When a complete stranger addresses you for the first time with “Are you a copper?” you immediately think that you are definitely in the wrong place. Welcome to Ilford FC. Not the normal welcome you would expect from a turnstile operator, but this one was giggling away, sipping a Stella. A huge grin spread over his face as he then said “I’m guilty of being an Ilford fan”. I breathed a huge sigh and handed over my £10.
I’d been to Ilford FC before for twenty minutes. It was enough time. A dull 0-0 draw back in September against Thamesmead Town played in an unloved athletics stadium. I didn’t think I would be back here in a hurry but here I was walking into the Cricklefield Stadium.
Beggars can’t be choosers in the non leagues these days. Winter, which started back in October still had its grip firmly on the fixture list. I was supposed to be standing on the terraces at Hayes Lane, watching Lewes take on Cray Wanderers. But I wasn’t. I was here. I was loving life. My plan B (Corinthian Casuals), C (Walton & Hersham), D and (Lordswood) had all gone the same way as Cray. Scrambling around for another option at 2pm my eye was drawn back to Ilford. Had I been a bit too harsh before? I’m all for giving someone a second chance and so I headed east to the metropolis known as Ilford. Continue reading