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Non League Football Under The Microscope

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BuiltWithNOF

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

March Town United FC

GER Sports Ground, Robin Goodfellows Lane, March, Cambridgeshire PE15 8HS
Telephone: 01354 653073
Nickname: The Hares, The Railwaymen 
Eastern Counties League
Website: None

Note Prior to the outbreak of WW2 the town of March boasted two senior clubs, March Town FC and March GER United FC, with the GER Sports Ground home to the latter since its opening in 1923. Although the modern nickname of ‘The Hares’ and also the club crest is clearly a reference to the March Hare; the older ‘Railwaymen’ nickname is a reminder of the Great Eastern Railway (GER). Founded in 1911, United had originally purchased the then Shepperson’s Field from the local grammar school by floating shares of £1 each, and the splendid wooden grandstand that is very much the focal point, was constructed the same year.

At the end of hostilities in 1945 however, United did not reform and instead March Town took over the vacated GER ground the following year, and added the ‘United’ suffix to the club name in 1950. Although the original football club is no more, the GER social club itself remains just outside the football ground, albeit not connected with United.

March Town had been officially founded in 1885, although there is speculation that the club is older. Prior to taking up residence at the GER ground, the club had played at a variety of pitches in the area: Estover Road, Gaul Drove, and Burrowmoor Road. From 1923 up until the outbreak of WW2 they had played at the Avenue Ground: an area bequeathed to the town for sport by a Mr. Morton.

Until quite recently the stand and the dugouts were painted in the club’s yellow and blue colours, and featured on the cover of Peter Miles’ “Homes of Non League Football” (see below). Sadly someone with taste decided that it was all a bit too much, and repainted the stand in a more mundane royal blue! The low building to the left of the stand in the photograph has also been demolished since.

One has to confess that it is a structure for the purist, rather than for someone who actually wants to watch a game of football from within its confines. As Kerry Miller has written “…it is appreciated rather more by standing and looking than sitting in it and looking out!”. This is no exaggeration: there are no fewer than twelve roof supports and a floodlight pylon to obstruct the view, coupled with the fact that the pitch is some fifteen yards away due to the fact that the ground previously staged greyhound racing, cycling; and also cricket until 1960.

The view is further obscured by the presence of an announcer’s / press box further along the touchline, previously the finishing line box but since upgraded.

At least the dugouts are now located on the opposite side of the pitch, with only the vacant spaces indicating where they once stood. New modern replacements stand on the far touchline, again some way in front of the ‘chicken run’ area of cover: a very basic corrugated iron and scaffolding pole construction dating from the late 1940s. It has certainly seen better days but is still serviceable, despite a few holes in the roof. DB