Tiptree United
Chapel Road

Ground No. 189
Visited - Saturday 22nd August 2009
Result - Tiptree United 4-3 Eton Manor
Competition - Essex Senior League
Attendance - 60

In September 2006 work on Tiptree United’s new ground finally got underway, yet three years on and they’re still no closer to moving in. The move has been protracted to say the least, with numerous setbacks stopping the club from restarting life at the Brook Meadows site, but the biggest problem had come down to finance, the new ground due to be funded by selling their existing Chapel Road home. Unfortunately, they were struggling to find a buyer so with Chapel Road not suitable for Step 4 football, in the summer of 2009 the club announced that they would be groundsharing with nearby Maldon whilst the new venue awaits completion. Despite the announcement, there was some good news for those of us who hadn’t been, and that was that the club would be playing the early season games still at home, so with this in mind I arranged to make the long journey down for the Essex Senior League match against Eton Manor.

Setting off early, the journey into London went well enough, spending a couple of hours there before heading off to Essex. Tiptree, famous for its Jam, is situated just south-west of Colchester and opposite the road that bears the grounds name sits another road named Station Road. Unfortunately, as with many small towns/villages that have similarly named thoroughfares, then rail services haven’t run to Tiptree for some 58 years, since the ‘Crab and Winkle line’ was shut down due to low passenger numbers. The nearest station nowadays is Kelvedon some four miles away, and the point at which I arrived. There is a bus service, but having arrived on time just after 1pm, then I was in a bit of a quandary, not especially wanting to sit around for 45 minutes waiting with nothing to do before it arrived, so with just under two hours to kick-off then I decided to walk. It was a beautiful late summers day with the sun out and a light breeze that just nicely took the heat out of the air, so the (mostly) country walk went quite well, arriving at the ground for 2:30pm.

The entrance is tucked away between two houses, and after walking down a drive then you come out into the car park with the clubhouse/social club at the near end. After going in, you realise how tightly hemmed in the ground is, with houses on all four sides, but with trees overhanging the far touchline, then it’s a well looked after venue that looks as neat and tidy as any. Hard standing runs around all four sides, with a small brick built stand sitting in the centre of one side, whilst the near end is mainly taken up by the social club buildings and changing rooms, with a small propped shelter providing some more cover at this end. Thankfully it wasn’t needed on a day like this, but after the long walk then a beer was! So I headed off to the clubhouse (the awfully named ‘Jambusters Bar’) before the game was due to start.        

Part of the reason for the proposed groundshare was that Tiptree have ambitions to be playing higher than their current Step 5 status, so they were expecting to be challenging near the top of the table, but it was the visitors, Eton Manor, who did most of the early pressing, looking a little stronger and more clinical than their hosts. Both sides had efforts cleared off the line in an end-to-end game, but it was Eton who took the lead in the 8th minute when Dean Frett headed home from a deep cross into the box. It only took the hosts 6 minutes to reply and Lee Underwood made it 1-1 when he chased a long ball and lobbed the goalkeeper, but in the 24th minute Eton had the lead again, Joe May converting a penalty. That was it for the first half, but the second got underway with a bang when Underwood grabbed his second of the game right from the off, catching out an Eton Manor defence who presumably still had their minds in the dressing room! It was Tiptree’s turn to take the lead next, when on 66 minutes they made it 3-2, Jamie Ricks rounding the goalkeeper before pulling it back to Tommy English to tap home, and they looked to have held onto it right until the very end, but in injury time Courtney Linton found himself unmarked in the box to head home for the visitors and make it 3-3. The game had really dragged on by this point, and with the last bus back at 5pm (I didn’t fancy the walk back!) then I really was in two minds what to do and with my watch turning 4:55pm, then I was on the verge of leaving when the hosts won themselves a late and somewhat dodgy penalty. Tommy English converted, and with that I was off as soon as it had hit the back of the net! Even though there had been barely any injuries and it had kicked off at 4:04pm, the ref had re-started the game and it was still going on as I was jogging up the lane to the main road, slightly annoyed to have missed the end, but it turned out to be the right decision, arriving at the bus stop to see the bus turn the corner and pick me up without any waiting.

The journey back went fine, and overall I’d been glad to come. It turns out that I hadn’t missed any extra late goals anyway, with the game finishing 4-3 to ‘The Jam Makers’. It was good to see the ground before the club finally move away, whether that will be to groundshare with Maldon, or that they wait until the new ground is complete remains to be seen, but whilst it’s still here then Chapel Road is worthy of a visit, even if a late finish and an early last bus could leave you in a sticky situation….

Welcome to Tiptree United

The Clubhouse

Entrance to the Ground

Ready for Kick Off

The Far End

The Far Side

The Near End

The Near Side

The Main Stand

The Jam Makers

Chapel Road Panoramic


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