Fair play to those Urchins
Power to the People: Congratulations Hornchurch!
What a finish!
Hornchurch’s last-gasp, promotion-clinching triumph over Lowestoft will certainly live long in the memory.
Play-offs are great, if you end up on the winning side, and I was delighted for Colin McBride, Jimmy McFarlane, John Purdie and the players and staff.
Their semi-final success against Bury had been a tense evening, but nothing compared to Bank Holiday Monday at Bridge Avenue.
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Lowestoft brought several coachloads down from the Suffolk coast, swelling the attendance to 1,411, and it was great to see the ground so busy.
The two teams certainly provided a spectacle, with so much at stake, and tensions and tempers were quick to rise.
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Unable to secure a seat (or Wi-Fi connection) in the press box, I took up a station right behind the Hornchurch dug-out.
Unfortunately, my position for the next 120 minutes was right in front of some loud-mouthed visiting supporters.
I appreciate football fans are passionate and like to get behind their team, but some do like to get sidetracked and start slinging abuse, completely forgetting there is a game going on.
It’s sad to see middle-aged mums and dads hurling insults, calling someone a “monkey” and trying to provoke a reaction.
Extra stewards were sent round to difuse the situation but some people do like to have the last word don’t they?
Thankfully, Michael Spencer let his feet do the talking on the pitch and his winning goal, late in extra time, silenced the terrace boo-boys, leaving Lowestoft to trudge off contemplating a second successive play-off final defeat.
Hornchurch players and supporters celebrated wildly on the pitch after the final whistle and with a little more decorum in the clubhouse and why not?
It has been a bit of a rollercoaster over the past few years, but now Urchins are back in Conference South.
The club topped that division back in the 2004/05 season, before running into financial trouble.
Reforming at Essex Senior League level, a new-look squad won the treble under former youth-team manager John Lawrence.
And McBride was then brought in from Thurrock and took Urchins to the Ryman One North title, finishing 21 points clear and unbeaten in a club record 35 matches.
They also lifted the Essex Senior Cup and, in 2007/08 secured a Premier Division play-off place before losing to AFC Wimbledon.
Urchins finished just outside those places in sixth a year later, before McBride handed over managerial duties to McFarlane to concentrate on saving the club’s future.
McFarlane kept Urchins in the mix for the next two campaigns, finishing seven points off a play-off place in ninth, then just four points away in tenth.
And they got there this year, winning more games than any other side in the Ryman Premier to finish just three points behind champions Billericay, who they will now lock horns with again next season.
Come on you Urchins!!