Saturday 31 December 2011

Hillingdon Borough - Middlesex Stadium

Hillingdon Borough FC
Middlesex Stadium
Breakspear Road

01895 639544

Ground Number: 118
Sunday 9th April 2006
Hillingdon Borough 2-1 Bury Town
FA Vase Semi Final 2nd Leg


The original incarnation of Hillingdon Borough was formed in 1872 as YIEWSLEY FC. They played in various competitions for the early part of their history, including the Delphenian and Corinthian Leagues before joining the Southern League in 1958. A name change in 1964 saw an upturn in fortunes and in England's World Cup winning year of 1966, they were promoted to the top tier of the Southern League, which at the time was the joint-highest level in non-league football. The 1968/69 season saw their best ever finish, when they finished as runners-up, just a point behind leaders and current football league side Cambridge United. Much of the 1970's saw stability in the Southern Premier, but the 1980's were much more turbulent, with relegation to the second tier of the Southern League in 1980, several name changes and eventual demise. A name change to Hillingdon in 1984 came amid a period of improved results, but the following season saw a merger with Burnham to become Burnham & Hillingdon. The new club would last until 1987 when Burnham dropped the Hillingdon suffix and reverted to their former name.

It would take another three years before the Hillingdon name would appear in football again, as in 1990 Hillingdon Borough were reformed. They started out in the Spartan Premier and although results were not great at first, they soon improved. It would take them until 2006 for them to gain promotion, the year of a memorable FA Vase run and a runners-up spot. Finishing in 2nd place on goal difference behind champions Oxford City was good enough for promotion to step 4, and three seasons were spent here, with a best ever finish of 13th in the Southern D1 South & West coming in 2008. They were transferred to the Ryman D1 North for the following season, with relegation back to the Spartan South Midlands League following at the end of the season. Since then, they've struggled and a further relegation in 2015 followed as they finished rock bottom of the SSML Premier. Last season saw a hugely disappointing 16th placed finish, though they have improved slightly this season and are 11th at the time of my latest visit. With Harefield United a place above in 10th, it was going to be a tight clash in terms of results.

In the FA Cup, the old club had a number of notable runs. The best came in 1970 as they reached the 3rd Round before losing out to Sutton United 4-1 in a replay, missing out on a home game against giants Leeds United in the process. They had to start in the 1st Qualifying Round and defeated Tooting & Mitcham United, Bromley, Tilbury, Dartford, Wimbledon and even football league side Luton Town to get that far. As for the modern club, the 3rd Qualifying Round defeat to Folkestone Invicta has been their best effort so far. 1970-71 saw a run to the FA Trophy final, with notable wins over Wigan Athletic * Hereford United along the way. A Wembley appearance followed, with them losing out 3-2 to Telford United. The 2006 run to the FA Vase is detailed below, but they've also had a few successes in local cups. The Spartan South Midlands League Cup was won in 1997 and the Southern League Cup in 2008.

The club looked as if it was going to fold earlier this year, but intervention from Crystal Palace star Yannick Bolasie saved them. He played for them as a youngster and reportedly had his goal bonus paid in burgers! He remains the most famous player to turn out for the new club, whilst the former club can count Jeff Astle, Jackie Milburn, Robert Rosario and former Wycombe and Brentford defender Terry Evans as former players. Barry Fry has also served as a manager in the late 1970's.


My first visit to Hillingdon Borough was for the 2006 FA Vase Semi Final. It was the second leg, the first game was drawn 1-1 in Suffolk, the previous weekend. This was by far Hillingdon Borough's best run in the FA Vase, and they would have to play nine games just to get to the two-legged semi-final. Starting in the 2nd Qualifying Round they faced Littlehampton Town, drawing 1-1 down in Sussex, before triumphing 3-1 in the home replay. Erith and Belvedere were next up, and despite being the away side, Hillingdon progressed with a thumping 5-1 win. The second round saw them take their second trip to Sussex, and the second replay as a 1-1 draw with Rye & Iden United was followed up with a 1-0 win. The subsequent rounds saw them get lucky in the draw, as they were drawn at home each and every time. Victories over Bideford, Brook House, Mildenhall Town and Squires Gate set up the two-legged semi-final clash

I had initially chosen to go to this game as ex-Wycombe player Steve McGavin was playing, as it turned out, he was on the bench, but did make a late appearance. It was back in the days when I got Sundays off, oh for that luxury now. Anyway, as it was fairly local for me, I didn't have to leave until 1PM. I got there within 40 minutes and found a side street to park down. The ground was pretty busy, with a much larger than average crowd attending the game. There wasn't much to do in or around the ground, so I went in, had a look around and read my programme until kick off.

In front of a disappointing crowd of just 723, Bury Town dominated the first half, with home keeper Ben Harris in fine form. However, the hosts took the lead six minutes from half-time when Danny Tilbury volleyed home at the far post following a cross from strike partner Dave Lawrence. The visitors continued to have the better of the game in the second half and they got their reward a few minutes from time when Daniel Thrower curled home an excellent free-kick to take the tie to extra time. Their joy was short-lived however as a couple of minutes in when NIck Rundell's corner went straight in to regain Hillingdon Borough's lead and that was how it stayed until the end. Bury Town have gone on to recover from the disappointment and currently play in the Isthmian League. Hillingdon would progress to the final, played at St Andrews, home of Birmingham City. There, they would face the then North West Counties side Nantwich Town, where they lost 3-1. Their opponents built on the win, and are currently in the NPL Premier, competing for a place in the promotion playoffs.


Originally on this day, I was planning to go to Crewe Alexandra to see my team Wycombe Wanderers play. But with tickets being another pricey one, £22, I was only going to go if I could drive and give others a lift. I'd put the feelers out with a number of people, most of whom said they would let me know. With the main reason for going to visit a couple of nice pubs, after having a fairly active weekend in that direction, I was looking to take a week off. That and the fact that Wycombe had produced the worst performance of the season at Stevenage on Saturday, with Crewe thumping Grimsby 5-0, the chances of a positive result were greatly reduced. With me having had a couple of fairly costly hops lately, and the nearest new ground being Sittingbourne, I decided that a revisit was in order. There were a number of grounds that I fancied revamping my blog on, and two of the closest options were North Greenford United and Hillingdon Borough. Both had cup games, with my opting for the latter's game against Harefield United, with just 2.2 miles between the two grounds for the Middlesex Cup Semi Final.

It was only when started re-doing my blog, that I realised what a lot of history that Hillingdon Borough had. It certainly meant that the update would take more time than I was expecting, but it was something I enjoyed doing. Work had been a lot better lately, after a tough time, but I was still looking forward to my day off on Tuesday. On the day of the game, I enjoyed my day off, waking at 8am and having breakfast before walking down town to get some shopping before getting a lift home with my Dad. The afternoon was a lazy but productive one, mending the remainder of my blogs that had broken picture links and rescuing some files off of a flaky hard drive. Less productive was the search to find games for my week off work. A weekend in Frankfurt was considered, but with the fixtures unattractive (at least for the outlay that I'd need to spend) that idea was knocked on the head. I could also potentially get a lift with my parents to Hartlepool United v Wycombe Wanderers (where they would be staying for a few days) but with no games yet scheduled for the days surrounding that date, that idea was also put on the back burner for now, as I'd still have to pay for my own hotel. 
After a dinner of Chilli Con Carne, I caught up on some other stuff before leaving at 6.55. The journey to the M40 was a bit slow thanks to dawdlers, but the post rush hour M40 was excellent and I was at the ground by 7.25. I'd had the luxury of being able to listen to BBC 3CR on the way to get Wycombe news, but with everything revealed I went straight in. I paid a very reasonable £5 entry and had a look around the impressive clubhouse before going outside to watch the game. 

The game started brightly and there were chances for both sides before Hillingdon Borough opened the scoring after 20 minutes from the penalty spot. There were not many protests and the taker calmly slotted it away despite a good effort from the visiting keeper to make the save. Three minutes later it was all square, again it was a penalty, only this time the home defender claimed he got the ball. It was the same outcome as the well-taken spot kick bought Harefield United back onto level terms. Despite a whistle-happy referee, the game flowed well. Both sides had chances to go ahead with the visitors hitting the post shortly before the break. The hosts had the better of the game at the start of the second half, forcing a couple of good saves out of the Harefield keeper. For their part, the visitors then had a good spell, but a succession of corners came to nothing. Fifteen minutes from time, Harefield went ahead around fifteen minutes from time when they bundled home from close range. Their number 9 had a chance to make the game safe late on, but he held onto the ball for too long, and the opportunity was gone. Hillingdon Borough were awarded a late free-kick and they equalised, lobbing home from around 25 yards. The game ended very soon after, and happily went straight to penalties. Hillingdon went on to win 6-5, and they will now face Broadfields United who defeated Rayners Lane 4-1 in the other semi-final.

I managed to catch the penalty shoot out on my phone, though the camera kept cutting out, so hopefully I got all of it. It was a shame that only 46 people (my headcount) were there to watch what was a decent contest. The game had been a pretty feisty one. There had been a clash between a Hillingdon striker and the Harefield keeper. There was nothing nasty in it, but both players required minor treatment before they could carry on. There was a mini-fracas around five minutes from time, again nothing serious and a lot of pushing, but there was a player booked from either side. As a result of that, I didn't leave until 10.05. I listened to the radio, hearing about Wycombe's late 2-1 defeat up at Crewe where they lost to a disputed penalty. The journey home was decent, and I got back at 10.30. I caught up online before watching TV and going to sleep around midnight


THE MIDDLESEX STADIUM is a great one for a team at Hillingdon Borough's level. The ground is mainly open like most in their league, but there is a covered stand behind each goal - one end has a stand, seating around 200, and the other end had covered standing for around the same amount. The ground is situated in a mainly residential area, though online research suggests there is a pub, The Woodman, a short walk from the ground. The town of Ruislip is around a miles walk away if you fancy more choice.

I have to say, I enjoyed my second visit to the ground better, as it's definitely better under lights. Not a lot had changed since my first visit, ground wise, but there was a flash new bar in place. Called 'The Clubhouse' this offers a basic range of drinks in nice surroundings. This also acts as the clubs tea bar, and while the food sounded nice, it is more in line with the usual pub prices as opposed to tea bar prices. There's plenty of seating, plus more outside too, and Sky TV as well as various fruit machines and arcade units. There wasn't a club shop that I could see, but the new raised bit where the bar 'garden' is gives you a good view of the game if you choose to stand there.

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