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Non League Football Under The Microscope

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Eastbourne Borough fans celebrate - August Bank Holiday Monday 2003                                Photograph by Sam Hicks

Chatham Town FC

Maidstone Road Sports Ground
Maidstone Road

Telephone: 01634 812194


Nickname: Chats

Further Chatham Town FC photographs by Adrian Lines

Main stand


Stand on the Cemetary side - since renovated

Chatham Town FC was founded in 1882 and began life playing at Great Lines in New Brompton, an open space wiith several pitches. At that time, a certain Gillingham FC was also starting out, just a few pitches away.

In 1890 however, Chatham were prompted to move to Maidstone Road. One possible reason put forward was that they were unable to take gate money at Great Lines as the land was owned by the Army. The Maidstone Road site was owned by a George Winch, who allowed the club to enclose the ground and build a pavilion with seats in front for £125.

Between the Wars it is believed that large wooden stands were erected on either side of the pitch, which lasted until the mid-1950s. Also at this time, grass banking began to be replaced by terracing; whilst a new stand with dressing rooms and a bar was built on the Cemetary (far) side of the ground. This was originally part seated and part standing but eventually additional seats were added. When the new changing room complex (see below) was opened in 1996, the stand began to fall into disrepair, as can be seen from the photographs on this page, but has since been virtually rebuilt and looks rather smart with a fascia board and red seats (see new pics on Adrian Linesí page). There are also new dugouts.

The fine wooden main stand on the Bournville Road side of the ground dates from around the same time, with its benches divided up into little sections each with its own gate. The roof supports are set back mid-way into the structure so that the view from the front benches is not obstructed.

The far end of the ground is relatively undeveloped, being tree lined with just a few steps of terracing. In 1996 however, the club unveiled a new dressing room, clubhouse and hospitality complex behind the goal at the Maidstone Road End. In front is terracing with crush barriers. The design is undoubtedly functional, modern and very minimalist in style. This is emphasised by the use of white paint - not an altogether practical choice, judging by the ball marks that adorn the wall immediately above the goal.

Whether or not one takes to this newish building is very much down to personal taste. From the opposite end of the pitch, it looks a bit like a boat, dues to itís unusual inverted roof design, and masts.

Inside, the clubhouse is simple and fairly sparse, and not especially cosy, due to the use of white paint on the brick walls. It is welcoming enough however, with a pool table and requisite TV. The kitchen next door is enormous, and accessed by supporters through a large window to the outside. One wag commented that the building must have been designed by a woman, because the kitchen was so much bigger than the clubhouse. No comment!

There was a strange twist in the recent history of the club when, in 1997 the club was forced to briefly return to Great Lines when a new drainage system saw parts of the Maidstone Road pitch collapse. At the time the club were playing in the Kent League, who allowed them to use the Garrison Ground in Kings Bastian for several matches.

Ground details
Capacity: 5,000
Seats: 500
Floodlights: Yes

From the M2 take the A229 Chatham exit. Follow the signs to Chatham passing the Posthouse Hotel and airfield on the left. Continue until reaching Mid-Kent College on the right. Turn onto the A230 Chatham Road. Contine for 400 yards to the petrol station on the left, and immediately opposite, turn right into Bourneville Avenue. The ground and car park are 50 yards on the left.

By rail
Chatham (BR) 1 mile.