Friday 17 September 2021

Redbridge - Oakside Stadium

Redbridge FC

Oakside Stadium
Station Road

Official Site

Ground Number: 341
Monday 17th March 2014
Barkingside 3-0 Erith & Belvedere
Isthmian League D1 North


The club was established in 1959 as a result of a merger between Ford Sports (Dagenham) and Brigg Sports. They were initially known as Ford United and started out like playing in leagues such as the Aeotolian (two times champions), Greater London (champions in 1971) and Metropolitan. In 1974 they joined the Essex Senior League where they were champions in 1992 and 1997. After the latter title, they joined the Isthmian League. Starting in Division 3, they were champions in 1999, then a third-place finish in Division 2 behind Hemel Hempstead and Northwood was good enough for promotion to Division 1. They were champions here in 2002 and would change their name in 2004 to appeal to the wider area and to represent their declining association with the Ford Motor Company who pulled out funding in 1995. Their new name saw them squeeze into the Conference South by a fine margin but they finished bottom in their first season. The following season saw them finish bottom of the Isthmian Premier to suffer a double relegation. The club would then spend ten seasons in the Isthmian D1 North with a best-ever finish of 3rd in 2008. They would suffer another relegation in 2016, this time to the Essex Senior League where they remain to this day. Their best finish of 4th came in 2018 though they lead the league currently following two mid-table finishes during the two abandoned seasons.

The club's best-ever run in the FA Cup came in 2011. That year they started in the Preliminary Round with a 2-1 win at Cockfosters. A 3-0 win at Wingate & Finchley was followed up with home wins over Bury Town (1-0), Dunstable Town (3-0) and Ebbsfleet United (2-0). The 1st Round saw them paired with fellow non-league side Oxford City and following a 0-0 draw at home, they triumphed 2-1 in the replay.  They would then face Crawley Town, freshly promoted to the football league and with money behind them. The cup run ended with a 5-0 defeat in Sussex. They've twice reached the FA Trophy 3rd Round. most recently in 2005 where they lost 5-1 to Cambridge City. In 1999, Ford United enjoyed a run to the FA Vase 5th Round. Tring Town, Bedfont, Potters Bar Town, Newmarket Town and Kidsgrove Athletic were beaten prior to a 2-1 defeat to Bedlington Terriers. Local cup wins include  the Essex Elizabethan Cup in 1971, the Essex Senior League Cup in 1986, the Essex Thameside Trophy Winners in 1999 & 2004, the Essex Senior Trophy in 1991 & 1992 the London Senior Cup three times and the Essex Saturday Junior Trophy in 1979. The club's record attendance came for a FA Cup 1st Round Replay against Port Vale in 2003.

The club play in Barkingside at the Oakside Stadium. This was originally the home of Barkingside with Redbridge moving there in 2002 and acquiring ownership of the ground in due course. Up until then, they played at the Rush Green Stadium, now owned by West Ham United. They vacated the ground after the Ford Motor Company insisted on a year to year lease in 2001. The area of Barkingside has a population of around 12,600. It has its own underground station, situated near the football ground. With Barkingside now playing at Ilford, their current tenants are Newbury Forest who play in the Eastern Counties D1 South following a promotion from the Essex Olympian League a few years ago. West Ham United legend Trevor Brooking attended Ilford High School which is situated in the area. 


Barkingside only won promotion to the Isthmian League last season, 2nd place in the Essex Senior League was enough to see them promoted, as they finished just behind Burnham Ramblers in the league. After years of looking up to ground sharers Redbridge FC, they were finally on a level footing. As recently as 9 years ago Redbridge were a couple of promotions ahead, but their recent fall from grace had put paid to that. Originally in the Spartan South Midlands league, they had to take a season out of football in the 1999-2000 season. They had actually won the league that season and were due a promotion, but the ground graders had the final say and they were denied the chance to play in the Isthmian League. Also, they were well out of the boundaries of the SSML, at the time the FA would now allow clubs to move sideways and allow them to join the more geographically sensible Essex Senior League. The decision was made to withdraw from senior football for the season, and in their first season back they finished 3rd. After years of mid and top half finished, they finally won promotion last season. In that period, Redbridge, formerly named Ford Sports entered a groundshare agreement and between the 2 clubs, the ground was bought up to the required standard. 

Notable honours for the club include winning the London Senior Cup in 1996-97. The FA Cup 2nd Qualifying round has been reached on 2 occasions, most recently in 2007-08 when they lost narrowly to Welling United. They were 21st in the league at the start of play and with 3 being relegated, they were treading a fine line between staying up and going down. With Ware having lots of games in hand, they were far from out of the woods at this stage of the season.


I had been looking to visit Oakside Stadium for a while. When I was only interested in visiting grounds for pictures, I had stopped by and got some snaps, thanks to a day out in London and a Travelcard. But since I had started groundhopping properly, I wanted to get it done. My usual travelling compatriot Anwar had already done it twice, so it was left for me to find a game to do on my own. I was lucky enough that both sides that shared the stadium played on Monday nights, thus leaving Tuesday free for other games. The chance to finally get it ticked came around at last, and after posting my intentions for this week on Facebook, fellow hopper Laurence got in touch to say that he would do it with me, thus cutting down on our costs. I'd had work on Monday, finishing around lunchtime. After having lunch, a bath and taking some stuff down the post office I didn't have a huge amount of time before Laurence got to my house just after 5. For once I wasn't driving, instead, getting a lift on this occasion. I had bought my iPad with me, thinking that I might get some of my blog typed on the journey. But I should have remembered what Laurence was like, full of great stories and useful tips for grounds to visit. One of the most amusing ones was about someone who went into prison as Mike, came out as Michelle and was a right strange character. Despite paying for a whole tank of petrol to get from York to a far-flung part of the country, he/she refused to pay the £3 entry to the ground. The gateman denied them entry after they claimed to have lost their ticket with an emphatic SIR! at the end of each sentence.

We got to the ground just before half 6 and after going to the toilet I took some pictures of the ground and then went back into the bar to look at the merchandise stall. I saw pennants on sale for £5. Normally I wouldn't bother, but they had been such a nice club and it was a nice looking one so I took the plunge. We chatted to some other groundhoppers and I was getting a bit peckish by now, so I went outside to see what the food was like. I had heard good things about the burgers from my fellow groundhopper and blogger Dan, on his excellent Groundhopping the Globe blog. It turned out to be spot on, my egg burger at £2.80 was very nice, as was my Bovril at 80p - more clubs are learning that offering pepper as an extra is the way forward, it really does add to the enjoyment of the drink. Looking at the programme, it was a bit disappointing for £1.50. It was only a rather thin 16 pages and was one for the original match on the 18th of January with no update. On the plus side, the content was pretty decent with few adverts and to be fair on the club, they have to make money where they can as they make no money on the food or bar and also have to pay rent on the ground. 
We took our seats with another load of hoppers as the game kicked off. After seeing Laurence's delicious-looking curry sauce and chips, I had to go and get some myself. The way I am going my body will soon be getting the same dimensions as most groundhoppers with all the treats on offer. The portion was fantastic for £1.50 and it tasted as delicious as it looked. Sadly I was so engrossed in the football that I didn't notice that the plate was at an angle and went down my top and trousers. I tried to clean up as much as I could, but I knew that these would be going in the washing machine when I got home.

The game started well for Barkingside and they took the lead after 5 minutes when Chas Liddiard bundled in from close range. Erith & Belvedere were struggling to get back from it, but they did hit the bar around 10 minutes later. It was 2-0 on 35 minutes as Steve Carvell wriggled past 2 defenders and sidestepped the keeper to double the home sides lead. It was 3-0 just before half time after a nice through ball was finished well by Barkingside's Charlie Rolls. Erith and Belvedere were dire that first half, and although Barkingside obviously had something about them after drawing 1-1 at Needham Market on Saturday, they weren't exactly world beaters either. The second half saw the visitors improve massively and have the better of the limited chances that the half offered. But it remained at 3-0 to lift Barkingside further away from the drop zone. I'd had an enjoyable evening in good company. The journey home was as good as the one there and I got in just after 11. One thing that was sad to see was that this would be Barkingside's last season at Oakside. The stadium originally belonged to Barkingside, hence why it is right near Barkingside Station. But hard times meant that they had to sell it to the council. The council, in turn, leased it to Redbridge, who then sub-let it to Barkingside. From what I heard, there was going to be a huge rent increase, which with Barkingside's poor crowds, they could simply not afford it. With neither party budging, they have been forced to move into Ilford's Cricklefield Stadium from next season. I know from visiting to take pictures that it has a running track around it and reports from other hoppers are not favourable.



Originally on this day, I was hoping to do a new ground, but fellow hoppers Chris and Anwar were unavailable and another hopper, Colin, did not have the budget to fund a trip to Wales. There were a few revisit options, the best of these was Redbridge FC which would mean a trip on the train to a ground I'd not been to since 2014. Colin would be joining me and so on the day before, I firmed up the plans that would suit us both, stopping at Barking Wetherspoons on the way. This covered dinner for us both and a couple of pints of Black Dragon for me. It was the start of ten wonderful days off work for me and I celebrated with a few rare Thursday night drinks. In amongst the research for Redbridge FC, I extended my upcoming stay in the northeast by a couple of days, following me finding a game at Darlington Railway Athletic on Friday night. I awoke early on the day of the game, around 5am. After lazing about for a bit, I had a bath and walked down town around 10. I got a few bits, though sadly not the Lidl Trainers they had advertised as they'd all sold out. I was back by 1.15 and spent a couple of hours at home looking at fixtures for a week Saturday in the North East. I plotted all the possibilities on a map as hopefully, I'll see a game in the Sunderland Over 40s League and the FA Vase. I left home at 3.10, meeting Colin at 3.30 and parking at his. From there, we walked the 20 minutes to Amersham Station, managing to get there before 4, so we'd get an off-peak fare. The Chiltern train came just before 4.15 and after getting to Marylebone, we walked across to Baker Street. From there it was a simple Hammersmith and City line train straight to Barking. From there it was a short walk to The Barking Dog Wetherspoons. It was very crowded and took us a while to find a table. But when we did, it was great. I had a couple of pints of Black Dragon at £2.99 each and a Chicken Vindaloo for £3.99, both superb value. Even If Colin did pinch one of my poppadoms whilst he was waiting for his fish and chips. We left just before 6.30 and got the 169 bus to Barkingside as it slowly progressed through the suburbs of East London.

We got to the bus stop near the ground at 7.10, then it was around five minutes walk to the ground. Although Redbridge had lost 4-1 in the London Senior Cup to Tooting & Mitcham, they were on a run of three wins in the league, beating Hoddesdon Town 3-1 as well as winning 4-1 at Takeley and 2-0 at Clapton. They sat proudly atop the league whilst FC Clacton were in 9th. Since a thrilling 4-4 draw at Stanway Rovers, they'd beaten Sawbridgeworth Town 3-1 as well as winning 5-1 at Sporting Bengal United. In their last game, they'd lost 5-2 at Hoddesdon Town. Clacton started on top and they took the lead on 13 minutes with an excellent volley from outside the area by Teddy Collis. The lead was doubled four minutes later and that sent the excellent Clacton support into delirium, this time with a close-range finish by Lee Clowsley. The hosts started to have some chances in the second half and most of the play was down the other end as we were stood with the Clacton fans. The victory was confirmed on 80 minutes, Mekhi McKenzie rounding the goalkeeper to make it 3-0. Redbridge scored a late penalty for a deserved goal but they'd been second best for most of the night. I'd been in good company for the evening with a number of hoppers in attendance. Most familiar to me were Karl The Tractor and Kizzye. We walked back to Barkingside station and had to wait a while for the Westbound train. I was hoping to get back to Marylebone for the 10.57 to Amersham. Typically, we missed it by one minute and had to wait for an hour because the disgraceful TFL were once again not bothering to run tube trains to Amersham and the Chiltern service was only hourly. The Chiltern was also up the spout this weekend and it seems as if nothing ever works properly in this pathetic country.


OAKSIDE STADIUM is one of the more traditional grounds in non-league, far away from the very common new builds with their metal stands. Both sides are covered. On the side that you go in there is a seated stand holding around 300. On the other side is a covered terrace holding just under 1000. However, this stand is half closed due to storm damage. Both ends are open small terraces. though at the near end there is a bit behind the terrace which gives an elevated view.

The bar was smart and modern and this also housed the merchandise stall which had a small selection of old programmes, various leaflets and handbooks to do with Barkingside FC, as well as the usual range of souvenirs. The real gem is the tea bar with a great range of really good food. With good portions at reasonable prices, I'd say it was my favourite tea bar this season for sure. With Barkingside being a friendly club, I'd recommend a visit down here before they move on at the end of the season.


The far side covered terrace had become victim to storm damage, meaning that the only cover was the seated stand. The tea bar and clubhouse had gone downhill too with them scaling back their range. The bar was just bottles and the once excellent tea bar had switched to a more stripped back range.

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