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Wingate & Finchleyv
Wingate & Finchley

Grier's Guide to Wingate and Finchley

The game: Wingate and Finchley v Kingstonian, Isthmian League. Tuesday 13 December, 19:45. Yes, we're actually doing this. Even back in July it seemed bizarre that this had been scheduled for the day of a World Cup semi but undeterred that, and now a national train strike too, the match is still going ahead.

The club: Formed in 1991 by a merger of Wingate FC, a Jewish club established in 1946 with the aim of tackling anti-semitism, and Finchley FC, who traced their roots all the way back to 1874. Margaret Thatcher, then the MP for Finchley, was the club's first patron having been involved in the merger. They've been an Isthmian Premier mainstay since 2011, having secured promotion in the same season as winning a League Cup-London Senior Cup double.

The town: Finchley is a North London suburb where Charles Dickens wrote Martin Chuzzlewit. Wingate is not a place at all but instead is the name of a British Army officer after whom Wingate FC was named.

The ground: The Maurice Rebak Stadium, Summers Lane, Finchley, N12 0PD. The art deco main stand offers a good view despite being set some distance back from the pitch, while one of the goals has a compact, covered terrace behind it.

Directions: It's a mile's walk from West Finchley (Northern Line, just over half an hour from Waterloo) down quiet residential streets, or you can get a bus from either Finchley Central (382) or Highgate (263). Trains will finish early in the evening though so unless you live near to the Tube network, public transport won't be an option for getting home. For those braving the (probably heavy) traffic to drive it's just off the North Circular on the other side of London. The small car park is only for players and officials but there's street parking on the roads around the ground.

Tickets: Throughout the World Cup, they're making entry just £5 with a free drink token included. It's undoubtedly a good deal - given the price of a pint in London these days, they're effectively paying people to attend. Nonetheless given the circumstances the crowd could threaten the record for the lowest ever at a Ks league game (in the 30+ years for which we have records) - 92 away to Witham in 2014.

Our record there: It's a ground we generally have a decent record at, although it was a 3-1 defeat there last season which punctured our unbeaten start to the season.

Players to watch: Former Sutton striker Dylan Kearney has scored 11 for them already this season. They've used 36 players so far as they've struggled to keep a settled side.

Recent form: Just below us in the league table making this an archetypal relegation six-pointer, although they're showing signs of improvement with only one defeat in the last four. They've shown a habit in the past of narrowly escaping the drop, including in 2019 under Spencer Knight's management.

Crowd: That Witham game might be our lowest ever league crowd but visits to Wingate would make up quite a few of the top 10. They don't get big crowds but it's usually a friendly place to go.

Drinking: The Elephant Inn, a Fuller's Pub that also does Thai food, is our usual favourite and worth a short detour if coming from West Finchley. Crucially, it also shows big screen football.

Food: The Great North Leisure Park multiplex has a few fast food options round the corner from the ground.

Published Sunday 11th December 2022