Heybridge Swifts’ Scraley Road home has altered considerably since it came to the club’s rescue in 1966. The club were evicted from their previous home at Bentall’s Sports Ground, where they had played since 1890, two years earlier, after it was sold and subsequently buried beneath a shopping precinct.
After a couple of seasons as tenants of neighbours Sadd’s Athletic, the Swifts were close to extinction but managed to acquire the former carrot field in Scraley Road and set about transforming it into their new HQ, with a wooden stand erected and the pitch roped off
In 1971 the Swifts were founder members of the Essex Senior League, and joined Division Two (North) of the Isthmian League in 1984 after finishing as champions three times in succession. However, promotion to the Isthmian Premier Division in 1995/96 was the necessary catalyst for major developments of the ground. The club had also reached the 1st Round of the FA Cup for the first time the previous season, when a home tie against Gillingham (lost 0-2) was switched to Colchester United.
The main stand which is of steel and breezeblock construction, straddles the half-way line on the eastern touchline and was built in 1996. Its five rows of seats affords a reasonable view, although not particularly elevated and obstructed by no fewer than eleven poles supporting the roof which is angled back towards the rear wall. Arguably seating in the club’s black & white colours would look better than the predominantly blue seating that is currently in place.
Further seating in the form of simple benches is provided in an older stand along the touchline opposite. Again the view is hampered by the roof supports and the roof is also lower than that of the main stand. Despite this, it does provide a rather cosy place from which to watch the action, and is set off nicely by the club name and badge on the perimeter boards in front. The PA / press box is also contained within this cover, which is bordered on either side by the two dugouts.
A long area of shallow covered terrace tewo steps deep extends along most of the southern end of the ground, with the view again hampered by the roof supports. Construction was begun in 1995, but preliminary work was destroyed by severe gales that actually led to the ground being closed briefly due to safety concerns.
The near end of the ground is uncovered, with the exception of the overhanging roof attached to the refreshment hut. A grassed area immediately in front provides space for picnic tables, which encapsulates the overall impression of this attractive and well-kept Essex ground.
There is ample car parking available at the ground.
Exit M25 at junction 28, the A12. Follow the A12 past Chelmsford and at the end of the 3 lane section (after around 20 minutes driving) take the B1019 signposted to Hatfield Peverel and Maldon. Follow signs in to Hatfield Peverel village, turning left at the T-junction at the end of the slip road.
You will go past the Swan pub on the left, at the next pub on the left (Duke of Wellington) turn right towards Maldon and Heybridge. Follow this road for about 4 miles through Langford after which you go over a bridge and then come down to a large roundabout.
Take first exit to Heybridge and go straight over the mini roundabout. At next roundabout by the Benbridge Hotel take the first exit. You will go past a small shopping centre (LHS), take first exit at next roundabout.
Follow road past playing fields (LHS) for 500 yards and turn right into Scraley Road, signposted to Tolleshunt Major. At the end of the houses, after about 200 metres, the ground is on the right hand side.
Witham (BR) six miles