Tuesday 15th March 2022 ko 19:45
Combined Counties League Division One
HILLINGDON BOROUGH 1 (Bustard 59)
Robb penalty saved 76
LONDON SAMURAI ROVERS 3 (Hashii 8 Yoshida 28 Reis 50og)
Ever had a ground you know you’ve been to, but can’t work out when? For years my mystery ground was the Middlesex Stadium in Ruislip. I know I watched Hillingdon Borough around 15 years ago on a Saturday because my girlfriend of the time insisted I got home by 6:30 as we had guests. I was a very different hopper then, these days I were given that constraint, I’d take in a non-floodlit game locally. Floodlit grounds are a finite resource to a groundhopper!
I remember the stand was behind the goal because years earlier the pitch had been rotated and that the incarnation of Hillingdon Borough I watched then and now isn’t the same club or location that was the original Hillingdon Borough. That iteration played at the now demolished Leas Stadium in Yiewsley, graced the Southern League from 1965-84, but in financial distress merged into Burnham FC to form Burnham and Hillingdon in 1985. That club played at Burnham’s Wymers Wood Road, inheriting Hillingdon’s Southern League place and in quite indecent haste dropped the “Hillingdon” name 2 seasons later.
The current club’s genesis is in Bromley Park Rangers, who were playing in the Chiltonian League and opted to move to Breakspear Road In Ruislip in 1990 and change names. The ground had been the home to Southern League outfit Ruislip FC, but they’d folded the year before, so the move worked on more than one level.
The “New” Hillingdon Borough started life in the Spartan (later Spartan South Midlands League) and made the FA Vase final in 2006 before spending from 2006 to 2009 in the Southern and Isthmian Leagues, before relegation back to the SSML. Since then the club has known little else than struggle, with a further demotion in 2015, and a lateral move to the Combined Counties for this season. And boy did I see the evidence here…
I arrived earlier than I’d planned and strolled in via a wide open gate. I spotted a club official who mused on whether there’d be enough spectators to justify taking a gate. Yes, I did offer, and no I didn’t have the heart to enquire after a programme. To add insult to injury fellow Combined Counties outfit Hilltop FC also play home games here, and they’re higher in the table than Boro; It never rains does it?
As the name would suggest the visitors are by and for the London Japanese diaspora, they were formed in Acton, but currently groundshare at Hanworth Villa in this their first season at this season. Another sadness was that their fans made up the majority of the meagre crowd. Elsewhere the ground was closed on the dugouts side, and the far end seemed to be more an access road for the 3G pitches beyond the goal.
The game summed up what it felt like; two Middlesex County League outfits slugging it out at a ground, that ticked the boxes for Step 6 football. The visitors won, mainly due to better finishing. I greatly enjoyed Hillingdon Borough’s company but left worrying for their future. I do hope I’m wrong.