No.50 - Sat 16th May 2015; Mid Essex League Premier Division;                                      2pm at the Wickham Bishops Sports Ground; Great Totham Road; Wickham Bishops; Witham; Essex; CM8 3NP 


Matchday images (51)

Beacon Hill Rovers (1) 2  Great Baddow (2) 3

'Rovers and Out!'

'Today Iím heading towards the outskirts of Witham in Essex for my final footy fix of the season. My destination is the Wickham Bishops Sports Field where Beacon Hill Rovers Football Club is taking on Great Baddow in a Mid Essex League Premier Division fixture. Before setting out a quick phone call to secretary John Plumb reveals that the kick-off is at 2pm. Itís a good job that I get there in good time as the referee is in no mood for hanging about and decides to start the game almost fifteen minutes early!


As I arrive the place is absolutely heaving with people. The football club which runs as many as fifteen teams, is holding a fun day today. This, amongst other things, includes a mini-football tournament for boys and girls of varying ages. I park up on an overflow car park in an adjacent field covered in long grass and make my way past some modern floodlit tennis courts to the entrance. Here a series of tall flags featuring countries from all over the world add a bold splash of colour to the surroundings. The pavilion to the left is doing a busy trade in BBQ refreshments and an unmistakable strong smell of grilled meat fills the air.


The left hand side of the expansive playing field is roped off for the mini football competition with the main first team pitch marked out alongside this to the right. It is bordered by trees and hedges along three sides and itís just about possible to see (through the dense foliage) a cricket match being played on a separate field beyond the far goal Ė not surprising as it is mid May after all!      


This is the very last game of the campaign in the entire MEL. Indeed after playing catch up with their fixtures for several weeks now visitors Great Baddow FC will finally be crowned the league champions after the game no matter what the outcome. The result goes according to the form book and the men from Chelmsford prevail with a 3-2 win. They are pushed all the way though by the (mid table) hosts who open the scoring after quarter of an hour before going behind and then pull one back late on (with both strikes coming from the young nippy Carl Swanborough) to add a bit of interest to proceedings.


The celebrations are low key and the champions must wait for another day to receive the trophy as no one from the league committee is on hand to award the silverware. Isnít that sad?! Only a dozen spectators watch the game which is played on a hard, bumpy pitch in mostly warm, sunny conditions. Thereís no dug outs or cover and the refreshments (not normally on offer) come courtesy of the BBQ organised for the fun day.


Historical data suggests that the club can be traced back to March 1921 when visiting farm workers challenged the locals at the Mitre Public House to a match. Landlord Jack Barnes organised a team, a set of black and white shirts were borrowed and a pitch was cleared in a field behind the pub. 1926 saw the establishment of a new pitch and facilities at Snows Corner with club being founder members of the Beacon Hill Sports Association. This was to be the sideís home for the next 87 years.

The lows for the Club came in the 1960ís when the Rovers did well to survive a series of financial and playing crises. By the next decade they had re-established themselves as stalwart members of the Mid-Essex Football League with the first team and reserves fluctuating between the divisions interspersed with seasons of mid-table mediocrity. Club stalwarts Reg Banham and John Hennessey worked hard to gain some success and by the 1990ís the first team were consistent members of the Premier Division.

In 1996 Beacon Hill celebrated 75 years of Roversí football. With the support of the Beacon Hill Sports Association Rovers started offering coaching sessions for local youngsters, a mini-soccer team was entered into the local league and the club had a much more positive, forward thinking feel to it. As seasons went by further youth teams were added as were a veterans team to provide ďcradle to graveĒ football opportunities! A ladies team was then added and it became apparent that quaint Snows Corner just wasnít big enough to provide for the communities desire to play football.

The move to the new ground at 'The Hill' in 2005 saw new and bigger facilities allowing more youth teams including a girlís team to join the association. The location actually took the club back to itís original home just behind the Mitre (on The Street). A grand opening on the 10th September 2005 saw Sir Trevor Brooking cut the black and white ribbon and Rovers havenít looked back since.

The 2007-08 season was a key one for the club, the first group of Beacon Hill youth players were old enough to join the menís teams and they were drafted in to great success as the season progressed. To meet the need Rovers had to start a third Saturday team and this season will see the girlís youth team players joining the ladies team. That plan hatched in 1996 seems to be paying off.

If you want to make a visit to this friendly club I would definitely recommend it. Beacon Hill Rovers have an absolutely brilliant website carrying the club colours of red and black which is regularly updated covering news, results and fixtures as well as contact and location details (see the link below).To reach the ground I came from Witham passing under the A12 before picking up back roads to the village of Wickham Bishops (not to be confused with Beacon Hill itself which is a couple of miles away) where the sports ground can be found on Great Totham Road. the


This was a great way to end to the season. Doesn't time fly when you're having fun! Have a restful summer whatever you get up to...and remember to log onto FGIF once again when the 2015-16 gets underway...'.     

FGIF Match Stats

Scorers: (H) Swanborough (14, 90) and (A) Flack (24), Hill (27), Nelson (80) 

Attendance: 12; Admission: None; Programme: No; Match rating: 3/5; Ground rating: 3/5.



edited on 17/05/15