Hornchurch surprised in sunny Sudbury

PUBLISHED: 14:47 18 January 2016 | UPDATED: 14:47 18 January 2016

George Purcell of Hornchurch runs with the ball chased by Sudbury's Ryan Henshaw (pic: Mick Kearns/TGSPHOTO)

George Purcell of Hornchurch runs with the ball chased by Sudbury's Ryan Henshaw (pic: Mick Kearns/TGSPHOTO)

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We arrived at Sudbury on Saturday, and were welcomed by their chairman, Phil Turner, with the words - ‘I used to play for Hornchurch, in the days when they were known as Hornchurch & Upminster. I played for the club’s ‘A’ team’.

This was in 1958 and after a little piece of research we also found that he had played for the reserve team in that season.

Hornchurch had only made one previous visit to Sudbury, and that was in January 2007 when Mark Janney scored in the 1-1 draw.

Jim McFarlane is the only player still remaining with Hornchurch, and he is of course now our manager. But Colin McBride, now our chief executive, was the manager in that match. This was at the start of what proved to be a record-breaking run of 36 matches unbeaten.

The unbeaten run began in November 2006 when McFarlane scored the only goal in an uninspiring match at Flackwell Heath.

Jim was also in the news 36 matches later, when the final match in the near eight-month run saw Hornchurch win 5-4 at Ashford in Middlesex.

But this time it was because he broke a leg early in the match.

Of those 36 matches, 29 were won, seven were drawn and the goals scored was an impressive 90 against 27 conceded.

Both Jim and Colin were very unhappy with the match on Saturday, when four Hornchurch players were booked for what seemed trivialities, whilst the worst foul of the match, on Jed Chouman, went unpenalised.

But what really upset both management, players and supporters occurred in the final minute of stoppage time when a defending player ‘caught’ the ball inside the penalty area. And when that player is not the goalkeeper, one usually expects a penalty to be awarded!

In this case the referee allowed play to continue and Sudbury survived to gain a point.

And what about the 3G pitch? Well, it was nice and green, but it certainly was not grass. Enough said.

Overall we were happy with the point, although disappointed at the same time, as we felt that we deserved all three.

We are now seven points behind the leaders, Sudbury, who prior to the Hornchurch match, had won 10 matches in a row.

Colin is confident we can pull back this deficit and so are our supporters, who turned out in large numbers at sunny-but-freezing Sudbury on Saturday, and whose vocal support was very much appreciated by management and players alike.

Our under-21 team also played on Saturday, but lost 4-3 at Weeley Athletic in the Essex Premier Cup.

And our Youth Alliance side played on Friday afternoon against Romford, who play their matches at Barking FC, and they won 3-1 to go joint second in the table.

We have no midweek matches, and our next game is on Saturday, when we welcome Soham Town Rangers to the Bridge.

We have never played them in a league match before, but Soham have made one previous visit to the Bridge, in November 2005, when Hornchurch lost 3-1 in the FA Vase, before a crowd of 456.

George Purcell needs one more goal to equal the record of 94, set by Allan Noonan, and we are hoping he can achieve this on Saturday.

George has also scored nine goals in pre-season matches, so his grand total stands on 102 goals for the Urchins.

Noonan took 231 matches to reach his record; George has so far played in 139 games.

Can I remind all programme collectors that we have been given a large quantity of old Hornchurch programmes by the Romford Recorder and we will have these available in the club shop on Saturday.

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