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Aveley FC (Parkside)

Parkside

Capacity: 3,500
Address: Parkside, Belhus, Park Ln, Aveley, South Ockendon RM15 4PX
Telephone: 07516934890
Pitch Type: 4th Generation Artificial Grass
Club Nickname: The Millers
Year Ground Opened: 2017
Shirt Sponsors: Dutton Recruitment
Home Kit: Blue and Yellow
Away Kit: Red and White


                    
                    

Having only opened in 2017, Parkside is a remarkably modern stadium for a non-league side.

The stadium has two seated stands on either side of the long edges of the pitch, although these do not stretch the length of the pitch. One on side, the stand is built into the clubhouse, the overhang of which provides cover against the elements.

In addition to these stands, there are designated covered standing areas behind each goal, and a metal barrier which stretches around the circumference of the playing surface. In total, the capacity of Parkside is around 3,500, with seating for 424 people.

The playing surface itself is a 4th Generation artificial grass pitch. However, Parkside also has a secondary natural grass full-sized pitch, as well as two mini pitches which are also fully grass.

In a nice touch, the artificial grass on the main pitch extends beyond the barrier in places, to allow fans to stand on the same surface as the players they came to watch.

Parkside does not distinguish between home and away fans, meaning there is no segregation between each set of supporters.

That said, the clubhouse side of the stadium is the most popular place for home fans to congregate. This means that in some games, the stand opposite the clubhouse has become a de facto away stand.

The Old Ship Inn is the closest pub to Parkside, at about a 10 minute walk. A quirky and inviting pub, it is open to away fans and shows football on the TV. The Old Ship Inn has a good selection of drinks and serves humongous roasts on Sundays, as well as Caribbean food Wednesday through Saturday. There is also live music on Saturdays which you might fancy sticking around for if your team has got that all important away win!

Another option is The Top House, a slightly more traditional boozer which is about 15 minutes walk from the ground. It is open to away fans who are after a no-frills pint in a friendly and welcoming establishment. Like the Old Ship Inn, The Top House occasionally has live music on Saturday nights.

The biggest news to come out of Parkside in recent times is the revelation that Hashtag United will be moving to the ground to play their home games, starting in the 2024/25 season. The team, founded by YouTuber Spencer Carmichael Brown in 2016, have played at three different stadiums since their inception – most recently Bowers & Pitsea’s Len Salmon Stadium.

They will join Grays Athletic, May & Baker, Cannons Wood and Hashtag United’s women’s side as sides who have shared Aveley’s ground.

Aveley CEO Craig Johnson said: “We have had a great relationship with Hashtag Women, over the last 2 seasons and we are delighted that the men have decided to join them at our home. With the current ground improvements happening at Parkside, it will allow both Hashtag Men and Women to progress within their respective football pyramid. We look forward to welcoming them in the summer.”

Since 1952, Aveley had played at the 4,000 capacity Mill Field – the ground which gave them their nickname. However, with the desire to move to a more modern stadium, Aveley sold Mill Field to developers in the early 2010s, and used the money to buy the site of a former gravel pit from Thurrock Council – all the glitz and glamour of non-league!

Club CEO Craig Johnson said: “We must not forget the good times we have had at Mill Field, and the people that have left the club in such a position that we are able to build a facility that the village can be very proud of moving forward.”

With Aveley on the way up, the club wanted a modern stadium that would match their ambition. They got their wish, with Parkside earning rave reviews from home and away fans alike for its simple yet modern design and, unusually for non-league, it’s cleanliness!

The ground has remained mostly unchanged since its opening in 2017, although the 3rd Generation artificial grass pitch has been upgraded to a 4th Generation one.

In 2018, early in its lifespan, the ground hosted a number of games at the CONIFA World Cup, the international tournament for states and peoples not formally affiliated with FIFA. Kárpátalja, a team representing the Hungarian minority in western Ukraine, were the eventual winners, beating Northern Cyprus on penalties after a 0-0 draw at Enfield Town’s Queen Elizabeth II Stadium. The game was refereed by Mark Clattenburg.

Parkside is handily placed for those looking to drive to the match, with the ground being just off the M25 – the motorway which circles around London. Those driving along the M25 should take the A2(E) exit toward Dartford/A225/Canterbury/M2.

Alternatively, those travelling from London can take the A13 from Barking almost all the way to Aveley. Once you are just past Rainham, take the exit towards Wennington/West Thurrock/Purfleet/A1090/Aveley/B1335, before following the B1335 the rest of the way to the stadium.

There is a large car park at the ground, with 220 spaces available on a first come first served basis. There are also spots in the car park specifically reserved for supporters coaches.

Unfortunately, getting to Parkside is not as easy by train. The closest train station to the ground is Ockendon, which is about 3 miles away – an hour’s walk each way. On Saturdays, you can walk part of the way (about 25 minutes) to Elan Road, then get the number 22 bus to Park Lane (which takes about 5 minutes), then walk another ten minutes, but even that will take you around 40 minutes.

Rainham station is about 4 miles away from Parkside, meaning a 1 hour 20 minute walk to the ground. On matchdays, the 372 bus runs from the station to Aveley town centre. There are 3 buses an hour, an it should take around 15-20 minutes to get into town from the station, depending on traffic. From the town centre, it is another 10 minute walk to the ground. This means that going to Rainham is probably your best bet if you’re travelling by public transport, but at half an hour each way from the station, it’s still far from ideal.

Aveley’s matchday programme is priced at a very reasonable £2, although it is a little different from your traditional programme. Referred to as a “pocket programme”, it is smaller than usual and has a greater emphasis on photos.

It is still better than nothing though – in recent years, until the 2023-24 season, Aveley’s programme was online only.

For the 2023/24 season, ticket prices at Parkside for first team league games are as follows:

Adults – £15

Concessions – £10

11 to 16 – £5

Under-8s – Free

Aveley also compete in four cup competitions – the FA Cup, the Izuzu FA Trophy, the BBC Essex Senior Cup and the FA Youth Cup – and prices for games in those tournaments may vary.

Unfortunately, two of Aveley’s biggest rivals no longer exist. Thurrock FC, who were based just a mile away in Purfleet, were perhaps Aveley’s most fierce rivals. In 2004, in the Essex Senior Cup final, Aveley were beaten 3-1 by Thurrock after an extremely controversial sending off. It is a match that went down in the histories of both clubs and only served to stoke the fires further.

Sadly, in August 2017, chairman Tommy South announced his intention to sell Thurrock at the end of the season, due to health reasons. No buyer could be found for the club, and so Thurrock were forced to resign from the Isthmian League, in which they finish 15th in their final ever season.

Another of Aveley’s rivals was the similarly named East Thurrock United, who were based in Corringham, around 10 miles from Aveley. In the 2008/09 season, the Millers won the Ryman League Division One North Championship on the final day of the season at East Thurrock United to cap an incredible 11 straight away league wins. It was a historic day for Aveley and their manager, Rod Stringer, was given the league’s manager of the season award.

However, East Thurrock United are also no more, having been placed into liquidation by their owner in September 2023 – supposedly due to historic debts that had built up under the club’s previous owners.

Strangely, the club also have a half-rivalry with Yeovil Town, despite the Glovers being based 150 miles away. This dates back to a 1970 1-0 defeat for Aveley in the FA Cup, one of the biggest days in the Millers’ history.

Being a new stadium, Parkside is fully kitted out in terms of disabled facilities. The ground has disabled access, parking, toilets, spectator areas, changing facilities and emergency exits.

In its short history, Parkside’s record attendance came at an FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round game against Barnet on 14 October 2023. 919 people were in attendance for the match, in which Aveley came from two goals to snatch a replay through a last minute equaliser from Jon Benton. Remarkably, the fantastic result came despite Aveley having had two men sent off in the 77th and 85th minutes. The magic would eventually come to an end, with Aveley losing the replay 4-0 at The Hive Stadium.

The average league attendance at Parkside is 479, with the highest ever league attendance being 727.

Updated 28th March 2024