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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

Welling United FC
Erith & Belvedere FC

Park View Road
DA16 1SY

Telephone: 0208 301 1196

Welling website
Nickname: The Wings

Erith website
Erith nickname: The Deres

The new stand on the Erith side ...

... and what it replaced

The original stand on the Welling side

Behind the High Street (near) goal

Behind the far goal

Park View Road, home of Welling United FC (and latterly Erith & Belvedere FC as well) has a complicated history. It is not known for sure when football was first played on the site, but it was probably around 1925. By the late 1930s there was a substantial grandstand on the ground, with dressing rooms underneath, which suffered bomb damage during WW2 and was eventually demolished. After laying derelict for a number of years after the War, a campaign was launched to reform Bexleyheath & Welling FC. At that time the changing rooms were Nissan Huts and the crowds (2,000+) watched from banking around the pitch. The current grandstand was built during the 1950s. Crowds continued to rise in the 1960s, and the stand was enlarged and cover erected opposite.

By the 1970s however, the Club (now called Bexley United) had fallen on hard times, and the final home game was played in April 1976 in front of just 222 spectators. In 1977, Welling United, who were then playing in nearby Eltham, were granted a 15 year lease on the ground, and set about renovating it. Again, the ground had been left to rot and a fire had damaged the stand. Sadly, despite Welling’s work, further attention was still required to parts of the ground. However, the arrival of Erith & Belvedere in 1999 heralded a fresh chapter in the old ground’s chequered history.

Erith & Belvedere FC was formed in 1922 following the restructuring of Belvedere and District FC, a club founded towards the end of World War I (although the original Erith FC, formed in 1885, played in the inaugural FA Amateur Cup in 1893). On the outbreak of WW2 the Deres joined the South-East Combination. Since local industry was important to the war effort, Erith lost few players to the Forces, and became one of Kent's top clubs. In 1982, after winning the Kent League, the club was promoted to the Southern League.

The Deres moved to Park View Road when a fire destroyed the main stand at their old ground - interestingly, named Park View! Unlike many groundsharing arrangements however, this will not be a temporary arrangement. The somewhat protracted sale of the old Park View site was eventually completed near the end of the 2000/01 season, providing funds to completely redevelop one side of Park View Road, where Erith’s headquarters are now maintained, completely separate from those of Welling United.

Park View Road is one of those ‘traditional’ football grounds adjacent to the main high street. Indeed, passengers on the upper deck of passing red buses have a perfect - if brief - view of the action to their left.

Before the erection of a new stand (see below) the old main stand, which stretches virtually the length of the near side of the pitch was undeniably the focal point of the ground, and also houses a Directors’ Lounge at it’s upper level, and the dressing rooms beneath. Typically, for a structure of it’s time, the view is impeded by numerous supporting pillars.

Either end of the ground is open, with terracing and rather incongrous (considering that neither club plays in the colour) yellow crush barriers. Despite that red paint on the walls behind, it has to be said that neither is very attractive.

During the 2001/02 close season an impressive new stand was constructed along the opposite touchline to the old stand, with Erith’s own new facilities adjacent. This replaced aging terracing that was partly covered by a rusting shelter supported by a fragile-looking arrangement of scaffolding poles, that looked as though it might easily collapse if the wind picked up. One disadvantage is the lack of a car park, although there is plenty of on-street parking, and one can usually park in the street alongside the ground.

The Welling clubhouse is quite small and its entrance is immediately ahead of the turnstiles as one enters the ground.