This long derelict site was once a target for Barnet FC in its bid to build a football academy, but 12 years of negotiations with Barnet Council failed. Barnet FC said as the time it was a 'big loss' to the people of Barnet. Barnet FC have recently relocated to the London Borough of Harrow. Meanwhile the old Quinta clubhouse continues to rot...
Underhill (Barnet) - Old Stationers FC Pavillion
The Stationers’ Company’s School was established in 1860 near Fleet Street in the City of London. In 1906 the Old Boys of the school formed OSFC, playing home fixtures in Bounds Green.
After a break for WWI, in which over 130 old boys of the school were killed, the club continued & in 1921 the Club moved grounds to Edgware & then in 1928 to Underhill in Barnet – a place that became home until 2000.
In 1932/33 the Club joined the Southern Amateur League & managed to continue to play friendly games during World War Two despite the War Office having requisitioned the pavilion.
In 1967/68, the Club reached its first AFA Senior Cup Final, losing out to Old Salesians after a replay. The school closure in July 1983, eliminated the natural flow of players though the playing strength was high during the 1980s, winning the AFA Senior Cup and the Old Boys Senior Cup in 1988/89.
The 1990s saw the Club struggle and by 2000 problems with the ground and the lease with Barnet Council, forced the Club to move away from Underhill. Firstly to Palmers Green, then back to Barnet, to the Old Elizabethans Playing Fields.
ISLEWORTH - CENTAURS RUGBY GROUND
Here we have an interesting reinforced concrete sports pavilion built in 1935 - It has a tiered spectator stand beneath a cantilever roof with a clubhouse underneath. Set within sports fields that are still in use although the Centaurs relocated elsewhere a while ago. This derelict clubhouse is easily accessible but I declined the opportunity to enter it after seeing a guy crouched in the corner inside drinking a can of Stella though maybe he was more afraid of me than vice versa but its best not to find out for sure....... Update! - the Pavilion has now been restored by Goals Soccer Centre and the pitches used for 5 & 7 a side leagues.
ROTHERHITHE - SURREY DOCKS STADIUM - FISHER ATHLETIC FC
Fisher Athletic was founded in 1908 by the John Fisher Catholic Society whose aim was to provide football facilities for under privileged children in Bermondsey. The Fish were as at 2009 the highest ranked football club in London to take their name from a person rather than a place.
The 5300 capacity Surrey Docks Stadium in Rotherhithe is the traditional home of Fisher Athletic F.C. since 1982. The club moved out in 2004 to home of local rivals Dulwich Hamlet (a ground located almost 5 miles from Fisher's traditional catchment area) as the club had plans to redevelop the ground to bring it up to Football League standards by the start of the 2009/10 season but the club announced that it would prefer to move to a new £36 million 10,000 seat stadium on the site of the athletics track in Southwark Park, but nothing has happened particularly with the club going bust (see below). In the meantime the disused old stadium continues to decay. I had some happy times at this stadium when Aldershot Town visited for qualifying rounds of the FA Cup. A great bar and a friendly welcome.
In the 2007/8 "the Fish" did well in the Conference South & made it into a play off semi final in an effort to get promoted to the Conference (Blue Sq Premier) though lost to Hampton & Richmond. Sadly during the 2008/09 season Fisher Athletic came bottom of the Conference South and were made defunct by the High Court in May 2009. A new club named Fisher FC has been born and currently play at Dulwich Hamlet's ground playing in the Kent League.
I cover the Surrey Docks Stadium on my Grand Surrey Canal guided tour (www.londonslostrivers.com)
EDGWARE - EDGWARE TOWN FC - THE WHITE LION GROUND
Edgware Town were established in the summer of 1939 and played in the Middlesex Senior League. The name of the club was changed to Edgware F.C. in 1972, and back to Edgware Town in 1987. In 2006-07 Edgware Town enjoyed their most successful season in the club's history, winning a treble of trophies, the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division, the Spartan South Midlands Football League Premier Cup, and the Spartan South Midlands Football Challenge Trophy. Noteable ex players include Dave Beasant (a goalkeeper who later went on play in the FA Cup final victory for Wimbledon) & Ralf Little (who is also an actor - perhaps best known in the Royle Family).A "sell-on" clause in the Dave Beasant contract meant that Edgware received a substantial sum when Wimbledon sold him to Newcastle United and the money was spent on improvements to the ground
The record attendance (approx 8500) at the White Lion ground was set in October 1947 for the F.A. Cup tie against Wealdstone.
After playing for 68 years at the White Lion Ground in Edgware, the freehold of the ground was sold & the new landlord was subsequently granted planning permission by Harrow Council to build houses and flats on the ground. The team carried on playing through the 2007/08 season but the sponsorship could not be found to continue to pay the ground rent. After finishing a respectable 8th in the Ryman Division 1 North.The club were forced to resign from the Ryman League in the summer of 2008, and are currently dormant, though the club's name continues to be registered with the Middlesex FA.
Meanwhile, presumably the credit crunch has put a delay on the building of the forthcoming houses & flats.
FELTHAM ARENA - FELTHAM FC
Home of Feltham FC from 1963 until 2004. The grandstand was officially opened in 1966 by the Mayor of Hounslow and the ground, boasted a capacity of 10,000 of which 750 could be seated. The club played on an artificial pitch which was laid in 1984 though this pitch denied Feltham entry to FA competitions for over a decade. The roof of the stadium was removed in 2000 due to a scare about asbestos.Following a spate of vandalism the club moved from the Arena and are now ground sharing with Bedfont FC. After rumours of Brentford FC relocating to the Arena and turning it into a 25,000 seat stadium, plans are afoot for Feltham FC to return to their spiritual home and redevelop the whole arena, including five-a-side pitches, an athletics track, a boxing club and crèche. The arena also contains a disused running track. The stand has recently been demolished. Meanwhile Feltham FC are currently ground-sharing with Bedfont FC.
Pete from Catford writes: “Feltham FCs alternative use was as a music venue in the early 1980s. A lot of young punk bands cut their teeth on the little stage by the bar area, but it was perhaps more famous for regular, chaotic gigs by legendary Psychobilly pioneers The Meteors and the Guana Batz (who were Feltham locals).”
Gray Newell writes "This was a punk/psychobilly venue in the early 80s, King Kurt, The Exploited, Toy Dolls and many others played there. The gigs stopped after the Angelic Upstarts played and the frenzied crowd kicked the plaster and lathe shell of the building to pieces."
KINGSTON UPON THAMES - BEVONIANS RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB
This rugby club in Kingston is now defunct due to lack of funds. In 2004 they suffered the problem of flytipping - a mountain of hardcore, shrubs, furniture & trees were dumped from a lorry damaging the pitch leading to the cancellation of games and the huge cost of removal of this regularly dumped rubbish helped contribute to this small club's demise.
WHITE LODGE GROUND, OSTERLEY - HARROW HILL ROVERS FC (Later known as Hounslow Borough FC)
Harrow Hill Rovers were established in 1987 & joined the Chiltonian League in time for the 1998-99 season and joined the Hellenic League in 2000. After the 2000-01 season, the club changed name to Hounslow Borough. For the 2005-06 season, they were champions of the Hellenic League Division One East and were promoted to the Premier Division, but in April 2007 they resigned from the league. This old clubhouse which in its prime was probably quite pleasant has now in a sorry state after a spate of vandalism and squatters.
Record Gate according to an old website = 65 v Chalfont Wasps – September 2003
HENDON - THE LOOT STADIUM (HENDON FC)
Considered one of the most respected London non league teams, Hendon Football Club currently play in the Isthmian League & after the closure of Claremont Road (their home for 81 years), Hendon FC's home games are being played at Wembley FC's Vale Farm - the less famous of Wembley's two stadiums!
Originally formed as Christ Church Hampstead in 1908, a year later the club became Hampstead Town FC. "Town" was then dropped from the title in 1926. Six seasons later another name change saw the club become Golders Green FC. In 1946 the present name of Hendon was adopted due to the ground lying within the Borough of Hendon (at the time).
Claremont Road was officially opened in 1926 before an FA Cup tie with Berkhamstead.The original bench seats were only replaced in 1993 when they received some bucket seats from Watford FC's Vicarage Road. Claremont Road became such a popular venue it went onto host three England Amateur International matches and a Great Britain v West Germany qualifying match for the Olympic games. The attendance record of 9,000 was set for the visit of Northampton Town in a FA Cup-tie in 1952.
In the 1990s, Claremont Road served as an occasional home for the rugby league team then known as London Crusaders. Until its demise as a football ground, Claremont Road remained a popular location for production companies with over 30 films, television programmes and adverts being shot there over the years including Nuts TV and the home ground of Fash FC.
The stadium site was sold to a property developer for approaching £20 million in 2006 & the team carried on playing there until September 2008 when after 81 years, the club were forced out. Rumours of a deed of covenant preventing the stadium and associated buildings from being used for anything other purpose than football or being returned to parkland has delayed redevelopment. Meanwhile squatters & travellers have moved in on the ground.
SNAKES LANE - WOODFORD TOWN FC
Founded in 1937, as a result of a public meeting for the express purpose of having a senior amateur club in the borough. A piece of waste ground was rented from the council and "officials, players and supporters worked prodigiously throughout the lose season" to get it ready.
Woodford Town FC was apparently a one-time hotbed of successful amateur football. In the post-war years, Town were much-loved by their many fans and much-feared by their rivals in the game.The club produced a succession of international players at amateur level. Jimmy Greaves played out his career for Woodford Town before retiring.
The club were trying to relocate to a ground within the borough of Redbridge since losing the rights to their Snakes Lane home in 1992. They were playing football at Clapton's ground until Woodford Town were kicked out of the Essex Senior League about 2003. The club is now believed to be defunct?
Falling profits and attendances forced the original owners of the dog track to sell-up after 75 years. Last week's shocking news that the most iconic greyhound stadium in Britain has been sold for housing and will close in August has left the sport reeling. Despite pulling in the highest attendances at any of the UK's remaining venues, the owners cite taxation changes, an increase in general costs and extended opening hours of betting offices as the reasons behind the decision.
Walthamstow's Tote turnover alone has fallen by 35 per cent since the abolition of General Betting Duty in 2001, which deprived dog tracks of the unique advantage of tax-free betting only on-course. The closure of next-door club Charlie Chan's, the famous pulling spot for lucky punters and wannabe WAGs, was a clear indication that all was not well. A greyhound stadium where a teenage David Beckham had a part-time job collecting glasses is to close. Brad Pitt attended as a guest of Vinnie Jones when he was filming Snatch, one of Guy Ritchie’s gangster films.Winston Churchill, Lana Turner and Gracie Fields were proud to be seen alongside thousands of East Enders who flocked to the stadium on a Saturday night.
Danny writes: "im born and bread in walthamstow, and we only ever had the racetrack and the market.and the market is unfortunetely a plaice to steer clear of now unless u r looking for trouble.if the dog track dont reopen then im afraid to say there will be even less londoners in london as thats all the working man as round here now as the pubs are even shutting down everywhere now.if it dont reopen then i'll be moving away as well ."
Ciaran writes: "I first went to Walthamstow stadium when I was about 9 years old with my Dad. We used to live in Tottenham and used to get the 34 bus to the Crooked Billet roundabout (thats when the Crooked Billet pub was still there). I remember at that age I had little interest in betting and was more interested in the playground that was set up in one of the corners. As I got older I'd go there about 3 or four times a year and recently up until it closed, me the missus and a few mates would go down there. I was really sad to hear the announcement that it was going to close and I remember hearing that on the last night it was to be opened, the queues to get in were absoloutley huge. Sad really - if half of these people had have gone there regularly it may have never closed.
Was also in Charlie Chan's once or twice - not really my scene being an ex-skinhead / punk but one interesting fact about the place is that it was named after its original owner Charles Chandler, the one-time Animals bass player and manager of the Jimmi Hendrix Experience. "
CATFORD - CATFORD STADIUM
The Greyhound Racing Association (GRA) closed its Catford track in south-east London on 5/11/03. The track had been losing money because of declining attendances in recent years and the site has now been bulldozed and the area is a vacant space due to redevelopment plans falling thorough due to the recession.
This is the 3rd track in the London area to close in recent years. There was Walthamstow (see above) and greyhound racing at Wembley came to an end in 1998 due to poor attendances. At least half a dozen greyhound tracks have closed in and around London in the past 20 years.
Catford was founded in 1932 and attracted large crowds until the legalisation of betting shops in 1961,which hit attendances at tracks throughout the country. The rich and famous, Hollywood stars andthose from the world of sport all visited this corner of Catford . The Gold Collar trophy, its most prestigious race, regularly had a ' personality' to present the winning trophy, the likes of Henry Cooper, Lester Piggott, Lennox Lewis, Frank Bruno, Leslie Grantham and even Red Rum stepped across the famous sand track to the presentation podium, where starstruck owners, trainers and well-wishers celebrated before being joined by their heroes in a lap of honour.
Catford Stadium was the subject of scandal in August 2002 when a greyhound called Football Focus died in the kennels there of heat exhaustion and, on the BBC TV exposé of greyhound racing in December 2001, a trainer who ran greyhounds at Catford was caught on camera admitting that he gave large meals to dogs before racing to slow them down, so big money could be won on them in subsequent races.
The first meeting took place on July 30, 1932, when dual Derby winner Mick The Miller, the most legendary greyhound in the history of the sport besides Ballyregan Bob and Scurlogue Champ, was paraded around the track.Back in its heyday, Catford used to have as many as 80 bookmakers, while only four were operating in the main ring when it closed. A female member of staff was once abducted by a gang and £30,000 – the night’s tote takings – stolen. The late Roy Dwight – cousin of Reg Dwight (Sir Elton John) – who famously scored and then broke his leg in the 1959 FA Cup Final for Nottingham Forest against Luton, was assistant racing manager during the mid-1980s.
ENFIELD - QUEEN ELIZABETH STADIUM
Opened in 1953, the year of the Coronation, this stadium served many generations of school athletes. Apparently maintenance of the infrastructure waned and the athletics running track was closed in mid 2008 after it failed a UK Athletics safety inspection. Perhaps ironically, one of the last athletes to use the track was Dwain Chambers. Still committed to his Olympic dream he had been maintaining his fitness there in isolation.
Enfield Town FC (who until recently played at nearby Brimsdown Rovers) raised money for the venue to be used as their home ground. The club and Enfield Council secured funding from the Football Foundation and moved into the Queen Elizabethy Stadium in November 2011.
* Enfield Town FC are a team set up by fans (bit like the AFC Wimbledon scenario) of Enfield FC (recently renamed Enfield 1893 FC) who were fustrated at the old Enfield being moved out of the borough.The original Enfield FC was one of the most successful amateur clubs in England and at one point was seen as a potential Football League entrant due to its Football Conference exploits, but went into freefall due to the club's former chairman decision to relocate to Borehamwood.
(these 2 interior pics courtesy of Sara Gonzalez)
MORDEN - MORDEN PARK SPORTS CENTRE
Whilst the fields seem to be in pretty good condition and maintained the 3 pavilions have a bad case of vandalism and have been left to decay.
HANWORTH - HANWORTH PARK
More derelict sporting facilities. Decaying tennis courts & a bowling green in SW London
SUNGATE GROUND - COLLIER ROW FC (and Romford FC)
Collier Row FC formed in 1966 & were founder members of Essex Olympian League. Romford FC relocated here in 1996 and soon acrimoniously merged to form Collier Row & Romford FC (Division Two of the Isthmian League) and then renamed Romford in 1997. Sungate was vacated during the 2001-02 season due to the deterioration of the pitch and other facilities and a major clubhouse fire. Several issues at Sungate were never satisfactorily resolved and the Club moved out mid-season, playing out the season on borrowed grounds and reluctantly forwarding its resignation from the Ryman League. The highest recorded attendance at the ground that I can find was 820 (against Leatherhead). Aldershot Town were the high profile visitors in 1997 while working their way up the non league pyramid.
Romford now have a groundshare deal and play at Aveley Football Club. Meanwhile, the Sungate is barely recognisable as a football ground apart from the old floodlights. There were some large dogs running loose on the site so I didn't get too close.
LEA BRIDGE STADIUM (Former Home of Clapton Orient FC & Lea Bridge Speedway Team)
The skeletal remains of one of the old stadium stands still exist on this site. Orient played here (often nicknamed The Bridge) between 1930 and 1937, however Orient also played at Wembley Stadium and Highbury due to Lea Bridge Stadium being deemed as unsafe for spectators (a complaint over perimeter fencing which meant that pitch invasion frequently occurred). Lea Bridge gates averaged 7000, and in 1936/1937 Orient's match versus Millwall attracted the ground's highest attendance, 20.400. But the club was never happy at the speedway stadium, and in 1937 rode their final move to Brisbane Road, a mile away in Leyton renaming themselves Leyton Orient.
In 1933 Lea Bridge Stadium was used for filming racing scenes for the movie Britannia of Billingsgate.
BROOKLANDS (ROMFORD) - ROMFORD FC
Romford F.C. were established in 1876 and reached the Quarter-Finals of the FA Cup in the 1880-81 season. Brooklands was the home of Romford from 1929 until April 1977. The stadium's oval shape was similar to the original Hampden Park in Glasgow. Over 18,000 spectators watch Southall visit for an FA Amateur Cup match in 1953 and subsequently the capacity was increased to 25,000 when the entire terracing was concreted over and a 1,500 all-seater stand was built.
The grandstand and floodlights rivalled many a football league club and underlined the ambitions of the club who sought election to the Football League. Disappointingly for the club, Romford were beaten by Oxford United in the vote for a club to join the 4th Division in 1962. With no return on their investment in the facilities at Brooklands, Romford Football Club was heavily in debt and losing large amounts of money. Another feature of the stadium was a very wide playing area and oval perimeter wall which meant Brooklands was ideally suited for Speedway and the Romford Bombers competed there for a number of years from 1969. A bridge was built for the bikes to reach the track from the pits and Romford Supporters called this the "Bridge over Troubled Supporters." The club were forced to sell up & the final game was played in 1977, the stadium was demolished and the area is now a housing estate. Parts of the original boundary fencing still remains (see to the right of the pic below)