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Photographer puts focus on Bexley's football grounds

PUBLISHED: 17:24 03 January 2013

Mike Floate with his camera

Mike Floate with his camera

Archant

A love of the beautiful game led one fan to photograph scores of non-league clubs. Robin Cottle reports on his favourite five grounds in Bexley.

Welling United v Blackburn Rovers at Park View Road in the FA Cup, 1989. Pic by Mike FloateWelling United v Blackburn Rovers at Park View Road in the FA Cup, 1989. Pic by Mike Floate

Mike Floate’s passion for the grassroots game is so strong he visited over 170 grounds to compile a book of his favourites.

But forget Old Trafford or the Emirates – Mike is in love with non-league stadiums.

And despite being a Swansea City supporter, who now play in the Premier League, his passion remains for Kent grounds belonging to clubs like Welling United, Cray Wanderers and Bexley FC.

“At non-league games you can move round, get the feel of being at a game without pressure to behave and can get to meet the players after the game,” he says.

Cray Wanderers former Oxford Road Ground. Pic by Mike FloateCray Wanderers former Oxford Road Ground. Pic by Mike Floate

“It is competitive on the field but real friendships are developed through a mutual love of the game afterwards.”

Mike first released a book, called Football Ground Frenzy Kent, in 1997 and a reprint was published recently. Here, he tells us his favourite grounds in Bexley:

Welling United, Park View Road

Slade Green's The Small Glen. Pic by Mike FloateSlade Green's The Small Glen. Pic by Mike Floate

This is a classic old terraced ground and one of the last in the Greater London. It’s a great place to watch football. The FA Cup 3rd round match against second-tier Blackburn Rovers in 1989 was a particular highlight.

Cray Wanderers former Oxford Road ground. It is now used by Seven Acres & Sidcup

It had everything, views over fields, an area of cover with some seats, a bank for an elevated view behind one goal and a slope. I recall a referee falling over as he ran backwards down the slope once.

Bexley FC. Pic by Mike FloateBexley FC. Pic by Mike Floate

Slade Green, The Small Glen

There is now no adult team playing there but has great views out over the marshes and the club always did roast potatoes as a snack for visiting officials after the game.

Phoenix Sports, Pic by Mike FloatePhoenix Sports, Pic by Mike Floate

Bexley FC, Lesley Close

They were formed the same year as Woolwich Arsenal but play on a open pitch near the A2. Truly an historic club.

Phoenix Sports, Mayplace Road East

A ground full of character and personality. I do hope that they install a worthwhile stand and don’t just accept a portable unit as many other clubs have. These are awful to sit in and completely lack personality.

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