I've never been to The Oval, home of Eastbourne United Association before. So when the Hamlet were in town last week I took the opportunity to have a look. It's certainly a strange ground, the 'oval' being a disused track, and the closed main stand, and a few steps of terracing down the sides being a long way from the modern inner railings around the touchline. Despite being basic and run down, there is a 'ghostliness of character' about this venue, only a stones throw from the sea.
Having seen the place it's certainly somewhere I would like to go back to to watch a match & 'tick off' one day.
The club in it's current incarnation is the result of a merger between Eastbourne United & Shinewater Association,in 2003, & this is their current crest.
Fading, on another board, is the old Eastbourne United crest. The new one may be modern, & encompass both clubs, but I must prefer the traditional one.
Here is the entrance to the ground.
The sign on the gate tells you it is a local council facility.
Just inside the gates is this hut, presumably where they take the actual gate from.
A welcoming sign, albeit slightly vandalised.
As we look behind the goal, from the corner with the entrance, you can clearly see the old cinders, from the old track. And the hard standing inside it, behind the goal. The pitch is railed off inside the old track all the way round.
The ground is open on three sides, from this first corner we look across to the far open side, and the other goalmouth.
We start to move round, clockwise, taking the hardstanding behind the goal as our route.
Directly behind the goal we look towards the far side.
And back down the main side, where all the club failities are, which we will soon get a closer look at.
Now we're on the far side. The rails, & hard standing close to the touchline. Old track behind, with steps of terracing behind that. Presumably in times past, when the track was in use, there would have been a fence in front of this.
Here we look directly down the hard standing, towards the dugouts.
And here is the old terracing, set back behind the old track.
Here are the dugouts.
Past the dugouts it's more open hardstanding. I'll bet this is a bit bleak on a rainy winters midweek night!
Moving on, behind the goal, the rail seems a long way from the action.
Why it was railed off so far back I have no idea, but from the corner of the rails you can seen how far away the corner flag is.
The track is clear here, despite being derelict.
Now down the main side, the stand looks so weird, being set so far back.
Here we look down the hard standing by the touchline.
Here we have the old stand, with a few steps of old terracing in front of it.
Here is my best shot of the ground. Note the barrier at the top of the steps to the stnad. It appears to be disused now, so there are presumably 'officially' no seats or cover here.
Here is one of the barriers.
Didn't stop me mind! ;-)
It's a long way to the pitch, with a 'tunnel' of rails.
And this is looking back the other way.
Were there once more of those slatted rows. Or was this a 'concession' to ground gradings, to create some sort of "directors' area?"
And from the other end of the stand we look up the ground.
Back down below we look back at the stand and stretch of terracing.
Moving on we look down the open 'tunnel'.
Here we see the bar, tea bar, and changing room area.
The traditional half time raffle board.
And poignantly the club war memorial outside the clubhouse.
Back to the corner where we came into the ground and we look down the main side, with an excellent view of the terracing along here.
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You're right about the badge. Looks like something Pizza Hut would come up with if they started selling hoovers.
The terracing on the far side was covered until the 1987 or 1990 storm.
Eastbourne utd were once the top club in the town and were managed by Ron Greenwood.
Thanks for that info Ian, didn't know about the Ron Greenwood connection either.
sorry to say the wonderful stand is due to be knocked down.When utd got to the vase quarter final in the late 70's it was full with Billericay fans.
The terracing that sits on the far side was covered and also had a tea hut built into it.This was damaged in the hurricane of 87.
The terracing in front of the club house had the pitch fence right in front of it.This fence went right around the whole running track.
It is sad to see the oval as it looks today.I blame the council.
But it is all going to be changed in the near future.So fans need to go and have a look as soon as possible.
I remember this ground back in the 1960's when Eastbourne United played in the Metropolitan league. In those days there would often be a crown of about 700 spectators. I knew because I was a ball boy there in those days. Then there was a stone and brick stand all alone the opposite side to the current (soon to be demolished old stand). In those days it was a proud club doing well in non-league football. What happened?
Just to let you know that the stand has now been demolished
Anon: Not a story unique to Eastbourne United. At least they still survive. Many great old names have disappeared completely.
Stuart: Thanks for that info. I will have another look there next season, when Dulwich Hamlet are away to Eastbourne Town, so I can see if anything has replaced it.
There are some great photos of the stand on the Eastbourne utd website
Eastbourne Utd have plans in place to build new stands to satisfy ground grading requirements, I believe for March 2012's inspection. If you have a chance it'll be well worth coming for another look.
My mates and I used to sneak under the metal gates to play on the Oval pitch. We felt like we were playing in the FA Cup final. My first match watched at this ground was 0-3 against Corinthian Casuals, when, amazingly, all three goals were penalties. In later years during my Eastbourne tenure, I represented Ratton School in the Sussex Schools' athletics championship, and then the main stand became a particularly useful spot for wooing and acts of a carnal nature. Shame on me, I agree, but I always will hold the Oval in fond memory.
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