In the early days of the club, Sutton United played at a number of grounds in and around the town, including a brief spell in Gander Green Lane at what was then the Sutton Adult School Ground. But it was not until after The Great War that the ground became the club's permanent home, the first game taking place on 30th August 1919.
So, almost exactly one hundred years later we celebrate that anniversary with a visit from Maidenhead United who, themselves, can lay claim to having the oldest ground in the world in continuous use by the same club.
Contrary to popular belief, not even Bruce can remember that very first game. I saw my first game here just over 51 years ago but there are still a number of supporters who can go back 70 years or even further.
We lease the stadium from the London Borough of Sutton and are approximately 12 years into a 50-year term. The site has quite a large footprint and has grown into its current configuration through a series of improvements over the last thirty years, although the main grandstand goes back to the 1950s. As Ground Safety Officer there were times when I wished things had been designed very differently but, for all its quirks, I must admit to having a bit of a crush on the old girl.
And why not ? Some of my greatest experiences and memories were forged inside this stadium. From the FA Cup tie against Leeds in 1970 to the 5th Round tie against Arsenal the stadium has witnessed some fantastic moments. How many non-league grounds can boast seven ties in the FA Cup 3rd Round or beyond ? Of course, they are the games that brought us to the attention of the rest of the world but to our own supporters there are many other less glamorous games that mean just as much.
Just a few that stand out to me, and in no particular order:-
4-1 v Bangor City in the semi-final of the FA Trophy
11-1 v Leatherhead, when Mick Joyce scored nine times and skipper John Rains got booed for scoring our eighth goal !
5-0 v Aldershot to clinch the Isthmian League title
5-1 v Staines and a brilliant Norman Milne hat-trick
1-0 v Leeds, 47 years to get revenge !
There are also all of the more personal memories and friendships made. Not least, for me, are all of the games I went to with my dad. In a week when one of the country's oldest clubs was forced out of existence it is important to remember how important a town's club is to its supporters, whether the crowd averages fifty thousand or fifty. It's not just the games, it's the shared experiences, the memories, the highs and lows and the people.
And still new memories are being created. Ten years ago who would have imagined that our league programme would see visits from Wrexham, Tranmere Rovers, Leyton Orient, Chesterfield, Notts County et al ?
So, Happy Anniversary to our home and may she witness many more great matches and create everlasting memories for new generations of supporters.