I first saw Takeley in a local derby against Stansted in December. They impressed that evening and have been around the top end of the Essex Senior League for the majority of the season. Several previous attempts to visit them, at their Station Road ground, had fallen foul of the weather or last minute schedule changes (mine, not theirs).
They were playing at home three times this week. This included a rescheduled away game against Woodford that had been moved to Station Road as Woodford’s landlords were already hosting a fixture. Takeley were also playing FC Romania on Thursday. As Thursday was my birthday I decided to head out on Tuesday and see how they fared against Tower Hamlets, who I saw entertain Clapton back in August.
Competition: Essex Senior League
Attendance: 40 (approx)
Ticket: £7 (£5 concessions)
Refreshments: £2 (tea and coffee)
Star man: Mitchell Das
Who are ya, Takeley?
Takeley FC date back to 1903 but little is known, or has been recorded, about their early years. They played in district and local leagues for many years until they joined the Essex Olympian League in 1978. The Olympian League became the Essex Intermediate League and Takeley generally performed well, winning Division One in 1988.
Takeley spent a few brief years in Division Two but returned to Division One and were winners again in 2002. They won the Essex Premier Cup in 2007 and a year later were accepted into the Essex Senior League. Takeley have finished in third place on three occasions since joining the step five league, but are yet to be promoted.
Takeley finished fourth in the league last season and also won the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy, one of two cup competitions contested by Essex Senior League Clubs. They are once again doing well in the league this season and looking to improve on their highest finishing position of third.
- Takeley played their first ever FA Cup match in August 2010. They lost 3-2 against Hertford Town. Their first ever FA win came against Newmarket Town in 2012.
- A West Ham XI featuring Jack Collison, James Tompkins and Junior Stanislas played at Station Road in 2008 to celebrate the installation of floodlights.
Takeley were fifth in the table prior to kick-off. They were 11 points behind the top four, but with four games in hand over their rivals. They were playing catch-up after feeling the full force of the winter with frequent postponements. Takeley had won their last two games after two consecutive defeats. Their last match was a 4-1 win over Woodford. It was technically an away match, but it was actually played at Takeley’s Station Road ground.
Tower Hamlets had lost six consecutive games after their last victory at home to Southend Manor on 5 March. This run had included a 5-0 defeat to Takeley in the two side’s first league meeting this season. Takeley had also beaten Tower Hamlets 4-0 in August in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup.
The Takeley experience
Train: The closest station to Station Road is ironically quite far away at Stansted Airport. The 508 runs from the airport, and Harlow bus station, to the Four Ashes pub which is a short walk away from the ground.
Car: Come off the M11 at the junction for Stansted Airport and take the exit for B1256 Dunmow Road. Continue on the B1256 until you reach the Four Ashes pub on the crossroad. Turn right at the crossroad and the ground is on your left. There is a small car park at the ground and signs for an overflow if needed.
Takeley have a great team. I would put them up there with Great Wakering Rovers as the best two sides in the league, based purely on the games I've seen. They are essentially a village club that has grown over the years and produced a strong step five side. Investment from local businessmen has helped them install floodlights in 2008 to ensure they were allowed into the Essex Senior League. In 2010 a turnstile was also installed meaning they could enter the FA Cup.
The club offers a great package of a peaceful, scenic location, a friendly welcome and then a good standard of football. The first things you notice as you enter the ground are the clubhouse, built in 2001, and in the distance the distinctive water tower. Like the club, the water tower, is located in the middle of a retirement community. There is nothing shy and retiring, however about the action on the pitch.
Takeley are busy catching up on games due to their success in cup competitions and a large amount of postponements brought about by the terrible winter. If they weren’t so far behind on games played they might well have been able to muster a title challenge. The ground looks setup for a higher level of football, although you’d be hard pressed to catch any of the locals fretting about their promotion prospects, they’re refreshingly relaxed about the idea.
Station Road has a main stand next to its clubhouse, which currently appears to be being extended. There is also a small seating area on the far side next to the dugouts and a small covered terrace further down the same side. The rest of the ground is open, but neatly presented. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed. It looks like Takeley might just miss out on promotion this season, but they’ll be there or thereabouts again this time next year.
Takeley continue to close the gap with comfortable win
Takeley started the game on the front foot and looked composed on the ball. They kept possession well while Tower Hamlets, who looked well organised, sat deep and looked to catch their hosts out on the break. Takeley found it tricky to break down the visitors early on. Mitchell Das had a couple of efforts from distance and Mustafa in goal for Tower Hamlets cleared up any loose balls.
Takeley did eventually take the lead before the break with a bit of quality from Das. He got on the end of a long ball from Barrett, turned the defender and finished well into the far corner. Takeley deserved the lead at half time but Tower Hamlets were still in the game with Begley looking good in the middle and Childs getting on the ball up front.
Takeley continued to control the game in the second half with the visitors only showing glimpses going forward. The result was settled midway through the second half as Hurley scored the goal of the game. The ball fell to the midfielder on outside the box and he powered it into the top corner. Takeley later added some gloss to the score as they were awarded a penalty. Zanone, who’d worked hard all game, calmly dispatched the spot kick for Takeley’s third.
Takeley now have three games in hand over the top four sides. If they win all three they’ll be seven points behind Great Wakering, who now have a five point cushion at the top. Promotion might just be out of sight this season, but it’s been another season of progression. The club seems well set up to move further up the pyramid in the next few seasons, and hopefully their gradual progress over the years will mean they’ll be stable at a higher level.
Station Road is well worth a visit, especially on a spring evening. It’s a great setting to watch some football and is even close to the airport for any potential groundhoppers. The team that the club have developed are also well worth a watch.