Tuesday 8 July 2008

Ford United-Rush Green

Rush Green: former home of Ford United, now playing at Barkingside, and known as Redbridge Football Club. And after they vacated it Romford FC moved in. But now it is empty, with Romford leaving at the end of the 2007/08 season. With the future of the venue now unsure, I popped over there on a sunday afternoon in late May to take some photos of the place. There was a local cup final about to take place, but I decided not to stop for it. My only previous visit was for a Dulwich Hamlet London Senior Cup tie, which we lost 3-1, in the 2000/01 season.. This was "the 'disgraceful' Kevin Holt match"...I will explain!
Kevin was a Dulwich Hamlet supporter, who came to Champion Hill whenever he wasn't playing local Saturday afternoon football himself. He was a half decent player, & even turned out on occasion for our Supporters' Team! He was good enough to go to pre-season trials and got selected for the Hamlet Reserves. He never made the First Team though, but this was his 'almost' moment. This was our disastrous relegation season, we went through three managers-Dave Garland; Les Cleevely & then Gwynne Berry! Martin Eede was the Club Chairman, and we were desperately short of players for this London Cup tie. Martin gave Kevin a last ditch call, late afternoon, asking him to sit on the bench,on behalf of the boss. Kevin obviously agreed practically dropping everything he was doing, and finished work early, dashing across London, battling rush hour traffic. And all he got as thanks was a sore arse as he sat on the bench. Not even a five minute run out in a not very important match that was clearly lost, which would have been a moment he would have cherished forever. Martin Eede went down a little in many supporters' estimations that night. Despite not being in the dug out that night, he was the one who made the call, and could clearly have suggested that Kevin have a bit of a run out, a moment he would have cherished forever. 2000/01 was the last time we got relegated from the Isthmian Premier. From which we've yet to bounce back, sadly. We were rock bottom, with only four wins, and 26 points. Fourteen adrift behind second placed Carshalton Athletic, and a massive 17 from safety! This was the year of the 'Bob the Builder' chant, which wasn't entirely appreciated by Les Cleevely! "Les the manager! Can he fix it? Les the manager! NO HE CAN'T!"

But back to Ford United, or a bit of their history at Rush Green, as taken from one of their old programmes:

" The present Ford United dates from a 1958 0r '59 merger between two older clubs, Ford Sports FC (Dagenham) and Brigg Sports FC, both of which were founded in 1934"
" Brigg Sports played at the Victoria Road ground, now famous as the home of Dagenham & Redbridge. Ford united's old ground was the Ford Sports & Social Club in Rush Green. Romford FC shared the ground in 1995/96, providing valuable funds at a difficult time. Sadly, this pleasant ground was ruled unacceptable to the Isthmian League in summer of 2000 since its owners, Ford Motor Company, would only grant a yearly lease, so some 40 years of history there came to an end. A new home was leased at Oakside Stadium, and the previous lessees (Barkingside FC) are now the tenants. Work to gain an 'A' grade was not quite complete at the start of the new season, which we had to kick off at Dagenham & Redbridge's Victoria Road ground."

This is the sign on the main road.

And the main turnstiles.

This was the match that was on a couple of hours after I
popped in, which was lucky, as I just walked into the social
club, and up the open players' tunnel!

To the left of these turnstiles, is a floodlit pitch, with
no other facilities. Presumably a training pitch, I do not know if
any local intermediate sides use this as a home venue.

And this is the entrance to the social club.

This is the main stand, on the halfway line. I'm going to
walk you clockwise around the ground from here.

To the left of the seats is this terrace.

Which leads you to the corner. It is strange how far away
the pitch is from the fence. Presumably many years ago, I
would hazard a guess, there was some sort of running track
around it.

Behind the stand, outside, is a cricket pitch, part of the Ford
sports & social set up, I presume.

And behind the perimeter, that's behind the goal, is a bit of
training ground, But not used for a while, despite being kept in
decent nick, with the grass being cut, judging by the state
of the old goal, and this piece of groundkeeping equipment.

A look at the stand from behind the goal. Not the little
huts to the left (right as we look at it) This is a toilet block, and
a small, disused, office.

Along the far side is another good stretch of terrace.

A remnant of the previous tenants!

Obviously an exit that hasn't been an exit for quite
a while.

This must have been quite cheap to build, but adequate enough.

Looking back down the side from the far corner.

There is another turnstile block in this corner too.

The same turnstiles from outside.

Back inside, the stand from behind the other goal.

Unlike the other three sides, there's just hard standing &
grass behind this goal.

And finally the last piece of terrace leading back to the stand.
This would be your first sight of the stadium, as you come through
the turnstiles.

They left their corner flags behind!

The dug outs, with the 'obligatory' Sunday League cup final
cans of beer in the dugouts! ;-)

A fading sign, from the old days. Which will be our last
look at Rush Green.


Joris said...

Do you know if this ground is still there?

Rabbler said...

To be honest I don't know. I'm pretty certain no senior non-league club uses it anymore, but haven't heard it hads gone, so am pretty sure it is still there. It's not my area of London, so don't travel over that way.

Anonymous said...

Yes it's still there but not being used... Saturday teams use the training pitches. It was said that West Ham United was to buy the whole lot for their training ground.

Rabbler said...

Thank yo 'Anonymous'. Had heard that West ham rumour a couple of years ago too.

Anonymous said...

Heard recently that there is a joint venture between West Ham and a local non league team to use it again from next season.

Anonymous said...

as from next season 2012/2013 it will be the home of the blues Grays Athletic

Anonymous said...

West Ham reserves still playing there during the 2013/2014 season.

Anonymous said...

This is now West Ham's training ground for the first team