The AFC Hornchurch Blog

PUBLISHED: 15:00 06 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:35 06 September 2018

Hornchurch players warm up ahead of a game (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Hornchurch players warm up ahead of a game (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

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We maintained our unbeaten record with our fifth drawn game in a row, against Carshalton on Saturday last. We have only ourselves to blame as we had enough chances to have been comfortably ahead at half time.

Instead, all we had to show for our dominance was a George Purcell penalty, after he had been brought down in full flight towards goal.

It was a very different story in the second half, when Carshalton introduced their substitutes, who proceeded to take control both in midfield and along the flanks, and it was no surprise when they drew level with six minutes left to play.

Without a match in midweek, we hastily arranged a friendly at Barking FC, but this had to be called off at late notice, but it gave some of our supporters a chance to watch our youth team, against Ilford in the FA Youth Cup.

Two goals down at one point, they came back to win by three goals to two, and they now travel to Tilbury in the next round.

It’s the FA Cup this week, and our visitors are Harrow borough, who last season played in the Isthmian League, but who have now been transferred to the Southern League, so they are very much of an unknown quantity.

When we think of the FA Cup, we tend to think of Darlington, Peterborough, and Boston and of course Tranmere, and the disallowed goal and the penalty that was never awarded, which allowed Tranmere to progress in highly controversial circumstances.

But we could also look back to 1948, when we had our largest ever attendance in a cup match.

Highlight of season 1948-49 was a good run in the FA Cup. Sawbridgeworth and Crittall Athletic were both beaten in replays, before Upminster went out at Romford from the Isthmian League.

Upminster were drawn at home, but the match was switched to Brooklands.

The programme was produced by Romford FC and explained in detail why the switch took place – “It is regretted that such an enterprising club as our visitors are obliged to take such action owing to lack of suitable accommodation in a continual expanding district.

It is our hope that in the near future they will be fortunate enough to secure a ground similar or even better than our own”.

The Upminster programme editor was philosophical about the result - “We have said goodbye to the FA Cup for this season, but it can be said that our boys put up their best display yet, losing 2-1 to Romford.

“For a long time Upminster looked like winners, and Romford were fortunate to be on terms at the interval.

“However they were worthy winners at the final whistle.

“Patterson put more life into our forward line, which did better than at any time previously this season.”

One and all are to be congratulated on so nearly reaching Isthmian League standard at this early stage of the season.

The big gate proved the wisdom of our club officials in transferring the match to Romford.

A gate of this size on the Recreation Ground under present circumstances is unthinkable”. The attendance at Brooklands was 7,088 and receipts were reported as £310-4-0.

To put the attendance into perspective, Romford beat Brentwood & Warley in the next round, before a crowd of 8,660, and then they beat Barking before 8,263 Next up was Gillingham, and 13,308 turned up at Brooklands, which was reported to be capable of holding 25,000.

Romford finally went out at Yeovil, but there is no record of the attendances.

We are certainly not going to get as many through the gate for Saturday’s match, but we can be certain that the gate receipts will be bigger than in 1948. And of course we no longer need to switch matches to our opponent’s ground.

And as for Brooklands, it has since gone the way of so many grounds in this area - it is now a housing estate. So many grounds have met a similar fate - Leytonstone, Ilford, Walthamstow, Rainham, with Grays the latest to join the housing club, and with Thurrock the most recent to be lost to football.

Nest in line for the inevitable? Possibly Thurrock FC, now unused, or the Arena Essex speedway - when will it ever end?

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