Cotlandswick Park, London Colney
Attendance: 150 (estimate)
Match Rating: 3
There were not many appealing friendly fixtures today, and with Twitter feeds providing a lack of clarity about admission fees and whether games would be played on the club’s main pitch, I opted to visit a club that declared early that this fixture would be played on the club's main pitch, would be free entry, and that there would be a family fun day with plenty of activities going on off the pitch, which would hopefully generate more interest and a larger attendance than one would normally expect for a friendly game such as this.
Cotlandswick Park is about a 45 minute walk from St Albans City station, and the main entrance is located just to the north of London Colney village, and next to a leisure complex. Spectators enter via a turnstile block in one corner (although the gate was open today), and on a grass area immediately inside the Fun Day activities were taking place, consisting of various children’s activities, inflatables and stalls. Set some way back behind the goal is a large clubhouse which is rather dreary in its brown appearance, but is quite charming and homely inside, and live music was being played inside today. There is a grass bank immediately behind the goal, which spectators are not normally allowed to stand on. Down the length closest to the entrance there is a large modern metallic all-seater stand straddling the half way line, and to one side is a shelter covering a small area of flat standing. On the opposite side, what looks like a small old fashioned stand actually serves as the dugouts, divided into three sections with the middle section unused.There are signs along this length that spectators should not stand along this length, probably due to this being a road into the ground from another entrance leading to the car park, however certainly today this was not being adhered to. Behind the remaining goal there is another small shelter covering a small standing area. A large green hedge surrounds two sides and tall trees behind one length give the ground a nice rural feel, and is a comfortable enough place to watch football at step 5 level, but it certainly lacks in endearing features. Surprisingly, a very decent 36 page programme was produced for today’s match, with an attractive cover, plenty of interesting reading material, and eight pages of a comic, a most unusual inclusion in a matchday programme.
London Colney have had a strange close season. After winning the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division by 5 points last season, they were all set for promotion to the Isthmian League, but then they changed their mind, lost the majority of their committee members, management team and their best players, and indeed their very existence looked in grave danger until a consortium led by former professional Ken Charlery saved the club and they are now preparing for life in the same league as last season. Charlery is the new manager of the club and is putting together a completely new team. Kings Langley survived in the Southern League Premier Division by the skin of their teeth, surviving on goal difference.
On a grey and relatively cool afternoon, this was a competitive game of football, with the new team of London Colney acquitting themselves well. Goalscoring chances were at a premium throughout, as both teams struggled with the final ball, and the deadline never looked likely to be broken during the first half.
Not only did Kings Langley field a new team in the second half, they sported a new strip too, donning a red and white kit after the break after the first half team wore white and black. They imposed themselves better on the hosts too, but generally the pattern of combative play without any real incisiveness continued, although gradually the visitors did have increasingly better sights on goal. The closest they came to breaking the deadlock was in added on time, when the ball was stabbed into the outer side netting from close range. But the match ended goalless, and no real surprise about that, but this was surely a useful workout for both sides in their first games of pre-season.
So, it is disappointing that I have seen just one goal in my opening two games of this (pre-) season, but both games have been entertaining enough for friendly fixtures, and today in particular was a most enjoyable occasion, a day when the action on the pitch was not the be-all and end-all of the day's entertainment. Well done to London Colney FC as well for putting on a good day's entertainment today, engaging with the local community, and after a turbulent summer, the future certainly is looking a lot brighter for the club now, both on and off of the field.