Moatside is one of the smaller grounds in the Ryman Premier League, and has a maximum capacity of 2,000. However, personally I cannot see how it would be possible to get 2,000 people into the stadium without Southern Rail-level cramming. There are two small areas of seating around the ground, one of which is in the Main Stand and the other is in the the Albury End. The Albury End seats are technically reserved, but at this level it is very rare to have the seats taken.
The stadium would be far more spacious if the whole thing was like the Main Stand. There is plenty of room for people to sit or stand around the edge of the pitch and is by far the most spacious part of the ground. By contrast, the Church End has no seating and is simply a covered terrace, which anybody over six feet tall has to duck under, and the far end is completely empty as far as home fans are concerned. There is no cover whatsoever and almost no space so I don’t see how more than a couple of hundred fans could fit on that side of the ground. Fortunately, for Mestham’s match against Havant, there were hardly a couple of hundred in the entire ground so that didn’t prove to be a problem.
There was a members only clubhouse next to the Main Stand, which took up lots of space and was fairly useless as far as supporters were concerned. However, there was also a clubhouse outside the ground which supporters were able to go to, and was the place where most fans went to buy alcoholic drinks. There was also a small food shed where it was possible to buy hot food and drinks, which even cooked a special sausage and chips, as well as a ‘Big Mec’. The food in the ground was actually surprisingly good considering the limited facilities that the club had available. The downside was that there is almost nothing outside the ground apart from rows of houses so there is fairly limited opportunity to buy food – or indeed anything – outside the stadium.
Transport from the south coast to Moatside should be about as easy as they come, with only one change on the train necessary to get to the stadium. From Chichester the journey should take between an hour and fifteen minutes and an hour and a half, with changes at either Crawley or Three Bridges before taking a direct train to Merstham station. However, when you factor in Southern Rail, the journey can take rather longer than it should do. In the end my train terminating at Horsham resulted in a mere hour was added on to the standard journey time, so I’ll consider myself lucky.
Merstham station is about 15 minutes walk from the ground, although it is probably best to leave extra time when visiting due to the complicated route and the questionable road signing. The walk to the stadium leads one through endless rows of houses with very few distinguishable landmarks so it can be quite difficult to get your bearings. There are also no shops or restaurants on the walk to the stadium so I would definitely recommend leaving lots of time to spare when travelling. One positive, though, is that the tickets were reasonably cheap, costing £10 for adults and £6 for students.
The pitch itself seemed in good enough condition considering the Christmas period is fast approaching, although some passes were bobbling somewhat as they reached their targets. However, at that level of non-league football the ball never spends too much time on the floor anyway so it is unlikely to be a problem! There were surprisingly few home supporters at the match, and even less noise. The official attendance for the match was 156, including about 30 away fans, so there was no trouble whatsoever in packing people in. One might think that the hosts would have increased their fanbase after their recent televised FA Cup match against Oxford United, but apparently not.
Moatside is hardly the best ground I have ever seen, but it was adequate for that level of football. The facilities leave a lot to be desired but everybody seemed welcoming to the away fans. If attendances remain at the sort of level they are getting at the moment the ground will be fine, but if Merstham are looking to win promotion any time soon and bring in more gate receipts then they will have to seriously consider relocating, or Moatside will need to undergo some vast improvements. There is no problem with the accessibility side of the stadium, but the ground itself needs some improvement before I would be keen to visit again.