An early morning start in Worthing facilitated an overnight stay in Brighton the previous night. Of course I could have opted to sample the Brighton night life (some of which is quite colourful I understand!) but the lure of non-league football was always going to win when a 'new ground' is on offer. My only option here was Hailsham Town v Hastings United in the 2nd round of the Sussex Senior Cup.
Public transport in East Sussex appears well organised and a half hour train journey from Brighton to Polegate on the Eastbourne/Hastings route followed by a short bus ride (Eastbourne Buses) for the remaining 4 miles made Hailsham a relatively easy destination to reach. The Beaconsfield ground is not easy to spot from the main road and only appears to be accessible via a narrow footpath also serving the local public park. There is very little by way of covered accommodation other than a small terraced area but for most matches this will suffice considering the crowds Hailsham attract. In addition to a fine clubhouse there are also separate burger and tea bars.
A decently contested match always favoured Ryman league Hastings who despite finishing with 10 men won by an unanswered 3 goals. Neville Southall (ex Port Vale, Toffees and Wales keeper) was listed as being the Hastings manager but with no sightings in the first half I began to wonder as to his tenure at Pilot Field. However the big man did appear after the break and had probably come direct from another engagement. He looks even bigger now but fortunately the snazzy morning suit he was wearing was bigger still and he looked quite dapper. I had some time to spare whilst waiting for my return bus and opted for some real ale. Harveys of Lewes are the local brewers and their full range is available at 'the Grenadier' a fine old pub on the High Street.(A further wait at Polegate for my return train meant I was able to visit 'the Dinkum', another Harveys house for similar refreshment.A decent evening out - good fish and chips in Brighton too!
Train fare: £4.10 (day return from Brighton with gold card discount)
Bus Fare: £2.70 return