For around 25 years now, I have been aware of non league football club, Bromley FC due to the fact David Bowie once watched them whilst he was a teenager living in the area. Then, a few years back now, I read a book called 32 Programes by a local Bromley supporter who goes by the name of Dave Roberts. He has an uncanny way of dragging you head first into his yarns of life as a football supporter. Actually, I now have his latest offering, Home & Away in my bag to read this week.
So, after a few near misses in recent seasons, last night, I finallly made my way down to Hayes Lane to watch Bromley FC take on Maidenhead United in the Conference Premier division. A win would send them into outright third spot on the table and hot on the coat tails of league leaders Dover Athletic and Macclesfield Town. Sadly, a 3-2 loss leaves Bromley FC sitting in 8th spot with a large congestion of teams. But that wasn’t the point for me last night. I was left wondering why I hadn’t been here before and contemplating when I will be back for more. Hopefully sooner than later.
As you enter Hayes Lane, one is greatet by a mascot and a handful of welcoming supporters who all appear to have a few tales to share. I’d walked to Hayes Lane from town with a group of Maidenhead supporters who kept going on about how much they hate Scousers! Best I keep quiet on that front then. Once inside the ground though, I’d entered a new world of excitement. Non-league football can be quite inspiring. Old fashioned grounds with small terraces and wooden seats. My cup of tea. Best of all, not a single fucking selfie stick or iPad filming corners in sight. Just loyal football supporters wanting what’s best for their team. All 1,056 of them as was the case with last nights attendance.
Feeling peckish? Then £5 will net you a hot dog, packet of crisps and a coke! £5 barely gets you a coffee or bottle of water in most top flight football matches but here at Hayes Lane, it’ll fill you up nicely. Then you have petrol in the tank to take a walk around the ground and experience the beauty of a ground first used by Bromley in 1938. The club share the same birthday as Liverpool and, in 1992, almost pulled off a centenary friendly with the Red half of Merseyside. Imagine getting an away ticket for that fixture?
The football itself was of quite a decent standard with leaky defences and a dubious penalty allowing no less than 5 goals through in the first 45 minutes! With the second half came some heavy rain and daft attacking choices. Bromley seemed to lose their capability to push forward with conviction which allowed Maidenhead United to sit back and let the clock run down. The left fullback for Bromley certainly knew how to frustrate the home supporters with his array of backwards and sideways passing that led to nowhere. The home side did create a few chances however, luck wasn’t on their side.
With the sound of the full time whistle, I had enjoyed a thoroughly enjoyable night out and could not recommend a trip to Hayes Lane enough. It’s one of the better grounds to discover in England and may Bromley FC one day soon reach the shaky heights of league football! The game as a whole would be better for it.