St Chads Road
Ground Number: 402
Monday 25th August 2014
Tilbury 0-1 Aveley
Isthmian D1 North
As it was a bank holiday, I was keen to take in some football. As ever, the Football League had failed to schedule games on the back holiday, so I would be doing a groundhop again. Initially I fancied doing a treble of St Andrews at 1, Anstey Nomads at 3 and Bolehall Swifts at 7.45. But Anwar couldn't make the whole day, and I always prefer to have a bit of company. We fancied doing a step 4 or above after doing a run of step 5 and 6 grounds, so we opted for one of the nearest, Tilbury, who had a local derby against Aveley. This was to be ground 402, and ironically the last time I had seen Tilbury had been exactly 100 grounds ago - number 302, and it had been at Aveley's ground. Though on this occasion the home side had been Grays Athletic who triumphed 3-0 in an FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round game. There is only 2.5 miles between the 2 grounds, so it's a real local derby.
I was originally planning on doing a groundhop on Saturday, but chose instead to go to Stevenage v Wycombe Wanderers. I was glad I did, as it was a really good game. I went with husband and wife Paul and Sue who I had not seen properly for ages. First stop was a great pub called 'Our Mutual Friend' which had 17 real ciders on offer. I had a couple of pints, then headed into town to place a bet and get some lunch. The pizza I had was delicious, but it took over half an hour to cook, when they normally take little over 5 minutes in other places I have been. I then walked the wrong way back to the ground, but soon realised my mistake and still made kick off. Their fans were a decent bunch and their stewards were decent, even after I used the c-word on a few occasions, they just told me to watch it. The reason for this outburst - the crude tactics of Graham Westley, which was basically kick the hell out of the opponents. I know that Wycombe are far from angels when it comes to footballing styles, but this took things to a whole new level. Our keeper Matt Ingram was down for 5 minutes after being fouled for their goal which opened the scoring, but luckily we came back to win 3-1 and justice was served.
Tilbury were founded in 1895. They played in various leagues until 1973 when they joined the Isthmian League. They have remained in and around it's divisions ever since, apart from 2005-2007 season when they won promotion from the Essex League after being relegated the season before in their one season in the Southern League. Times have been tough in recent years, though they did finish 3rd in 2012. Their best times came in the late 70's when they spent a few seasons in the Isthmian Premier, with a best ever finish of 14th in 1979. They made the 3rd Round of the FA Cup in 1978, before losing to Stoke City. They had a stroke of luck along the way though, nowadays an ineligible player would result in them being kicked out of the cup, but the FA made them replay their 1st Round game against Kettering Town, who had benefitted from the management of Ron Atkinson a couple of years previously. They reached the 3rd Round of the FA Trophy in 1983 and the 4th Round of the FA Vase in 1989 and 2000. Honours include the Isthmian Division 2 title, 2 Isthmian League Cups and an East Anglian Cup. At the start of play, Tilbury were 13th, but with a 100% home record from their 2 games so far.
Aveley were riding high in 5th place, their away from had them winning 1 and losing 1 of their 2 trips on the road so far. They were established in 1927 and joined the Isthmian League in 1973, the same year as the hosts. They spent a couple of seasons in the Southern League in the mid 2000s, following the introduction of the Conference South, but apart from that they have remained in the Isthmian League. They spent 3 seasons in the Premier Division and had an excellent finish of 3rd in 2010. In the FA Cup they reached the 1st Round in 1979 before losing to Yeovil Town. They've been no great shakes in the FA Trophy, but they did reach the FA Vase 4th Round in 1995. They have won a few leagues in their time, as well as the Essex Thames-Side Challenge Trophy on 3 occasions. Their ground is a real classic, but they plan on moving to a new ground, which should open in the next few years.
On the day I was working. If I wanted to, I cold have all bank holidays off and still get paid, but I like to do them if I can as it gives me a stronger case if I don't want to work one because of football. Plus the fact that I like to do my fair share. I breezed through my own orders, then went for a break. I helped for 40 minutes on another department, but it seemed like some were dragging their heels, as they fancied a bit more time and a half on bank holiday. I thought stuff it, I'll get paid anyway till my normal finish at 1 and I'd done my fair share. It was 10.30 when I left, and the weather was a pig, raining as per usual for a bank holiday. I went home, and had a bath, and also bought an Android gaming tablet off of eBay on a whim. Because of the weather, I started checking on Twitter to see about the status of the game. I even planned in Whyteleafe as a backup in case things went wrong, but there was no news of any postponements, despite the despicable weather.
I left just before 12, making sure I had an umbrella and coat.I had a nice easy trip as per usual to Aylesbury, getting there at 12.20. I met Anwar at 12.35 and we were on our way. The first part of the journey went fine, until we got to the last part of the A41. There were 3 separate crashes where morons had lost control of their cars but not hit another vehicle, just the side of the road. It was good that no innocent people were involved, and it only looked to be cars damaged rather than people, but it was annoying all the same. It added 40 minutes onto the journey as the police had closed the road and the roundabout ahead was all clogged up. From then on, apart from the cameras in the roadworks and a small delay with people queuing to get to Lakeside, it was plain sailing. At least we had a good soundtrack, with Absolute Radio playing out their top 100 hits of the 90s.
We got to the ground at 2.20, paying a fairly steep £9 to get in, though at least you got programme for that. I got some decent Chips for £1 from the tea bar, and went and sat in the stand. Despite torrential rain, the pitch was perfect, so the selfish weather had not won. The game started at a good pace, with both keepers forced into good saves. Aveley opened the scoring on 30 minutes when Francis headed into the top corner from a pinpoint cross. The 10 minutes before the goal had seen the action die down a bit but it had been Tilbury that had looked the most likely to score. They continued to have the better chances up until half time, but no goal came.
I went to the bar to use the toilet and got some pictures of their clubhouse. The second half was not so good and chances really were at a premium. There were a couple of good saves from the keepers but in truth Aveley did a good job of closing out the game and Tilbury never really liked like getting their equaliser.
After the game we were soon on our way, the journey back was a lot smoother with barely any delays. I dropped Anwar off in Aylesbury at 6.20. Before I left for home, I got some Strongbow from the local shops to help me relax and get go sleep.I arrived home at 6.45 and spent the rest of the evening chatting on Facebook, eating my dinner and watching TV.
CHADFIELDS is a traditional step 4 ground and one of the few classic ones left at this level. There was a strange old stand on the side that you come in, this probably holds around 200 and is elevated high up, but has pillars blocking your view. Opposite is more cover, probably holding 1000 in a mixture of seating and standing. The 2 ends are uncovered.
The tea bar offers the usual range of stuff, chips being good value at £1, 30p extra with melted cheese. The bar is nice and modern with club photos on the wall. It offers your typical clubhouse range of drinks. There is a parade of shops nearby, should you want more choice.