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Hullbridge Village History

The Start of the club

The sports club started off with the formation of Hullbridge United Football Club back in 1947. From there other sports sections sprung into existence:- Cricket (1961), Table Tennis (19??), Netball (19??), Youth Football (19??).

1974

Around 1974 many of the supporters of the teams thought it would be great if they were able to join the sports club, but purely for a social side. This was proposed at the A.G.M. and the motion to have social members was carried. So began the life of Hullbridge Sports and Social Club. The Chairman at this time was John Harvey and he was supported by a Vice Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary.

Prior to this each section was run separately with its own committee, after 1974 each section still had its own Committee but they reported to the main Committee through two members from the section who were elected to attend the main clubs meetings. It was at this time that Reg and Maureen Peek, the then managers of the Country Club donated a trophy for the "Hullbridge Sports Personality of the Year".
The first winner was :- Harold Nelson

1975

The Hullbridge Sports Personality of the Year was won by :- Keith Whittaker

1976

The Hullbridge Sports Personality of the Year was won by :- Tony Fautley

1977

The Hullbridge Sports Personality of the Year was won by :- Arthur Hutchins

1978

The Hullbridge Sports Personality of the Year was won by :- Colin Bateman

In 1978 Hullbridge Sports Club, had no meeting place of its own, although the Park Country Club was almost like their own Clubhouse with all members being made extremely welcome by the owners and managers.

Even in 1965 in an advert in the Local Review newspapers spread of the forthcoming Hullbridge Carnival the club was stating membership included "Music, Dancing, Cabaret, Football and Cricket Club".

The club was ably represented in many local sporting leagues for both males and females. It was very clear to the committee of that time that in the future the influx of many younger and new villagers would prove a headache for the organizers who were governed by the few playing facilities offered by Rochford District Council. It was very clear to all that without their own facilities the club would be unable to meet the demand. The committee agreed to make a concerted effort to obtain a piece of land to suite their needs.
The aim of the club was to build successful teams but not at the expense of isolating or neglecting the villagers.
This has always been a bone of contention in the club and is still thought to be today.
If the club could not meet the villagers needs it was believed they would go elsewhere, which would eventually mean the demise of the club. The cricket and football clubs had already seen the loss of some players because of better facilities being offered by teams outside the village like Runwell, Rayleigh Town, Canvey etc.,

During this time, some members use to train on Wednesday evenings at the Pooles Lane Rec., they then would adjourn to the Park Country Club for a pint and a chat. The Park Country Club at that time was managed by Reg and Maureen Peek ably supported by Ben behind the bar.

It was on one of these Wednesday evenings that a group of social members:- Colin Chart, Chris Morgan, Bill Congram and Mick Norris were sitting around in our usual spot, right next to the bar, and were enjoying their favourite past-time of putting the world to right. The conversation got round to the possible demise of the club and how great it would be if the club could find a nice piece of land and a pile of money. Chris Morgan happened to say that he had heard that the Ministry for Agriculture, Farm and Fisheries (MAFF) were now releasing land for sale that they had taken over during WWII and that there was quite a chunk surrounding the village.

It was fortunate that at this time that Bill Congram was, through his work, working with a MAFF rep., who was also a good friend of his. Bill agreed to take this matter further and so when he next met his friend he mentioned to him the needs of the club and about the land to be sold, as a result Bill managed to get a meeting with the departmental head of MAFF in Chelmsford.

Bill attended the meeting and the departmental head offered several pieces of land to choose from. One of these was near Church Hill but was not flat, another was also near there but miles away from any major road and would have meant people traveling over the land of a local farmer which definitely would not have worked. The last piece seemed better although it did come with a twist. It was along Lower Road just behind the home of club member Mick Norris. Bill was not sure how Mick would take having the Sports Club right on his doorstep and so he immediately got in touch with him and was relieved to hear Mick say he would be thrilled, so Bill started negotiations. The next step was to check the suitability of the land, and Bill found that the piece of land being recommended by the department head was some distance from Lower Road and also had quite a slope. The slope was not too much of a problem as the footballers had been playing on slopes for years, down at the Rec., in Pooles Lane. The situation for the Club House being some distance from Lower Road was. The cost of laying the necessary Gas, Electricity and Water connections would have been expensive. Bill questioned about the possibility of buying the strip of land next door and was pleased to hear that it would be fine, then when he was feeling really good he was told that MAFF could not sell the land directly to the Club but would be willing to sell it to the local council.

Bill called upon his friend Colin Chart who through his membership to the Conservative Party, knew some of the major councilors in the Hullbridge Conservative Party and Rochford District Council.
The pair of them prepared their presentation well, focusing on the points about the growth in the club of the Youth Section membership and the lack of nearby facilities that Rochford District Council could offer. Their first point of call was the Saturday morning surgery of the local M.P. The meeting went well and the pair of them made a strong presentation "We pointed out the number of juniors already members of the club, the possible numbers expected in the coming years and all of these requiring sport facilities, mainly football, cricket, netball. The facilities in the way of pitches etc., available from RDC was grossly insufficient, therefore if we were able to lease the land we would be responsible for satisfying our own demand and take a lot of pressure off the shoulders of the council. Would he back our plan and perhaps get support from Derek Ives and his fellow Conservative councilors. We left feeling we had done our best but unsure of the backing."

A couple of weeks later the pair were thrilled to hear they had been invited to a meeting with the councilors. They re-presented their argument and were promised a reply within weeks.

Concern started to mount when nothing was heard after a month, then the news everyone was waiting for arrived. The council had agreed to purchase the land and lease back most of it to the club. The council had decided to keep two strips of land on the front of Lower Road. These were later sold on for housing. Bill Congram recalled "We had a little gripe about their decision to retain some of the land for building but at long last we had what we wanted, a chance to have our own ground, so the Clubs Chairman Pete Wood and I agreed on a 25 year lease."

The first step to having their own ground had been taken, now they had to find a way to raise the money needed to pay the Council and for building a clubhouse and pitches. The club had been for years doing fund raising but did not have anywhere near enough money to succeed on their own. It was at this point that Bill Congram realised the club needed to find some other ways to raise the required funds and so he started making enquiries of local business's, farmers and sporting organizations. At this time there was nothing like a lottery grant available. Having spent many hours visiting different people the only viable option appeared to be with the brewers. There were five brewers who were interested in providing a loan but each required a commitment from the club to meet a specific barrelage per year. The best deal came from Greene King which Bill and Pete Wood accepted, now came the task of finding the materials for a clubhouse.

It was obvious from the start that building a clubhouse and changing rooms etc., would be too expensive so Bill Congram started looking for other alternatives. The most likely option was a prefab building. Bill took it upon himself to phone around demolition companies, scrap yards etc., to see if anything was available. At times he was traveling around the country, supported by Colin Chart, looking at building sites and demolition yards checking out various buildings. It was with some luck that one day he received a phone call from the Southend Gas Board, who had heard about Bill's search, and told him they had a couple of possible options for him. Bill attended a meeting with the Gas Board and was told that a site in Fulham was being cleared and would he like to go and see if any of the buildings were suitable. It was also lucky that Bill was working in that area at this time and he volunteered to go and take a look and report back his thoughts. Bill's report was favourable but now the club was faced with the price so Bill had another meeting with the Gas Board and was able to negotiate the price being dropped by the cost of the removal and transportation of the building to Hullbridge, a considerable sum. To also reduce the cost and ensure the club would know what piece fitted to what and in what order the club agreed its members would dismantle it and a company from Wickford was hired to provide the transportation. On the 11th hour just before a team of members were due to leave to do the work the company from Wickford contacted the club to advise they could no longer do the transportation for the price agreed, they wanted more ! The club was shocked but fortunately Bill felt he had a good rapport with the Gas people and he went back to them to explain the situation and was very happy when the Gas Board agreed to pay the extra, another great bit of fortune!

So it was that the team of club members left one weekend and started work dismantling the building ably led by Tony Fautley. Each piece was carefully dismantled, numbered and stacked. At the new sports ground a place had been designated and made ready to take the building which was stored covered in all manner of weather proof sheeting provided by club members. Over the next two years the club relied heavily on members to prepare the entrance to the ground, treat and repair and erect the building. The club was also very fortunate that a number of its members very experienced in the building trade and more importantly that they were willing to give up their weekends and week evenings to get the club up and running.

Club members Mick and Muriel Norris whose back garden ran alongside the sports ground acted as Security Guards during this period and they kept Chickens in their back garden. Mick and Muriel could sometimes be heard moaning that their hens had been disturbed during the night by a fox. When the club started to rebuild the building the members where shocked one day when they lifted the coverings only to have a vixen and her cubs spring out from underneath, they had made the building their den.

1979

The Hullbridge Sports Personality of the Year was won by :- Bill Congram

1980

The Hullbridge Sports Personality of the Year was won by :- Mr & Mrs M Norris

1981

The Hullbridge Sports Personality of the Year was won by :- Ron Collins

1982

The Hullbridge Sports Personality of the Year was won by :- Colin Chart

1983

The Hullbridge Sports Personality of the Year was won by :- Colin Chart

1984

The Hullbridge Sports Personality of the Year was won by :- Brian Hughes

1985

The Hullbridge Sports Personality of the Year was won by :- Pete Wood

1986

The Hullbridge Sports Personality of the Year was won by :- Ron Collins

1987

The Hullbridge Sports Personality of the Year was won by :- John Ellis & Ron Moye

1988

The Hullbridge Sports Personality of the Year was won by :- Brian Hughes

1989

The Hullbridge Sports Personality of the Year was won by :- Doreen Wood

1990

The Hullbridge Sports Personality of the Year was won by :- Ron Collins

1991

The Hullbridge Sports Personality of the Year was won by :- Pete Wood

In 1971 Peter Wood emigrated with his wife Doreen and children Sue and Mark to South Africa and he was given the trophy to keep as a "Thank You" for all the hard work he and Doreen had put into the club as Chairman and Secretary. Pete and Doreen, in return donated a shield to take its place "The Pete Wood Shield".

Acknowledgement is made to the following contributions that this history was compiled from:-