Thursday 14 July 2016

Stanway Rovers - The Hawthorns

Stanway Rovers FC
The Hawthorns
New Farm Road

Ground Number: 594
Thursday 14th July 2016
Stanway Rovers 3-0 Braintree Town


1:  Stanway Rovers were founded on the 10th July 1956, though records suggest there was a club in the same area in the 1900's.

2:  They moved to their current Hawthorns ground in 1979, developing it and opening a clubhouse in November 1982.

3:  The club's early years saw them join the Colchester & East Essex League, rising up the divisions to became Premier Division champions in 1974.

4:  They joined the Essex & Suffolk Border League in 1975, progressing up its divisions to eventually become Premier Division members. A runners-up spot in 1992 behind Harwich & Parkeston was enough to seal promotion into semi-professional football.

5:  Stanway Rovers joined the Eastern Counties League for the 92/93 season, starting in Division 1. They opened with a 2-2 draw at Swaffham Town. They went on to finish 10th that season and after a long run of top half finishes were champions in 2006, finishing with 103 points.

6:  Since then they have been in the Eastern Counties Premier, only finishing in the bottom half twice during that period. They have had their best ever finish in the past 2 seasons, finishing 3rd on both occasions.

7:  The club had its best ever FA Cup run in 2008, going out to Hitchin Town in a 2nd Qualifying Round replay. 

8:  The FA Vase 5th Round has been reached twice. The most recent occasion was in 2014/15 as they lost out to AFC St Austell.

9:  Their record attendance of 210 came against Harwich & Parkeston in a 2004 Eastern Counties League game.

10: Away from football, the local Stanway Secondary School was where 'Blur' band members Damon Albarn & Graham Coxon met, ironically the venue where Stanway Rovers played for a number of years.


I only decided to go to the Stanway Rovers v Braintree Town game earlier that week. I'd seen Braintree fans Dan & Maurice announce on Sunday that they were attending the game and complaining about the £7 return bus fare. I said that I may make my way over, though it was more on a loose probability than any firm commitment. I made up my mind during a brutal day at work on Monday, deciding that I needed something nice to kick off my 9 days off work that would start on the afternoon prior to the game. The Braintree due had been great company on several Friday nights last season and had helped out with costs, petrol wise. I firmed up the arrangments that evening, also arranging to take Josh, who I'd started talking to a lot recently and who came with them to the Wycombe Wanderers v Stevenage game at Adams Park earlier this year.

I was really glad that it was my last day of work for a while, and again it was a busy one. This time though I didn’t say on to help others once I had competed my tasks and so was out by 12.15. After having lunch and a bath I spent the afternoon doing various bits before leaving at 3.15. Like Tuesday, the plan was to stop at a Wetherspoons en route, in this case the Port Jackson in Bishops Stortford. The journey over there took longer than I would have wanted with me arriving in Bishop's Stortford at 5.05. They were offering free parking for 30 minutes and though the pub was just under 10 minutes away I just managed to sneak it in. Thanks to thirds I managed to get 2 more ciders of my list, though it should have been 3 but I mistakenly had one that I'd had before. It was one of the best Wetherspoons that I've been in with a great selection and really fast service. My burrito took little over 5 minutes and I was back at the car by 5.40.

From there it was up to a small village near Braintree to pick up Josh. Thankfully the roads were nice and clear and I was with him by 6.10. Soon enough I'd picked up my usual travelling companions Dan & Maurice and we were parked up at the ground by 7. I got some pictures of the outside before paying £5 to get in. There was no programme but I wasn't that fussed for a friendly. I  caught up online while I waited for the game to start. It was a Braintree Town XI that took the field and it was disappointing that their new manager Jamie Day couldn't be bothered to attend to look at potential first team players. The goals from the game are below, thanks to Dan filming them.

The visitors lined up in a lovely Argentina style shirt although their start was more messy than Messi. Stanway Rovers piled heavy pressure on at the start and they took the lead on 3 minutes as a good cross was headed in at the far post. It was nearly 2-0 a couple of minutes later after the Braintree number 5 played a calamitous back pass but the chance was chipped wide by the onrushing striker. Braintree tried to get back into it but could only muster a couple of half chances. Back down the other end and Stanway's number 11 forced a cracking save out of the young visiting keeper. Braintree were getting back into it but despite some decent chances it remained 1-0 at the break. Right at the start of the second half a carbon copy of the first goal saw the home side's number 6 head in to make it 2-0. Stanway Rovers continued to dominate and restricted Braintree to chances on the break. They made it 3-0 on 85 minutes as their striker brought the ball down and smashed a delicious half-volley into the bottom left-hand corner and that was that.

Despite the disappointing result from the perspective of my Braintree pals, it had still been a good evening. There had been some good entertaining football in some top notch company, We made our way back towards Braintree before I dropped everyone back at their respective homes. We hope to make this a more regular occurrence and go to more games. I then had to make the 90-minute trip back to Wycombe, but not before I’d stopped for the toilet, just before getting on the A120. I set up my car to listen to the Two Mikes podcasts and they kept me company for the journey home. It was a nice smooth trip with no issues and I was back by 11.40 in a good mood. Sadly I came back to the news that more cowardly murderers had committed a terrorist act in France, based on their twisted interpretation of a story book. Sadly there is no solution to this evil, and the best we can do is seek to minimise the pain and suffering caused to so many innocent people.


THE HAWTHORNS is a ground that I first visited for pictures on 16th September 2008, prior to an Ipswich Town v Wycombe Wanderers reserve team game. I was pretty impressed by the ground at the time, it looked very well kept and full of colour. There were 2 small seated stands, seating a total of 100 people and a further area of cover behind the goal that would keep a further 300 dry at a push. The overall capacity of the ground is set at 1,500.

On my second visit I found that things had been upgraded a lot. The main stand had been extended and there was further cover behind the other goal. It was still a very well kept ground aside from some nettles on land surrounding the venue. There was even more colour added and the place certainly had a bit of character. In terms of other facilities, I didn't go in the clubhouse but the tea bar looked excellent with good choice at reasonable prices. There was also a decent range of merchandise listed on the website, but not all of it was for sale at what was a low-key game.

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