The Atspeed Stadium

Ground No. 151
Visited - Saturday 15th March 2008
Result - Horsham 2-1 Ashford Town (Mx)
Competition - Isthmian League, Premier Division
Attendance - 486

A relatively small, south-east town, Horsham is notable for two things, firstly, and on a somewhat gruesome note, as the last place in England where pressing was used as a punishment for criminals, but secondly (and probably only in groundhopping circles), as having the two closest senior grounds in the country, with Horsham YMCA’s Goring’s Mead ground backing right on to the larger, more developed Atspeed Stadium. It is a claim somewhat disputed by Blackpool Wren Rovers and Squires Gate, who’s grounds also stand side-by-side, but it’s a worthy claim all the same with the two grounds makings the two Nottingham teams look on opposite sides of the city in comparison. 

This situation isn’t to last though, with Horsham looking to move away from their historic Queen St ground after selling it to developers, with plans to move to a shiny new stadium afoot. So I was determined to get down there, having chosen their game against Ashford Town (Mx), mainly thanks to being able to get cheap train tickets for just £8.60 each way (note the Mx in brackets after Ashford Town stands for Middlesex to differentiate them from the Kent club of the same name).

Part of the deal with the cheap single advance tickets is that you are restricted to the trains you can catch, and invariably they’re mainly available on trains that are at silly hours, so I had to set out stupidly early, leaving the house at 5:30am to start the long journey down to Sussex, arriving at 10:30am after a fairly pleasant, straight forward trip with changes in Reading and Dorking.

Having arrived in the town, I made my way down to the grounds, getting in both to take pictures, firstly Goring’s Mead – pics here, before Horsham’s ground. From the outside, it is a little difficult to spot, set back from the main road down a small driveway between local businesses, but once there, the first thing that greets you is the side of the Main Stand, with the clubs name and the date it was built underneath a small sculpture of a footballer. The stand itself is a classic non-league grandstand, centred on the halfway line and providing covered seating raised above pitch level, with the dressing rooms underneath. The far end is uncovered terracing, although interestingly it does appear to have perhaps been covered at one point, with rear and side walls enclosing it. The near end is hard standing, whilst the pièce de résistance is on the far side where there is a sizable covered terrace running for the length of the pitch, with a pitched roof that dates back to the 1940’s.

Having taken a few pics, I made my way back to the town to spend the few hours until kick-off looking around before a mini-pub crawl, ending up in the Queens Head opposite the ground (well recommended) to watch the Italy-Scotland six nations Rugby match, which finished just nicely at 2:45pm, leaving me enough time to make my way across the road for the match, coming in just as the teams were getting ready to come out, which unusually was with the two teams making separate entrances onto the pitch, from either side of the Main Stand. 

The game started off at quite a pace, Horsham hitting the post in the first minute, before scoring in the third when Danny Davis deflected the ball into the net after good work from Lee Farrell who did most of the work to give the number 8 the chance to open the scoring. Their lead wasn’t to last though, and Ashford equalised on 19 minutes, when Gavin Smith, unmarked in the box, headed home a cross. The game was being played at a good tempo and quality until in the latter part of the first, and for most of the second half, it really did pour down. Unfortunately it made the pitch difficult to play on, and the rest of the game wasn’t a great spectator event, particularly after the interval, but the hosts got a much needed 3 points when in the 68th minute, Jacob Mingle played an excellent pass through to Simon Austin who fired straight at the ‘keeper, but followed up to make no mistake from the rebound. Goals can be seen courtesy of the excellent official Horsham website here

After leaving the ground, I made my way back to the station for the train home, getting back on time without any problems.

Overall, it was a good trip. It will be a shame to see this ground go, as it is a classic old place with some really good features to it. At the time of writing, Horsham don’t actually have a new ground to move into next season, and instead intend on ground sharing, possibly with Crawley, or perhaps with Worthing, until their intended ground gets built. With that in mind, I’d thoroughly recommend a visit.

The Turnstiles

Side of the Main Stand

The Near End

The Near Side

Stairs in the Main Stand

The Far Side

The Club Shop

The Far Side Terrace

The Goring's Mead End

Ready for Kick Off

The Goring's Mead End

The Far Side Terrace

Time to go!


1 comment: