Grier's Guide to Eastbourne Borough
The game: Eastbourne Borough v Kingstonian, pre-season friendly. Saturday 24 July,, 3.00pm kick-off
The club: Formed in 1964 as Langney FC (and becoming Langney Sports in 1968), they didn't join senior football until 1983. They continued to progress through the leagues and renamed themselves Eastbourne Borough in 2001 before becoming founder members of Conference South in 2004. They're still at that level today although they enjoyed a three season spell in Conference National from 2008-09-2010/11.
The town: South coast town with a good-sized beach and a pier, it should be pleasant if the weather obliges. It's perhaps best known for Beachy Head, Britain's highest chalk seacliff, and for its tennis tournament which is long-established as one of the main warm-up events for Wimbledon. The club play in the suburb of Langney, around three miles north east of the town centre.
The ground: Priory Lane, Langney, Eastbourne, BN23 7QH. A decent ground befitting their status as a longstanding Conference club, with cover on all four sides and a capacity of over 4,000
Tickets: Generously priced at just £2 for all - you need to buy them online in advance, get them through their website from here.
Directions: From Eastbourne station buses go reasonably near to the ground (details on Borough's website here), or there should be plenty of taxis. The nearest station is actually Pevensey and Westham, about a 20 minute walk away, although the train takes longer to get there. By car it should be around two hours from Kingston, but potentially a lot longer if the roads are busy with people heading to the beach. There's a good-sized car park at the ground.
Our record there: Our only competitive visit was in 1992 when we drew an FA Cup replay. There was no extra time or penalties in those days so the teams played for a third time the following week, Ks running out 3-1 winners at Kingsmeadow and going on to make the first round proper. We were set to visit again in 2014 when we came back from 2-0 down at Kingsmeadow to be level at 2-2 in a thrilling cup tie, only for Eastbourne to grab victory with a last minute counter-attack when we left ourselves exposed pushing for a winner.
Recent form: Lots of goals to open their pre-season with a 3-2 win over Bexhill United and a 3-3 draw at Folkestone, before going down 1-0 to a Brighton development side. They were in a promising third place when last season's National League South was abandoned.
Players to watch: On-loan goalkeeper Curtis Anderson won the U17 World Cup with England in 2017. Chris Whelpdale bagged 11 goals last season, placing him joint-second in the league. Assistant manager Sergio Torres had a lengthy Football League career and is still playing aged 40.
Crowd: National League fans have been starved of football for even longer than we have, with all bar one of Eastbourne's matches taking placed behind closed doors last season. They'll no doubt be delighted to see live football again.
Drinking: Legal restrictions on hospitality venues will be gone although we can probably expect venues to relax their Covid control measures at different speeds for some time to come. The ground is in a residential area without any pubs but the Farm @ Friday Street is about a mile away and has a large garden. There's plenty more choice in town with a Wetherspoons right opposite the station and four more pubs a short walk away on South Street. With Lewes just up the road, you'll often find Harveys Best on tap.
Food: It wouldn't be a July friendly on the coast without fish and chips; Oysters and Seafare on Seaside Road both have excellent reviews.