“It represented everything I didn’t want in my life, everything I wanted to get away from” – that’s what David Bowie said about Croydon in a 1999 interview with Q magazine. Maybe the same applies to us too; sharing just the one campaign (to date) in cahoots with a team known as The Trams since 2000. Well, it seems legit now the town is home to the only tram service in London. Not that it has anything to do with the story of us and them. After two meetings in the 1991-2 Diadora League Division One campaign, we’ve not yet had cause play them again.
Yet, at least.
Our fortunes went in slightly different ways; us upwards towards the Football League. Them, down from the Isthmian and through to the Southern Counties East League in 2014.
Croydon: The Facts
Croydon Sports Arena
Albert Road, South Norwood, London, SE25 4QL
For the Trams, it all starts in 1953 with the club’s creation as Croydon Amateurs. In fact, it looks like the team came to life – in part – to put the football pitch at Croydon Arena to use. And, in those early days, you’d find them getting used to things in the Surrey Senior League. After a decade, however, the time came to move on and that they did; first into the Spartan League (winning the title at the first attempt) and then the Athenian League.
The club binned off the Amateurs bit of their name in 1973 after their first campaign in the Athenian League Premier Division. The reason? Well, they were no longer amateurs. And, after one more season took them to a round 10 years in the Athenian League, it was time to move on. This time, it was to an expanding Isthmian League; starting in Division Two. But it wouldn’t be long before the Trams were moving up in the Isthmian world.
Why do we know Croydon?
In their second season in the Isthmian League, the Trams actually went the whole campaign unbeaten. And yet they still had to settle for second place; their 98 points four short of the 102 that Tilbury recorded to win the title. It was still good enough to go up to Division One, however – soon to be renamed the Premier Division. And they stuck it out for 13 seasons at that level. The 1988-9 season was a disaster, however, and they were relegated.
How to get to Croydon – Travel Information – Distance: 42 miles
To make this trip into south London, the direct route is by far the shortest. Sadly, we can’t promise that it’ll be the quickest. Head south on the A1(M) and A1 down to Hendon. Then, stay right to join the A41 Watford Way when the option comes up. Stay on the A41 as you go through Swiss Cottage.
In half-a-mile, take a right outside St John’s Wood tube station into Grove End Road. This should bring you onto Lisson Grove (A507) and down across the Marylebone Road onto Seymour Place. Turn right for George Street in 0.3 miles, then it’s left almost immediately onto Stourcliffe Street to bring you out onto the A5.
Turn left here to continue heading south. Go round Marble Arch and onto Park Lane. As you come out at Hyde Park Corner, use the two middle lanes to take what’ll be the third exit off the large roundabout; this is for Grosvenor Place.
You’ll be on the A302 at this point and you’ll need to stick with it through Victoria. Here, however, you will need to take Vauxhall Bridge Road (A202) and it should be signposted as such. Cross the Thames by the MI6 building and in front of you will be Vauxhall station.
Take the one-way system round to the right and bear left for South Lambeth Road (A203). In a mile, you’ll come to Stockwell. Here, it’s a right to stay on the A203 towards Clapham. At Clapham North station and by the Clapham North pub, take a left (but not a sharp left) to join Bedford Road (B221).
You’ll come to a roundabout, where you need to go straight over; again for the B221. This brings you to Streatham Hill station; turn right and then left here. It means you’re almost going straight across the junction. You’ll be wanting Leigham Court Road.
At the T-Junction, turn left onto the A214 for 0.4 miles. Then, it’s a right onto the A215. In two-and-a-half miles, you’ll pass under a railway bridge. Here, take the left onto Albert Road. It looks as if the road heads around to the left in front of you in 0.2 miles, but you need to turn right to STAY on Albert Road.
Go over one roundabout and the ground will come up on your left.
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