Football’s Lost Homes: Mitcham Stadium

Tooting and Mitcham/Croydon Rovers

Tooting and Mitcham played at Sandy Lane, near Figge’s Marsh in Mitcham, between 1932 and 2002. It was eventually declared a fire hazard and they moved to their current stadium at Imperial Fields in Morden. The site is now a housing estate, and some of the roads are named after former players; such as Hasty, Slade and Stepney.

In 1974 they were knocked out of the first round of the FA Cup by a Crystal Palace side that included Terry Venables and Peter Taylor in front of a crowd of 10,000 at Sandy Lane. The record attendance at the ground, though, was 17,500 against QPR in 1956.

In an alleyway across the road from the former site of the Sandy Lane ground is the only reminder of the area’s sporting heritage; the foundations of the ground which stood opposite, Mitcham Stadium. Although more regularly home to rugby club Streatham and Mitcham, it also held home matches for Croydon Rovers for a season in the mid-1950s. The main stand, which held around 2600 fans, was sold to Leyton Orient in 1956 and is still in use at their Brisbane Road ground today.

At the races

Tilbury FC

Tilbury were formed in the late 1800s and moved to Orient Field after World War I. The ground was leased to the club for a reasonable price by a director of Leyton Orient, which is how it got its name. During World War II it was used as an anti-aircraft battery, after which they were told to become Orient’s feeder team or vacate the ground, an offer they refused.

They did not have to look very far for a new home, though, as they moved to the adjoining grounds which was a former greyhound racing venue that had fallen into disrepair. Tilbury locals joined with the club to help improve the stadium, and good cup runs in the ’40s along with the sale of goalkeeper Tom Scannell to Southend United allowed them to buy the stadium outright.

In 1970 they built a unique concrete stand, which houses the changing rooms underneath the seats of the spectators, who have a view of the pitch through a row of glass windows.

 Photo courtesy of Streets Paved With Goals.