Aveley FC was formed in 1927 and played in local leagues until 1939. On reforming after WW2 the club joined the Thurrock Combination in 1946, playing games at Lodge Meadow before moving to Mill Lane in 1953.
The impressive and well-maintained wooden stand dates from 1957 and is an undeniable focal point of the ground. The stand has a capacity of 400, mostly in the form of some splendid wooden tip-up seats (rapidly becoming something of a rarity these days). Club and visiting officials are provided with more comfortable upholstered seating in the sheltered area in the middle of the structure, where the press are also accommodated.
The stand is fronted by a white painted concrete picket-style fence. As is common with similar designs the ends obstruct the view in places, as do floodlight pylons in front. Overall though, and given Aveley’s average attendances these days, seated spectators should be assured of a fine elevated view of the action below.
Substantial terracing borders either side of the stand, and in immediately in front, and was laid during an extended period between the ground opening and 1956. There is hard standing at either end of the ground, but are otherwise unremarkable.
Near neighbours Grays Athletic have shared in many of the defining moments during Mill Lane’s history. The ground was opened with a commemorative match with a Grays XI; and Grays also provided the opposition for the inaugural game under floodlights in 1967.
A more lasting memory of the relationship between the two clubs however is in the form of the covered area opposite the main stand which previously stood at Grays’ Recreation Ground. Known there as the Pepper Stand, it was considered surplus to requirements and sold to Aveley at around the same time as the main stand was opened, for the princely sum of £100.
The Pepper Stand has a number of steps of terracing within, but the thirteen supporting pillars mean that it is impossible to gain an unobstructed view unless one watches from the concrete perimeter fence that extends all around the pitch.
Mill Lane looks a lot older than it actually is but is well-kept, and has plenty to interest the serious grounds enthusiast. There is a small unpretentious clubhouse to the right as one enters through the turnstiles, with a tea bar adjacent.
From the M25 exit at Junction 30/31,. At the roundabout follow the directions for the Aveley turn off and head up Ship Lane, passing Thurrock FC on the left. At the mini-roundabout (High Street) turn left. At the next mini-roundabout turn right into Mill Road. The entrance to the ground is 600 yards on the right (after St. Michael’s Close).
By rail and bus
Buses 372 & 373 pass the ground. Connections from Elm Park and Romford (tube). Nearest BR stations are Purfleet and Rainham.