Ground Number: 402
Monday 25th August 2014
Tilbury 0-1 Aveley
Isthmian D1 North
TILBURY FC - A BRIEF HISTORY
Tilbury FC was founded in 1889 by workers from Tilbury Docks. They played in local leagues at first namely the Grays and District (four times champions), the Romford & District and the South Essex League (winning it twice). Following a short spell in the Kent League, they joined the London League after the end of World War 2. They were runners-up three times in four seasons before a less successful spell in the Corinthian League. A return to the London League in 1957 saw a good run of success, winning the title four times in a row before departing for the Athenian League, following a single season in the Delphenian League. They won Division 2 in their debut season of 1964, were Division 1 champions in 1969 before a best-ever 3rd place finish in the Premier Divison in 1973.
A report from the 1976/77 season where Tilbury finished in 5th place and lost 2-0 to eventual champions Wycombe Wanderers.
From then onwards, they've spent their time in modern-day leagues. They joined the Isthmian League's second tier in 1973, winning it in 1976. The 1976/77 season saw them enjoy their best-ever season, finishing 5th in what the following season would be known as the Isthmian Premier. This was before a proper pyramid was in place though, with no top non-league division, it is an even more impressive achievement. They finished bottom of the league in 1980. They never really recovered and were relegated from Division 1 to Division 2 North in 1987. The 1991/92 season saw them placed in Division 3 after a rejig of the leagues. A 3rd place finish in 2000 saw them promoted back to Division 2 before yet another reorganisation saw Tilbury put in Division 1 North in 2002. They struggled both here and then transferred to the South League Eastern Division from which they were relegated in 2005 after a rock-bottom finish. A single season was spent in the Essex Senior League where a 3rd place finish was good enough for a quick bounceback. They've been in the Isthmian D1 North since 2006, their best finish was 3rd in 2012 with them going on to lose 4-3 to Needham Market in the playoffs. Teat was until last season when extra relegation places saw them go down to the Essex Senior League for the first time in 18 years.
The club's best-ever FA Cup run came during the 1977/78 season then they reached the 3rd Round. That year, they beat Kingstonian, Bracknell Town, Witney Town, Feltham, Tonbridge, Kettering Town and Nuneaton Borough prior to a 4-0 defeat at Stoke City. Tilbury also reached the FA Amateur Cup Quarter Final in 1947, losing a remarkable game 8-4 at Wimbledon. In its modern replacements, they battled through six rounds before losing in the FA Trophy 3rd Round. They've also twice reached the FA Vase 4th Round. In terms of local competitions, Tilbury have won the Mithras Cup five times, the Essex Senior Cup four times, the London League Cup three times and the Essex Junior Cup twice. They've also won the East Anglian Cup in 2009, the Essex Elizabethan Cup in 1964 and the Essex Professional Cup in 1976.
The club's record attendance of 5,500 came for the visit of Gorleston in a 1949 FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round Replay. The record appearance holder is Nicky Smith with 424 games between 1975 and 1982 whilst the top scorer is Ross Livermore with 282 goals. Tilbury is a port town in the borough of Thurrock. It has a population of around 12,500. The Port of Tilbury handles a variety of bulk cargo, timber, cars and container traffic and remains, along with Southampton and Felixstowe, one of Britain's three major container ports. It is the main UK port for importing paper, including newsprint. The one-time passenger landing stage was reopened by the Port of Tilbury group as the London Cruise Terminal, though it is no longer served by the railway. Tilbury and its environs have been used in some television episodes. Tilbury Fort was used as a location for Sharpe's Regiment, starring Sean Bean.
MY FIRST VISIT
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 Monday, 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 are only 2.5 miles between the 2 grounds, so it's a real local derby.
It was 10.30 when I left work 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 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 a 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 the half hour 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 the half time break, but no goal came. 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 to sleep. I arrived home at 6.45 and spent the rest of the evening chatting on Facebook, eating my dinner and watching TV.
MY SECOND VISIT
v Redbridge, 1-1, Friendly, 07/07/23
For a while, I had wanted to revisit Tilbury. This was for a few reasons. Firstly, it was nearly a decade since I'd been and I'd been in the habit of revisiting early grounds to improve upon my blogs. Secondly, the ground was going in the near future and I wanted to go again before it went. The third reason was probably the biggest pull - the burgers looked great!. It was going to be an unpleasant journey, and I initially favoured the train. However, the journey took nearly three hours and the pubs were pretty poor. Plus, it cost a lot more on the train than costs split between two passengers in the car. I think that it was the train journey that put me off last season, but with fellow hopper Colin keen to join me, I pencilled in this Friday night game for a revisit.
The day of the game came and it was a fairly simple one at work with me finishing at 3. I came home and only had just over an hour before I had to go out. I spent the time catching up and looking at the FA Cup draw. Should I not go to Wycombe Wanderers v Exeter City, there are 29 potential FA Cup groundhops for me on 5th August. I left at 4.40 and Colin was waiting for me at Amersham 20 minutes later. We got straight off and made good time initially but then this was the M25 on a Friday night and we had 45 minutes delay. We were at Tilbury at 6.45 and headed for the Canton Chef Chinese takeaway. This had good reviews and I ordered Thai Fishcakes and salt and chilli chips. This was very nice, but for £8.10 I'd hoped for a bigger portion. I went in, paying £5 and got pulled pork and cheese dirty fries for £6.50. This was a huge portion and very nice. I also had a pint of Strongbow for £4.30.
The game started brightly with Redbridge on top. The visitors took the lead on 19 minutes with a free kick poked home by the striker. The equaliser was on 31 minutes, a penalty neatly dispatched by Harry Hope. It was nice to meet fellow hopper Richard and get a photo together. Despite it being a friendly, plenty of harsh tackles were going in and the ref did well to keep it under control. A decent game ended 1-1 with around 150 in attendance. It was a far easier drive home with me dropping Colin off at 10.40, getting home myself at 10.55.
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 two 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.
2023 GROUND UPDATE
It was a real pleasure to revisit Tilbury. It had been smartened up a bit but was still a wonderful time capsule. The unusual stand, built in 1970 was unique, even if it was a bit brutalist. There was a stand the other side too, more modern. The bar was nice as was the tea bar. This had highish prices but portions were huge. Parking was plentiful and there was lots nearby, bar a pub. I really appreciated the ground a lot more the second time around.