Sutton United FC was formed from the amalgamation of two local clubs – Sutton Association and Sutton Guild Rovers – in 1898; and initially both of those clubs’ grounds, at Western Road and Manor Lane, were retained. After a season, Manor Lane became the official home of the new club but although roped off, spectators could enjoy a free view from the road until it was finally enclosed a couple of years later.
Following spells at Rose Hill and London Road, the club moved into their current home at the Borough Sports Ground (then known as the Adult School Sports Ground) in Gander Green Lane during the 1912/13 season. Unfortunately, the move proved to be short-lived, and was curtailed when the School decided to field a team of their own, forcing Sutton to relocate to a field in Grove Road called The Find.
Sutton moved back into Gander Green Lane in August 1919 following the Great War. In the interim the ground had gained a small wooden stand, later extended in 1924 for the princely sum of £69. In 1934, the local council purchased and renamed the ground, which by then had a cinder running track, two stands and banking.
Practically all of the current facilities are post-WW2. Sadly, this extends to the immediate surroundings – although ostensibly a Surrey ground, Sutton (along with near neighbours Carshalton) has gradually been swallowed up by the outward sprawl of London (red buses are a tell-tale sign of this), although some leafy areas still remain.
The running track is now long gone but its earlier presence is still quite evident by the curvature of the perimeter fence, which remains set back a little way from the playing area. The ground is dominated by the large grandstand which when opened in 1953 at a cost of £3,000 in time for the Coronation, seated just over 1,000 spectators. The Borough Council put up just under half the cost as part of the Coronation celebrations on condition that construction of the stand was finished on schedule.
Although the capacity is now reduced to around 750 it more than adequately meets Sutton’s requirements today and affords a good view of the action from underneath its low roof. On either side is concrete terracing, extending ‘round behind the Collingwood Road end on one side, and towards the Securicor Terrace at the other. The stand also houses offices, dressing rooms and clubhouse facilities, opened some eight years later at a further cost of £10,000, again with financial help from the council in the form of a loan.
The council were to come to Sutton’s aid one again when they hosted Don Revie’s Leeds United in the 4th Round of the FA Cup in 1970. The provision of temporary benches, borrowed from The Oval cricket ground enabled 14,000 spectators to watch the tie, which Leeds predictably won 6-0.
At around the same time the stand was opened, a car park was constructed on land adjacent to the neighbouring railway. In addition, work was begun on a new terrace at the Collingwood Road end. During the summer of 1986 this was renewed with concrete by a group of volunteer supporters, although this end of the ground remains uncovered and some way from the pitch.
Opposite the stand is a further area of covered terrace, dating from 1986. Towards the Gander Green Lane end is a further newer area of uncovered terrace, whilst there is covered provision for disabled spectators near the corner flag at the Collingwood Road end.
In February 1997 construction work started on the Securicor terrace at the Gander Green Lane end and was completed in late March of that year. This has brought spectators somewhat closer to the goal, and supporters were asked to help meet the costs of the work through a scheme called "Buy A Brick", which raised over £7,000. A list of contributors is preserved in a plaque attached to the back of the structure.
In the summer of 2000 new floodlights were installed at the ground to replace the originals that dated from the early 1960s. This was particularly beneficial for spectators in the stand, as it spelt the demise of one pylon that stood immediately in front. There have also been other small changes to the ground in recent years, including the welcome Rose’s Tea Hut on the far side, painted in Sutton’s distinctive yellow and chocolate colours.
M25 to junction 8. Then north on the A217 for about 15-20 minutes. Ignoring signs for Sutton itself, stay on the A217 to the traffic lights by the Gander Inn (on the left), turn right into Gander Green Lane. The Borough Sports Ground is about 200 yards up this road on the left hand side, if you reach West Sutton station you have gone to far.
West Sutton (BR) - adjacent.