Though top-league football is almost always the most entertaining, it can’t all be primetime viewing, Nike sponsorships, billionaire club owners, and monstrous wages. The Premier League is obviously the goal for any professional football team, the championship for teams below that level, and League One and League Two for those even lower. Every team must have something to aspire to, but you must remember that just because the Premier and Champions league are plastered all over the TV 90% of the time during football season, doesn’t mean there aren’t local teams out there working their hearts out to try and fight to the top of leagues that most football newcomers would never have heard of. After all, even Premiership teams start from somewhere, and that somewhere is the ground up.
Here at IlfordFootballClub.co.uk we recognise the importance of home-grown talent that comes from the local area, which is inevitably where all of the talent you’ll see on TV comes from in the first place, so we hope you will enjoy reading through information regarding what we feel are four extremely promising football clubs in the North East London area that have the potential to dominate their leagues and make names for themselves in all sorts of ways in the near future.
You won’t find reams of history dating back decades or centuries when it comes to Ilford FC. Founded in 1987, this relatively young club currently plays in the Essex Senior League, failing to reach the heights of the relatively successful Dagenham & Redbridge team who once managed to grace League One and currently sit amongst the League Two table. Some will be confused that the current Ilford FC is here being referred to as young, but the above founding date is accurate: there existed a non-league club that shared the same name but who went on to become Leytonstone/Ilford who just so happen to be the previous form of Dagenham & Redbridge.
The current Ilford FC’s ground is the Cricklefield Stadium in Ilford, home to all of the home games that the club play. The stadium itself is multi-use and contains three terrace stands and has a 3,500 capacity. Though the team’s ground is far from the heights of Wembley Stadium, the team have actually enjoyed a fair few notable successes in their time. Martin Haywood is the team’s current manager who was appointed after the team suffered an incredibly bad season in 2012/2017 under manager Kevin Lucas. Ilford FC’s relegation in this season was of course disappointing but with the appointment of Haywood as the new manager, Ilford are hoping for a better performance in the Essex Senior League where they currently stand in 11th place, awaiting for the season to kick off once again.
Ilford FC’s honours include being winners of the Isthmian league Division Two in 2004-2005 season and cups including the Essex Senior Football League Cup and the Gorden Brasted Memorial Trophy. You’ll find a bit of information on the Ilford First Team Pitch Hero webpage including pictures and match results that are kept fairly up to date. Some of Ilford’s players also have international caps including Shaun Batt, Clydie Roberts, Troy Hewitt, and Julian Charles. Fans can only hope that these players as well as fresh new talent may bring back some of the former glory of the club that saw them rise to division two of the Isthmian League and become and conquer it entirely, but only time will tell.
Much like Ilford FC, Romford FC’s current form has seen a few incarnations, from its first appearance in 1876 (this was the original club), its second coming in 1929, right through to today’s club that was formed in 1992. Like Ilford, this team also joined the Essex Senior League and won it in the 1995-1996 season after which they merged with Collier Row FC. Collier Row & Romford went on to be victorious in the Isthmian Leage Division Two, rising to the first division and renaming to simply Romford FC. The club had its ups and downs but in the 2017/14 season sits in Division One of the Isthmian League once again.
Romford FC’s ground is shared with Thurrock FC and is Ship Lane, a ground that resides in Avely, Essex. The team have a number of games lined up in July including three home games against Eton Manner, Saffron Walden Town, and Hoddeson Town as well as various away games again Barking, East Thurrock United, Grays Athletic, and Cray Valley FC. The team’s 2017/14 season was fairly inconsistent with a fair few losses, a number of draws and an increased number of wins toward the end of the season, though finishing off with three consecutive losses in April 2014. The team are currently 11th place in the Ryman Football League North Division and may show some promise if manager Paul Martin can get the best out of the players and captain Jack Barry can lead the team to more victories than in their previous season.
You won’t find Chigwell on any wikipedia page, such is the relative obscurity of the team, but they most certainly exist and do so in the MSFL League (Maccabi GB Southern Football League). The club boasts a whopping seven league titles and have played in two national cup semi finals, one league cup final, and one unbeaten league runner up. The team also boasts of their promotion from 5th-prem divisions and winning titles in league five, three, and two. Though the league is a relatively obscure one, this is still impressive nonetheless and shows that Chigwell Athletic have some raw talent amongst their team.
The club was founded in 2001 and is therefore one of the youngest in this entire article but they are also enjoying a good bit of success. Chigwell Athletic have been in Division One of the MSFL since the 2011/2012 season and have finished in high places each year ever since, with 5th, 4th, 5th, and 6th placing in 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13, and 2017/14 respectively. The team have a strong squad for the 2014/2015 season, the full roster of which can be found on the Chigwell Athletic Squad page; the sponsorship for the team has also been renewed as Richman Junior have extended their sponsorship to stretch until May 2016 meaning that the club’s future seems to be secure until at least this time.
Clubs like Chigwell Athletic prove that success doesn’t necessarily only happen on camera and in the glamour of the Premier and higher leagues.
Dagenham United FC
We’re not talking about Dagenham & Redbridge here but the very independent Dagenham United FC, a football club that was founded in 1961, making this team one of the older ones in this list. The club can claim to have been host to a great number of now-famous footballers who trained and grew up here. These names include Tony Adams (having played for Arsenal and England), West Ham United’s Steve Potts, John Terry as an U10 player before going to Senrab, and John Moncur, also from West Ham United.
The club seems to be concentrating very heavily on trying to bolster its facilities for the benefit of the players, particularly the youth members. The club has reached out to Dagenham & Redbridge for such a purpose and have formed alliances with various managers as well as aiming to secure funding for a 3G artificial turf pitch.
The team appears to have no fixed training ground, with the Dagenham United FC website indicating that training takes place across multiple venues including Manor Road and Castle Green in Dagenham. The senior team appears to have a few players that have made more appearances than others including Reece Bowden with 15 appearances, Luke Bradford with 12, Richard Burgess with 10 and a massive 17 appearances for Stuart Palmer and Sam Kingett. The team’s 2017/2014 season also looks very promising for the club’s future. A few better matches for the team were against St. John’s Deaf (4-0), Singh Saba (5-0). London APSA Res (4-2), and The Lord Sanctuary (4-1). The team split their time between League, Friendly, and Cup matches, ensuring a diverse set of opponents ranging from working-men’s clubs to rival athletic teams and special needs teams, and anyone that they may go up against with their grit and determination.