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 the scene, had a golden period in the early years of the 21st century. It almost looked too good to be true and indeed it probably was, but Grays had a three-year spell where they … Continue reading The Non-League 100: Grays Athletic 2004-06 – a kind of boom and bust

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