About New Lodge This is a real shock to the system. The ground is accessed down a country road with farm land all around the ground. The pitch is on a slope that reminds you of non league grounds from bygone years and the facilities are relatively basic. New Lodge has a tiny “main stand” which looks like it is sitting next to a railway signal box, which is actually the ample bar and a viewing gallery for season ticket holders. There are covered terraces on all other sides of the ground and there is a small food serving hatch at the far end of the ground. How to get to New Lodge From Brentwood/M25(North) – Note there is a height restriction of 13’3″ on this route. Leave the M25 at the junction with the A12 (J28) and continue down the A12 towards Chelmsford until you reach the next exit (Mountnessing / Ingatestone). At the roundabout take the first exit (turn left). You will then come across a mini roundabout where you should turn right. Continue along this route until you reach a mini-roundabout at the end of Wash Road. Turn left here. You are now on the road to Billericay. On entering Billericay (you will see a welcome sign on your left) turn right at the first set of traffic lights (near the car dealership) into Tye Common Road. The ground is down Blunts Wall Lane which is a little way along on the right. From Basildon/A127/M25 (South) – From the M25 (J29) take the A127 to the Basildon/Billericay (A176) turn-off, (junction after the Old Fortune of War roundabout). Take second exit at roundabout (Billericay is signposted). Then straight over (2nd exit) at the next roundabout. Continue along that road until you enter Billericay. At the first roundabout take the first available exit. At the next roundabout (with Billericay School on your left) go straight over (1st exit). At yet another roundabout!, turn left into the one-way system. Keep in the left-hand lane and go straight over roundabout. At first set of lights, turn left. Blunts Wall Road is the second turning on your right. By Rail – Billericay is located on the Liverpool St.-Southend Victoria line, trains run approx every 20 mins on most days. Billericay Town Football Club is approximately 25 minutes walk from the station. On leaving the station turn right into Radford way. At the top of the road turn right, crossing the Railway line by the footbridge. Then turn right again at the bottom of the High St. into Western Road. Walk the full length of Western Road, then cross over at the traffic lights into Tye Common Rd. Blunts Wall Lane is a little way along on the right. Note Mayflower taxis (01277 624000) are located just outside the station and can take you to the ground. How to get a ticket for New Lodge Admission prices to New Lodge for the 2011-2012 season are unchanged from the last two seasons:
- Adults £11.00
- Concessions (Over 60’s and Student card holders) £6.00
- Under 16s £2.00
Upgrade to the main stand is an additional £1.00. Our Last Visit – December 2014 After the euphoria of the last-gasp win in the Sussex Senior Cup it was time to return to Ryman Premier League action with a trip to the purveyors of fine free-flowing football, Billericay Town. Those of us who made the trip to Horsham on Tuesday night were rewarded with a smorgasbord of the elements as well as some late drama to pitch The Rooks into the last eight in the race to reach The Amex. So what better way to follow that than to spend a cold, damp afternoon in mid December than in deepest, darkest Essex craning our necks in the air as the ball by-passes the midfield? At least you know what to expect when you play The Blues. Their manager, Carl Griffiths has modeled his side on those of Beck, Basset and Taylor, leading them to the Ryman Premier League title two years ago before they fell from the Conference South just a year later. Whilst The Blues are one of a large pack of “middling” teams in the third tier of English football, they do hold the honour of being the first club to win the FA Vase three times (ticks box of doing research on Wikipedia). Matches between the two sides have hardly been dull in recent years, and if I was a betting man (which of course thanks to The FA I’m not allowed to be) I’d have a sneaky £10 on a red card. Last season it was our captain fantastic, Jack Walder, who saw red. Walder was back from his long-term injury although he would be soon be missing again after picking up a red in his comeback game, playing for a Ringmer last week. This was to be my last outing to watch the Rooks before Christmas, so there was bound to be plenty of festive cheer as we descended on New Lodge, Billericay’s ecletic ground on the edge of the Essex countryside. Despite the Rooks lowly position, you have to go back to the 19th October for the last defeat in the league. In fact, that bizarre game at Oxford City two weeks ago aside, it had been a pretty impressive run with wins in the FA Trophy and Sussex Senior Cup to go with the unbeaten league run. Deaks had done his homework and found a decent pub in the town centre with a few new ales to sample, including possibly the best toilets this side of the West End. Two (2!) types of hand lotion in the toilets. As Dave said, you expected a little chap to pop out from behind the door with a squirt of Kouros. Not what you’d expect from the location. A swift pit stop on the walk to the ground at Greggs ended in disappointment as they had run out of sausage rolls. That’s like a bank running out of cash, a pub running out of beer or Michael McIntyre managing to actually say something funny. It’s just not British is it? The winter sun was causing us a problem as we walked down to the ground, meaning the toss could be a match decider. Of course, we lost that and Rikki Banks was soon regretting leaving his baseball cap in his car glove compartment. Billericay Town 2 Lewes 2 – New Lodge – Saturday 13th December 2014 Six minutes into injury time the ball is launched into the Lewes area, surely for one final time. The initial four added minutes that the referee had said he was adding on have come and gone. The ball falls to Lewes’s stalwart Chris Breach, he slips, allowing a Billericay player a sight of goal. Lovegrove dives in, taking one for the team and it’s a penalty. One final hope of all three points stands 6ft 4inches tall. Rikki Banks dives the right way but Richard Halle’s spot kick has too much pace and the wild celebrations from the home side just shows the relief of grabbing a point. Of course we could complain. But on at least four occasions this season the Rooks had benefited from extra injury time to grab valuable points or progress in the cup competitions. As they say, these decisions even themselves out over a season. It hurt – don’t get me wrong, but that’s football. Despite dominating the opening exchange, including hitting the woodwork before we’d even picked up our chips from the refreshment kiosk, Billericay faded in the first half as Lewes simply out-passed them. There was no surprise when The Blues took the lead, although it wasn’t the long ball that led to the goal, rather than a powerful run from Sappleton through the middle of the Lewes defence before slotting home with ease. Despite the state of the pitch, the Rooks looked to play the ball behind the Billericay back line with new signing Fraser, Davis and returning skipper Walder dominating the middle of the park. Confidence grew, chances came and finally so did the equaliser. Davis to Fraser to Cole, running onto the ball in the area and the ball was in the back of the net. Tails up we went for another. Davis showed his dancing feet when the ball appeared to get stuck in the mud, shifting his weight from left to right, wrong-footing the defence and calmly slotting the ball into the net. Lewes were rampant. Blewden beat the offside trap but the final obstacle, the pitch, beat him. The second half was a tighter affair with both sides struggling with the conditions. Billericay were reduced to ten men when Sappleton went in late on Fraser, the subsequent handbags essentially costing Lewes their victory with the time being added by one of the better referees we’ve seen at this level this season. The final drama certainly gave us our money’s worth and no Lewes fans can really complain at the last gasp decision. We’d done our homework, stuck our game plan and came away with a moral victory if not with all three points. Postscript: the title of today’s report relates a line from the song All Together Now, describing the events in The Somme from 100 years ago. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them Our Last Visit – December 2011 What a day this promised to be. Three (well two and a half) fiercely contested local derbies, either side of the River Thames, which thanks to some fortuitous scheduling, that I could go to, as well as still putting in some “Fuller Festive Family Fun”. Christmas is all about spending time with your loved ones, catching up on the events of the year and generally being around those nearest and dearest to you. But when the words “Let’s go to the sales” are mentioned, all love goes out the window and football becomes a viable option. Hence, when the three Fuller girls all expressed a wish to go shopping, I played the football get out of jail free card and planned my day of hot and spicy local derbies. First up was a trip under the Thames to Essex for the “Battle of the M25 junction 28” as they call it in these parts. Billericay Town sat proudly on top of the table before a ball was kicked. Despite their nearest rivals all winning yesterday, their amble goal difference of plus 27 saw them safely sit in first place. Visitors AFC Hornchurch lay in fourth with a game in hand and just four points below. So a win for either side today could be pivotal in the final shake up. Whilst most football leagues will boast “this is the most difficult division to get out of”, few can claim that at the halfway point in the season there has been five different leaders, or that the top if they won their games in hand would be separated by just five points. The Ryman Premier League has proved to be a great league for the neutrals to follow, but a bugger if you are the follower of one of the clubs. With the Christmas period throwing up the odd derby or two, we would have been a fool to miss this one. Billericay Town versus AFC Hornchurch. Two teams separated by the M25 just a few miles apart and by just four points at the top of the table. This was hard to miss. With Lakeside just a few miles away I was able to deposit CMF and The Little Fullers at the Cathedral of Orange Tans and head northish through the vineyards of Essex to Billericay, home of Steve Davis, Alison Moyet and Lee Evans. All three would surely be at New Lodge for this top of the table clash? I cannot think what else they could be doing on a post Christmas afternoon. Billericay Town have surprised many this season with their rise to the top of the table. Just two defeats, one of which was in the first week of the season to Lewes, has seen them jump above the likes of Lowestoft Town, Hendon, Lewes and visitors Hornchurch. Their success has been built on a strong goal scoring record that has seen them average over two goals a game this season, and seen them put the likes of Kingstonian Wingate & Finchley, Tooting & Mitcham United and Canvey Island to the sword this season at home so far. Their style has come in for some criticism as being too direct, whilst visitors Hornchurch had been called “too physical” in the past. Frankly, football is about results and so if a style works for a team then they deserve their success. The facts suggest that whatever style works in this division as they are top of the league, with 46 goals scored to their name. The club have also been scratching their heads as to what they can do to get more people through the gates. I sympathise with them and this was my whole reason for writing my Blueprint last year. One player who unfortunately would not be gracing the pitch was Billericay keeper Nicky Morgan. Morgan was involved in an incident outside a nightclub in Essex in October and received injuries that resulted in him being paralysed from the waist down. The police have now arrested a man in connection with the injury. The club have been incredibly supportive of Nicky and we also wish him well. As we drove up through the Essex countryside we came across a line of parked cars on the road. Surely this couldn’t be for the football? After all, here was a team who were averaging 300 give or take a few. According to my good friend TomTom we were still nearly a mile away. But yes, it seemed that the locals had all read the article on the website and had put on their Christmas jumpers and hot-footed it down to the biggest game in Essex. Billericay Town 0 AFC Hornchurch 1 – New Lodge – Tuesday 27th December 2011 Rule number 1 – when you moan about not having enough fans and then they turn up en mass, make them welcome. The attendance of over 1,100 put strain on every aspect of the club. The one turnstile struggled to cope in the lead up to kick off, the hot food ran out in the 44th minute as we were queuing, the bar had queues of fifteen minutes. I appreciate it is a chicken and egg situation but some forethought could have avoided hundreds of people going away from the ground with a poor impression. The game in truth failed to live up to its top of the table billing. An over fussy referee tried his best to antagonise the players, managers and fans alike with some strange decisions and a pitch that made playing the ball on the ground impossible but few can argue with the result in the end. Hornchurch were the stronger team in the second period and before they had scored the only goal, hit the bar with a well taken free kick. Billericay had been likened to Stoke City simply because they have someone who can hurl the ball in from the touchline. Sam Berry’s talents were used whenever there was an opportunity in the game and once or twice his throws caused chaos in the Hornchurch area and the odd controversial moment when the referee automatically penalised the home side irrespective of the outcome of the throw. Both teams are strong, well organised and that seemed to cancel out their attacking threat. As someone had said to me prior to the game “It won’t be one for the purists” and it certainly wasn’t. Glen Poole had the best chance of the first half for the home side but his shot was well saved by a confident, if bruised Hornchurch keeper, Joe Woolley. In the second half the momentum swung to the visitors and on the hour they got their goal. Michael Spencer was sent away down the wing and his cross was met by Tommy Black. His first effort was somehow scrambled off the line but he followed up and turned the ball home. With time running out, Billericay pushed forward, first putting one centre back up front, and then another. Finally, keeper Dale Brightly was added to the attack. However, from one set piece Hornchurch broke quickly and with the goal empty. Hunt shaped to shoot from the half way line but was brought down by a Billericay player. Technically he was the last man, even though he was in the Hornchurch half. The referee decided to give a yellow in one of those decisions that nobody will ever agree on. Three points to Hornchurch gave them their ninth consecutive win and lifted them up into third, above Lewes and mean that the top four in the Ryman Premier are now separated by just four points. As Glenn Frey once said – “The Heat is On”.