Non-League: The A21 Derby

On first impression, Tunbridge Wells v Sevenoaks Town sounds like the most gentile fixture in English football. We went down to check out the surprisingly feisty ‘A21 Derby’ for ourselves.

Outside Write’s first match of the 2015/16 season was at the Culverden Stadium, nestled in woods on the fringe of Royal Tunbridge Wells. This was a Southern Counties East Football League (SCEFL – the ninth tier of English football) fixture between the Kentish spa town and Sevenoaks Town from 14 miles north along the A21.

Tunbridge Wells FC, in all red, is a team in flux after a change of management, but has some recent pedigree, reaching the FA Vase Final in 2013, and taking 12,000 fans to Wembley (yours truly included) in the process – winning the Kent Senior Trophy in that same season and reaching the final again in 2015. [Continues]

A21 Derby

Action from Tunbridge Wells v Sevenoaks Town

Sevenoaks Town, donned in Inter Milan-style black and dark blue strips, black shorts and socks, have been around since 1883 and are known to have played a certain Kent team called ‘Royal Arsenal’ in 1893, then of Woolwich, who defected to Highbury and dropped the ‘Royal’ prefix.

There were just 215 fans at the Culverden Stadium for this season opener at home, but ‘Wells’ usually expect a 250-300-strong gate at weekend games.

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The ‘South Stand Choir’ provides the wit:

“It’s full of lawyers, doctors and architects, oh Tunbridge Wells is wonderful.”

 “We’re a royal town; we’re a royal town; we’re a royal town Tunbridge Wells: The queen loves us, she doesn’t love you…” [Continues]

Tunbridge Wells FC fans

Tunbridge Wells FC flags

As the light summer rain fell, the game never really got into its stride. Sevenoaks Town had pace to burn on both wings and hit well on the break, resulting in the only goal of the game on 11 minutes for Martin Debrah. The yellow card was out plenty of times, including twice for Wells’ Tom Bryant to cap off a pretty disappointing evening.

How to get to Tunbridge Wells FC

Culverden Stadium is best reached by car. Entry is £7 for adults, £4 for concessions and just £1 for under-16s. For more information visit the club’s website.

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