Broxbourne Borough V & E FC has its origins in Somersett FC, formed in 1959, with the original players being ex-pupils of Chase Boys School, in Enfield. In 1961 the club applied for and was accepted into the Enfield Alliance Football League.
In 1975 Somersett were invited to join the Victoria and Elms (V & E) Youth Club Centre at their site in Goffs Lane. An ambitious youth policy was quickly established which was later enhanced in 1982 with an amalgamation with Cheshunt Rangers FC.
In 1991, the club amalgamated once again, this time with Ambury FC, from the Sunday Brooke Waltham League, to form Somersett Ambury V & E FC, known locally (and not surprisingly) as SAVE FC. The following year the club joined Division One of the Herts County Senior League, and two seasons later were promoted to the Premier Division. Another promotion, this time to the Spartan South Midlands League came at the end of the 1997/98 season before the club changed its name to Broxbourne Borough V & E in 2002 following yet another amalgamation, with Broxbourne Saints YFC.
This ambitious club is one of many at Step 5 of the Non League pyramid anxious to ensure that they are in pole position to benefit from the next phase of restructuring. However, whereas the majority of clubs appear to be erecting bland prefabricated stands, Broxbourne have taken an altogether unconventional approach to the problem.
I revisited Goffs Lane in September 2005, and had I been blindfolded, could easily have mistaken it for a garden centre, such was the distinctive smell of wood that pervaded the Hertfordshire air. Decking now predominates, and a newly constructed wooden seated area three deep extends from behind the near goal to part way along the near touchline. A specific area for club officials is incorporated into the corner and provides further ample seating, albeit with a slightly obstructed view.
In addition the Club has made absolutely sure it meets requirements for the ‘designated seating area’ by the provision of two enormous wooden dugouts, each with ten seats and erected on either side of their concrete cousins which are certainly no shrinking violets and are still being used.
Meanwhile, the rudimentary corrugated iron and scaffolding structure that previously seated twenty on the far side of the pitch had been demolished and new 200 seat replacement was under construction, complete with a disabled area. Again, this will be wooden and although it will be uncovered initially, the plan is to construct a new two storey clubhouse and dressing room complex behind, with an overhanging roof to provide shelter for the seated spectators. This is however, subject to planning permission.
As is often the case with Non League clubs, the decision to go down the timber route was a pragmatic one. Peter Theo has invested substantially in the development of Goffs Lane since his arrival in 2005: not only taking over management of the first team, but also in the setting up of a new company to take over the running of the Club. Theo was able to acquire the timber and undertake the necessary construction work that has seen the ground transformed in the space of twelve months.
The Club did initially consider applying for Football Foundation funding but at the time was unable to guarantee the required twenty-five year lease on the ground that was required, although this has since been renewed. In addition, they were informed that the Foundation did not favour wooden structures. Before commencing work however, Borough checked that the FA did not prohibit the use of timber, provided permission was granted by the local authorities.
There was still much work to be done at the time of my visit. The timber had to be properly treated and Borough appeared well aware of potential problems with regards maintenance and likely renewal in time. However, it is refreshing to see an ambitious club investing in its ground in a manner that bucks the current trend.
Definately a club to visit again in the not too distant future.
Exit the M25 at J25 and take the A10 towards Cheshunt. Take the 1st left at the first roundabout on to the B198 (Cuffley & Goffs Oak). At the end of the road turn right off roundabout into Goffs Lane. The Clubhouse is on the immediate right.