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With the football season over prematurely due to the Coronavirus Pandemic I’m in the unusual position of actually having this blog up to date! So to keep the content coming, and for something to do, I’ll do some old grounds and games where there’s a story to tell.

Tuesday 17th April 2007 ko 19.45

Eastern Counties League Division One

TIPTREE UNITED 5 (Hill 11 31 Robinson 43 Bryan 45 Defoe 55)

Emery sent off 45 (violent conduct)


Att 52

Entry £5

Programme £1

This is a curious tale in so many ways, but I really couldn’t have predicted just how bizarre it was going to be when I drove to the Essex town 13 years ago. The village is to the south-west of Colchester and is unquestionably most famous for jam, the Wilkin & Sons factory is here, and the labels on the jars still have Tiptree on them. In fact there’s even a Tiptree Jam Museum. I’ll claim it was closed when I visited!

But this was in so many ways a typical groundhopper’s visit to a Step 6 ground. Leave work, find the ground then find a chippy- I’m sure plenty follow the routine. The ground was notably pretty, just look at that stand, and the club friendly too. The result was fairly predictable, Cornard were struggling but one incident marked this game out as unique.

During first half stoppage time there was a punch-up between a Cornard player and a Tiptree player. It was no more and no less than that, and no other player was involved. Referee Andrew Snell blew for half-time, and ordered the other players to the changing rooms, dealt with the two fighters then the three went to the dressing rooms as normal.

So what would you expect to see after your half-time tea? Presumably a 10-a-side game right? Wrong, 10 versus 11 is what happened, the rather eccentric referee decided to only book the Cornard player, but dismiss the Tiptree one…. Why? I genuinely have no idea, and for the record noone else there did either.

From then on in Tiptree simply closed off the game as the both sides lost any shred of respect for the hapless referee. Words were said, cards were shown, and as soon a the final whistle was blown the referee ran from the pitch, dashed into the changing rooms to collect his belongings and headed to his car to drive away. Did he collect his match fee?

The ground wasn’t to last much longer. The club had looked to sell Chapel Road for housing for a while and move to a new ground, but in 2009 they moved, but not in a way anyone expected. Coincidentally the club moved laterally to the Essex Senior League and announced plans to move to a ground on Colchester Road, now used by Tiptree Heath FC in the Essex & Suffolk Border League.

But then Tiptree United chairman Ed Garty bought nearby Isthmian League outfit Maldon Town, and before the 2009/10 season was finished United moved to share Maldon Town’s Park Drive ground. Maldon Town soon became Maldon & Tiptree, Chapel Lane was sold, and Tiptree United have not played now in a decade.

You could argue it was the ultimate reverse takeover, in essence Tiptree United ended up taking over Maldon Town. But football isn’t about corporate niceties is it? And looking over these photos and putting these words together I really miss the Chapel Road, but I only ever visited it once. How is this possible?