Palace fans not making the trip oop north this Saturday to see the Eagles play at Roker Park, or whatever they call it these days, could do a lot worse than get along to Croydon Arena for what should prove to be a tense and thrilling final fixture in Croydon FC’s Southern Counties East Premier Division.
Croydon play Erith Town in a crunch relegation clash, in which a Trams win will cconsign their rivals to the drop at the end of a long and often testing season.
Croydon have cause for optimism, since they have been in decent form lately, unbeaten at home since February. That includes a vital 1-0 win over promotion contenders Greenwich Borough courtesy of 93rd minute Hamid Bangura goal.
There’s mutterings of complaint. “The Trams are Croydon’s biggest football secret,” one fan in the Arena stand was heard to complain recently, unhappy at the club’s subterranean profile in a Redhill-based local newspaper. “Anyone would think the reporter’s a Whyteleafe fan,” another supporter complained of his local freesheet.
Croydon FC is the area’s longest standing non-league side, having been around since 1953.
But as ever with part-time football, even talk of “taking each game as it comes” can amount to long-term planning. Ill-health suffered recently by the club’s chairman, sometime manager, chief cook and bottle-washer, Dickson Gill, has made things difficult off-the-field, where the Arena’s future as a community sports venue has been made uncertain by the Labour-run council’s decision to grant planning permission for a massive Academy secondary school to be built alongside.
Despite the lack of local publicity, word has spread about Croydon’s improving performances. The team has had many changes during the first half of the season, but now there is now a core squad, led by captain Michael Craverio, and a settled side.
The team who should be starting on Saturday contains goalkeeper Francis Ameyaw, subject to a late fitness test, plus Leigh Wise, Adam Allen and Craverio in defence, Matteo Badchkam and Tristan Toney in midfield, and top scorer Karl Douglin up front along with Fray James and Bangura and supersub Lauris Chin.
- Saturday’s match is a 3pm kick-off – none of this 4.05pm on Sundays for TV malarkey in the lower leagues – at Croydon Arena, Albert Road, SE25 4QL, next to the Arena tram stop, but get there early to get a seat. Admission is £7 for adults and £3.50 concessions.
- The borough’s other non-leaguers, Croydon Athletic, last night won the London Senior Trophy Final, beating Interwood 4-3 after extra-time. Not too shabby for a club which faced extinction two years ago…
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