Hornchurch striker Purcell breaks goal record in Hertford victory

PUBLISHED: 13:00 07 February 2018

Hornchurch striker George Purcell (Pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Hornchurch striker George Purcell (Pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

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It seemed strange not having a midweek game, and, with the rain falling throughout Saturday morning and continuing during the afternoon, we began to wonder if we would have a match on Saturday.

The Hertford car park that greeted us was a full of puddles, and the pitch already appeared in poor shape, deteriorating rapidly in the second half.

With no cover along the sides of the ground, it was either stand behind the goal or sit in the impressive but very steep grandstand.

The large following from Hornchurch elected to stand behind the goal and they were quickly rewarded with an early goal from Theo Fairweather-Johnson.

It was a lead that we were grateful to get, as our defence had to soak up a lot of pressure from the lively home forwards, with Sam Mott in goal having a lot more to do than normal.

With half time approaching, Fairweather-Johnson got onto the end of a Nathan Livings free kick to put us two goals ahead, and as the second half wore on, the playing surface rapidly deteriorated and Hertford gradually lost their forward momentum, and it was no surprise when George Purcell added the third, from a penalty after Alex Bentley had been brought down.

And for Purcell, already our all-time leading scorer in senior football, it was yet another landmark.

Few of our supporters have heard of Robert A. Hall, and perhaps this is understandable.

He made his debut in our first season of senior football, at Vauxhall Motors in the Spartan League in 1938, and again played in the opening match of the 1939 season at Welwyn Garden City.

And then the War intervened. Senior football ceased.

He was a regular member of our team during the War years, when we played in local leagues, supplemented by friendly matches, often against military teams stationed at Warley Barracks, and he was a prolific goal scorer.

At the conclusion of the war, the then Upminster FC could not field a team in the Spartan League due to lack of sufficient players of senior standard, so they operated in the Romford & District League, winning the league by one point from Heath United.

Details of appearances are sparse in that season but we know that Robert Hall hit another ten goals, and when we returned to Spartan League football the following season he played just once, scoring in our 9-0 win over Stevenage Town.

So, although he only managed one goal from his three appearances in senior football, his scoring success in the War years was quite remarkable, and in total he scored 123 goals from his 83 appearances, an outstanding tally regardless of the standard of mainly wartime football.

And that record stood until 4.23 pm on Saturday, when George Purcell, covered in mud and soaking wet, hammered the ball hard into the net from the penalty spot for his 124th goal for Hornchurch.

So it’s congratulations once again to George Purcell, but let’s not forget Robert Albert Hall.

We know nothing about him, we do not even have a photo of him, but his outright scoring record stood for over seventy years.

We are at home to Haringey Borough this Saturday.

We won 2-0 at their ground in January, our goals coming from Theo Fairweather-Johnson and Leon McKenzie.

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