Harwich & Parkeston hoping for Eastern Counties League return

SPORT-Mike Bacon
Photograph Simon Parker 10/2/2010
Tony Armstrong
MyPhotos24 Ref - SP 010 To

SPORT-Mike Bacon Photograph Simon Parker 10/2/2010 Tony Armstrong MyPhotos24 Ref - SP 010 Tony Armstrong 1 EADT 11.2.10

One of Essex non-league’s most iconic clubs, Harwich & Parkeston, could be on their way back up the football pyramid.

Currently sitting top of the Kent Blaxill Border League Premier Division, the Shrimpers, who pulled out of the Eastern Counties League four seasons ago are looking to apply for promotion into Step 6 and a move back into the ECL.

If so, it would be a great boost for the town and non-league football in East Anglia, as chairman Tony Armstrong explained.

“Yes, we’ve discussed putting in an application for promotion back into the Eastern Counties League,” he said.

“We obviously need to fulfil the regulations and our financial situation is – like many clubs – not great.

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“We don’t have the benefits of a main sponsor, everything is voluntary, but we are doing ok and it’s nice to see many smiling faces at the Oak once more.”

Indeed it must.

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Because it was with a very heavy heart Armstrong pulled the Shrimpers out of the Eastern Counties League four seasons ago after they failed to fulfil a fixture at Kirkley & Pakefield because of a lack of players.

It was a big fall for a club that once played in front of 100,000 people at Wembley Stadium for the 1953 FA Amateur Cup final, against crack side Pegasus, and was a king-pin of Essex non-league football for many decades after.

“We had to pull out of the Eastern Counties League because we had no players, it was embarrassing,” admitted Armstrong.

“But under the management of Matt Carmichael we have a good team now and some quality players like Matt Stace, Martin Calver and Darren Bethell.

“We have a team that can compete and we will look forward to a visit from the ECL officials to look round the ground.

“There have been some bad times but winning is enjoyable and the current team is doing just that. I’m confident it could compete in the Eastern Counties League.”

Harwich will have a chance to pit their skills against an ECL team when they travel to Dellwood Avenue, Felixstowe to play the Seasiders in the Harwich Senior Charity Cup on Tuesday night.

It’s a match that incorporates the Steve Page Memorial and the opening of Felixstowe & Walton’s new floodlights, with charities from both clubs set to benefit.

“It should be a great night,” said Armstrong.

“It will be fitting to remember Steve who was such an important figure for both clubs.”

Crowds at the Oak have remained good however, despite the Shrimpers’ drop into the Border League.

Attendances have regularly hit almost 100, with the last three visits of Little Oakley attracting more than 300 fans.

Today Harwich turn their attentions to KO Cup action with Lawford Lads the visitors to the Royal Oak.

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