I had heard a lot from fellow non league enthusiasts about the experience and enjoyment of watching football at the Menace Arena, on the south circular in East Dulwich in South London, so decided to drop in to watch a Kent County League Premier Division, fixture.
The Kent County League feeds into the Step 6 Southern Counties Football League (South East) and I had already reported on a tie between Otford United and Ide Hill earlier in the season, so knew that crowds of 100+ in this league were not uncommon.
The Menace Arena is home to Peckham Town who were founded by 13 year old George Hall in 1988, before growing to sit in their own ground with tea bars, sponsorship from Peckham’s own Brick brewery, four covered stands, including what is believed to be the smallest covered stand in football, as well as having a loud and loyal set of fans. The welcome on arrival, is warm, with club members keen to show the facilities and talk about the team.
If the club, can and do, wish to gain promotion to the SCEFL, then they’ll need to add floodlighting, hard surface paths around the pitch and adapt the changing facilities, however it feels as this is more than within their grasp, despite this season’s disappointing start to the league campaign.
Peckham Town sat in tenth place, with ten points from their opening ten games, coming into the fixture. Their manager, Mary Phillip, ex-England international footballer, will be looking for more form her team and a game at home against Kings Hill FC, who sit a place below Peckham Town, would be just the place to launch a run. Hamid Bengara and Joshua Montella, with four goals each, have been the top scorers coming into today’s match.
Kings Hill FC, whose home ground is on the mini new town of Kings Hill, situated on the edge of West Malling, near Maidstone in Kent, will also have been looking to launch their season with a decent result in today’s game. Manager, Patrick (Patch) Lee joined the club in May 2021 and will also be keen to see them push for a place at Step 6. Alfie Cox has been Kings Hill’s only top scorer of note, thus far, with four goals.
There was a large and partisan crowd of around 140 in for today’s game and it helped create a good atmosphere as the teams took to the pitch.
The game opened with both sides looking to create early chances by testing the confidence of the opposition defences.
After 18 minutes Peckham Town’s David Gabor finished after a sweet cross from the right, to put the home side 1-0 ahead.
In the 40th minute, a contender for goal of the season was created, when club captain, Niki Meta, curled in a beautiful shot, to make the score 2-0.
In the 45th minute, on the stroke of half time, Peckham a town added a third goal, when David Gabor created space on the edge of the box, before firing home to make the score 3-0 at the break.
The second half opened with Kings Hill playing with a new found confidence and cohesion. Whatever boss Patch Lee had said to the team at the break, had clearly sunk in. They passed well and built some good chances.
However it was Peckham Town who extended their lead, when a penalty was awarded in the 79th minute, for shirt pulling in the penalty area.
Andres Nieva stepped up to finish comfortably, from the spot, making it 4-0 to Peckham Town.
There was still time for a fantastic save from George Legg in the Peckham Town goal.
At the final whistle it was 4-0 to the home side and Mary Phillip and her team can really believe this season can now launch into something special. Kings Hill will have learnt from today and showed determination in the second half, but have more to do to be competitive this season.