Grier's Guide to Leatherhead
The match: Leatherhead v Kingstonian, Isthmian Premier. Saturday 1 January, 15:00.
The club: Long-standing Isthmian stalwarts and rival of Ks. They're synonymous with Chris Kelly, 'The Leatherhead Lip', who starred as they reached the fourth round of the FA Cup in 1974-75. He later played for Ks before becoming manager and then chief exec. The rivalry between the two clubs was enhanced in 1985 when we pipped them to promotion when they were deducted three points for fielding an ineligible player.
The town: Smallish town in Surrey which made a pleasant temporary home for us in 2017/18. Local residents include the actor Michael Caine.
The ground: Fetcham Grove, Guildford Rd, Leatherhead, KT22 9AS. With covered terraces at either end as well as all down one side it's a decent ground for this level, with an asymmetric and slightly chaotic character to it. The facilities are good and we were warmly welcomed during the season we played there.
Directions: The 465 stops close to the ground, taking about 45 minutes from Kingston via Surbiton and Chessington. It should be running a Sunday service, which means there's only one an hour, leaving Cromwell Road at 25 past the hour. The station isn't on a line to anywhere in the RBK but you can change at Raynes Park. There's a good-sized car park at the nearby leisure centre.
Our record there: It's fair to say Fetcham Grove was not a happy hunting ground when we shared there, with Leigh Dynan regularly getting frustrated by its boggy playing surface. Our last visit was in February 2020, shortly before Covid first reared its ugly head, with Gus Sow scoring in a 1-1 draw.
Tickets: £12 adults / £8 concessions / £5 U16s / U12s free. You can buy them online here (with an extra booking fee) or on the turnstiles.
Players to watch: There's been a lot of change in their squad already this season with 59 players used so far, and only forward Alexander Sami and midfielder Craig McGee playing more than 15 times. Recent signing Matthew Bentley bagged three goals in his first three games and defender Hamilton Bunga had a brief spell at Ks in Alan Dowson's last season.
Recent form: Currently propping up the league table and advertising for a new manager, it's been a difficult season for the Tanners. But they've just had a major confidence boost by coming from 3-1 down to win 4-3 at Potters Bar.
Crowd: The derbies with Ks tend to pull in a good crowd - Leatherhead have a reasonable-sized support and we tend to travel well there ourselves.
Drinking: At time of writing (18 December) it's not really clear whether pubs will be allowed to open in full, outside only, or not at all. The Running Horse, five minutes' walk from the ground, is undoubtedly the pre-match favourite with Ks fans. The welcome is warm and it offers good food at a reasonable price, Surrey Hills beer on tap and a big beer garden. It dates back to 1403 and legend has it that Queen Elizabeth I once spent the night there when flooding made the River Mole impossible to cross.
Food: The Five Rivers on Bridge Street is an excellent curry house with good service and an interesting menu. The food in the ground is decent too, including the gourmet burger.