Hornchurch get off to a dream start

PUBLISHED: 16:30 16 August 2018

George Saunders of Hornchurch on the ball against Wingate & Finchley (Pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

George Saunders of Hornchurch on the ball against Wingate & Finchley (Pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

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Callum Chafer of Hornchurch against Wingate & Finchley (Pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)Callum Chafer of Hornchurch against Wingate & Finchley (Pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

It’s fair to say that few of our supporters expect miracles this season, and the visit of Leatherhead was something of a voyage into the unknown.

After three seasons in the lower division, we were apprehensive, to put it mildly.

So when Brad Warner moved on to a George Purcell pass and hammered home the opening goal, much of the tension began to evaporate.

It was to get much better in the second half, when Purcell and Warner linked up to send Jay Porter away on the left.

His finish, gliding the ball past the visiting keeper, was immaculate, but the icing on the cake came midway through the half, when George Saunders left his marker trailing in his wake and sent over a perfect cross to the waiting Sean Marks to put us three goals ahead.

And that is how it stayed, and there was little that Leatherhead could do about it.

A particular mention to George Saunders. He had three seasons at Billericay in their youth team, and then joined Harold Hill in the Essex Olympian League.

The Kelvedon Hatch manager, Darren Hunt, himself an ex-Hornchurch player with over 130 appearances in their first team between 1996 and 1999, encouraged him to join Kelvedon Hatch, and he quickly became a regular choice in their first eleven.

But Kelvedon Hatch is three levels below the Isthmian Premier Division, and it was a massive step-up for a 20-year old.

He excelled in the pre-season matches, and was deservedly included in the starting line up against Leatherhead.

Sean Marks also made his debut in the same match, as did Callum Chafer, who returned to Hornchurch after spells at Redbridge, Romford and Bowers & Pitsea.

But we will have to wait a little longer for our two signings from Thurrock FC, as Jordan Clark was away on business, and Lewwis Spence is nursing an injury.

Our first away match of the season took us to Summers Lane, Finchley, home of Wingate & Finchley, and our line up was unchanged.

The ground is unique in as much as, from the main stand, one corner of the pitch is completely obscured by a well-maintained and very large privet hedge, so anything that happens in that section of the pitch remains a mystery to patrons of the main stand.

Wingate can also claim another ‘first’ at our level of football, as they charge £5 to park in their car park.

The car park is right behind the goal, and the car windscreens serve as an excellent ball-boy for any wayward shots.

This was one of those games where both clubs could claim they could have won, with Wingate possibly having more justification to the claim. George Purcell put us ahead after six minutes, from a Sean Marks pass, and we could have been home and dry by the interval, but chances were missed and Wingate came back strongly in the second half, where own goal came under threat.

It was no surprise when Wingate equalised, and there were two other near misses before we weathered the storm.

We had a big scare when our goalkeeper, Callum Chafer, needed a long spell of attention before being able to resume, but the biggest worry came when the referee indicated that there would be seven minutes added for stoppages.

And the home following was equally concerned, because play was swinging from end to end, and both sides went close before the final whistle came after what seemed a very long seven minutes.

Off the field our Supporters Association has taken over the production of the match programme.

Last season it was voted the best programme in the league, a fitting tribute to Peter Butcher, so it is not an easy act to follow.

But we were caught out completely by the demand, and sold out twenty five minutes before the kick off against Leatherhead.

So full marks to the production team for a programme that was arguably better than last season’s award winning production.

The print run will be increased for our next home match, so hopefully everyone will be able to get a copy.

The other big achievement was that we managed to get sponsorship for every player, and all of the management team, prior to the opening match of the season, which, for a club with very limited funds, brings in extra revenue at the commencement of the season.

This Saturday we are away to Enfield Town at their Donkey Lane stadium.

This is yet another severe test for our players and supporters, as Enfield are one of the teams tipped to be in the play-offs. But whatever the result, the car park is free, so we will not have to fork out another £5 to park up.

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