Competition: Blue Square Bet Conference South
Date: 9th March 2013
Venue: Hornchurch Stadium, Hornchurch
Another new ground today. I had been hoping to head over to Ascot to see Ascot United FC v Shildon AFC in the FA Vase 6th round replay, but time was not on my side. After attending at Lea Valley Youth Cycling Club’s Saturday morning club session in my role at Child Welfare Officer, I would not have had sufficient time to drive across or round London from Essex to Berkshire so it was time to find another game to attend. Using the comprehensive fixture guide in the Non League Paper, I saw that AFC Hornchurch were playing at home to Bath City. This was very local to me and seemed a good opportunity, especially since my friend and long suffering Leyton Orient fan Greg lived in Hornchurch & we had previously talked about going to see them play.
Greg despite being busy for work decided to accompany me to the game. So we headed off to Hornchurch Stadium, me for my first visit, but Greg had been there before to watch his son play in a schoolboy cup final. First impressions of the area round the ground were that it was smarter than the area surrounding most football grounds.
The ground itself has numerous turnstiles, but only one of them was open and for some reason some were labelled A to F, but others were not labelled at all.
Rather like Chelmsford City & Enfield Town, AFC Hornchurch play in an athletics Stadium, but unlike the above two clubs, the ground does not have temporary stands erected behind the goals to enable spectators to watch from there.
The first impression of the ground is a little misleading. It looks at first glance to be a little ramshackle with at least 2 different stands down each side of the ground. On the far side there are two small simple seated stands with a small amount of uncovered terracing at either end of the stands
I think however, that first glance is a little unfair as the ground served it purpose. On the side nearest the turnstiles, there are a number of sections all covered, some temporary seating, a directors box and a covered terrace which was home to the Urchin’s vocal support. For a group that were small in numbers, they certainly made plenty of noise with almost 90 minutes of singing and drumming. A mixture of songs, supporting the Urchins (Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough” was a favourite) and songs taunting local rivals including Grays and Chelmsford City amongst others.
To be fair, there was a decent contingent up from Bath as well and they also made their presence known. It was great to see two sets of supporters getting behind their teams and inter reacting with each other without a police officer or heavy handed steward in sight.
The game itself was a fascinating affair. It was hard to believe Hornchurch were in the bottom three of the division. They created lots of chances, but seemed to have trouble finishing them. The Hornchurch number 9 made lots of good runs and got himself in excellent positions, but only scored once. The player that impressed most was the Hornchurch defender Alex Bentley. He was by far the best player on the pitch and could easily play at a much higher level. He was playing on the left side of a back three. Ironically Orient are desperately in need of a good left sided defender. Russell Slade could do worse than to take a look at him.
One thing I have not mentioned so far is the running track surrounding the pitch. As you know I do not like watching football from behind a running track, but the atmosphere created by both sets of fans, especially the Urchins small but vocal fans and the ability to stand on the terraces made it less unpleasant than normal.
Overall, it was a good day out, with a good standard of football and a loyal and vocal home crowd.If they play like they did today, it is hard to see that Hornchurch will not stay up. For £11 admission, it is good value for money and far more enjoyable than paying £40+ to watch Premiership football in a sterile atmosphere. At Hornchurch you can bring your pint with you on the terraces!
The TV Gantry – Not as many cameras as Sky use
The Sky Box in the BSB Conference South is less Glamorous than at Old Trafford
Brings A New Meaning For “In the Net”
Part of the Bath Travelling Support
Watching Football From The Bar
Admission Price £11 (seating / standing all at same price)