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 31, 2016: Tilbury – still exotic It sounds unlikely, but I always felt there was something vaguely exotic about Tilbury. As a child, Tilbury meant sea-faring vessels arriving from far-flung places or going off around the … Continue reading GOTP special: The only way is Essex!

The Rookery Hill blues

EAST THURROCK UNITED are making something of an impact. Riding high in the Ryman Premier League, with designs on a stab at promotion to National League South, they are currently the leading club in the borough of Thurrock. It had been 30 years since I first visited Rookery Hill. When the club moved to Corringham, I was living in Stanford-Le-Hope. I saw one of their first pre-season friendlies in their new home, against Leyton Orient. I was quite enthused about a senior football club coming to my locality, but then we moved, so I was never able to build a … Continue reading The Rookery Hill blues

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 Western Area League. Actually, winning was something quite rare for Benyon. We were lucky if we came off the field with 11 fit and able boys. Benyon was a small school in 1969 and across … 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 Thatcher as a bastion of working class aspiration. The people were mostly at the lower end of those lists created by socio-economists, but they refused to be subdued by it. It was the land of … 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 East Thurrock United all came into view, but on Canvey, football fans – if only they realized it – had never had it so good. In the past few weeks, however, another team from Castle … Continue reading Island in the sun: The Canvey hotbed