Banstead Athletic… It is fair to say are an obscure club.
I have lived less than 1 km away from this club for 18 years, yet somehow I only found out about it last year. Probably because it’s not actually situated in Banstead its in Tadworth, but anyway. I went for the first time today and witnessed probably the most encouraging sign that grassroots football is alive and well.
Not just because Banstead won 4-1 against Bedfont & Feltham, but because there was an unbelievable mix of talent and quality, something you would only really find in Semi-Professional football. As well as the tiny idiosyncrasies that you still find in the top flights around Europe, even in the combined counties league it seems the obvious choice to put twins as the two full backs. Just like Fabio and Rafael formerly at Manchester United, you have the Hill brothers at Banstead.
I’ll give you an example of the talent gap though. Bedfont’s goalkeeper made zero saves or catches the entire game, as well as kicking 3 goal kicks straight into touch as though in the six nations. Banstead’s Billy Bishop however caught every shot at his goal but for a cruel deflected lob. This guy could play professionally, it was astounding. Equally Banstead right back Joe Hill scored a volley from 30 yards that wouldn’t look out of place on a sky sports highlight reel.
This is really peculiar when compared to the Banstead centre back who seemed to literally just shout and do nothing else, but it’s why the lower leagues are actually so magical.
I think I was the only guy there who wasn’t watching someone they knew, and I don’t know how clubs like this stay afloat, but I really hope they keep going despite all the challenges they face.
For Banstead at least things seem to be going well, they are 5th as of writing, and have a really talented bunch. Billy Bishop especially.
Keep an eye on him.