Beckenham Town’s home ground puts the “Eden” into “Eden Park Avenue”. Well, that’s maybe going a bit far. There are no snakes, or apples, or naked people here (thankfully), but I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it’s a pretty nice place to watch football. On a warm opening day of the season like this one, it seems tailor-made for sitting outside, drinking a cold beer, and squinting into the sun, grateful that you’re not one of the players puffing and panting their way around the pitch in the August heat.
Sure, it’s ramshackle, and the facilities are anything but state of the art. But is there anything nicer than wandering through the creaking turnstiles of a non-league ground to be greeted by a collection of picnic tables just waiting to be plonked down upon? To be honest, I’m not normally one for drinking much at the football, but here it seemed like a crime not to hit the bar and make the most of it.
When we arrived, we saw Town’s new star signing, Ash Carew, sitting alone playing with his phone. Evidently, he wasn’t in the team: a big disappointment given his propensity for scoring absolute worldies during his Dulwich Hamlet days.
There was to be an appearance from another ex-Hamlet player, though, in the shape of Punjab United’s Laurent Hamici. Sadly for him, it wasn’t an appearance that lasted very long. He suffered a nasty-looking shoulder dislocation not long into the first half, and seeing several physios try and fail to pop his arm back in was a truly uncomfortable sight to witness. I’m guessing it probably wasn’t especially pleasant for poor old Laurent, either.
It was an early sign that this wasn’t going to be Punjab’s day, and despite matching their hosts for most of the match, a second-half header from home sub Steve Townsend made it 2-1 and kept the points in Beckenham.
The full-time whistle was greeted with grunts of appreciation from both sets of players, who presumably already had one eye on those ever-enticing picnic tables. They’d all earned a drink.
Eden Park Avenue
Beckenham Town 2 Punjab Utd 1
Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Saturday 3 August 2019