Bush Hill Park FC

Bush Hill Park FC owed its origins to Parkfield Athletic FC who decided to change their name at the beginning of the 1921-22 season. They had previously been members of the Stamford Hill League, but the re-named club entered their first X1 in the Middlesex League Division 1 (Eastern Section) while their reserves were in Division 1 of the Enfield & District League. Home games were played at Bush Hill Park Rec. until they moved into the new Haywards sports ground in Lincoln Road shortly before the end of 1921. At the end of the first season, the first team finished third in the twelve team Middlesex League while the reserves finished one place lower their respective league. Inspired by their success, the club decided to join the ranks of the senior amateur football clubs and considered joining both the London League and the Spartan League before opting for the former. They were placed in Division 1 alongside the reserve teams of neighbouring clubs Enfield and Cheshunt.

 

After a promising start to the campaign, the step up in class proved difficult for the new boys who finished eleventh in their debut season, four places off the foot of the table. The reserves took over the first team’s position in the Middlesex League while a third team took over the reserves commitments in the Enfield & District League. Improvements of the Haywards sports ground continued, but plans were afoot for the club to have a new base of their own. The desire was to have a ground which was easier for the public to get to.

 

Their prayers appeared to have been answered when Mr.W.D.Cornish gave them use of a site adjacent to Bush Hill Park station and plans to spend between £100-150 in erecting a stand and dressing rooms in time for the start of the 1923-4 season were announced at the first annual dinner. Work on the Station Ground was completed in time for the opening league match of the season against reigning champions Colchester Town. Despite a 3-1 defeat, spirits were high and the club took advantage of their close proximity to the railway line by erecting a board advertising their fixtures to the train traveling public. However many fans found a free vantage point from the cliff on the popular side of the ground and the club’s attempts to erect a screen never proved entirely successful.

 

The early season optimism proved somewhat misplaced. While the reserves topped their league and progress was made in the cup competitions, the club did not win their first London League match until November by which time they were bottom of the table. Despite relocating to increase crowd numbers, attendances stayed relatively low. The club did reach the semi-finals of the Middlesex Senior Cup, where they were defeated by a solitary Wealdstone goal, but their final league position of fourteenth was very disappointing. The reserves and third team fared somewhat better with third and second place finishes respectively.

 

In 1924 the club applied for membership of, and were accepted into, both the Spartan League and the Great Western Suburban League. In preparation for the upcoming campaign, the stand was enlarged to hold 250 people and a new hoarding erected in an effort to prevent the “free views” of those unwilling to pay for admission. The dressing rooms had hot water supplied by a copper, the water itself sourced from a nearby well. Musical entertainment was provided by the Enfield British Legion band. The pitch was also leveled with the aid of a Fordsons roller, which according to the company was the first time that such a vehicle had been used for this purpose in the country.

 

The club’s fortunes were mixed. It would appear that they did not have sufficient resources to run two teams at this level (they had disbanded the third team during the summer). The first team finished a respectable fifth in the Spartan League whereas the reserves were cast adrift at the foot of their respective league, having won only one match. Cup success was limited. Revenge was gained on Wealdstone for the previous season’s Middlesex Senior Cup defeat, but their only other success was in the low-key North Metropolitan Hospital Shield Competition where Tufnell Park were beaten in the semi-final, with the final against Finchley held over to the following season. This too ended in eventual defeat.

 

It was decided to move the reserves into the more local (and lower standard) Northern Suburban Intermediate League in 1925. Further improvements were made to the stand, using volunteer labour, with the addition of another 80 seats and plans were in hand for the formation of a supporters club. It turned into another season of mixed fortunes. The first team equalled their best ever finish of third place, while interest in the cups was ended by November. The reserves started poorly and by January had withdrawn from their league. The lack of support through the turnstiles was a constant source of complaints, often the gate money was insufficient to cover matchday expenses, while large numbers still persisted in watching the action from outside the ground, contributing nothing to the club’s coffers. By March only two officials who were with the club at the commencement of the season were still in office and rumours of the club’s impending demise started to circulate.

 

The end came in the summer of 1926 when the football club was unable to renew their yearly lease on the ground or find a suitable alternative. In late August they tendered their resignation to the Spartan League and disbanded. The Station Ground did not remain vacant for long as Upper Clapton Rugby Club subsequently took over the tenancy.