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Cray Wanderers 2
Sodje (11'), Jones (47')
0 Kingstonian
Cray Wanderers

Grier's Guide to Cray Wanderers

The match: Cray Wanderers v Kingstonian, Isthmian Premier. Saturday 15 April, 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 hope to move to a new ground at Flamingo Park.

The ground: Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent, BR2 9EF. Perhaps the most characterful stadium in the league after Lewes, Hayes Lane retains an old-school charm that's 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.

Ticket prices: Having been, alongside us, one of the last teams in the league to hold prices to a tenner, Cray have also joined the crowds this season with an increase to £12 for adults. It's £6 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. A 2-1 win last season turned out to be Hayden Bird's last as manager.

Players to watch: Powerful ex-Ks striker Tom Derry has scored 11 goals this season and forms one half of a dangerous strike duo with Danny Bassett (14 goals). Winger Nyren Clunis was Ks' player of the year last season before leaving us over the summer.

Recent form: Just outside the playoffs in sixth. An unbeaten five game run has kept them in playoff contention - especially as their next three games are all against relegation contenders. They defeated Corinthian-Casuals and Herne Bay over the Easter weekend.

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 258.

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 Friday 14th April 2023