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Saturday 21st November 2015 ko 15.00

FA Vase 2nd Round

KIRKLEY & PAKEFIELD 1 (Smith 50)

EDGWARE TOWN 2 (Butt 60 Ali 86)

Att 60

Entry £6

Programme £1

As a committeeman at the North Berkshire League, you’d have reason to think I dislike the Eastern Counties League, but I’ll let you dear reader into a little secret- I do like visiting their clubs, and this visit proved why. Like all the other clubs in the ECL I’ve visited, they were an absolute joy to meet and spend some time with.

I suppose any attempt to visit every club in the ECL should start at the league’s most easterly club, Kirkley is a suburb of Lowestoft, and the club’s history is rather entangled with its parent town.

The original Kirkley was founded in 1886, but lasted only 1 year before merging with East Suffolk FC to form Lowestoft Town.  Another Kirkley club was set up in 1889, and played in the North Suffolk League. They briefly became the dominant force in Lowestoft, reaching the FA Amateur Cup semi-final in 1897.

Despite having future FIFA President Stanley Rous playing for them there was a failed attempt to merge them into Lowestoft Town in 1907. They did manage to purchase Walmer Road Recreation Ground as a home in 1896, but folded in 1914 due to the First World War.

The 3rd Kirkley club was founded in 1919, and merged in 1929 with Waveney FC to form Kirkley & Waveney FC. They played with some success in the Norfolk and Suffolk League, but in 1935 they, well you’ve guessed, they merged with Lowestoft Town!

It took 40 years to see the Kirkley name revived. That happened in 1975 when Anglian Combination outfit Brooke Marine who’d moved into Walmer Road decided to change their name to Kirkley FC, but found that route blocked as Lowestoft still owned the rights to Kirkley FC. They opted for Kirkley United, then very slowly dropped the suffix….

They reached the ECL in 2003 and reached the Premier Division in 2005, and in doing so managed to do something all the incarnations of the club has failed to do, actually got to play a league game against Lowestoft Town, drawing 1-each! They merged with Pakefield FC in 2007.

The great advantage of having contacts in the area is that I knew the club would be friendly, but it does take something special for every single person I encountered to be as wonderfully friendly as the last. And if you’re the type of person who tends to visit the chippy before make an exception here, as the cafe’s menu is both extensive, good value and delicious.

On the pitch when it comes to Vase games I tend to take the view that when a team from a geographically isolated league plays a team from a more centrally located one, the former usually wins. That looked especially the case for this game, with Kirkley taking on opposition from a level lower, the Step 6 Spartan South Midlands League Division One. But Edgware Town aren’t a typical Step 6 side…

You’d have to have a heart of stone not to have a soft spot for Edgware. Forced off their iconic White Lion ground by developers in 2008, the club folded, and were only revived at the start of last season playing at the Silver Jubilee Stadium in Hendon, the former home of the now defunct Kingsbury Town. The ground, incidentally is being brought up to Isthmian League standards to allow Hendon FC to share there from next season.

And if you want to see goals then you’d could do a lot worse than watch Edgware. 60 goals in 14 league games is quite an achievement, but the devil was in the detail, “only” 18 of them have come away from home! They are top of their division but the first half followed their pattern of being less than prolific away, and it took Jack Smith’s goal for Kirkley to rouse them.

But rouse them it did, and the introduction of Adem Ali a few minutes later allowed Edgware to move to two up front. The visitors soon equalised and it was only the brilliance of Luis Tibbles in the home goal that kept the score even for as long as it did.

When you visit a welcoming club you want only the best for them, and whilst Edgware probably deserved their win, I’d have loved a draw. Apart from anything else, its been an age since I paid Silver Jubilee Park a visit. Kingsbury Town were at home then..

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