My Matchday - 274 Hargrave Park

Stansted 0v2 Dunston UTS
FA Vase 5th Round
Saturday 12th February 2011
Previous visits to this part of Essex have obviously been to catch flights from BAA Stansted Airport, the UK’s third busiest airport. Jetting off to the likes of Italy and Germany to watch European football isn’t a patch on watching some proper football and it doesn’t get more “proper” than the 5th round of the FA Vase.

Stansted F.C. are based in the village of Stansted Mountfitchet, situated near the Essex/Hertfordshire border, just north of Bishop Stortford and only two miles from the airport.
The Airportmen play in the Essex Senior League, the only club to be ever present in the league since it was formed in 1971 and current league champions winning the title for the very first time last season.
Formed in 1902 they established themselves in the Herts County League from 1956, following periods in the East Herts League, which they won in 1935, before playing in the Spartan and London Leagues
During the 1980’s the club enjoyed their greatest era winning various cup competitions in the eastern counties, as well as going on to lift the FA Vase at Wembley in 1984. Stansted beat Dunston’s near neighbours Whickham in the semi-finals before winning a memorable final against Stamford 3-2.

Stansted moved from the previous ground at Green Meadow to their present home at Hargrave sports ground for the 1937/38 season.
Hargrave Park is found on the main Cambridge Road, which runs through the village. Admission is taking at the road junction into the main entrance, which leads up to the main car park and clubhouse.
The impressive clubroom was built in 1982 and has a barbeque area, which constantly serves hot food on the patio, as well as an outside seating area. The bar also benefits from having a few friendly Essex girl barmaids!
Inside the ground all the amenities are on the entrance side, a refreshment bar, toilet block and the main stand with changing rooms.
The stand sits on the halfway line and has a capacity of 200, filled with a mix of blue wooden benches and bucket seats, set inside a white wooden frame. There is also two separate tunnels with match officials having a separate entrance to the players.
The ground has a capacity of 2,000. The other three sides of the ground is open standing with the dugouts on the far side in front of the cricket pitch. There's aluminium temp fencing which isn't fixed, learning the hard way by nearly going arse over tit when I leaning on it!
There’s floodlights which were installed in 1983, but overall the ground needs a lot of work and TLC, meaning at the moment the club can’t gain promotion to the Isthmian League.
The four and a half hour coach trip to Stansted Mountfitchet was made on the Dunston supporters coach, departing from the UTS Stadium at 8am.
Last season I had an enjoyable trip away to Glossop with the Fed, but this season I missed out on the only away tie so far in the last round at Runcorn, so was pleased to get another chance to jump on the Vase bandwagon.
We had a trouble free journey to north Essex arriving at around 1.15pm, which gave us plenty of time for a pre-match drink, starting off in the side splittingly named ‘The Cock’ before myself and Lee Robbo headed off in to the main part of the village to seek out the GBG listed ‘Dog & Duck’
The Dunston players and committee prepared for the big game by heading south the previous afternoon, while the forty odd of us who made the long trip from Tyneside on the day were rewarded with a place in the last eight of the Vase with an impressive win in Essex.
The game was evenly matched in the opening period, the deadlock broken just after the half hour mark with a cracking goal from Fergal Harkin. The Stansted defence initially failed to deal with a long ball through the middle, which was cleared wide into the path of Harkin, who hit a first time shot close to the right touchline which sailed unaided into the net - a superb strike.
Dunston doubled their lead ten minutes after the restart, Bulford latched onto a fifty-fifty ball to outpace the defender before lobbing the ball over the advancing keeper from the edge of the box, which knocked the stuffing out of the young Stansted side and booked Dunston a place in the quarter finals for the first time in 18 years.
The supporters celebrated with the players in the clubhouse afterwards, staying back until 6pm, which would have delighted the Stansted committee, who must have made a bomb in takings at the bar due to our merriment.
After the game I also bumped into David Bauckham, someone I’ve knew for a few years but never actually met, knowing him/knowing me through our individual websites and through Friendface. David travelled up from Eastbourne to take snaps of Hargrave Park, for his new blog - Non League Photo Diaries and his Flickr site.
We arrived back in Dunston at 1045pm after a very enjoyable and rewarding day, however there’s another ground further south which I still haven’t visited - our national stadium. This is because there’s only three clubs which I would want to see playing under Wembley Stadium’s big arch and two of those clubs are only three games away from an FA final.
So I have a twin assault of finally making it to Wembley this season and you never know, the impossible dream could come true with both Gateshead based clubs reaching Wembley over the same weekend come early May.

SFC 0 DUTS 2(Harkin 32 Bulford 56)
Admission £5


David Bauckham said...

Good to finally meet you Shaun and a nice write-up too. I believe the main reason for the club not progressing further up the Pyramid is an unwillingness of the local authorities and the neighbouring cricket club to agree to the requisite hard-standing and enclosing of the pitch that would be required. However, as Eastbourne Town proved a few years back, where there is a will there is a way ... eventually!

It will take a while to get the Non League Photo Diaries blog completely up-to-date but I hope to have the pics from Stansted up on my Flickr site in the next day or so: [url][/url]

Russell Beard said...

Good report Shaun, hell of a long trip on that coach, must have been a worthy experience, a grand result for your efforts.

David Bauckham said...

My Photo Diary is now available at

Spot yourself Shaun :)