All roads lead to Wembley. Here I set out on a journey to the hinterland of the F.A cup taking in the very first round of the competition – the extra preliminary round. My match report of can be found here on ‘The Real FA Cup’ site. This post is a short account of travelling along just one of the many roads to Wembley.
If you accept the logic behind the phrase all roads lead to Rome then all roads lead to Wembley, including the A3(M). The road even has a strangely beautiful concrete bridge whose luscious curves mimic the Wembley arch.
It is this road, or various iterations of it, running between Portsmouth and London which is responsible for much of the current shape of Horndean on the map. Initially a staging post it now seems every-inch the metroland as I pull off the motorway and pass the kind of voluminous Morrisons you can find in almost any built up area.
I then join the A3 what was once, before being upstaged by the motorway, the principal main road to London passing by the Colonial Bar opposite which was once, according to the Horndean FC website, the old workhouse behind which earlier Horndean sides played their football. Immediately after this sojourn through the past I turn into Five Heads Road, further along which is my destination Five Heads Park, Horndean FC’s present ground. I’m heading here to see Horndean take on Brockenhurst in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup in what is the very first round of the competition which will end with the customary big finale at Wembley stadium on May 11th 2013.
Turning off the A-road gives the place at once a different feel. A sprinkling of cottages and it seems more leafy and rural. The leafy-ness increases the closer I get to the ground which is located somewhere near the northern edge of the built up area which stretches along the course of the road to London and reaches all the way back to Southsea.
Reaching the ground I find a parking space in a small patch of grass adjoining the main car park – which itself looks small enough to have trouble accommodating two teams plus officials.I pay at the gate, get my programme (no problems here) and find a spot alongside the idiosyncratically sloping pitch (see Hopping Around Hampshire for a superb description of the gradient of Horndean’s playing surface).
As I wait for the game to start I look out over the distance. Clearly visible is Portsdown Hill with its collection of forts and one structure which always looks to me like a beached stealth-warship. Having reached the end-point of my journey,or at least for the next couple of hours, I relax a little. The referee blows the whistle for the start of the game signalling the beginning of the journey for Horndean and Brockenhurst- not to mention the teams contesting the other 199 matches in the extra preliminary round. For the various winners of these games each will take another small step along the road to Wembley whilst for the vanquished all roads lead to home.
Two interesting facts about Horndean:
1.) The H in Gales HSB stands for Horndean.
2.) Harry Potter plays for up-front Horndean FC