I joined the second of the South East England (SCEFL) groundhog’s six fixtures of the weekend, in another familiar ground, the home of Staplehurst Monarchs. The weather was glorious and I arrived at a packed Jubilee Sports Ground to be shepherded into some extensive free parking. The club provided a warm welcome and it was great to see the club absolutely packed with spectators all around the edge of the pitch and the small grandstand full to capacity. The official crowd was 331, which must surely be a club record.
The Monarchs play in the Southern Counties East Football League (Division 1) where they were promoted to last season. They have had a mixed start to the season and sit currently in 12th place with eight points, from as many games. Bradley Large has top scored thus far, with four goals and Keanan Devlin has three.
Rochester united came into the fixture in a respectable 5th place, with 17 points from 9 games. Their top scorer was Levi Gold with three goals thus far.
The SCEFL Division 1 is known as a league where goals are commonplace. The groundhoppers and fans attending today would have been hoping that this was a legend lived out on the Jubilee Field ground.
The game opened with both sides tackling hard and pushing for chances in the final third.
The only real chance of the first half was when Rochester United appealed for an own goal, after a deflected back pass was saved on the line by Staplehurst Monarch’s keeper and skipper, Steve Lawrence.
The second half played out in the same style as the first. No team making the crucial break through but the crowd witnessing an entertaining contest nonetheless.
On 70 minutes Bradley Large broke free in the Rochester United area and was seemingly crashed to the ground by Jamie Kelly in the away side’s goal. It looked as if the referee had awarded a penalty but it then transpired he’d found in favour of the visitors, angering the noisy crowd, as he then booked Bradley Large for a dive.
On 71 minutes the Staplehurst Monarch’s substitute, John Osegie, ran through a series of tackles before slotting the ball home past a desperate Jamie Kelly dive. It gave finally a break in the deadlock to put Staplehurst Monarch’s 1-0 ahead.
The game became physical and the pace increased, but the home side controlled the ball well and saw out the last twenty minutes to secure a well earned win and three valuable points.
I had the good fortune to meet Ashley Hanson whose YouTube channel I have linked to previously at today’s game. The goal and full match highlights, can be seen at this link. The Groundhop weekend has already been a huge success and the remaining four matches should be just as much fun and bring more huge crowds.