The nickname might be a hint, but on entering Basildon’s Gardiners Close HQ, one is certainly left in no doubt about the club colours, with just about everything covered in yellow or black paint.
Writing in 1996 Peter Miles described the rather inappropriately named ‘Stadium’ as being in a “rather delapidated state”. Today, it may be a little rough around the edges, but is clearly being looked after, and gives the impression of a better than average County League ground that has witnessed football at a higher level.
Originally formed as Armada Sports FC in 1963 the club’s first home was the Gun Ground in nearby Pitsea, also a former home to Essex Senior League rivals Bowers United, but now disappeared under the A13.
The club changed its name to Basildon United in 1967 and moved to Gardiners Close three years later. The inagural game against West Ham United attracted a crowd of 4,000 which remains a record.
Situated in the midst of a busy retail park, and surrounded by a rather futuristic industrial backdrop, Gardiners Lane nevertheless retains a curiously rural feel, with grass banking behind each of the goals.
Founder members of the Essex Senior League in 1971, the club joined the Athenian League in 1980 and the following season entered Division Two of the Isthmian League, winning promotion to Division One in 1983/84. However, after five seasons relegation came along, and ultimately demotion back to the Senior League in 1991.
These days all the facilities at Gardiners Close are along the near touchline. However, a few steps of shallow terracing adjacent to the brightly painted dugouts on the far side, betray the earlier existance of an earlier covered terrace that was opened in 1985 but apparently never completed. Floodlights arrived the same year.
At either end of the near touchline are a couple of rather basic covered areas dating from the early 1970s. The one to the left of the turnstiles is terraced and incorporates a couples of rows of wooden seats into one end.
The metal cladded main stand is the most recent addition to the ground, and is situated inbetween. There are approximately 100 seats, with a separate area designated for officials and the press.
It would appear that possible relocation is been a possibility for some time, but has clearly yet to come to fruition. For now at least Gardiners Close will reamain home to the Bees.
Take the A176 off the Southend arterial (A127). Turn left at roundabout into Cranes Farm Road. Proceed to the end of dual carriageway and turn left at lights. Gardiners Close is 1st left.
By rail and bus
Basildon (2.5 miles).