Ground: Len Salmon Stadium, Kenneth Road, Pitsea, Essex, SS13 2BE
Capacity 2000 (200 Seated)
Record Attendance 1800 v Billericay Town
Football Association Vase 15/12/1979
Life for Bowers & Pitsea FC sprang into life just after the war years, to help fill the void for the young men who were returning home. It was inspired by William Harold (to be known locally Bert) Salmon. Unfortunately, it is not known who else was originally involved.
Club life for Bowers United began in an old wooden cricket pavilion in 1946 on what was is now the site of Pitsea Market. The ground was behind the now demolished Railway Hotel in Pitsea. This land was owned by the ‘Howard’ Family and a peppercorn yearly fee was paid to use it.
Word quickly spread of the accommodation, ground conditions and facilities on offer as during early 1948, they were approached by Southend United who wanted to groundshare with them. Representatives involved in these discussions were on behalf of Bowers United Bert Salmon Secretary, D Wright Assistant Secretary & Treasurer, Messrs Hammond, Varney & J King. For Southend United N Hewitt Chairman, Mr Hayes Director and Mr H Warren Secretary Manager. An Essex County FA Representative Mr C O Benson. Bowers United Chairman Mr J E Barham presided over the meeting. This would have enabled Southend United to have an ‘A’ playing in the London Colts Combination League. Southend United would also have given money to Bowers United to put up covered accommodation, further improve the pitch as well as carry out further improvements. Whilst the groundshare never took place many of the ground improvements were carried out.
Tragically on 14th March 1959 Bert Salmon was killed in a car accident. It was this tragic accident that brought his brother Len to Bowers United. Until then Len had had no prior involvement with Bowers United FC, as he had played all his football for Pitsea United FC.
Although the ground behind the Railway Hotel became the main pitch used they also used another pitch further along the London Road. In 1963 due to a Compulsory Purchase Order Bowers United finally had to move home. They were to move to a ground, Gun Meadow behind the Gun Inn, London Road, Bowers Gifford, Pitsea. This ground again was owned by the ‘Howard’ Family. This ground saw a marked improvement to facilities which included the purchase of a prefabricated building which was used as the changing rooms, complete with a couple of tin baths for players to use after games. In 1970 came the news that the Government would be looking to build the new A13 bypass which would eventually mean that the Gun Meadow ground would have a Compulsory Purchase Order placed on it.
This order was placed in the local newspapers on the 29th February 1972. In fact, on the 18th April 1959 saw the first proposed new A13 bypass plans posted in the Basildon Standard.
Due to the foresight and hard work of Len Salmon, Mr H Edwards and Mr Barham and several others, during the preceding years prior to this they had raised sufficient funds enabling Len Salmon to purchase this land on 7th July 1962 from Roger Howard for a sum of £1000. The hard work put in by Len Salmon was never ending every week would see him selling lottery tickets on behalf of Bowers United. The places where he sold these tickets included The Barge, Vange & Pitsea Working Men’s club, The Railway Hotel, to name but a few. On the 20th March 1972 documents were duly formally signed for the Compulsory Purchase Order and all properties including the Bowers United Ground at Gun Meadow which were all previously identified and plans to build the new A13 were done in earnest which meant looking for another new home. Whilst the Compulsory Order was only signed on the 20th March, due to the previous undisclosed discussions taking place, the search for a new home didn’t take long and Bowers United found a new home. On the 3rd March 1972, Mr Bill Birch the club Chairman announced that the new home would be at Crown Avenue, Pitsea. And on the 5th October 1973 the new ground was opened, this saw a game take place with an Ex Spurs all-stars team which included Cliff Jones, Spurs and Wales and ex-players from West Ham and Southend United. As part of the ground development it included the installation of new changing rooms, a club house, room for two pitches with further plans included for floodlights. In fact, it should be mentioned that the changing rooms and still in use today, once formed part of the council offices, previously in Fodderwick, Basildon Town Centre. All of which would enable the club to progress through the intermediate league and into Senior league football and beyond.
On the 31st August 2000, it was announced that Len Salmon had sadly passed away. Since his brother, Bert passed away in 1959, Len had given over 4 decades to his beloved football club. At which point the club bestowed the only fitting honour possible. Which was to rename the ground to the Len Salmon Stadium.
On the 18th June 2004, a name change took place and they became Bowers and Pitsea FC. The name change taking place as it was felt that it enhanced the club and was designed to show where the club was located.
With a new name and a new team at the helm maybe success is just around the corner because a strong link has been established with the local community and the club’s facilities offer the residence a large Clubhouse, Bar and Function Room Together with a ground capacity for 2000+ spectators, which includes seating for 200 in a well-appointed stand, excellent floodlighting is also an advantage should we seek a higher plain to play our football on.
It took Bowers nearly 7 years from 1986 through to 1993 to have the floodlights installed and in use. After several setbacks through the planning stages they were finally allowed to have them erected at a cost of £25000. The money coming from Government grants and sponsorship.
This shows that after years of being in the wilderness, Bowers & Pitsea Football Club (formerly Bowers United) now intend to take the football side of the club forward. In May 2016, they achieved promotion to the Isthmian Football League, by winning the Essex Senior League after winning the Essex Senior League for the 3rd time under manager Rob Small.
When Bert Salmon brought Bowers United to life I doubt back then he felt that it would achieve such status. In 1946 Bowers United started life in the Southend & District Saturday Football League. A competition they participated in for six years. In the first year, they only played 4 games not winning any, however they didn’t come bottom. The highest league position achieved during the time in this league was 5th. That said it wasn’t all bad. As on 28th May 1947 they won the Victoria Shield defeating Horndon 4-3 at the Laindon Hotel Meadow. Bowers United team consisted of: R Sexton, G Parkes, L Barham (captain), R Hawkins, L Engles, E Baker, J Faulkner, R Cooper, G Brown, F Birch and R King. With the goals being scored by King, Birch and Faulkner. In 1950, they were runners up in Stanford le Hope Charity Cup and in 1951 were runner up in the Section ‘B’ Charity Cup.
The table below shows the average playing record for the Southend & District Saturday League.
Position P W D L F A Pts
9 21 7 3 12 43 69 16
win rate 33.15
draw rate 10.19
lose rate 56.57
In the summer of 1952 Bowers United were successful in their application to join the Thurrock & Thameside Combination League. A competition which they played in for, for 13 years until May 1965. This was there most prolific period in football. In which they won the league once 1958/59 and were runners up on seven times 1952/53, 1953/54, 1959/60, 1960/61, 1962/63, 1963/64. There lowest position was ninth in the season 1955/56. In conjunction to this they also won the Thameside Cup 1952/53 beating Shell 3-0, 1958/59 Premier Division League Cup Runners up losing 3-2 to Heathside, 1959/60 winners Thurrock Thameside Cup beating Bonallack Sports 4-2 (aet). 1960/61 Premier Division League Cup Runners up losing to Grays, 1961/62 Premier Division League Cup winners beating Corringham & Fobbing 4-1, 1962/63 Premier Division League Cup Runners up losing 3-0 to Orsett Old Boys, 1963/64 winners of the replay of the Basildon Hospital Cup beating Pitsea British Legion 6-1 and in the final season playing in the Thurrock & Thameside League 1964/65 they won the Thurrock Thameside Combination Cup beating Orsett Athletic 5-2.
Not only was the team successful but Len Salmon was as well. On the 10th June 1961 Len Salmon received the first of many accolades, when he was voted the League best secretary by the Thurrock & Thameside Combination member clubs and committee and he was awarded the ‘Norman Trophy. The miniature trophy that Len is holding was brought by the players which shows how highly he was thought of.
The table below shows the average league playing record for the Thurrock & Thameside combination League.
Position P W D L F A Pts
3 23 14 4 6 74 41 31
win rate 59.77
draw rate 15.72
lose rate 24.51
Whilst this was a great period on the field of play in the history of Bowers United it was also a sad period as it was the period where Bert Salmon died in a tragic car accident on the 14th March 1959.
It was after this that Len Salmon became involved and he took over the reins and Bowers United continued to prosper in many ways. With Len Salmon organising the club and fulfilling many roles. One of the main ones was being able to raise substantial funds which enabled them to purchase the ground at Gun Meadow, London Road, Bowers Gifford, Pitsea. Len was obviously very shrewd and purchased this land from Roger Howard for the sum of £1000. And after the Compulsory Purchase Order of the land behind the Railway Hotel during 1962 they moved to the new ground and started playing there in 1963. The first game to be played took place during September 1963 against a Basildon League X1 whom they beat 2-1. By the time this game had taken place including the £1000 to purchase the land a further £1400 had been spent on changing rooms, barriers and other equipment. Prior to the game taking place Roger Howard said that he had watched the club go from strength to strength and that he had been greatly impressed with the enthusiasm by all the worked carried out, particularly Len Salmon whom he described as the driving force behind this work.
In 1965, they were elected to the Mid Essex Saturday League a competition they played in for just one season. Below is the performance for this one season.
Position P W D L F A Pts 7 30 13 3 14 64 81 29
win rate 43.33
draw rate 10.00
lose rate 46.67
This season also saw one of the first full named Bowers United teams for several years. This game was played against Billericay Town on 15th September 1965. The team was named as Sims, Crebber, Evenden, Winyard, Bowley, Graves, Holder, Pitt, Scott, Gardener & Owen. However, the first full official named team was on the 19th March 1949. Benfleet United produced match day programmes for their home games.
This was seen as a stepping stone to the newly formed Essex Olympian league which they were one of the founder member clubs.
For the Essex Olympian league began in 1966. Whilst playing in the Essex Olympian League it is also where records for a reserve side can be found.
It should be noted that during the preceding years whilst playing in the Southend & District, the Thurrock Thameside Combination, and Mid Essex League that Bowers United may have had a reserve side but at this time playing records cannot be found.
In the Essex Olympian league Bowers United fielded two teams, a first team 1966 - 1974 and reserve team from 1969 – 1974 and 2010 – 2011. Whilst playing in this competition they were lean years as they didn’t win any trophies.
Below are the average playing records for the Essex Olympian League.
Position P W D L F A Pts
10 31 9 6 16 51 64 24
win rate 30.55
draw rate 18.52
loss rate 50.93
Position P W D L F A Pts
7 27 12 5 11 60 55 29
Win Rate 41.71
Draw Rate 18.44
Lose Rate 39.84
During 1973 Bowers United applied to join the Essex Senior League and on the 21st January 1974 advised the League that they had applied for Senior status. On the 18th February 1974, they were called to attend a league meeting and gave a presentation about the club and their ambitions. On the 17th June 1974, they were duly elected at the leagues AGM. Initially Essex County FA would only grant them associate Senior status. But a few months on they were granted full senior status. They remained in the Essex Senior League until 2016, when they won the League for a third time under the management of Rob Small.
When they previously won the Essex Senior League in seasons 1980/81 managed by Malcolm Slater and 1998/99 managed by Tony Cross.
Bowers made no application to move up to football pyramid system. However, during this season 2015/16 they successfully applied to join the Isthmian Football League and having won the league were granted their wish.
The 2015/16 season was probably the most successful for Bowers & Pitsea as, as well as winning the league they also reached the semi-final of the FA Vase competition. The two-leg encounter played against Morpeth Town saw them draw the first game played at Concord Rangers Ground 2-2 and losing the away leg 2-1. Losing 4-3 on aggregate.
During their time in the Essex Senior League they not only won the league on three occasions they also won or were runners up many other trophies, including the League Cup in 1998/99 giving them the double and just missing out on the treble losing in the semi-final of the Harry Fisher Memorial trophy under Tony Cross and in 1992 winning the Harry Fisher Memorial trophy. (See below for a full record). Whilst the first team played in the Essex Senior League, the Bowers and Pitsea reserve team played in the Reserve section of the Essex Senior League and also the Essex & Herts Border Combination League. In the Essex Senior League, they were winners of the Reserve Shield in 1980 and in the Essex & Herts Border Combination League they won the Combination Cup in 2008.
Below are the average playing records for the Essex Senior League.
Position P W D L F A Pts GD
12 31 14 7 11 53 45 45 32
Win Rate 44.30
Draw Rate 21.44
Lose Rate 34.26
Position W D L F A P Pts
7 26 11 5 10 45 42 28
Win Rate 41.06
Draw Rate 21.71
Lose Rate 37.23
Below are the average playing records for the Reserve team for the Essex & Herts Border Combination League.
Position P W D L F A Pts
11 30 8 5 18 38 80 28
During the summer of 2016 the playing surface went under a tremendous amount of work, which included the whole playing area being re-laid, new drainage and then reseeded. All of which had to be ready for an August start date. Furthermore, plans have now been approved to upgrade the ground and facilities at the club, which if they continue to perform on the pitch would allow them to move further up the football pyramid.
In the summer of 2016 for the season 2016/17 they entered the Isthmian League Division 1 North where they finished a creditable 6th place a season which see them often in a playoff position.
Playing Record for the Isthmian League Division 1 North 2016/17.
Position Pl W D L F A Diff Pts
6 46 23 9 14 102 66 36 78
Win Rate 50.00
Draw Rate 19.57
Lose Rate 30.43
With any football club at this level you need backroom staff and often than not an unsung person is a kit man, (unless you let players take the kit home to wash) who is never mentioned. At Bowers, this falls to a gentleman named Wayne Adcock. Wayne has been an avid supporter of Bowers seeing many changes of backroom staff, managers, players and groundsman since the age of 10. A role that he excels at because for the last 25 years he has been that said kit man.
As with any successful football team you must have youth development. To their credit over the last fifteen years they have adopted youth football teams starting at under 7’s to under 18’s, during which time they have had many successes. Not only with trophies being won but also players moving up many levels from the Essex Senior League to the Conference South League levels. For example, Thomas Franks and Fin Dopson who have both played for Concord Rangers.
Towards the end of season 2015, Joe Corey has come into the setup, not only as a 1st team coach, but during a short period of time he has completely overhauled the youth teams. At the first training session, over 200 young boys turned up to be part of the youth teams. So much so Vice Chairman Mike Barnard has backed the youth teams through his charity trust allowing no fees to be collected. Currently they have boys attending from the age of 3 – 18. As well as this they also work within the local community having strong links with both Briscoe and Eversley Primary Schools. This has helped them to be nominated for the Essex FA Community Award 2016/17, Essex FA Community Charter Standard Club 2016/17 and winning the Active Basildon Enterprising Club 2016. And during the clubs first season in the Isthmian League 2016/17 they won the Community Club of the Year Award.
Bowers & Pitsea FC Club Honours
2014/15 they reached the 1st qualifying round.
2016/17 Preliminary Round.
2015/16 also saw them reach the semi-final. The two-leg encounter played against Morpeth Town saw them draw the first leg 2-2 and losing the away leg 2-1. Losing 4-3 on aggregate.
2016/17 Community Club of the Year
Essex Senior League Record
League Champions 3. Bowers United 1, Bowers & Pitsea 2
1998/99 League & Cup Double
Best Home win 14-1 v Stansted 2006/07
Best scoring record 124 2014/15
Best Goal difference +99 2014/15
Attendance 2015/16 League games only P20, Low 34, High 173, Ave 75, Total 1508
Leading goal scorer 2015/16 Chid Onokwai 38 (2nd Overall)
1st team all-time record for ESL. 42 seasons, Games played 1306, Won 577, Drawn 281, Lost 448, For 2238, Against 1899, Success 54.94%.
28 out of 55 teams who have played in the ESL. Only one other club has played more games 1359 and have been in the ESL 3 years longer.
1976/77 - 1977/78 Runners Up League Challenge Cup
1980/81 Winners Senior Division
1981/82 Winners League Challenge Cup
1983/84 Runners up Senior Division
1989/90 Runners Up Harry Fisher Memorial Cup
1990/91 Winners Division One Challenge Cup
1991/92 Winners Harry Fisher Memorial Cup
1998/99 Winners Premier Division
1998/99 Winners League Challenge Cup
1998/99 Runners Up Harry Fisher Memorial Cup
1999/00 Winners Charity Cup Final
2012/13 Runners Up League Challenge Cup
2014/15 Runners Up Premier Division
2014/15 Winners League Challenge Cup
2015/16 Winners Premier Division
Essex Senior League Record
1974/75, 1984/85 Runners Up Reserve Challenge Cup
1979/80 Winners Reserve Shield
1980/81 Runners Up Reserve Challenge Cup
1983/84 Runners up Reserve Section
1986/87 Runners Up Reserve Shield
1992/93 Runners up Reserve Division
Senior League Record
Secretary of the Year award:
1997/98 Ernie Brown,
1998/99 Stephen Bond
2006/07 and 2014/15 Lee Stevens
Don Douglas Memorial Trophy (Overall Leading Goal scorer)
1997/98 & 1998/99 David Hope
2002/03 Simon Deakin
2014/15 Lewis Manor
Essex & Herts Combination League Record
2007/2008 Winners Combination Cup.
Thurrock Thameside Combination League Record
1952/53 Winners Thameside Cup
1958/59 Winners Premier League
1959/60 Winners Thurrock Thameside Cup
1958/59 1960/61, 1961/62, 1962/63 Runners Up Premier Division Cup
1952/53, 1953/54, 1959/60, 1961/62, 1962/63, 1963/64 Runners up League
1964/65 Winners Combination League Cup
1960/61 Len Salmon Secretary of the Year (Norman Trophy)
1947/48 Winners Victoria Shield
1949/50 Runners Up Stanford le Hope Charity Cup
1950/51 Runners Up Southend Charity Cup (Section B)
1963/64 Winners Basildon Hospital Cup (aet and replay)
All Youth Team Records
2006/07 Eastern Junior Alliance League Runners Up
2014/15 Eastern Junior Alliance League Runners Up
2014/15 ECFA Pelly Cup Runners Up
2013/14 Eastern Junior Alliance League Most Sporting team
2005/06 Eastern Junior Alliance League Runners Up
2007/08 Eastern Junior Alliance League Runners Up
2004/05 Spring Cup Runners Up
2004/05 Eastern Junior Alliance League Cup Winners
2005/06 Southend & District Junior Sunday League Winners
2004/05 Southend & District Junior Sunday League Runners Up
2003/04 Thundermite League Winners
2003/04 Thundermite League Cup Winners
2003/04 Mitre Cup Winners
2007/08 Southend & District Junior Sunday League Winners
2006/07 Southend & District Junior Sunday League Cup Winners
2007/08 Southend & District Junior Sunday League Cup Winners
2014/15 Echo League Runners Up
2009/10 Thundermite League Winners
2009/10 Thundermite League Cup Winners
2006/07 Thundermite League Winners
2006/07 Thundermite League Runners Up
Thanks go to the following who loaned me information and checking this document: - Darren Scorey, Lee Stevens, Bert Warner, Brian Spillett, Peter Feltham and Robert Errington (Essex Senior League).