New town football – successful, after all

STEVENAGE and Crawley Town are both members of the Football League, albeit the lowest division. Neither are what you might call “traditional” clubs, although football in Stevenage dates back to 1894 and Crawley 1896. When the game was in its infancy as an organised sport, they were merely amateur concerns in the south of England, unable to be truly competitive with the rise of industrial … Continue reading New town football – successful, after all

New town football – successful, after all

STEVENAGE and Crawley Town are both members of the Football League, albeit the lowest division. Neither are what you might call “traditional” clubs, although football in Stevenage dates back to 1894 and Crawley 1896. When the game was in its infancy as an organised sport, they were merely amateur concerns in the south of England, unable to be truly competitive with the rise of industrial … Continue reading New town football – successful, after all

The trials of a nomadic existence

GRAYS Athletic play at a very nice stadium. Brand spanking new, great facilities and a football-friendly artificial surface that performs very well. The only problem is, the club is ground-sharing at Aveley, a town of 8,000 people some four miles from Grays. They’re in their second year of a two-year agreement, and like most tenants, there is a degree of uncertainty about the future. Grays … Continue reading The trials of a nomadic existence

The Non-League 100: Grays Athletic 2004-06 – a kind of boom and bust

THURROCK is a borough full of football people, but many of them prefer to watch the likes of West Ham, Tottenham and Arsenal. In the 1990s, teams from the area started to acquire some ambition, not altogether unrelated to the rise of clubs from Billericay and Canvey Island. Grays Athletic, which was always considered to be Thurrock’s leading club, until Purfleet (later Thurrock) came on … Continue reading The Non-League 100: Grays Athletic 2004-06 – a kind of boom and bust

X marks the spot for United London

WHETHER you like it or not, TV programmes like X Factor and Britain’s got talent are very popular and watched by millions. The audience participation aspect of these programmes is quite contagious, if sometimes rather contrived. Audience engagement in football doesn’t always get treated in the right way. I cannot help feeling that some football authorities adopt a kind of “games for the chimps” approach, … Continue reading X marks the spot for United London

GOTP special: The only way is Essex!

ESSEX and football go together like fish and chips. Although bordering on London, and therefore a county that feeds a lot of the capital’s clubs with supporters, Essex also has its footballing identity: Southend United and Colchester United may be the most identifiable of clubs, but there’s a few grey areas as well. Here’s just some of the articles we’ve produced on Essex football: January … Continue reading GOTP special: The only way is Essex!

When Aveley ruled the world…well, Thurrock Western Area

WE ALL identify the Reliant Robin with the BBC TV series Only Fools & Horses, but back in 1969, a blue three-wheeled car acted as an improvised team coach for Benyon County Primary School in South Ockendon. It belonged to Mr C.E. Heath, the only male teacher at the school (headmaster excepted) and the man responsible for masterminding the village school’s attempt at winning the Thurrock … Continue reading When Aveley ruled the world…well, Thurrock Western Area

The decline of hinterland football

YOU CAN TAKE the boy out of Thurrock, but you cannot take Thurrock out of the boy. I’m used to Essex, the county of my birth, being denigrated as a tasteless place full of aggressive people, indeed I have witnessed those qualities myself, but I cannot help feeling a little saddened by the decline of Thurrock football. Thurrock was an area that rose under Margaret … Continue reading The decline of hinterland football

Island in the sun: The Canvey hotbed

In the early 21st century, some of the best football ever seen in the Isthmian Premier Division came from the much-derided island of Canvey. Essex man has never got full credit for his contribution to non-league football and in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, the Thames Estuary made its mark on the game. As well as Canvey Island’s own efforts, Grays Athletic, Thurrock/Purfleet and … Continue reading Island in the sun: The Canvey hotbed