Ground Hopping–The Road to Wembley–10th August 2012

Yes, The Olympics are over and the football season is here. Sadly, I was unable to make it up to Spennymoor for their tie against Scarborough so I decided to go to watch a game local to me. I’ve cycled past the Oakside Stadium in Barkingside, and been past it on the Tube, but never in the 14  or so years of living in London have i been there. I decided to go to watch the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Tie between Barkingside FC and Great Yarmouth Town there.

The ground itself used to be Barkingside’s ground, but in approximately 2002, during a turbulent time in their history, Barkingside sold the lease of the ground to Ford FC (now Redbridge) and are now the tenants of Redbridge FC. This is said to be a permanent ground share agreement, so the cynic in me expects it to end soon.

Barkingside play in the Essex Senior League which is at Step 5 of the non league pyramid, some 8 divisions below the Premiership.

There is free car parking at the ground which is only a couple of minutes walk from Barkingside High Street and is adjacent to the Tube station. Indeed the Tube station is immediately behind the main stand at Oakside.

Admission to the ground was £6 which seemed a bit steep when the admission for games to Redbridge was stated on a poster at the turnstiles to be £5. Redbridge being in Step 4 of the non league pyramid!

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Immediately beyond the turnstiles is a rather smart looking clubhouse serving reasonably priced beer and with a function room, pool table etc. Enquiries at the bar sent me back to the turnstile in search of a programme. Despite the face price of the programme being £1-50, the turnstile operator charged me £1 for the programme. This seemed over priced for a photocopied programme that was badly laid out and I’m sad to say does not reflect well on the club.


Being an FA Cup tie, the programme  had 2 pages entitled “Some FA Cup Facts”. These two pages seemed to be about a certain game played in Hereford in February 1972 GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

Has nothing else ever happened in the history of the FA Cup?

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Note the plastic chairs outside the clubhouse. Note no mention of Barkingside FA anywhere around.

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Panoramic View of ground from outside clubhouse

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The Covered terrace looking as if it has seen better days. This is actually the section used for visiting fans in the event of the need for segregation.

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Segregation and the turnstile that is only used when there is a need for segregation. Used last season in Redbridge’s FA Cup run.

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Hardly the Kippax at the former Maine Road.

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Foliage and more segregation halfway along the covered stand. The remainder of the covered stand and the other end of the ground is out of bounds to most spectators.

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Barkingside’s garden? Plant life growing on the covered terrace.

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The Main Stand – yes, really, the main stand at this Step 4 ground. It does not compare to most Northern League grounds. Behind the main stand is Barkingside tube station.

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After the clubhouse, the most impressive part of the ground is the excellent refreshment kiosk serving a wide range of food and drinks all reasonably priced and very tasty.

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The above pictures show the main terraced part of the ground which is a rather unusual split level terrace. At the front there are a small number of very shallow steps that you will note are barely used. Above this there is a level very wide walkway upon which most standing spectators stood. I’m not sure why they didn’t make the terracing steps higher and increase the capacity. It would probably have required less concrete to do this.

One thing you may have noted in the photographs of the ground is the complete lack of advertising surrounding the pitch. It is no surprise that Barkingside struggle for money if they do not/ can not sell ground advertising. Presumably neither can Redbridge FC either.

I was stood on the terrace behind the goal as the game kicked off and a shout out from someone nearby was “Come on the side!” It seemed a strange shout at a football match until I realised that of course the home team were BarkingSIDE

The game itself was a rather even affair. For the first 20+ minutes it was looking only a matter of time before Barkingside took the lead. Indeed they had a goal disallowed in the opening minutes. However, it was Great Yarmouth who took the lead with virtually their first shot of the game! Barkingside equalised at the start of the second half. After that, the game fizzled out  for a draw and a replay which took place on 14th August with Great Yarmouth winning 3-0.

The crowd was stated to be 186, but it seemed lower than that to me. I wonder if the chap below was included in the crowd figures?

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At the start of this year, I posted a Ground Hopping Blog post about my Boxing Day trip to Shildon v Spennymoor. One of the pictures in that blog was this one – On The Shed from NLZ Forum


I wonder if the chap at Barkingside is any relation? Perhaps a long lost relative?

Now Barkingside take their external spectators far more seriously and look after them much better than Shildon do. As you will note, On The Shed at Shildon is sitting alone there looking cold and miserable.

At Barkingside, they allow their external spectator to have a prime position sat behind the goal, and even give him one of the plastic chairs from outside the social club. No need for him to bring his own seat.

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In the following photograph, we see ON THE CHAIR practicing his photography. Perhaps he free-lances by selling action shots to the local paper?

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Now, taking photographs can be a risky business, so Barkingside allocate ON THE CHAIR his own steward to keep him safe from mishit footballs whilst the game is going on and he is taking pictures.

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The Stewards at Barkingside will even ensure no one pinches ON THE CHAIRS seat whilst he wanders off, perhaps for food or a toilet break.

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Shildon FC, you have a lot to learn from Barkingside about spectator care. When are you going to introduce stewards to look after ON THE SHED?

To sum up the day at Barkingside, it is a nice club, lots of friendly people there, but a distinct lack of atmosphere and a ground that is not up to the standard of most Northern League grounds. The pitch was more like a field with wild grass rather than turf. They  may play a step 4 ground, but it does not match most Northern League grounds and the standard of football was no where near as good as at Spennymoor.