The mighty Urchins
Before I moved to Chicago in 2003, I had a little sojourn over in Emerson Park, Essex. t was really Hornchurch but my mates always insisted on calling it Emerson Park. A bit like Bellingham and Catford.
I made myself quite at home over there despite telling my mate I would only stay for a few weeks, and one of the many things I discovered over that way was the Mighty Urchins.
I spent a fair number of Saturday’s if the Addicks were away with mates watching Hornchurch. We’d watch from the club bar for the first half and then would venture out onto the ‘Hasbeen’s Hill’ terrace which as is often the case at non-league grounds around the country was full of comedians, jocks and interesting members of local society.
In those days the club was obviously way overspending as they moved their way up the league. In the little time I watched them, the stadium, was upgraded. It always amused me that it was called a stadium, as it was a ramshackle old place built in the 50’s and really an athletics track with two goals at either end plus a clubhouse with cheap beer.
Ex-league players were brought in by the previous owners with dubious sponsorship deals and by the time I was in Chicago local legend Gary Hill had led the Urchins into the Conference South and the FA Cup 2nd Round.
The bubble burst just after that cup run and in 2005 every player was released overnight and liquidators had appeared. The team made up of anyone local that owned a pair of boots somehow survived relegation despite a 10-point deduction.
It was the end of Hornchurch though as they were booted out of the league, but they managed to reform as AFC Hornchurch in the Essex Senior League for the 2005/6 season.
Since then and now with the AFC dropped, Hornchurch FC have made their way back up the leagues, had a variety of successes and today play at Wembley for the first ever time in the FA Trophy Final against Hereford.
Hornchurch have not played a Isthmian League game since November due to Covid, but they have come through 8 FA Trophy rounds to get to Wembley and have beaten teams from higher leagues in each of the last six rounds including the huge scalp of Notts County in the semi-final.
Former Gills boss Mark Stimson will lead the team out today in front of a Wembley crowd that will include 3,000 Urchins. In today’s Hornchurch line ups will be ex-Addicks’ Ollie Muldoon and semi-final hero Chris Dickson (photo).
The FA Vase Final between Binfield and Warrington Rylands precedes the Hornchurch v Hereford game and both are live on BT Sport.
Come on you Mighty ‘Chins.