Friday 2nd February 2007 ko 19.45
Eastern Counties League Division One
HAVERHILL ROVERS 2 (Heller 51 Abbott 88)
ELY CITY 2 (Johnston 41 Warren 90)
I must admit I hadn’t realised this was one of the Eastern Counties League’s regular Friday night fixtures until I started to put this together! Its odd how a game 14 years ago was a portent of things to come! But here the reason for being at Hamlet Croft was straightforward, the ground was due for demolition, so that probably had something to do with why there was a bumper crowd.
Hamlet Croft was Rovers’ home from 1913 on an area bordered on two sides by an old railway line and the Wratting Road, and was property of the Haverhill Co-operative Society. The club rented the ground for £10 a year before purchasing the freehold in 1926. The ground originally had a large slope from side to side, but major works in the early 1960’s saw that corrected – its legacy is the hill between the 1935-origin main stand and the pitch. Now this is a little unusual for me but I, so far, haven’t managed to visit the New Croft, and they’ve been there since 2010!
It means I’ve little to compare it to, just a mosey round when I visited the New Croft’s adjacent 3G pitch for Haverhill Borough’s first game there. The two facilities are close enough together to share a set of changing rooms- Rovers and Borough cannot play simultaneously. Just as soon as I’ve got some more football to go and watch….
But I cannot imagine that anyone will fail to mourn Hamlet Croft’s passing. While I’m sure a ground grader would sagely shake their head and put a cross to fail some part of the rules and regulations the fact is that the place had character by the buckload. But even my quick look showed that although the New Croft lacks its predecessor’s quirkiness the facilities are far better. That of course is progress.
As a postscript here’s a coincidence- My visit to Ely City saw the same two teams play each other and it was a draw too!
More photos on the late Mishi Morath’s blog.