Cray Wanderers bring their February fixtures to a close as Tony Russell’s side travel to East Thurrock United for the first time since September 2013 in a match between two sides with playoff aspirations.  Kick off at the Grayers Graphics Stadium is 3pm.  Please note there is no planned pitch inspection expected so the game is expected to take place on Saturday.

Cray who play the first of three successive away games against Amber & Black wearing sides come into the game unbeaten in nine matches since the start of the year  and 5th in the Isthmian Premier League table. The Wands in a tight playoff race are level on points with Hornchurch (3rd) and Carshalton Athletic (4th) all on 55 points and have a four point buffer with Horsham in 6th on 51 points.  Cray will also be looking to make it five successive away wins in the Isthmian Premier for the first time having made it four wins on the road at Worthing on 8th February which they last did in the 2011-12 season.

The Wands kept up their good run with a hard earned point from a goalless draw with Kingstonian last Saturday.  In very difficult playing conditions, Cray played well particularly in the second half with the wind in their favour and but for experienced K’s keeper Rob Tolfrey could have made it five wins in a row but Joe Taylor twice and Rhys Murrell-Williamson were unfortunate to be denied with good saves. There were some fine performances amongst the wind and rain with the defence with Mitchell Nelson and Martin Onoabhagbe outstanding in hard conditions while Barney Williams and Ben Mundele contributed much to Cray’s play in the second half.  Charlie Allen added tenacity and Bradley Pritchard was once again in top form in midfield but in the end a point was probably about the right outcome after the visitors had the better of the first half and conditions.  Up front Joe Taylor requires one more goal for 30 in league and cup this season.

Cray’s season has been hampered at times by injuries but this can lead to opportunities for others and this season has seen U18s players, Palace Francis, Stefan Abatan, Chris Alhassan, Archie Daniels and Muqisa Hodasi all have made their first team debuts this season and the future of the club in that area, along with Lee Lewis becoming a first team regular shows some quality players coming through the youth system.

East Thurrock United have had a good week and on Tuesday night ended a run of three games without a win with a 2-0 home victory against Carshalton Athletic thereby completing a league double over Carshalton and boosting their own playoff hopes.  First half goals from Amos Nasha and a Darren Foxley penalty saw East Thurrock United move up to 8th in the table on 46 points, nine behind Cray but they do have three games in hand.

When the two sides met at Hayes Lane on 28th September it was a lively game which ended in a 1-1 draw with East Thurrock going ahead just after half time through Billy Crook but Tom Murphy levelled fifteen minutes from the end and Cray were perhaps unfortunate not to win but for a fine goalkeeping performance from Jack Giddens.

East Thurrock United are very strong at home and so far this season have beaten Cheshunt (4-1), Bowers & Pitsea (3-1), Bognor Regis Town (3-0), Brightlingsea Regent (2-1), Lewes (1-0), Wingate & Finchley (3-1), Leatherhead (3-0), Haringey Borough (4-2) and Carshalton Athletic (2-0). They drew with Worthing (0-0) & Kingstonian (3-3) with their only home losses coming against Potters Bar Town (1-3), Margate (1-2) and Folkestone Invicta (1-3).

Away from home they won at Carshalton Athletic (2-1), Worthing (3-2), Bowers & Pitsea (2-1), Margate (1-0) and Lewes (3-0). They drew at Cray Wanderers and Kingstonian and were beaten at Merstham, Haringey Borough, Folkestone Invicta, Bishop’s Stortford, Horsham and Wingate & Finchley.  Leading scorer in league and cups is Frankie Merrifield with 17 in all competitions.

The two sides haven’t met at Hayes Lane since April 2013 with the Wands already relegated losing 1-3.  In 11 previous league meetings Cray have won 5, lost 3 and drawn 3. The last time the two teams met at East Thurrock was on 21st September, 2013 when the Rocks won 3-0 with goals from Leon McKenzie, David Bryant and Grant Eagle. Future Wands skipper Lea Dawson played for East Thurrock that afternoon in a game which was Ian Jenkins penultimate game in charge of Cray Wanderers.  Cray Wanderers and East Thurrock met for a short period of time in the Metropolitan London League in the mid 70’s before resuming competition in the Isthmian Premier in 2011-12

Manager John Coventry has been at the club since 2007 and has taken East Thurrock United through the leagues and have returned to the Isthmian Premier after a three season stay in the National South, the highest league status attained in their history.

East Thurrock United were only formed in 1969 and the Corringham based side became members of the Greater London League reserves in 1970. After winning the division the league merged with the Metropolitan League and after remaining a reserve side initially in the new Metropolitan London League in Division Two and were promoted to Division One where they played Johnny Biddle’s Cray Wanderers side for two seasons.  After the league merged with the Spartan League they were in Division Two and so missed matches against Jimmy Wakeling’s Cray Wanderers team.

They moved to the Essex Senior League in 1979 and in 1988-89 earned promotion to Division Three of the Isthmian League and won promotion in 1999-00.  A couple of years later they were moved to Division One North and in 2004-05 were moved to the Southern League East and finished second in their first season and were promoted to the Isthmian Premier. They were relegated in 2007-08 to the North and finished second losing in the playoffs to Concord Rangers and also the following season after finishing fifth.  In 2010-11 they were champions of the Isthmian North and met Cray for three seasons in the Premier.  In 2011-12 they reached the 1st Round of the FA Cup losing to Macclesfield Town and the following season reached the playoffs losing to Lowestoft Town.  In 2014-15 they reached the 1st Round of the FA Cup again losing to Hartlepool United and in 2015-16 finished 3rd to reach the playoffs where they beat Tonbridge Angels and Dulwich Hamlet to gain promotion to the Conference South.  They stayed there for 3 seasons before being relegated last season but undoubtedly have come back a stronger side.

This will be another tough game but Cray have got through some tricky tests the last few weeks and can go into the game with supreme confidence.



East Thurrock United

The Grayers Graphics Stadium, Rookery Hill, Corringham, Essex   SS17 9LB

CASH ONLY at Rookery Hill.

Adult — £12.00
OAP’s/Students £6.00

Under 16s — £3.00


We’ve been informed by East Thurrock United that on Saturday and all weekend the A13 in both directions will be closed between the A128 junction (Orsett Cock roundabout) and the A1014 junction (Stanford-le-Hope) with a diversion via the A1013 Stanford Road.  You will need to take this junction to head to Rookery Hill for the ground. The diversion system has on previous occasion led to long delays. So best to leave yourself plenty of time for your journey.

Non-local traffic are advised to use alternative routes such as the A127 and M25

The best bet to avoid long queues as advised by East Thurrock United is to: Continue on M25 and take junction 29 onto A127, follow towards Basildon and take A176 which is a pretty straight run past Basildon Hospital, cross over A13 at Five Bells Junction and then take B1420 to Corringham and on to the ground.

From the Cray’s head for the M25 and once through Dartford Tunnel stay on M25 for 5.6 miles and then at Junction 29 take the A127 exit to Basildon/Romford/Southend and at the roundabout take the 4th exit onto A127 slip road to Basildon/Southend. After 0.5 miles merge onto the A127 Southend Arterial Road and after 6.6 miles take the A176 exit towards Basildon/Billericay then merge onto Upper Mayne/A176.  At the next two roundabouts take the 2nd exit staying on Upper Mayne/A176 and then after 0.7 miles at the next roundabout take the 2nd exit onto Roundacre/A176.  After 0.1 mile at the roundabout take the 2nd exit onto Nether Mayne/A176 and at the next roundabout take the 2nd exit to stay on Nether Mayne/A176 for 0.9 miles.  Then at the Five Bells Roundabout take the 3rd exit onto A176 (crossing over A13).  After 0.1 mile, at the roundabout take the 2nd exit and then after 0.1 mile take the 2nd exit onto Southend Road/B1420.  After 0.8 miles at the roundabout take the 1st exit and stay on Southend Road/B1420 and after 1.6 miles you should reach the ground.

Please add extra time to your journey.

Please note there is limited parking available at the ground so please arrive early if you need to park in the ground. There is off site parking along Rookery Hill, outside ground.

Please be considerate when parking and ensure that you do not block any access points for the neighbourhood as a rural location.

By Bus

The ‘100’ bus ( which runs between Chelmsford and Lakeside stops 200 yards from the ground (Corringham Club Corner). Keep car park opposite Corringham Club on your right, and follow Church Road (which becomes Rookery Hill), ground comes up on your right. The 100 bus also runs past Stanford-le-Hope and Basildon rail stations if you are coming via rail. These buses are at 20 minute intervals on a Saturday (18/38/58 past the hour from Stanford-le-Hope station) and a ten minute ride getting off at the Social Club stop.


Nearest stations are Stanford-le-hope or Basildon, both on the Fenchurch Street to Southend line. Stanford is about a mile away as the crow flies. Basildon 4 miles. A small cab fare, or jump on the’100′ bus (see above). Trains from Fenchurch Street depart at 23 or 53 past the hour and take 50 minutes to get there. You can also get this train from West Ham, Barking, Upminster or Chafford Hundred Lakeside stations. Returns are at 16 or 46 past the hour.

Nearest pubs: Your best bet is the Bull on Church Road on the approach to the ground close to the St. Mary’s Church where you could pop in for one before going into the ground and the very fine clubhouse.  Not many grounds where you get, church, pub, football ground so close and it is a fine ground. If time there are a couple of pubs in Stanford-le-Hope, The Inn on the Green and the Rising Sun could be worth a visit.  For Fish & Chips there is the Kingfisher in Lampits Hill in Corringham while also for more spicier food in the same road you have Essence of Bengal and Zaal Indian restaurants and also Kong’s Chinese restaurant.

Corringham is a small town linked to nearby Stanford-le-Hope and part of Thurrock Unitary authority. It has a couple of churches, St. Mary’s and the Evangelical church as is a very rural part of Essex and one of the most pleasant trips on the calendar.  If time, Basildon is about 4 miles away but the ground and facilities (+ the Bull nearby) makes this a must do trip if you haven’t been