Sunday, 2 August 2020

Basildon Town - Basildon Sports & Leisure Club

Basildon Town FC
Basildon Sports & Leisure Club
Gardiners Way
SS14 3HZ

01268 523773 (S&L Club)

Ground Number: 912
Saturday 1st August 2020
Basildon Town 1-3 Lakeside United


Basildon Town is the older of the town's two clubs, having been formed in 1946 when the area was made into a new town. They played in the Thurrock Combination and Parthenon League before making the step up to the London League with a best-ever finish of 4th coming in 1957. A couple of years later, they were forced out of their ground at Stacey's Corner due to the lease running out. They took some of the facilities with them and decamped to nearby Burnt Mills Lane, dropping back down to the Parthenon League. They briefly merged with Pitsea United from 1964-1968, joining the Essex Olympian League as founder members but the two sides went their separate ways. The clubs continued to groundshare at Pitsea's Gun Meadow though and Basildon Town were Essex Olympian League champions in 1969. The club suffered a blow in 1971 when they were evicted and so they moved to Eversley Road in Pitsea, dropping down to the Southend and District League, winning it in 1981 and gaining promotion back to the Essex Olympian League which had now expanded to multiple divisions. They were briefly known as Basildon Sports during this time.

Starting in Division 2, they remained here until 1989 when they dropped down to Division 3 upon league reorganization. A 4th place finish in 1992 saw them promoted to Division 2 but they only lasted at the higher level for a couple of seasons. They moved into their current home at Gardiners Close in 1995 and were Division 3 champions in 1999. The flitting between two levels continued for the first decade of the new millennium but they were soon to enjoy a sustained period of success. In 2013 they finished 4th in Division 3 and were promoted. They were Division 2 champions in 2015 and Division 1 champions in 2017, earning promotion to the Premier Division in the process. The 2017-18 season saw them finish rock bottom, winning just twice all season but they won promotion straight back up in 2019 as runners-up to Shenfield. Last season, the club was just outside the relegation zone when the Coronavirus epidemic bought an end to football and with the season declared null and void, they remain in the Premier Division for the coming season, going through the whole of last season without drawing a league game.

Basildon Town have won the Essex Olympian League Cup twice - firstly in 1969 as they beat Manor Athletic and then again in 2017 as Kelvedon Hatch were defeated 4-1. Other cup honours include the Parthenon League Cup in 1955, the Shaw Cup in 1964, the Southend Charity Cup twice, the Sadlers Cup in 1965, the French Cup in 1966, the Burnham Charity Cup twice, the Basildon Sports Council Trophy twice, the Ramuz Cup twice and the Stanford Charity Cup on three occasions.


The town of Basildon has a population of just over 107,000. Though it was briefly mentioned in the Doomsday Book as a village, it was created and expanded as a new town in 1948 to cope with the population overspill from London. The capital is 26 miles away with Chelmsford (11 miles) and Southend (10 miles) being the nearest large towns. The Eastgate Shopping Centre is one of it's bigger attractions and when it opened in 1985 and for a year it was the largest indoor shopping centre in Europe until the Metro Centre in Tyneside opened its doors in 1986. The town's most notable landmark is the Hollywood-Style 'Basildon' sign which you can see upon entering the town. The town was also used as the filming location for the brilliant BBC sitcom 'White Gold although it was actually set in Corringham, near Thurrock. Many famous people come from the town, most notably the band Depeche Mode, solo artists 'Kunt & The Gang' and Alison Moyet, actresses Kara Tointon & Denise Van Outen and footballers Darren Caskey, Justin Edinburgh, Michael Kightly and James Tomkins. Football-wise, the big team in the town are Basildon United who play close by and are in the Isthmian League North whilst nearby Bowers and Pitsea which forms part of the wider area of Basildon play in the Isthmian Premier. There is also a ladies team, AFC Basildon Women.

Sources used: Wikipedia, Basildon Borough History, Football Club History Database, Essex Olympian League site.


When I attended my last football match of the 2019/20 season, I had no idea of when it was going to resume. As I was on a fortnight off work, I'd been hoping for some midweek games, but one by one, leagues shut down their seasons and then on Monday 16th March, the FA shut down the whole of football, some games getting cancelled with little over an hours notice. Later on, and with too much haste, everything at step 3 and below was declared null and void, a slap in the face for the players and clubs that had worked so hard to achieve during the season. Time will tell, whether that was the correct decision and we won't truly know until much later on in the year. It would be a whole week later when the gormless government followed suit and put the country into lockdown. For me, due to medical conditions, that meant self-isolation apart from my daily exercise. My employer was superb, I remained off work for over three months on full pay which was a real blessing as I saved a lot of money. It wasn't so bad at first, I filled my time going over old blogs and redoing them, saving myself around ten revisits when the football did restart. I also started to plan for the next season, going deep down into step 7 and below to look at potential grounds, coming up with nearly 600 potential trips in England alone. My only other pleasure during lockdown were mail-ordered ciders and I enjoyed a fair few new brews that I'd not had before. Towards the end, I was getting restless and so I was glad to return to work at the start of July. It's safe to say that no one wanted this 'gift' that China sent us and it's safe to say that we had to suffer longer because of the government's poor handling of the virus, not that they were the only ones with Brazil and the US suffering from even worse leadership, though the guidance from the equally inept World Health Organisation was less than stellar with them keen to defend China and block any investigation that could potentially teach us more about the virus. In fact, the only major success story that I heard of was in New Zealand so it was far from a simple thing to deal with.

Back to something more positive then and I enjoyed my first taste of freedom with a couple of pints at the pub on Friday 10th July. The previous day, the government had announced that sport at grassroots level could return and so it was in the hands of the FA to provide guidance to clubs. Most clubs waited on the FA to announce plans but Hackney Wick were more proactive, announcing a friendly against Farnborough OBG for the 18th July which would have made a fantastic birthday present for me. It took a whole week for the FA to submit their plans, despite having had four months to put together a plan during the lockdown. In between, I gave in and bought a Wycombe Wanderers season ticket, despite a 40% increase. The gamble paid off as Wycombe won in the playoff final against Oxford United and were promoted to the Championship for the first time in their history. The £380 I paid for a seat on the halfway line was the same price as a place on an uncovered terrace behind the goal at Kings Lynn Town in the Conference. Maybe not such a bad deal after all then. The initial plan at the beginning of the year was to move up north where the housing is more affordable despite my folks thinking that anywhere up north is a crime hotspot. Not that Wycombe isn't a complete dive at times, of course. Maybe for the best with the unstable state of the country at the moment, something that you couldn't have foreseen at the start of the year. As it was, I didn't get a game on my birthday, but I did have a good day and semi-good news came when the FA announced that teams could play games from the 1st August - only without fans until they got permission from the government. Given that just about every other activity - pubs, restaurants, shops, cinemas, cricket with fans etc were allowed, it seemed ludicrous that they would not allow a handful of fans to watch a local non-league game.

Even a week before, I knew I'd be on my own as neither of my two hopping partners were available. My initial thought was a trip down to Hampshire to see Hampshire League side Stockbridge play, though Anwar said he fancied that one. It was disappointing to get the thumbs down from Frampton United, a club that plays at step 7 of the non-league pyramid but they had not included spectators in their plans when writing their risk assessment. I made up my mind the Sunday before and it came down to two choices - either Guru Nanak on the train or Basildon Town on in the car. With the possibility of a late cancellation, I opted for a drive over to Essex, knowing that I had a backup at Hatfield Peverel in reserve. It also meant I could see two games with the reserves kicking off around lunchtime. The clincher was the above video from 'The Basildon United Superfans'  which showed me that the ground was worth a visit. The week rolled by fine, but there was a bit of a curveball thrown Friday lunchtime with Boris Johnson announcing restricted measures for certain parts of the country. People were not allowed to see their next-door neighbour or their family, yet they were allowed to go and congregate down the pub. Madness. Wycombe had no such restrictions so it was a ten-mile walk for me to the Rose and Crown and back for a couple of pints. It was a quiet evening with a couple of cans, with me thankful that my game was still going ahead - our esteemed Prime Minister had ruled out anything in the top ten levels of English football - at least with fans.

I had a reasonable night's sleep though my body clock woke me up not long after my usual work time of 4am, dozing off again and getting out of bed at 6. I killed time recalling old games on this date. It was 29 years to the day of my first ever football game as Wycombe beat Watford 2-1 in 1991. The 140 days since my last match on March 14th was the longest I'd ever gone without a game since that date. The rest of the morning was quite productive - I had a bath and managed to get my daily walk for exercise as well as potentially making plans for a game in midweek at Earls Colne. I left at 10.40 and had a reasonable journey, getting to Basildon at 12.10. It had taken a bit longer than intended to get to the game, so I knocked the idea of taking a walk to Tesco on the head. The club was very organised and had made plenty of parking available for fans and players alike. I spent the time before the game catching up online and having some crisps and Irn Bru.

The first game kicked off at 12:29 and saw Basildon United's reserve side take on Lakeside United, who as the name suggests, play in the shadow of the Lakeside shopping centre near Grays. They've been known as Linford Wanderers and A1 Sports at various points during their history. In 2018/19 they had a reasonable season in Division 2, finishing 5th. Results last season have been deleted but they start the coming season in Division 3 alongside the hosts. Basildon Town lined up in their home kit of blue whilst Lakeside United wore their usual red and black stripes. The game started with Lakeside on the front foot, but there were no real chances to speak of. The first incident of note came when the Basildon keeper was injured following a challenge and needed five minutes of treatment for a gashed knee. The first real chance came on 17 minutes when the Lakeside #7 screwed wide of the left-hand post. Five minutes later #9 held off a challenge and hit a shot just wide of the right-hand post from just inside the area. Basildon had a chance on the break after 23 minutes, but #14 fired wide after getting clear of the defence. The Lakeside #7 was at it again in injury time, his shot forced a corner and then he headed home from the resulting kick. Six minutes was all was needed for half time with us back underway at 13:26. Lakeside continued to dominate, blasting over the bar just after the restart and al shooting wide from a narrow angle. Basildon's #16  got wide down the right but there was no-one to support him. The hosts standout chance came when #17 hit the bar from outside the area after 59 minutes. This was a sustained period of attack from Basildon, a few minutes later there was pinball in the area but they couldn't put the ball away. Six minutes from time, Lakeside made it 2-0 with a shot into the bottom right-hand corner. Basildon had a chance to reduce the arrears a few minutes from time, a big lad forced the visiting keeper into a good save with an excellent curling shot. The game was sealed a minute from time with a free-kick from Lakeside - the shot from 20 yards going straight in.

The main game kicked off at 14.30 and saw Basildon United face up to Barnston. Their opponents were based in a village 25 miles north of the hosts. They played in the Essex Olympian League up until 2009 but moved to the Essex & Suffolk Border League since then. They've been in the step 7 Premier Division since 2013 but have always finished in the bottom half of the table and in the last few seasons in and around the bottom few places. Both sides home kits were all blue so the visitors were forced to wear a smart yellow kit. It was good to see fellow hopper Laurence there as well as the Basildon United superfans - Tommy and Mia - in attendance. This time the hosts were straight at it four minutes in an excellent corner was put in from the left and the ball was put home at the back post from a few yards out. After ten minutes, a Basildon free-kick went just wide. The vast majority of the 66 in attendance would have been happy to see Basildon dominating and it took a couple of smart saves from the visiting keeper to keep it at 1-0. It was 2-0 after 56 minutes, a free-kick was parried by the visiting keeper and Basildon's player followed up.A sustained period of dominance by the hosts saw a goalmouth scramble but it came to nothing and their #18 hit the post from outside the area. The hosts continued to dominate and a great ball forward found #7 but he didn't have the pace, a defender tracked back and got in enough of a tackle to put the player off of his shot. Branston pulled one back seven minutes from time, a shot from just inside the area finding the bottom left of the net. The game was sealed on 90  minutes with a shot from inside the penalty area. I left around 4.10 and listened to the preview of the FA Cup Final on the way home. I was in at 5.30, just in time for the game. I had a lovely dinner of steak and a couple of ciders as Arsenal triumphed 2-1. I had a game of Scrabble with the family and played an online quiz before going to bed around 10.

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Now 2-0 to Basildon Town against Barnston.

A post shared by Russell Cox (@russ_wwfc) on


THE BASILDON SPORTS & SOCIAL CLUB is a fairly basic venue, but one that is decent for step 7 and worth a visit. There's no hard standing or cover but there is a rail around the pitch and a battered club sign to say who plays there. The social club itself is pretty smart and modern and offers a reasonable range of drinks. There was also a barbecue available when I went. There's a large car park at the ground although alternative parking is available at the Basildon Post Office Club and along the side of the road. The ground is located around 2.5 miles walk (or 4 miles drive) from the town and train station. The town doesn't have many great pubs but has a Wetherspoons. There is also a Taco Bell in the shopping centre, amongst other takeaways. There is a Tesco 10 minutes walk away or a KFC and McDonalds slightly nearer.

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