New horizons

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Sir Tom Cowie Millfield Ground, Crook

Crook Town AFC

Now playing in a stadium named after an influential North-Eastern businessman who helped the club survive, Crook became the first English club side to tour India in the mid-70s which included a 1-0 loss to the Indian national side in front of 100,000 spectators.

Crook have had several notable players represent them, key among them being England international Jack Alderson, Chelsea and Liverpool player and Scotland international David Speedie, and Barcelona wing-half and later Barcelona manager Jack Greenwell. The English flag still remains on the Barcelona club crest in recognition of Mr. Greenwell’s achievements, which include five Catalonian championships and two Copa del Reys.

Armed with formidable players who would go on to bigger and better things, Crook gained an impressive collection of silverware between the turn of the century and the 1960s, most notably four Durham Challenge Cups and five FA Amateur Trophies. Their best attendance game whilst competing for the latter in 1952 against Walton and Hersham, where 17,500 people saw them march on to victory and eventually lift the trophy.

Photos courtesy of Streets Paved With Goals. More below:

Football’s Lost Homes: 20 and out

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Conquest Club, Isleworth

Hounslow Borough

Formed in 1987 as Harrow Hill Rovers, they became Hounslow Borough in 2001. They had joined the Hellenic League the year previously and, despite becoming Hellenic League Division One East champions in 2005/06, they resigned from the league in 2007 and folded soon afterwards due to financial problems.

What remains of the ground are rusting goalposts and a crumbling clubhouse. Metropolitan Police had concerns over the safety of the building after graffiti, vandalism and squatting problems which led them to close off the area to the public. The ground only held 70 people, and had a maximum attendance of 65 in a game against Chalfont Wasps in 2003.

There are currently plans for a local school, who operate from a temporary site nearby, to built a permanent home on the land. There has been some resistance from residents and so far the old Conquest Club still remains as one last reminder of Hounslow Borough Football Club’s brief history.

More pictures below:

Two horse town

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Brentwood Centre Arena, Brentwood

Brentwood Town

 The original Brentwood Town were reformed in 1965, who themselves replaced a previous team in the town called Brentwood and Warley who disbanded the same year. In 1970, Brentwood Town merged with Chelmsford City and were themselves disbanded, with the ground sold for housing.

This saw a club called Manor Athletic become the most senior team in Brentwood, allowing them to adopt the name of the town. They changed their name first to Brentwood Athletic, then to Brentwood and eventually to Brentwood Town in 2004, with the hopes of reviving senior football in the town.

Following a hugely successful career at Chelsea, AC Milan, Tottenham and West Ham United, England legend Jimmy Greaves joined the club in 1975. Brentwood became the only club for which Greaves did not score on his debut. In his final game for the club he scored a hat trick against Basildon United to win the Essex Senior League Cup.

International relations

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Mile End Stadium, London

Sporting Bengal United

Formed to encourage Asian football in London, Sporting Bengal are unusual in that they are operated by the Bangladeshi Football Association, who use the club to select players for the national team. The club had two representatives in the Bangladeshi national side at the 2010 South Asian Games, which they hosted. Bangladesh won the gold medal at the games, beating Afghanistan 4-0 in the final.

In 2005 they became the first of only two Asian teams to have competed in the FA Cup, alongside London APSA (now named Newham FC). They are also the first Asian team to have reached the 3rd round proper of the FA Vase.

In 1996 a team of Bangladeshi players based in London toured Bangladesh and there was a realisation that many talented players were being overlooked, so a selective team was established along with the UK branch of the Bangladesh Football Association to govern it.

Old Boys

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Adie Moran Park, Prestwich

Prestwich Heys AFC

The club was initially formed as Heys Old Boys after the Boys’ School they represented, Heys Road Boys’ School. Despite being formed a year before the onset of the Second World War, they flourished as an amateur side and had several successes in the North West.

The club changed their name in 1964 to reflect their growing reputation as one of the best amateur sides in the region. They beat Sutton United in 1969 in the FA Amateur Cup, just a week before The Us were due to play Leeds United in the FA Cup.

The ground is named after their manager and chairman who died on holiday in Sri Lanka in 2007, aged 43. They are currently working on developing the ground with ambitions of moving back up the leagues and once again making a name for themselves as one of the most revered amateur sides in the country.

A River Runs Through It

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Hampton and Richmond Borough

Also the former home to Chelsea Ladies FC, as well as a polling station during elections, Hampton and Richmond’s 3,500 capacity Beveree Stadium has an ancient stream flowing underneath which leads to the Thames. It is thought that this could have seen beavers around the area, hence the nearby Beaver Close and the club adopting the animal as their nickname.

Hampton and Richmond changed their name in 1999 to better signify the areas they represent, which includes Twickenham, Teddington and Whitton as well as Hampton and Richmond. They are the only senior club to represent these areas.

Co-writer of Steptoe and Son Alan Simpson is a supporter of the club, and television personality Paul Merton says he has been to numerous matches. Venezuelan actor Santiago Cabrera, famous for appearing in television series such as Merlin, Heroes and The Three Musketeers, played for the club in the late ’90s.

Greaves in the past

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Melbourne Stadium, Chelmsford

Chelmsford City

Chelmsford boat Chelsea, Tottenham and England legend Jimmy Greaves as a former player, Chelmsford City competed in the 1977 Anglo-Italian Cup alongside Bath, Yeovil, Parma and Bari, finishing with the fewest points. In his autobiography, Greaves describes the tournament as the highlight of his time with the club, playing in front of crowds of 24,000 people. Former Tottenham Hotspur defender Peter Collins also played for Chelmsford, with Spurs paying £5,000 for his services in 1968, going on to win the UEFA Cup and the League Cup.

Chelmsford’s previous ground, New Writtle Street, was shared by Southend United at the start of the Second World War, subsequently helping with the war effort by becoming a blimp site. There were several plans made for development of the ground once the war was over, but it was eventually sold to developers in 1997 and, after some initial ground sharing with Maldon Town and Billericay Town, they moved to their current home.

Up for the cup

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Holland Park, London

J.L. Rovers

Competing in the Middlesex County League, J.L. Rovers have ambitions of becoming the first Japanese team to compete in one of the most prestigious competitions in world football: the FA Cup. They were formed 18 years ago, becoming the only Japanese side registered with the Football Association.

Formally known as J-Gaia until 2015, Japan London Rovers are an amateur side who have high ambitions. They have already won the Maeda Gakuen Cup and achieved third place in the international Euro J Cup tournament, a championship for European-based Japanese football clubs. They chose the name ‘Rovers’ to invoke “the journey in search of battle and glory.”

They compete in Holland Park in West London, not far from the ruins of Holland House. In the future they aim to act as a community club for the Japanese population living in Britain’s capital, and have ambitions of growth in all aspects.

By the fans, for the fans

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Heritage Park, Bishop Auckland

 Darlington 1883

After a 129 year existence, Darlington Football Club eventually folded in 2012 after several years of financial problems, largely due to the all-seater stadium they moved to in 2003 which seated 25,000 people despite the club’s record attendance being 4,000 shy of that in 1960.

After a series of fundraising attempts by the fans, and various consortiums proposing takeovers, Darlington 1883 Limited was incorporated in 2012. Darlington Football Club Community Interest Company took a majority stake in the club, with 15% owned by the Darlington 1883 Supporters’ Club and 33% by 28 individual fans.

They began life in the Northern League Division One, as they were considered by the Football Association as a new club. They currently ground share with Bishop Auckland at Heritage Park, although there are plans in place to move back to Darlington, sharing with the town’s rugby club. In March 2015, supporters of the club started a fundraising campaign aiming to reach at least £225,000 to facilitate the move.

The Only Way is Bishop’s Stortford

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ProKit UK Stadium, Bishop’s Stortford

Bishop’s Stortford

Formed in 1874, The Bishops played their first game against the East of England Non Conformist Grammar School (now Bishop’s Stortford College) losing 2-1 thanks to two goals from Rev. R.J. Tomes. In those days the club played in “vivid crimson and olive green”.

Notable former players include former Arsenal and Liberia star Christopher Wreh and former The Only Way Is Essex star Mark Wright, who played for several non-league clubs as a left back before he shot to fame as a television personality. Former England goalkeeper Ian Walker was once the manager of the club.

Currently in the Conference South, Bishop’s Stortford have had several cup successes, including the FA Amateur Cup, FA Trophy and no fewer than 12 Herts Senior Cups. After leaving Rhodes Avenue in 1999, previously the George Wilson Stadium, they currently play at the ProKit UK Stadium in Bishop’s Stortford, very close to Stansted Airport