Any grounds enthusiast with a fetish for expanses of terracing, crush barriers and unusual seating arrangements (and let’s face it, who hasn’t ?) is well advised to make a visit to Bromley’s Clive Christian Stadium. Despite being on the outskirts of a busy town, and close to Croydon and South London, the ground is bordered by paddock and open fields; and, notwithstanding a health club next door, has a surprisingly rural feel.
The current ground has been home to Bromley FC since 1938, when it was opened by Sir Stanley Rous on 3 September prior to a 6-1 defeat by Walthamstow Avenue - not the best of starts it has to be said!
Prior to the move, Bromley FC (founded in 1892) had played at a variety of venues. At the turn of the century, games were allegedly played at Widmore Road and the White Hart Field Cricket Club, although Kerry Miller has speculated that this may have been an older club: Bromley Assistance Club. What is certain is that the present Club spent its first season at the Queensmead Recreation Ground before transferring to Glebe Road for seven years before that site was acquired for housing.
From Glebe Road, Bromley moved a few hundred yards to the vacant Plaistow Cricket Club (needless to say, nowhere near Plaistow in East London!). In 1904 however, they were forced to move yet again due to housing requirements. It was not only the Football Club that was affected this time, with the tennis, bowls and cricket clubs also involved. In the event, all were offered the use of facilities in Hayes Lane on a long lease, just a hundred yards from the present ground, with the official opening taking place on 3 September 1904 by the Mayor of Bromley.
After 34 years the Club relocated the short distance to the new ground, which boasted a superb 2,000 seat wooden stand along the near touchline. There was a tea bar and dressing rooms beneath, and wooden benches along the perimeter fence in front. The remainder of the ground consisted of banking, which was able to accommodate a record crowd of 10,789 on 24 September 1948 for a game against a Nigerian XI who, the story goes, played in bare feet. The first floodlights were inaugurated on 27 September 1960 when an Isthmian League XI played Japan.
Eventually the banking was converted to the splendid concrete terracing in evidence today. At either end of the ground are more or less identical covered areas extending the full length of the touchline. These are rather shallow and leave a fair proportion of the terrace without shelter. The near end of the ground has remained terraced, but at the far end of the ground concrete posts have been set, with wooden planks laid on top to provide a unique seated stand.
Sadly, a fire in October 1992 completely destroyed the old stand, and the dressing rooms underneath, putting the ground out of action for a while. The new 320 seat brick and metal cladded stand was opened in 11 September 1993 and is best described as functional. There are none of the obstructed sightlines from supporting pillars that seriously hampered viewing from its predecessor, but not surprisingly it seems rather incongruous compared with the other three sides of the ground. As Mike Floate puts it: “Many will regret the loss of the homely teabar and miss the smell of embrocation rising from the changing rooms”.
The Directors’ Lounge and small but comfortable Clubhouse on either side of the stand have a temporary look about them, and indeed are due to be replaced during the 2005 close season when the they will be incorporated into a new building behind the stand.
One wonders what the future holds for such a ground, given the twin spectres of land for development, and increasingly rigourous grading requirements. One wouldn’t be surprised if, given the opportunity, the Club might choose to sell up and move to a soulless purpose built stadium in the middle of nowhere. I hope not.
Leaving the M25 at Junction 4, follow the A21 to Bromley and London, for approximately 4 miles and then fork left onto the A232 signposted Croydon/Sutton.
At the 2nd set of traffic lights turn right into Baston Road (B265), following it for about 2 miles as it becomes Hayes Street and then Hayes Lane. Bromley FC is on right hand side of road just after a mini roundabout.. There is ample room for coaches to drive down the driveway, turn round and park.
Note that directions from other areas are available on the Club’s official website.
Bromley South (BR). Turn left out of the station and then right shortly afterwards into Westmoreland Road, at the traffic lights by the T-junction near the Police Station and the Churchill building. Turn left just after the church into Hayes Road. Take care to follow the road when it bears round to the left rather than ending up in Cameron Road. At the end of Hayes Road turn right into Hayes Lane having first crossed Hayes Lane using the traffic island near the mini-roundabout. The drive to the ground is about 200m on your left.
The 119 (Bromley to Croydon), 146 (Bromley to Downe) and the 314 (Eltham to New Addington) all go past the ground.