Saturday, September 22, 2007

Stanway Rovers FC

Stanway Rovers 4 Hullbridge Sports 2 - FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round

Stanway, is a pleasant village on the north-eastern bank of the river Roman, and on the London Road, 4 miles west of Colchester, and about a mile east of Marks Tey Station, on the Eastern Counties Railway. Its parish is traversed by the railway, and contains many scattered houses, extending eastward to Bottle End, which is partly in Lexden parish. The large Workhouse of Lexden and Winstree Union is here. Stanway has a fair on the 23rd of April, and had its name from its situation on the Stone Way, or Roman military road, leading from Bishop Stortford, through Dunmow and Braintree, to Colchester, and from which the London road diverges at Marks Tey. It was held by Earl Harold, in the Confessor’s reign, and then in two parishes, called Stanway Magna and Parva, but they were consolidated some centuries ago.

I had read reports of other people's visits to The Hawthorns and was inspired to make the journey myself. On this occasion I was grateful to my neighbour for a lift to and from Stanway for this match. 

We travelled from Cheshunt via the A10, A414 and A120, which was as direct a route as possible when looking to avoid the M25. The A120 meets the A12 at Marks Tey but it is here that you leave both routes taking London Road which proceeds to Stanway.

If travelling by public transport, the options appear to be to travel by train to either Colchester or Marks Tey, then by bus. For Saturday matches the buses appear to be frequent but less so for midweek.

The Hawthorns is a compact ground with two identical covered seated stands on one side of the pitch. If viewing these stands from elsewhere in the ground, the imposing sight of the old workhouse is prominent in the background.

The only structures on the opposite side are the dugouts. However behind these are some enclosed five a side pitches and laying back from here are a couple of buildings housing the tea bar, directors lounge and the players & officials changing facilities.

Behind one goal is a narrow covered area which would be welcome by those opting to stand during those rainy moments. The entrance to the ground is also at this end. The other end of the ground is as narrow but uncovered, backing on to a builders merchant.

The match proved entertaining with Stanway Rovers dominating the early proceedings and at the break they led 2-0. It was not long into the 2nd period that they added a third and all thoughts of extra time disappeared? Not so, as suddenly Hullbridge Sports woke up and following a fine individual goal and another close range effort set about looking for an equalizer. However the next goal went to Stanway and it was the home side that progressed to the next round of this national competition.

I was curious to learn more about the unusual badge sported by Mr Gromulus, one of the linesmen and asked him as the officials left the field at half time. With the referees help, I was informed that the badge was that of the Slovakian football authorities. This was my opportunity to recount my work trip to Bratislava some years back and he seemed impressed as he dashed off for his half time cuppa!

Attendance: 69
Admission: £5
Programme: with admission
Tea: 50p

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