It’s a strange curiosity that amongst those Non League grounds that have the word ‘Stadium’ in their title, a significant proportion come nowhere near to living up to it. Oakside Stadium is one such ground.
Redbridge FC were, until the end of the 2003/04 season, Ford United FC; formed following an amalgamation in 1958 between Briggs Sports FC and Ford Sports FC. Briggs Sports were the works team of the Briggs Motor Bodies Company and played at Victoria Road, now home of Dagenham & Redbridge FC. Ford Sports meanwhile, as the name suggests, played at Kent Avenue in Dagenham, near to the Ford factory.
Following the amalgamation, the new club relocated to Rush Green Road, which was developed into a well-appointed venue with a particularly fine main stand. However, in 2001 the club found itself in a difficult situation, when the Ford Motor Company offered them only an annually renewable lease - an arrangement not acceptable to the Isthmian League. As a consequence Ford were forced to find alternative accommodation. They found it in the shape of Oakside Stadium, adjacent to Barkingside underground station. The ground was home to the eponymous Essex Senior League club, who were struggling financially, ironically as a consequence of making improvements to the ground in order to attain Isthmian status.
Oakside stadium was in fact built a year before the ground in Rush Green Road, which has subsequently become home to Romford FC. Ford bought out the lease from Barkingside, who now share the ground, as tenants, with the newly named Redbridge FC.
Initial impressions of the ground are firstly, that it is very blue! Secondly, that despite the work that crippled Barkingside financially, Oakside Stadium is still some way from being a ground that befits Redbridge’s current status in the Non League Pyramid. One imagines that significant developments have to be forthcoming if the club wishes to retain its place there.
The main stand, which is bordered on either side by a few steps of concrete terracing, is a rather wobbly-looking structure constructed from brick, sheet metal, corrugated iron and scaffolding poles. Although there are over 300 tip-up seats, these are set at a rather low level onto the terraced steps. In addition, the view is obscured by the scaffold holding up the roof, and the two dugouts immediately in front.
A further covered area runs virtually the length of the opposite touchline. As with the main stand, there are a few steps of concrete terrace, although no seats. The middle section is slightly higher, suggesting it may be slightly older than the two sections on either side(?). The overall structure is similar, with a long flat roof and numerous supporting pillars, although it does look more sturdy than its counterpart.
Both ends are uncovered. There are a couple of shallow steps of terracing behind the far goal; with a more pronounced terrace at the opposite end. The clubhouse is also situated at the near end of the ground, just inside the entrance which itself fronts onto quite a small car park.
From London take the A12 and turn left into Horns Road at lights at Newbury Park station and McDonalds (right turn if travelling towards London). Turn right into Craven Gardens, right again into Carlton Drive, and left into Station Road. Go over the bridge and the ground is on the right next to Barkingside station.
Barkingside (Central Line) adjacent to ground.