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Non League Football Under The Microscope

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

Tilbury FC

St. Chad’s Road
RM18 8NL

Telephone: 01375 843093

Website: None

Nickname: The Dockers

East stand and touchline

West stand

Western touchline viewed from the far (north) end

Far goal

Near goal and clubhouse

Formed in 1900 the first home of Tilbury FC was a ground owned by the Green & Siley Weir Company. After the Great War, the club moved to a piece of land adjacent to where Chadfields now stands, named the Orient Field due to the fact that the owner was a director of Leyton Orient, who leased it to the club for next to nothing.

Not surprisingly, given the strategic importance of the town during WW2, the Orient Field was commandered for the war effort, and used as an anti-aircraft battery to defend the docks from enemy attack.

The club sought to return to the Orient Field after the war but the owner stipulated that they could only use it if they were prepared to become the nursery club for the main football club. Tilbury were unwilling to agree to this and therefore moved next door to Chadfields. Before the war, the ground had been used for greyhound racing and was now in a bad state of repair, with old old covered areas of shale banking. Within a year however, supporters, dockers and locals had erected a small grandstand on the east side, and rudimentary terracing.

A good cup run in 1949, coupled with the sale of goalkeeper Tommy Scannell to Southend United allowed the club to purchase the ground, and further developments soon followed, including a clubhouse in 1958. Floodlights were erected in 1966.

In 1970 the original wooden stand was replaced with a rather stark replacement constructed predominantly from concrete. The shallow, slightly pitched roof is set quite low and viewing is limited through nine ‘windows’ raised above the dressing rooms below. Whilst certainly unusual, it would never win any prizes for its aesthetic beauty!

Unfortunately, successive developments took their toll financially and, writing in 1996, Peter Miles remarked that Chadfields had ‘deteriorated into a very poor state’. He did however, note that the club was about to embark on an eighteen month redevelopment programme

Today, there is ample evidence of that programme, although first impressions of the ground are not favourable, and not helped by the bleak industrial landscape beyond. The existing clubhouse is of 1973 vintage and has seen better days, with a flat roof and unwelcoming dark wooden construction. The interior is nowhere as bad but one fervently hopes that this hideous building, which also stands as a blot behind the near goal, will soon be for the chop.

Looking back at earlier photographs, the east stand has clearly been improved, principally with the addition of a new roof, although the comments above still apply.

The most notable developments however, have been along the opposite touchline. Here a rather smart brick-built stand with two rows of wooden seats within was opened in the late 1990s. This provides a mucb better view of the action that its counterpart opposite. The dugouts have also been moved to this side of the pitch, although the touchline itslef is set someway from the perimter fence. On either side of the new stand are a couple of areas of covered terracing, each with a few seats adjacent to the stand.

Whereas the near goal is ruined by the presence of the clubhouse behind; the top end is spoilt by a huge expanse of netting immediately behind the perimeter fence, through which supporters have to peer. There is then a further area of netting behind the six steps of new concrete terracing that have been laid at this end of the ground. One suspects that few wayward balls escape but that the arrangement is hardly popular with spectators.

Ground details
Capacity: 4,000
Seats: 350
Floodlights: Yes

From the A13 take the Tilbury Docks exit (A1089). Turn left towards Chadwell St. Mary after a mile and a half; then right down the B149 Chadwell bypass. Turn right at the roundabout (signed Tilbury) and right into St. Chad’s Road (A126) after half a mile. Turn 1st right into Chadfields.

By rail
Tilbury Town (BR) one mile