East Thurrock United 5 Weston Super-Mare 1. (15/10/2016).
Today’s trip completes yet again a visit to every ground in the Conference South. It was only a few years ago when I went to Thurrock FC who play about 10.5 miles away. That club used to be called Purfleet and play in the Town of Aveley. East Thurrock play in the Town of Corringham. There is no such place as Thurrock as it’s the name of the Borough. The clubs have traded spaces over the last few years in terms of football non league status. While East Thurrock are now in the Conference South, Thurrock used to be in that league but are now in the Isthmian league North division.
A train to London Kings Cross necessitated a change to get the Underground to Aldgate station. From there it was a 10 minute walk to Fenchurch Street Station for the Southend train to take me to Stanford Le Hope. After 50 minutes on that train I arrived but needed a bus to take me to East Thurrock FC as it was several miles away from the Station.
The Rookery Hill ground is tucked away amongst some trees and nice houses. The first impression of the ground seems like a rag-tag collection of wooden huts, mobile huts and converted shipping containers. The club was formed in 1969 from the basis of a successful Sunday league side. They started off in lower leagues before moving up the pyramid system and were only promoted to the Conference South in the play off’s last season. Just a couple of years ago they came up to Hartlepool in the FA cup but were beaten. Hartlepool then played Blyth Spartans in the next round and we all know what happened there.
The ground has a 4,000 capacity with seats for 160. It’s another one of those grounds where they would either have to move to a new ground or do substantial work if they wished to progress any further up the system. There only seems to be a one or two turnstiles but it was not going to cause any problems today as unfortunately the club does not get really get good gates despite its position in the pyramid.
There is a small seated stand on the half way line of the near side pitch and another on the far side of the ground. That stand on the far side is more to the right of the half way line. There are two concrete terraces with shelters either side of one of the goals and nothing at the other end. The only other bit of cover for standing spectators is along the same side as the far seated stand. Inside the ground are even more shipping containers serving as several different functions. I do not think I have seen as much shipping debris in all my life at a ground on my travels.
The hosts kicked off and took the lead on 22 minutes. Weston-Super-Mare were not giving up and equalised on half time to put them back in the game. However once the match restarted the hosts blasted in two goals in a seven minute period to give the visitors a mountain to climb. Then on 72 and 80 minutes the hosts secured their victory with two more goals to make it 5-1. Sadly there was only 242 spectators at the game. That included the 5 travelling fans from Weston Super Mare who would have to make the 192 mile (over 3 hours) back home on a miserable day for them. We have all been there at some point have we not?
I had completed the South yet again but my best bit of the day was news Blyth’s win at Hednesford.
Journey- Started 7.45 am, returned 11.30 pm.
Miles travelled- 585 round trip
Time spent with wife that day- 5 minutes.