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Hastings United 1
Gbode (44' pen)
0 Kingstonian
Hastings United FC

Grier's Guide to Hastings United

The match: Hastings United v Kingstonian, Isthmian Premier. Tuesday 13 September, 19:45

The club: Founded in 1893 as Rock-a-Nore, they changed their name to Hastings & St Leonards and then Hastings Town, before becoming Hastings United in 2002. They're back in the Isthmian Premier for the first time since 2013, having won Division 1 South East last season.

The town: 1066 and all that, although the actual site of King Harold getting one in the eye is a few miles north in the village of Battle. Hastings itself is a fairly large seaside town. The seafront has a large stony beach, a pier, amusements, two furniculars and no fewer than three crazy golf courses. The old town has bags of character, including a wealth of pubs, cafes and independent shops. It's a great day out and it's a shame the fixture computer has wastefully put it on a Tuesday.

The ground: The TGS Pilot Field, Elphinstone Road, Hastings, East Sussex, TN34 2AX. If you like old-school grounds it's the best in the league by far. The large main stand, with its sloping roof and supporting pillars, is reminiscent of Richmond Road's and there's a great terrace behind one of the goals. It used to host speedway and you can still see where the track used to be, meaning there's a bit of a distance to the pitch in places. They have on-again-off-again-on-again plans to move to a new, more modern stadium - while it will no doubt bring benefits to both the club and the community in terms of its facilities, it's hard to imagine it will have Pilot Field's character.

Directions: Trains take the best part of two hours from either Clapham Junction or Waterloo East and unfortunately they don't run late enough to get you back to Kingston after the game. The drive might take around two hours on the M25 and A21. The ground doesn't have a car park so you'll need a find a space in the streets nearby.

Tickets: £12 adults; £8 concessions; U16s free

Our record there: Not much better than Harold's. Two lowpoints stand out: a 3-3 draw to slip out the playoffs on the last day of the 2005-06 season; and an FA Cup exit in 2018 when we only managed to name one outfield substitute.

Recent form: Having comfortably won their division last season they've made a slower start than we might have expected, currently sitting 16th in the league on five points. Two goals from ex-K Dan Bennett saw them go out of the FA Cup 3-0 to Cray Valley.

Players to watch: Ben Pope's 22 league goals were crucial to Hastings' title success last year. Midfielder Knory Scott is a full Bermudan international.

Crowd: You might remember them as having similar crowds to our own but they've since been completely rejuvenated, with their success capturing the town's imagination and crowds regularly topping 1,000. It will make for a tough atmosphere for Ks.

Drinking: If you have the time, the best pubs are mainly in the old town where there's a mix of good beer and characterful buildings. Standouts include the First In Last Out, the Crown and the Cinque Ports. The Imperial is a good brewpub roughly on the (long) way from Hastings station to the ground, while there's also a group of pubs including a Wetherspoons near the station.

Food: Hastings is a large town so there's plenty of choice. There's a few chippies near the crazy golf at the bottom of the old town, while Half Man Half Burger! brings a bit of Shoreditch to the south coast. It serves tasty burgers and craft beers within a ramshackle set of buildings that hosts a diversecommunity of small businesses including a salvage yard, a boatworks, and art and dance studios. It's a couple of minutes' walk from The Imperial.

Published Wednesday 7th September 2022