The journey to Haywards Heath was made using the Thameslink service direct from St Pancras International. The fare with a railcard discount was a very reasonable £7:85. Speed restrictions due to high winds meant an additional fifteen minutes added to the journey, which usually takes around an hour.
To reach the ground from the railway station on foot takes a little over twenty minutes. The route I followed took me through Clair Park, which contains a cricket pitch (Haywards Heath Cricket Club). There is a two-tiered bank overlooking the playing area containing lots of park benches. I would imagine many a summer has been spent and enjoyed there by the locals, such is the magnificent setting.
That banking at the cricket field is not the only spectacular sporting structure in Haywards Heath. I have long intended to visit the football ground, having seen pictures of the marvellous grandstand, I was not dissapdisapp! It is the standout feature of the ground and also contains the changing rooms and clubhouse facilities. The only other spectator viewing area at the ground is a small one-step standing area beside the turnstiles (a welcome retreat on a blustery day).
It was in the homely clubhouse that I was able to sample a couple of beers from the local Bedlam Brewery. Pale (4.8%) is brewed using US hops and was very pleasant indeed. However, I resisted the pull to have another, instead opting for the Porter which did not disappoint and set me up nicely for the match.
Currently in the play-off positions, the home side was looking to assert themselves in this match. However, in very strong winds, it was Whyteleafe that were the more composed early on and it was no surprise when they took the lead through Junior Aikhionbade. A vastly improved second half performance from the home side saw them takes the points following Andy Dalhouse’s leveller and two goals from Callum Saunders. The walk back to the station enabled me to catch the 17:17 return Thameslink Service. I enjoyed my visit to Haywards Heath Town and can now cross the Hanbury Stadium off my bucket list!
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