Our Geography and Non-League club learning crash course continues. (A future National Curriculum subject maybe?).
Our latest Cup opponents are based in a town of 20,000 people, two miles South of Bedford and yes, they’re a Step 4 side but not one to be under-estimated.
Last season, the Walnut Boys missed the Southern League Central (as was) Play-Offs by only one point, admittedly nosebleed territory for them as it was their highest ever finishing position.
Although club formation is as far back as 1884, the current club name is only of 2002 vintage. AFC Kempston is the umbrella organisation for a merger of Kempston Rovers, Kempston Town and Kempston Colts, along with Kempston Community Soccer Coaching.
The outcome is a combined organisation at Hillgrounds boasting 30 teams, playing on an impressive complex of part-size and full-size grass or 3G pitches. Since then, Bedford College have also become a partner.
Although their average gates are around 120, the Southern League Division One East club have experience of hosting bigger crowds each time they play their tenants AFC Rushden, with just under 500 rolling up for their August League meeting. In theory, the ground capacity is 2,000 but doesn’t appear to have ever been tested.
And won’t be this time for the wallet-worn and time-weary Bulls following.
All the club facilities are combined into a large complex along one touchline, where one end is seating and the other standing.
The other three sides are hard standing behind the usual post and rail arrangements with impressive training pitches behind them.
There is ample parking provision between the various car parks on the complex. Look for the turning just after Kempston Pool. Admission is normally £9, concessions £5 and U16s a token £1.
The clubhouse is built into this complex. The larger bar has a capacity of 120 and has served Wells Eagle IPA and Somersby Cider in the past. Food is normally served. Local alternatives seems very thin on the ground.
A possibility, albeit a mile away, is the Greene King house, The King’s Arms in Market Street which serves 3 rotating guest ales but no weekend lunchtime food. The nearest Wetherspoons (the appropriately-named Pilgrims Progress) is over two miles distant.
By Car: 133 miles (MK42 8SZ) Leave M1 at J13. Take A 421 Bedford by-pass turning as indicated to Kempston A5140 Woburn Road. At roundabout, turn left into St Johns Street, then right into Bedford Road. After the shops and park on the left, turn immediately left into Hillgrounds Road.
By Train: The usual ridiculous scenario from the Shire. 3.5 hours there. 4 hours back plus a bus ride on the No `1 bus from Bedford station. The South-East Bulls can take advantage of regular trains out of London St Pancras then opt for a five-minute bus ride or a 40 minute walk.