Monday 17th March 2014 ko 19.45
Isthmian League Division One North
BARKINGSIDE 3 (C Liddiard 5 Carwell 32 Rolls 45)
ERITH & BELVEDERE 0
Programme £1.50 (reissue from postponed game)
Supporters Handbook £1
In the beginning, well 1957, the underground trains at Barkingside rattled along the Central Line destined for Central London, but if you fancied something more exotic you could travel the other way and visit Hainault and from there change. That got you to Woodford, and exciting-sounding destinations were within your grasp such as Theydon Bois and Epping. There was even a further branch north-east of that where treats such as North Weald, Blake Hall and Chipping Ongar could be explored.
But just beyond the northbound platform, a football ground was being built. Barkingside took a long lease from the local council to give them a suitable home and slowly Oakside Park was put together. Very much from the Heath Robinson School of Architecture it was practical, but homely. The club built themselves up on the field too, moving through the leagues until a second place finish in last season’s Essex Senior League saw them play Isthmian League football for the first time this season.
However times change, you cannot catch a train to Ongar or Blake Hall anymore, it’s now a heritage line. In those wet fields the railway didn’t pay, the Metro stops at Epping today. Next door times changed too; the lease on the football ground was sold to Ford United, now Redbridge FC in 2002, and at Barkingside’s finest moment, the rent was raised to a point where it has become uneconomic to the club to remain at the home it built. Next season they’ll be moving one Central Line station south then a bus ride to Seven Kings, to Cricklefield Stadium, home of Ilford FC. The rent will be more realistic to a club with 100 or so followers, but home will always be where the tube trains are. It won’t be the same…..
The welcome from chairman Jimmy Flanagan was fulsome. Barkingside play on Monday nights to attract the floating spectator, and as usual there were hoppers aplenty. Jimmy’s attitude is a major factor,
“Lads, if you can travel all this way to see us, then the least we can do is make sure you get a programme and a teamsheet.”
“I see myself as custodian of this club. I can’t let it die, we’ve been going since 1898, so if any of you lads want to phone me to check its on, that’s fine. Yes, we’ll still be doing Monday night football at Ilford, we’d love to see you….”
It has to be said that the game wasn’t predicted to be a classic. Two clubs struggling at the wrong end of the table and with a penchant for conceding goals. At kick-off Barkingside had shipped 102, with the visitors 97. The cynics expected a nil-nil draw, the romantics hoped to see both sides in that unwanted society, the 100 goals club.
It was clear from the outset that whilst Barkingside are unremarkable as a side, they were far too good for a Deres side in freefall. 3 first half goals made the destination of the points inevitable, and visiting manager Chris Cosgrove cut a forlorn figure on the sidelines,with only it seemed, a phone and a cigarette for inspiration. The Deres record during his tenure makes for frightening reading, since he took sole control in December, it’s played 24, won 2 drawn 2 lost 20. And there was that unwanted membership of the 100 Club too…..
They look destined for rapid return to the Southern Counties East, but for friendly Barkingside there’s more hope. The win lifts them out of the relegation zone, albeit with Ware below them 4 points behind but having a massive 7 games in hand. Whilst I enjoyed Ware’s company when I visited many moons ago, you couldn’t help but want only the best for Jimmy and his band of volunteers. They deserve so much better than they’re getting at present.
A thought to finish, why do Barkingside have to rely on transient support so much? This is the Eastern suburbs of London where, in Leytonstone David Beckham was born. Surely his unseen, unknowing influence could help the club, or does Brand-Beckham not percolate down to the friendly club by the tube station? Regretfully I think I know the answer.