I visited Harold Wood Athletic on the 22nd May 2010, for my first dip into the Essex Olympian League. It was a Premier division match against Frenford Senior, which clinched the title for them with a game to spare, coming from a goal behind, to win by the odd goal in three.
The ground was very basic, as expected at Step Seven, in a public park, but the pitch was fully roped off &, unusually, had portable advertising boards around it.
The weather was good, which helped with a much larger than usual crowd, which included quite a few groundhoppers.
The pavilion, with the clubhouse & bar is home to a number of different sports, not just football.
This is the park they play in,maintained by Havering Council.
The club buildings were part-funded by the Football Foundation, & are only about a year old, after the old one burnt down.
The game is about to kick off in lovely end of season sunshine.
Here we go, game on! With a nice leafy backdrop.
I walked across the park, from an entrance a fair way from the clubhouse, which in itself was set back from the pitch. I arrived at the ground at this corner, the buildings way beyond the far goal.
Here we look down the touchline, but we're actually going to go 'left' from this photo, around the ground in a clockwise direction.
As you can see, fully roped off.
From behind the goal we look back down the touchline again.
A zoomed in shot of action at the other end.
This chap is a local 'hopper, who is a former Walthamstow Avenue fan, & recalled the old Champion Hill home of Dulwich Hamlet. His father played for the Avenue just after the War.
Here comes the visitors' only goal, giving them the lead.
More on the pitch action, the home side in the claret & blue.
Moving on past the goal, we continue around the ropes toward the corner.
Looking down the side, from behind the goal, we see some of the number of groundhoppers who were at the game.
Two fans are extremely organised, having their own chairs, & brollies for protection from the sun!
Here we look down the length of the touchline.
Here we look back at the brolly brigade!
The only other shade being offered, if you didn't bring your own, were the trees.
If you didn't have your own deckchairs you could bag the local park bench.
Here we look across to the 'dugouts'. Well ok, the roped off technical area, in the absence of dugouts.
We take a few steps back, and look over to the pitch from the shade of the overhanging branches of the trees.
We're at the other end now, behind the goal not a favoured vantage point.
Glancing back down the far touchline.
Set back from the pitch, along this side, near the corner, is another park bench utilised by spectators.
Another little bit of goalmouth action, the trees & crowd along the other side in the background.
From behind the goal we look back at the side we've already walked down, where you can see a number of temprary advertising hoardings on the ropes. I don't think I've ever seen this on a temporary roped off pitch in a park.
Looking the other way, down the other touchline, there are more of the boards.
Behind the goal are these trolleys. Used for the ropes & advertising boards. What other use can they have?
Down the side touchline a decent crowd.
Here we stand behind them. To the left, through the trees...
Is another game in progress, the Harold Wood Athletic reserve team also being at home.
A view of the main pitch, set back in the shade of the trees on this side.
Ah, that trolley again...I knew it had some other use!
More supporters' came prepared with their own chairs.
Another snap from the match.
Here the Wood celebrate scoring.
With more scenes of delight at the final whistle, as the title is clinched.
And an inpromptu team photo.
Game over, it's time to head back to the new clubhouse, a cricket game in progress is immediately to the right.
This is the bar from inside.
With the Football League play-off final between Blackpool & Cardiff City on the box.
I bumped into & chatted to a number of people on the day, some who I never knew, or only through internet messageboards. This chap, a Romford fan, Fletch the Letch, I hadn't bumped into for over a decade!
A lovely afternoon spent at a true community club, in pleasant company, in decent weather, watching an entertaining game. What more could you have wanted? Well here was the 'icing on the cake' on the telly in the bar after the match. Blackpool keeping Cardiff OUT of the top flight of ENGLISH football. Marvellous!
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