10th tier club Barkingside FC say they are at ‘risk of being kicked out of a stadium with their existence now being threatened.
Jimmy Flanagan, who is the chairman of Barkingside FC, is asking for your help to contact Redbridge Council and save the club.
This has caught the attention of the non league community, who are now raising awareness trying to help them survive.
Stills of the letters to @BarkingsideFC are attached here from May and August 2023. Again, not great reading is it!! Hopefully, the Council can sort this so Cricklefield Stadium can remain a community asset used by a number of sports teams to the benefit of many in the community. pic.twitter.com/QCpmLlXcjn
— Non League Crowds (@NonLeagueCrowd) September 11, 2023
In their 125th anniversary year, the last thing Barkingside FC expected was to be homeless, and potentially forced into extinction, but this is a very real threat thanks to the proposal by Redbridge Council turning a blind eye to Ilford FC reneging on the legally binding ground sharing deal through to 2031 at Cricklefield Sports Ground.
Redbridge Council have stated they are awarding a new lease of the stadium to Ilford FC, who in turn are threatening to expel Barkingside. There is a meeting on Thursday 14th September to ratify this. There was an alternative bid, by the current incumbent – the company Vision, who run the pitch and the athletic track and many other sporting centres across the area, which guaranteed Barkingside’s future, appears to have been rejected in favour of Ilford FC’s.
All this in mid-season too, plunging the whole fixture schedule into chaos. Barkingside were assured by Redbridge Council in a meeting on the 12th May 2023, that the club would not be affected be any new lease, and that the legal current agreement to 2031 would be upheld. This does not now appear to be the case.
It is also possible that the Athletics club that has been running from Cricklefield for over 100 years will also be homeless and face extinction.
We are asking that Redbridge Council defer their decision, until a full and open review can be done to assess the best interests of the Football and athletic clubs. Please get behind us here, and we ask the media to promote the story everywhere to raise awareness of this unscrupulous act that threatens the very soul of grass roots football as supported by Barkingside FC. The importance of the grass roots and junior football work that Barkingside does, was previously acknowledged by Arsenal’s Community Affairs Director Mark Gonnella, who stated:
“Developing football in the community is important to all of us at Arsenal and is something we have worked on from the early days of our formation. We are delighted to hear about the academy project that Barkingside FC is developing to promote and expand grassroots football in the community. They have our full support.”
This was in response to the news that Barkingside had been awarded funds to create an Academy/Sports Club for 14- 16 Year Olds and upwards:
– Develop a Youth football Academy also incorporating other sporting activities, and general education.
– Benefits – Health and Educational, help to reduce anti-social behaviour and crime by giving a purpose through activities and interests.
– Focus on disengaged groups/multi-cultural/poorer background youngsters, more integration.
– Be flexible to the needs of the Community and Youth.
The club was established in 1898 and joined the Ilford League, in which they won (jointly) after World War I, however, they disbanded due to a lack of support during the 1922–23 season.
In 1925, the club was reformed as Barkingside Boys Guild, and initially played in the Ilford Minor League. They were soon renamed Barkingside Old Boys, before becoming simply Barkingside in the 1930s.
Since then there have been many ups and downs, from being very successful in local football at the Barkingside Recreation Ground, winning the Ilford and District League on several occasions prior to World War II, to football then resuming immediately after the Second World War and after a few seasons in the Ilford League they entered the South Essex League, finishing runners-up in their first season. The next season the club joined the Walthamstow League and obtained membership of the Amateur Football Alliance.
Joining the London League in 1950’s, again success followed, finishing as runners-up in their first season, and winning the league cup in 1956.
A fire in the early 1970s meant that the club had to play its home fixtures at Woodford Avenue until the clubhouse was rebuilt.
Barkingside entered the newly formed London Spartan League in 1976/77, finished fourth, and that earned them promotion to the Premier Division, however, they were relegated the following season.
The 1980’s saw the Harry Sunderland Shield won in 1984, runners-up in 1985, secured a 5th-place finish in the League which earned a return to the Premier Division, where they remained until joining the Spartan South Midlands League, which was born by the merger of the London Spartan League and the South Midlands League in 1996/97.
They won the league championship and the London Senior Cup in a memorable first season, and the early 2000’s seasons saw the club finish in mid-table positions as a new committee worked hard to consolidate the long-term future. After a turbulent start to the 2008 season where due to boardroom discontent Jimmy Flanagan took charge towards the end of December and with Tony Fenn’s management team and a good group of players led Barkingside to 5th place in the Essex Senior League and a 2-0 victory against Burnham Ramblers saw them win the Essex Senior League Cup Final.
In 2012/13 they finished 2nd place, meaning they were promoted into the Ryman League One North and step 4 of the non league pyramid, as well as winning the Essex Senior League Cup final.
2012/14 saw the club keep their Ryman League status with a game to go, despite at one part losing 11 matches in a row. At the end of the season, it was announced that the club would be moving to Cricklefields to ground-share with Ilford ending 56 years of playing at the Oakside, due to massively increased rent.
However, after three seasons in which they finished in the bottom five on every occasion, they were relegated back to the Essex Senior League at the end of the 2015–16 season.
The 2018–19 season saw Barkingside finish second-from-bottom of the Essex Senior League, resulting in relegation to Division One South of the Eastern Counties League, to which they remain there today, finishing 12th in 22/23 and are currently 18th.
Match 8 of 23/24 season.
⚽️ @BarkingsideFC v @MayBakers
🏆 @ThurlowNunnL League Cup 1st Round?
🏟 Cricklefield Stadium (@IlfordFC1881)#EasternCountiesLeague@NonLeagueCrowd @NonLgeProgs @67_balti @BasePyramid @thecoldend @NonLeagueHQ1 @GroundhopperUK @NLBIBLE4 @FutbologyApp pic.twitter.com/utb6ErwYxL
— Paul Donegan (@PaulDonegan1980) August 9, 2023
Twitter users reacted with the 10th tier club at ‘risk of being kicked out of a stadium’ with their existence threatened…
@IrfanShah100: Wonderful people @BarkingsideFC who serve the community well especially the young people with open access football. Ilford, Athletics & Barkingside can coexist with @RedbridgeLive @KamRai7 facilitating a healthy agreement as they have done for so many others. They can all stay 🤞
@WormleyRoversFC: Absolutely disgraceful from Redbridge council & best of luck to the tremendous football people @Barkingside_FC chaired by Jimmy in your fight for fairness & to be heard. Please watch the video as this club has been running for 125 years #FootballStandsTogether
@puffpuff65: A nice club, Not fair they are being threatened by the council. Hope they get sorted
@savegrassroots: Watch and listen to what’s happening at @BarkingsideFC This could easy be your Grassroots football clubs so please support in anyway football family you could all start by RT the post below Thanks
@SpennymoorTownL: Hoping @RedbridgeLive show some sense & support this great local club