Pics: Jon Hilliger,

In Cray Wanderers 160th year the club look for a piece of history on Saturday as Tony Russell’s side seek a place in the 1st Round of the FA Cup for the first time.  First though, they will need to pass the considerable challenge of Canvey Island in the 4th Qualifying Round and should be a tense and exciting afternoon in front of a sold out crowd of 400.  The match will be decided on the day going straight to penalties if tied after 90 minutes.

Cray in their first 4QR tie since October 2005 have made it through after wins against Fisher 3-1 at home (Jason Banton (2), Freddie Parker), Moneyfields 6-2 away (Joe Taylor (3), Parker, Jay Leader and Charlie Allen) and a dramatic tie at Bristol Manor Farm on penalties after a 3-3 draw (Ben Mundele, Parker (2).

The Wands were without a game in midweek and last Saturday were impressive 3-1 winners at Haringey Borough, returning to winning ways in the league after two successive defeats. After falling behind in North London, goals from Bradley Pritchard and two second half strikes from two of the principle characters from the Bristol game, Ben Mundele and Rhys Murrell-Williamson.  Defensively also Cray were resolute when Haringey pushed to get back into the game and showed that resilience that was a trademark of the unbeaten run at the start of the year.

The postponement of the game with Bognor Regis in midweek helped give a much needed breather after a hectic start to the season which will continue into November and Cray will hope with a first ever FA Cup 1st Round tie.

Canvey Island though will have their own ideas and have played four FA Cup ties to reach this round winning 2-0 at home to Ware in the Preliminary Round then 2-0 at Dereham Town, a penalty shoot-out victory at home to Biggleswade and then in the 3rd Qualifying Round a 2-0 win at Bedfont Sports with goals from Harrison Chatting and Michael Finnernan.

In the Isthmian North, Mark Bentley’s side are 12th in the table but have only played four league games. Canvey won 4-0 at Grays on 26th September, drew at home to Romford (0-0) and at Brentwood Town (1-1) with their only loss at home to Maldon & Tiptree (0-1) on 6th October.  Their FA Trophy tie at Ramsgate last Saturday was forfeited due to a couple of players showing Covid-19 symptoms and their midweek game v Coggleshall, like Cray’s was permitted to be postponed through the Isthmian League so have been well rested since the 3rd QR.   

This is the first ever FA Cup tie between the sides but the teams did meet in the FA Trophy in October 2018 with Canvey winning 2-0. 

 Canvey Island were founded in 1926 and first met Cray Wanderers in league action in the Greater London League in 1965-66, a year when Cray won the league.  We met up again in the early-mid 70’s in the Metropolitan London League before quite a gap until our paths crossed again in the Isthmian Premier for five seasons from 2009.  They have a good FA Cup record and reached the 1st Round in 1995-96 losing to Brighton after a replay. In 2000-01, a great year for the club they made it to the 2nd Round beating Port Vale after a replay before losing to Southend United. They also won the FA Trophy that season, the last Isthmian League club to win the trophy beating Forest Green Rovers in the final at Villa Park.  The following season did even better getting to the 3rd Round after beating Wigan away and Northampton Town in a televised tie before losing at Burnley.  In 2003-04 they were promoted to the Conference where they spent two seasons before taking voluntary demotion to the Isthmian North winning promotion to the Premier in 2007-08.  They stayed in the Premier until 2016-17 when they were relegated to the North reaching the playoff final in 2017-18 losing to Haringey Borough.  Canvey Island were 10th last season when the season came to an early end.

This is a game which means so much too both sides and promises to be a great occasion and one for Cray which could spell a place in history.

Please note all 400 tickets for the game have been sold out so please do not travel without a valid ticket which would have been issued online when purchased to download.      


Canvey Island FC –

Park Lane, Canvey Island, Essex SS8 7PX

Just a quick note from Canvey Island for tomorrow’s game. For early birds, the gates open at 1pm and all supporters must have your ticket ready to present. So if you have one printed please take it with you. The clubhouse is takeout drinks only (much like Haringey Borough last week) and up to 5pm.

By Car:

Exit M25 at Junction 30 and take the A13 towards Southend. You will reach a series of mini roundabouts. At these roundabouts, take the A130 towards Canvey Island. At the next roundabout take the 2nd exit which will keep a sports centre on your right and follow signs for Canvey Island Football Club. Eventually, you will enter a one way system. Keep left through the one way system and after one mile you will pass the Transport Museum on your right. Park Lane is on the right hand side shortly afterwards, with the stadium located in front of you. There is plenty of parking outside the ground.

By Train:

Benfleet Station is 40 minutes from London Fenchurch Street on the C2C line. The station is 5 miles from the ground. There is a taxi rank around the back of the station. Alternatively, you can use the frequent bus service from the front of the station:  There are plenty of trains from Fenchurch Street or from stations in the East End or Essex during the hour going to Benfleet and on the way back after the game there are five trains an hour although some take longer than others.   Direct trains are probably easier from West Ham and leave at 03, 07, 33 and 37 past the hour or the 17 & 47 require a chance at Barking.  Returns leave at 01, 05, 31 & 35 past the hour.   

By Bus:

You can use the number 22 or 27 bus to Leigh Beck to be dropped directly outside Park Lane. Alternatively, you can use the number 21 or 21A to be dropped by the sea wall. From here, continue walking in the direction you travelled across some playing fields, and you will see ground on your left. 

The nearest pub to the ground used to be the Admiral Jellicoe, one bus stop before you alight for the ground but this is now closed.  The most recommended pubs in Canvey Island are the Lobster Smack, a Dickensian themed pub/restaurant which used to feature bare knuckle boxing in the Victorian era (Haven Road, SS8 0NR), the Haystack Public House (96 Furtherwick Road, SS8 7AE) and Windjammer (Eastern Esplanade SS8 7HG).  For Benfleet Station, there is the Hoy and Helmet which is just across the road in the High Street.  Opposite is the Half Crown.  The recommended chippie is the Islander on Furtherwick Road near the Haystack Pub.  With current COVID-19 restrictions placed in certain areas of the country please check before travelling to these pubs that they are open and respect social distancing and regulations.  

Canvey Island is a reclaimed island in the Thames Estuary and the coastal part of the Island became a fashionable place to live and visit especially for Londoners looking for a bit of sea air. It has a promenade of amusements, clubs and stalls which are situated not too far away from the ground.  Sadly, the area being fairly low is prone to flooding and in February 1953, the North Sea flood hit the island leading to 58 deaths and damage to holiday homes. The South of the island has been associated with the petrochemical industry and oil refineries have been based there since the 1930’s.