Tuesday 30th October 2018 ko 19.45
Eastern Senior League Division One South
MAY & BAKER 2 (Owuadey 6 Harvey 88)
FIRE UNITED CFC 1 (Dias 89)
With the creation of the Eastern Senior League, to fill a hole at Step 6 in Essex, a slew of new clubs have taken a step up in status to fill the league. For Fire United that meant a move from Hackney Marshes to the Terence McMillan Stadium in Newham, formerly home to London APSA. More on them later, but May & Baker’s story is fascinating.
The club used to be the works team of the May and Baker chemical works, started by John May and William Gerrard Baker in Wandsworth in 1839. The company, in a fine piece of alliteration specialised in photographic chemicals, mainly Mercury and Bismuth. The firm was swallowed up in 1999 and is now part of the Sanofi-Aventis group with the plant in Dagenham closing in 2014.
The football club, styled as M & B Club until 2014 can trace its history right back to 1923 and until this season played at the M & B Sports Club adjacent to the site of the old factory. But the ground was unlikely to be improved to fulfill Step 6 gradings so the club have moved two-and-a-half miles to Barking RUFC’s Gale Street Ground, but have managed to stay in Dagenham. The club is now known as May & Baker Eastbrook Community Football Club, reflecting the club’s place in the community.
On the face of it, it’s an ideal move for them, they’ve now got use of a stadium sporting hard standing, a triple “Arena” stand, and floodlights. The devil, unfortunately is in the detail. That stand isn’t accessible for football as the path behind the goal is in front of the rail and there isn’t hard standing at all at the other end. Then there’s that “Arena” stand; the dugouts are placed between it and the rail, that will need to be altered if the stand can be used properly for football.
It would seem ground gradings for Step 6 football are rather different from they are for rugby union’s London 3 Essex League. Until improvements are carried out spectators at May and Baker are restricted to one side of the pitch. That does mean access to an access to a fine clubhouse, and the balcony gives easily the best view of the pitch. As it stands it’s an odd ground, but unlike say, White Ensign in Basildon, there is potential here.
I remember Fire United when they played in the Middlesex County League as Fire United Christian FC; I managed to miss them using the Westway Stadium tucked underneath a flyover on the A40 in Shepherd’s Bush. (There’s a ground I’d love to do-still!) Their background is from the Yehoshua Ministries, a Brazilian church and their teamsheet certainly reflected their background!
Truthfully it wasn’t a great game to watch, perhaps May & Baker had half an eye on their FA Vase game against Swaffham that Sundayl, and the pitch had all the damage you’d expect from two sports’ use. Alex Owuadey scored early for the hosts, and by half time they should have been out of sight. After the break Fire looked more potent and I do wonder what would happened if the final two goals had been in the opposite order!
I’m sure I’ll see more impressive grounds than this, this was an odd place to watch a game. But May & Baker are to be commended for finding a way of fulfilling ground gradings and their ambition without losing their place in their hinterland in doing so. The next few months will be fascinating for many clubs in this new league.