Saturday, 16 February 2019

Fire United Christian - Terence McMillan Stadium



Fire United Christian FC
Terence McMillan Stadium
Prince Regent Playing Fields
281 Prince Regent Road
Newham
London
E13 8SD

07472 525666
Official Website
Twitter (irregular updates)









Ground Number: 829
Saturday 16th February 2019
Fire United Christian - Wivenhoe Town

Eastern Senior League D1







TERENCE MCMILLAN STADIUM - A BRIEF HISTORY

There's not a great deal of information on the stadium on the internet, but the stadium track in its current form appears to have been built in 1985, though there was a cinder track before then. It's possible that this existed as far back as 1965 as the ground is named after the first mayor of Newham who was in the role for the year of 1965. That said, there is no record of it on a 1971 Ordnance Survey map. He had died the previous year after serving as Labour party member for the Greater London Council from 1964 to 1967. The stadium was primarily an athletics venue and has an 8-lane track as well as a 664 seater stand at the start of its life, though this is now a newer structure holding 200. It's part of the Newham Leisure Centre which incorporates Prince Regent Playing Fields.

The first record of a football match being played at the stadium was on Sunday 15th February 1976. Though East Ham United had their own ground at Manorway (the previous September had seen a game played at that venue), this game was played at the presumably larger capacity Terence McMillan Stadium. Entrance (including programme) was 45p (£3.60 in today's money) In a game that was a fundraiser for East Ham United and Frank Lampard's testimonial fund, a crowd of 4,250. Amazingly, Spartan League side East Ham United featured George Best in their lineup, whilst West Ham had a string lineup including Trevor Brooking, Mervyn Day, Harry Redknapp, Jimmy Greaves, Alan Taylor and Alan Sealey. It was the Football League sides' 'Past & Present XI that ran out 8-7 winners in a thrilling game. The West Ham United Programmes website was a huge help in finding out information on this fixture. Since then, Woodford Town and London APSA (later to be called Newham) would have playing stints at the venue. Local side Canning Town also used it in the Essex Olympian League for a time.



Following the expansion of the Non-League pyramid last summer, a step 6 league for Essex of sorts was created, named the Eastern Senior League Division 1 South. Two of its new clubs needed a ground to play at and for Fire United Christian and Lopes Tavares, the Terence McMillan stadium was a convenient venue. I'd be going to see the former. The club was founded in 2012 as Fire United Christian by Gustavo Ferreira, and is owned by the Yehoshua Ministries, a Christian group of which Ferreira is the founder. The club has a Christian ethos, with the club's motto being "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power", which appears on the club badge. The club mainly contains players from the Brazilian community in London. They joined Division One Central & East of the Middlesex County League for the 2012–13 season. In 2013–14 the club were runners-up in the division. However, they finished bottom of the table the following season and were inactive in 2015–16. After returning to Division One Central & East for the 2016–17 season, they won the Jim Rogers President's Division One Cup in 2017–18. The club subsequently successfully applied to join the new Division One South of the Eastern Counties League. It's been a difficult season so far, with the team sitting bottom of the league at the start of the game, but still well in touch with the teams around them.




MY VISIT

I'd originally intended to visit the Terence McMillan Stadium last Saturday for a Lopes Tavares game, but the weather put pay to that visit and I ended up going to Wormley Rovers instead. It was less than ideal as I'd been planning to go there by car and it had cost me more than I intended due to having to pay extra for a bus. Thankfully, this week leading into the weekend looked a lot drier and so, there should be no issues. Fire United was one of two clubs playing at the 'TerryMac' and neither maintained a regularly updated Twitter account. This made planning slightly harder than usual, though Fire United's website was a bit better and they seemed a friendly enough bunch.  The night before was a quiet one for me and I was in bed by 9 and asleep by 10. As a result, I woke around 6, after a good 8-hour sleep. At least it gave me the chance to add the finishing touches to my day, confirming that it would be the Harp In Trafalgar Square rather than Borough Market that I’d be visiting pre-match. After killing time and getting ready, I left at 9.20, stopping at Tesco for some Irn Bru and crisps as well as a few bits for later. I arrived in good time for my train, which was late, so I ended up leaving at 10.15. After a change at Marylebone, I arrived at Charing Cross at 11.20. From there, it was a walk to The Harp where I had a pint of DuckChicken Easter Hill Dry which was exceptional and full of flavour. A couple of halves of different Millwhites cider were enjoyed before I left at 1.15.




I was at Plaistow 30 minutes later, getting a £4.50 meal deal that filled me up. From there, it was a fair walk to the ground with me getting there 10 minutes before kick off. £6 included entry and programme, but the first half wasn’t up to much with both sides utterly inept in attack, though a poor pitch didn't help. The second half was not much better, barely any chances. The winner came a few minutes from time, Gabriel Dias chasing down a clearance which I half got on film. A scrappy goal to win a scrappy game. I got the first bus that I could find which went to East Ham station. I ended up getting off at Beckton and getting the DLR to Canning Town, the Jubilee to Waterloo and the Bakerloo to Piccadilly Circus. I went out to get some pictures that I wanted. I had planned to go to an off license in Fulham to get some drinks but I was fairly well stocked up from earlier and could nip down the local shop if needed. With good connecting trains back home, I decided to head off and by 7.40 I was back at the station and back home before 8. The evening was spent sorting photos, typing this blog and playing games on my android box before Match Of The Day came on at 10.30. It was ever, a late night, but it had been a decent weekend before work at 4 am the following morning.



THE GROUND

The TERENCE MCMILLAN STADIUM is a fairly basic venue football-wise, with just the one area of seating. The view from this is not great due to the running track, but I've seen worse. The rest of the ground is open aside from a small shed-like structure on the edge of the running track. Food and drink choices at the ground are limited, though there are plenty of stations nearby with good takeaways. Pubs in the area are poor in my opinion, so I'd stop in central London if I was on the train.

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