Back of the net! Croydon FC offers Athletic fans free entry

The Trams in action at Croydon Arena: entry for Croydon Athletic fans will be free during January

By Andrew Pelling

Croydon FC is reaching out in solidarity to Croydon Athletic fans to offer free entry to all its home matches in January to anyone wearing Athletic colours.

Croydon Athletic looks to be doomed to drop out of the Isthmian League after failing to fulfil any fixtures since December 3. A meeting of league officials to determine Croydon Athletic’s fate is due to be held on January 5, although some believe that this is now a mere formality.

The club was thrown into turmoil in September 2010 when its owner, Mazhar Majeed, was exposed in the News of the World as being behind the Pakistani Test cricket betting fixes. Last month, Majeed was sentenced to two years and eight months in jail after entering a guilty plea at the high-profile trial.

His former club has been spirally through dramas ever since: the death of the club chairman, a hefty FA fine, an exodus of players and coaching staff, and the loss of their benefactor’s cash have seen Croydon Athletic’s Thornton Heath ground padlocked shut and the club on the brink of closure.

But now Croydon FC, who play in the Combined Counties League Division 1, three levels lower down the football pyramid than Athletic were at last season, is making a gesture to Athletic fans.

Croydon FC chairman Dickson Gill: gesture to Athletic fans

Dickson Gill, Croydon FC’s chairman, said, “Croydon Athletic’s fans have been through very difficult times and, for the moment, have no team to follow. We would like to offer our hand of friendship to those loyal Athletic fans and to let them have a Croydon team to watch while efforts are made to re-establish an Athletic club.”

The gesture from Croydon FC – “The Trams” – is also an attempt to bury the hatchet between the local rivals. Croydon FC often boasts of being the “original” non-league Croydon club, and they have been known to refer to Athletic by their far from local name, “Wandsworth & Norwood”, which stems from the merger of two clubs 25 years ago.

Croydon FC’s three home games at Croydon Arena in January are all 3pm Saturday kick-offs – Jan 7, 21 and 28 – against Dorking, Epsom & Ewell and Camberley Town respectively.

Croydon FC have been showing good form in recent weeks climbing to mid-table after a dreadful start to the season. Maybe there will be some good entertainment for Athletic fans to watch on the pitch in 2012 after all the drama off the pitch over the past couple of years.

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