers.

Drinking: It's pretty hard to keep up with the rules around this but with them playing in Elmbridge, which like Kingston will be tier 2, I think that means you can only go to the pub indoors within your own household; outdoors following 'the rule of six'; and eating a 'substantial meal' will be mandatory. Marneys Village Inn between Esher and the ground, and The Swan and The Albany by the river in Thames Ditton, all serve food and have good-sized outdoor areas if you can brave the December cold. Marneys and The Swan have confirmed reopening dates before Saturday, The Albany is taking bookings online but at time of writing hasn't explicitly confirmed a reopening date.

Food: Other than the pubs there's not much else particularly near the ground without doing a detour, and the latest FA restrictions seem to prohibit clubs from opening their burger bars at the ground.

Published Tuesday 1st December 2020