Saturday, 23 March 2019

May & Baker - Gale Street

May & Baker FC
Barking Rugby Club
Gale Street

020 8595 7324

Ground Number: 839
Saturday 23rd March 2019
May & Baker 0-4 Frenford
Eastern Senior League D1 South


It's unclear what year the club was established but they were originally a works team on the May & Baker chemical company started by John May & William Gerrard Baker in Wandsworth, back in 1839. Thanks for various mergers, it no longer exists but the first records of the football club date back to 2005 when they played in the Essex Business Houses League. They joined the Essex Olympian League the following year, initially in its third tier. A runners-up spot behind Potter Street in 2006/07 was good enough for promotion to Division 1 where they finished runners-up to the same club. 2008/09 saw an excellent finish of 5th in the Premier Divison, though they were demoted back for some reason. This time they were Divison 1 champions and so from 2010 until 2018 they were in the Premier Division, finishes ranging from a high of 3rd in 2017 to a low of 11th in 2012. At the start of this season, May & Baker were invited to join the newly formed Eastern Senior League with them currently sitting 8th in Divison 1 South.

May & Baker entered the FA Vase for the first time this season, thrashing Burnham Ramblers 8-1  before a comprehensive 4-1 victory at Saffron Walden Town. A 4-2 win over North Greenford United required extra time to separate the sides but they'd go on to lose 1-0 at home to Swaffham Town in the 2nd Round.  It was still an impressive debut season in the competition though, defeating a couple of sides from a higher league.  Local cup wins include the Essex Junior Cup in 2017, the Essex Business Houses League Cup in 2006 and the Danny King Memorial Cup in 2012. They currently play near Becontree, home to one of the largest council estates in Britain and with a population of nearly 96,000. Notable former residents include Sir Alf Ramsay, Terry Venables, Max Bygraves and Dudley Moore.


I was limited in terms of distance of where I could go today as I had to be back home in time for my Dad’s 70th birthday meal. A trip to London on the train was a sound choice, but with me having been to most grounds in the capital, I only had one option. May and Baker were supposed to be vacating their current home at the end of the season, so it was a decent choice. I’d try to visit them a few Tuesdays ago, but the game was moved to Barking FC which I’ve already visited. The night before the game, I’d had a good few drinks celebrating England’s excellent 5-0 win over the Czech Republic and am really enjoying the side under Gareth Southgate’s stewardship. I got to bed at 11, falling asleep through booze and despite waking at around 5 the following morning, I felt great. I caught up on my YouTube subscriptions in bed before sorting some photos and tidying up my blog of a ground I’d previously been to on this day - in this case, Soham Town Rangers. After a bath and breakfast, I left home at 9.20, driving to Amersham station and parking up in a side street. I had time to get a paper before getting the 9.47 train into London, changing at Finchley Road and getting to London Bridge for Borough Market just before 11. I’d planned this area in as it was pretty much en route and had my usual cider stall stop plus other attractions. Of course, New Forest Cider was my first stop and although it's getting ever difficult to try something new having sampled so many, I managed to do so with Wilce's Vintage. It was excellent and full of depth, one of the better ones I've had. I had lots of time and places to go, so I walked to Bermondsey, passing a vintage market with a football stall along the way. My next Destination was the Hawkes Cider Tap, a venue I’d been meaning to visit for a while. There was plenty to be had here and I opted for a pint of their own Soul Trader, made on the premises. It wasn’t as good as the last one I had, but I still enjoyed it. There was a good music selection too, so I was in no rush to leave.

My final stop before footy was the Pommelers Rest Wetherspoons. Here, I had an early preview of their festival and Katy Perry was nice. For little over a tenner, I had a meal deal with smoky chilli and cheeseburger with all the trimmings. It was a 15-minute walk to Bermondsey station with me changing at West Ham and getting to Becontree at 2.40. It was just over 10 minutes to the ground, where I got a friendly and helpful welcome. The guy on the gate pointed out some statues across the road of Alf Ramsey and Bobby Moore amongst others, so I went across at half time. Meanwhile, the first half was pretty one-sided in favour of the visitors. The goalscoring was opened within 8 minutes when Harry Daly tapped home a cross. It was 2-0 to Frenford after 20 minutes, this time a scrappy chance from a few yards went down as an own goal. May & Baker were much improved in the second half but the game was over on 80 minutes, Larry Asare following up after his header was saved to make it 3-0. This knocked the stuffing out of the hosts and it was no shock when a cross from the left was met by a downward header from Charlie Fairhead to make it 4-0 a couple of minutes from time. I left promptly after the game after being thanked by a nice bloke from the club for coming. I made my way back to the station, getting there just after 5. I got on a train fairly quickly and after changes at West Ham, London Bridge and Harrow on the Hill, I was back at my car by 7. I'd have been there sooner had it not been for a 15-minute wait at Harrow, a result of a delayed earlier train, though I was cutting it fine. I was back at Amersham by 6.50 and home 20 minutes later. I dumped my car at home and bag inside and walked up to the Greek restaurant we were having dinner at. The food was nice, but the service was poor. It took 40 minutes for them to come and take our order and then another 2 hours for the main course to come. This meant that we weren't home until 10.15, though with no work in the morning and no Match Of The Day, I wasn't that bothered.


BARKING RUGBY CLUB or GALE STREET is a decent venue for a step 6 side. There's only one stand, a metal one which is elevated for a decent view. Across the other side is a viewing balcony which offers a great view. Included in this building is a large bar with a decent range of drinks, though I didn't see any food. There are a few takeaways near the station whilst there's plenty of parking to go round. Admission is a good value £5 which includes a basic programme. Overall, I'd recommend a visit to this friendly club. 

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