Bostik North: Double derby delight for Hornchurch

PUBLISHED: 15:30 23 August 2017

Hornchurch fans look on at Bridge Avenue (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

Hornchurch fans look on at Bridge Avenue (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

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Hornchurch cameraman Rob Monger records match highlights at Bridge Avenue (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)Hornchurch cameraman Rob Monger records match highlights at Bridge Avenue (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

Two local derbies in the space of three days, four goals, and none conceded.

It’s never easy when you go to a new ground, especially one with an artificial surface, but it was also a new venue for Grays, who this season are again sharing with Aveley.

The old Aveley ground is now very much a demolition site, and Mill Field will shortly be covered with houses, all in the name of progress.

With new housing all along the Aveley bypass, how long will it be before the new Aveley ground is in the middle of a housing estate?

Hornchurch goalkeeper Sam Mott kept clean sheets in derby wins over Grays and Brentwood (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)Hornchurch goalkeeper Sam Mott kept clean sheets in derby wins over Grays and Brentwood (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

As for the ground, plenty of covered seating, but it’s best not to sit in the front rows when it rains. Not a great deal of standing terracing, though.

Both teams struggled to get used to the showers of black pellets, which came up every time the ball bounced, and it was a nail-biting encounter, which could easily have gone either way.

But once Brad Warner opened the scoring, there was little doubt about the eventual outcome, although we all gave a sigh of relief when George Purcell scored the second goal in stoppage time.

FA Cup matches are always something of a lottery, no matter who you play, and the Brentwood game was no exception.

We were beginning to wonder if the missed chances in the first half were going to prove costly, but on a day when a strong and swirling wind made conditions difficult, with passes going astray, Hornchurch took the lead through Ross Wall on 63 minutes, and then had to withstand a strong Brentwood rally before Wall secured the win with a well-taken header six minutes from time.

The crowd at the Brentwood game was 80 per cent higher than the attendance we had for our opening match against Soham, which is very encouraging, and the game provided excellent entertainment.

With our next home game being on Bank Holiday Monday against Romford, we are hoping for an excellent turnout for that one as well.

On Saturday we travel to Bury St Edmunds, which is always popular with our away following.

The centre of the town, with its narrow streets and quaint shops, is always an attraction as is the magnificent Abbey and its gardens, within five minutes walk of the Ram Meadow ground.

It also has what is claimed to be the country’s smallest pub, The Nutshell, and when we went to Bury last season, it boasted a large new restaurant inside the ground, which we were told is open seven days a week.

Last season we won 2-0, both goals coming from Ayrton Coley, who now plays for Haringey Borough, and eight of the squad involved that day have since moved on.

We also won the return match at Bridge Avenue, by a 3-2 margin, with Wall scoring twice and Leon McKenzie netting the other with a penalty.

Last season we relied heavily on Leon to get the goals, but he has yet to find the net this season. Instead the goals have been spread around: two from Purcell, three from Wall and two from Warner.

On Monday we entertain Romford with a 3pm kick off and exprct to get our biggest crowd so far this season.

Matches against Romford have always proved to be difficult. We first played them in the Essex Senior League in 2005-06, winning 2-0 away, at Ford United’s ground, and 3-0 at home.

We then had to wait 10 years for our next meetings, and Romford won both of them – 2-0 at Thurrock and 1-0 at Bridge Avenue.

It got a little bit better last season, with no goals at Thurrock in the away match and a single goal win in the return, with Teddy Nesbitt, who now plays for Canvey island, scoring for us on the hour mark.

Going back even further, to the ‘old’ Romford, we have only met them three times in competitive matches.

The first of these was in 1948 when the then-Upminster were drawn at home to Romford in an FA Cup match and, with justifiable concerns that the ground could not cope with the crowd expected to attend, the match was switched to the much larger Brooklands, where a crowd of 7,088 saw Romford win 2-0.

It seems incredible today that such large crowds could turn out, but in the same season Romford had almost 10,000 for the next round, against Brentwood & Warley, over 9,000 against Barking in the following round, and 13,308 when they played Gillingham.

They eventually lost 4-0 at Yeovil in the first round of the FA Cup, but the attendance figure was not quoted.

Ten years later, Hornchurch & Upminster won 3-2 at Brooklands, before a crowd of 2,600, and the only other encounter was also in the Cup, in 1960, when Romford won 3-0, also against Hornchurch & Upminster, before a crowd of 3,292.

We will certainly not get an attendance anywhere close to those figures on Monday, but we hope to continue our upward trend with our best crowd of the season so far.

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