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Cray Wanderers 1
Cook (18')
2 Kingstonian
Ajakaiye (20'), Figueira (55')
Cray Wanderers

Grier's Guide to Cray Wanderers

The match: Cray Wanderers v Kingstonian, Isthmian Premier. Saturday 26 March, 15:00

The club: Founded in 1860, they're one of the oldest association football clubs in the world, possibly behind only Sheffield FC of those still playing. In 2008/09 they were our nearest rivals for the Division 1 South title, coming up through the playoffs to join us in the Premier Division.

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 soon.

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 modern 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 that's been closed on our previous visits.

Ticket prices: One of the few teams in the league, other than Ks, to still keep their prices to a tenner. £10 adults, £5 for under 16s, students and over 60s. You can buy them online at https://www.cray-wanderers.com/tickets/

Directions: It's 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 park at the ground. 

Our record there: Our most memorable visit was in the FA Cup in 2005, when we lost 4-1 and both sides were reduced to eight men. Ks saw Mick Brady, Mazin Ahmad and Damien Panter all sent off. Last season Cray was one of the few places we managed to visit before the season was aborted, with the hosts winning 5-1 on a tough opening day for Ks.

Players to watch: Striker Chris Dickson shone for Dulwich as a youngster before bagging himself a move to Charlton Athletic. After a series of loan moves to other league clubs his career took him to  Cyprus and, briefly, China before he returned to non-league football. He's scored ten for Cray since joining in October.

Recent form: Only narrowly above the drop zone but a 3-2 win at Bognor has just broken a run of five without a win.

Crowd: 30 years of ground-sharing isn't ideal for building a big support - a cautionary tale for Ks - but their fans have remained loyal over the years. This season's average is 255.

Drinking: The ground is in a residential area but with a bit of a detour you can go via The Bricklayers Arms, a Shepherd Neame pub with food, Sky Sports and a small outdoor seating area. It's next door to a micropub, The Bitter End, which has a focus on cask and craft ale, as well as an extensive gin menu. The easiest place to go to 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 13th March 2022