Carl Marston’s Around the Grounds: The rise of Coggeshall Town
- Credit: Archant
Football writer Carl Marston dons his anorak to visit clubs in the region (and beyond) in his quest for good football and a good cup of tea. Here he visits West Street, home of Coggeshall Town
Coggeshall Town are a club on the rise, but if anyone can stop them in their tracks, then it’s me and my woeful ‘home’ record!
The Seed Growers have been climbing the non-league ladder in relentless fashion in recent seasons, and are currently eying up a possible fourth straight promotion.
And of course their success on the pitch has been matched by some exciting developments and celebrity status off it – singer Olly Murs, who has proudly donned the red-and-black of Coggeshall many times, is now a part-owner.
Little-known Coggeshall were still playing in the Essex & Suffolk Border League in 2016.
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But since then they have taken three big steps, with promotion secured as Border League Premier champions (2015-16), Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League Division One runners-up (2016-17) and Thurlow Nunn Premier champions (2017-18).
Now gracing the Bostik League Isthmian One North, at Step Four on the non-league ladder, Graeme Smith’s upwardly mobile squad are destined for a crack at the play-offs, at the end of April.
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They are currently in fourth spot, the third of the four play-off berths, and a healthy 15 points clear of sixth-placed AFC Sudbury with only six matches remaining.
However, I do possess an uncanny knack of being able to take the wind out of any host club’s sails, and last Tuesday week was no exception.
The Seed Growers were red-hot favourites to continue their remarkable winning streak over visiting Brentwood Town, who swim in the safe waters of lower mid-table.
They had won seven games on the bounce and were fresh from an impressive 4-1 win at play-off rivals Maldon & Tiptree only three day earlier.
Furthermore, they had not suffered a home defeat since fellow top-five club Heybridge Swifts had celebrated a 1-0 win at West Street on New Year’s Day.
A home banker, then, especially as the Seed Growers completely bossed the first half. True, they were only 1-0 up at the break, when it should have been four or five, but an eighth win on the spin looked a formality.
Alas, no one had bargained for my ‘home curse.’
I had reported on Lakenheath FC marking their first-ever competitive floodlit home match with a 2-1 defeat to Fakenham Town the previous Friday evening, and had turned up at Ram Meadow 24 hours later to watch home side Bury Town be put to the sword by leaders Bowers & Pitsea (5-1).
And sure enough, that terrible (or remarkable) sequence of home shockers was stretched by a complete turnaround in the second half at West Street.
In total control at half-time, Coggeshall eventually subsided to a 3-2 home defeat. Unbelievable!
Needless-to-say, I slipped quietly out of West Street that evening.
Club: Coggeshall Town
Formed: 1878 (141 years ago)
Ground: West Street
Manager: Graeme Smith
Coggeshall Town have a proud history, dating all the way back to a meeting at the White Hart Hotel on September 27, 1878.
In fact, they are billed as the second oldest original football club in Essex – Saffron Walden Town are the oldest senior club in the county, established in 1872 as Saffron Walden.
The club has been nicknamed ‘The Seed Growers’ from the early days, with the suggestion that J.K. King & Sons, a local family seed business, founded the club.
They began life on a pitch with a steep slope, at Myneer Park, before moving on to homes at Barnfield Field and Highfields Farm Park during the 1880s.
They eventually settled at Highfields for 65 years (1895-1960), when they were suddenly given notice to quit the site.
The Seed Growers found a new permanent home at “The Crops,” from 1961, and took the big step of buying the land outright to own their own ground from the 1980s.
A key change saw local businessman Smith become first-team manager in 2014, as well as taking overall control of the club, since when success has been huge.
Promotions on the pitch have gone hand-in-hand with ground developments to the newly named ‘West Street.’ Floodlights were installed in 2016 and then singer-songwriter Murs became joint owner with Smith, helping to fund a complete makeover of the clubhouse.
The Seed Growers are on the up .... so I better stay away from West Street in future!
Tuesday, March 19, 2019 (v Brentwood Town, 3-2 away win)