East Thurrock United FC was founded on Sunday 27th April 1969 by a group of devoted football enthusiasts who felt that the expanding area around the Thameside towns of Corringham and Stanford-Le-Hope should have a senior non-league football club. The foundation for the clubs formation was the very successful Corringham Social Sunday League side, which had enjoyed much local fame in the sixties.
The club led quite a nomadic existence during its formative years, before moving to Rookery Hill in 1985. Home matches were played at Corringham Recreation Ground for the first season of the club’s life, before moving to the Billet Ground in Stanford-Le-Hope in 1970. Success on the pitch prompted an application to the Essex FA for senior status, and in order to achieve this the club moved in with nearby Grays Athletic for one season (1973-74), whilst the Billet was upgraded.
The late 70s and early 80s however saw a downturn in the club’s fortunes. This period also brought ground problems which saw them vacate the Billet. As a consequence the Rocks shared with Tilbury (1977-82), and also played at the Thames Board Mills Ground between 1982-84. Eventually, with the help of the FA, Thurrock Council and brewers Greene King, the club acquired some land adjacent to Corringham Marshes and built Rookery Hill, taking up residence in 1985.
Considering its proximity to the rather bleak industrial landscape at Coryton just down the road, Rookery Hill is quite a rural setting, and a credit to the club that has developed an attractive modern ground in a relatively short space of time.
The 160 seat main stand, which stands along the near touchline is of brick and metal cladded construction. It provides quite low level seating underneath what appears a disproportionately large roof displaying the club name on a yellow fascia that constrasts nicely with the forest green colour of the roof itself. Sadly, when I visited, there was evidence of an unwanted visit by local grafitti ‘artists’, although one suspects this will soon be remedied.
Opposite are a couple of neat dugouts, again constructed in the same sandstone-coloured brick with flat forest green roofs. Further along, towards the near goal is quite a large covered terrace. The same materials have once again been used, giving the ground a nice homogenous look without appearing at all bland.
Cover behind the goal at the top end of the pitch, nearest the turnstile is provided by two small areas of covered brick-built terrace. Although simple in construction, these are quite unusual amongst Non League grounds I have visited. The area behind the goal at the opposite end of the pitch is as yet undeveloped but no doubt there are plans to address this deficiency.
From the A13 take the A1014 at Stanford-le-Hope for two and a half miles. Ground is on the left.
Two miles from Stanford-le-Hope and Basildon BR stations.