Saturday, January 28, 2006

Hullbridge Sports FC

Hullbridge Sports 2 Concord Rangers 1 - Essex Senior League

Hullbridge started as a small hamlet with a few cottages, surrounded by farmland, clustered round an inn on the riverside. It was here that pilgrims crossed the river on their way to Canterbury. Signs of the old causeway can still be seen at low tide but the bridge said to have spanned the river from circa 1240 to Cromwell's time, no remains are left to be seen. In latter years a ferry-man would row children across the river from Woodham Ferrers to the Old School House in Hullbridge (still standing in Ferry Road). Incidentally, Jock, the last of the ferry-men, was a stand-in for Johnny Weissmuller, the first Tarzan of the movies.

The inability of Tottenham Hotspur to hang on to a 2-0 advantage at Leicester City earlier this month meant a blank Saturday and an opportunity to visit pastures new. Hullbridge is easily reached by regular bus connections from Rayleigh station. Firstbus operate at 15 minute intervals during the day and the journey takes 10 minutes. I have seen both Hullbridge and visitors Concord Rangers already this season. Besides being bottom of the Essex Senior League prior to this fixture, I have yet to see Hullbridge suffer defeat (2-2 at Basildon United being the other match) whereas I have yet to see 5th placed Concord win (a 2-1 reverse at home to Welwyn Garden City being the previous occasion). Hullbridge were the better team for most of the match and their 2-1 victory was just about right. Harry Hotspur accompanied me to this fixture and he does like to assist with the retrieval of wayward shots. However, this ball boy surpassed himself on Saturday when midway through the 2nd period was spotted warming up with the Concord substitutes!

The Lower Road ground is, to say the least, very basic. There is a small covered enclosure providing shelter from adverse weather, with about 8 seats towards the front. Additional seating can also be found at both ends of the ground in the form of tip-up seats in single rows. I doubt there are much more than 30 seats in total. There is a decent clubhouse serving real ale (Greene King IPA) and a refreshment bar providing the usual fare (a tray of hot chips did the trick for me on what was a very cold day). You can hide in large crowds in covered grounds but at senior league level you are much more exposed. With such a low attendance, there is unlikely to much in the way of crowd atmosphere. However a small group of Hullbridge youths headed by a young Southend United fan with a drum did create some noise competing against the wind for much of the time though.

Attendance: 29
Admission: £5.00
Programme: £1.00
Tea: 50p
Chips: £1.00
Train: £4.60 Day Return from Zone 6 with Gold Card discount
Bus: £2.50 Day Return from Rayleigh

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