East Thurrock United Club History
FOR the first time in their history East Thurrock are competing in the National League South after last season’s memorable triumph in the Ryman Premier play-offs.
Last season saw the Rocks fall at the third stage in the FA Cup, with a home defeat to Staines and they enjoyed a run in the FA Trophy before bowing out to Maidenhead. The second half of the season saw a tremendous run of form and the Rocks finished in third place, setting up a home play-off tie against Tonbridge Angels, which was comfortably won 2-0. And if that performance was one of the best in Rocks all too brief history, they went one better in the play-off final just a few days later, beating Dulwich Hamlet 3-1 in front of a record crowd of 1,661 in a match that brought huge praise on the club for our hospitality, friendly welcome and above all a team that played as a unit and did everyone at Rookery Hill proud on a day never to be forgotten by those who were there - including the many, many Dulwich fans who were a true credit to the game.
2014/15 saw the club end the campaign in an unfamiliar mid-table slot. In their previous three campaigns they had found themselves competing for a play-of spot or, in a dramatic end to the 13-14 season coming through a last day battle to avoid the drop.
Not that last season wasn't without its high. For the second time in the club's history they made it through to the FA Cup first round - enjoyed an away day at Division Two Hartlepool United, where they went down 2-0 but gave a great account of themselves.
Rocks were promoted to the Ryman Premier after winning the Ryman One North title in 2010-11 after a campaign which saw them battle throughout for top spot with Needham Market. In the end John Coventry's side emerged victorious - and in the final sprint won by a handsome margin.
The Rocks were founded in April 1969 by enthusiasts who felt the expanding area around the towns of Corringham and Stanford-le-Hope needed a senior non-league football club.
The Corringham Social Sunday side formed the basis for the new team but there were hurdles to overcome for the new club including finding a suitable ground.
During the first season as members of the Southern Essex Combination in 1969/70 the home matches were played at Corringham Recreation Ground. Manager Brian Fayers guided the club to third place during the initial season and was a key figure in the team's formation.
The following season the Rocks moved up to the Intermediate section of the old Greater London League.
Success followed for the club, now playing at the Billet, Stanford-le-Hope, winning division two and one in of the league. The side then applied to the Essex FA for senior status. After moving in with Grays Athletic, the club was admitted to the Senior Division Two of the Metropolitan London League. Following a third championship in a row, the club won promotion to the Premier Division. But there was a ten year period of struggle as the founding fathers of the club stepped down.
There were managerial and ground changes with the team at the Billet and then at Tilbury FC.
After joining the Essex Senior League in 1979 the Rocks changed ground again to the former Thames Board Mills ground, Purfleet.
With loans from the Football Association, Thurrock Council and Greene King the club was able to buy its site in Corringham and played its first match there in 1984.
The club won its first senior trophy, the League Cup, in the 1988/89 season and won again in 1992.
An application to the Isthmian League was successful and the following season the Rocks joined Division Three. Lee Patterson was appointed manager at the start of the 1999-2000 season and guided them to the Ryman Division Three Championship title and promotion to Division Two, breaking every club record en-route.
Patterson left during the next season with The Rocks sitting top of the table. Along with him went many of the players and the club slid down the table but still finished in the top half. 2002/03 saw the formation of Division One North and also new owners at Rookery Hill.
After a poor start to the season with the club bottom of the league, the new owners offered Patterson the job again. Rocks climbed out of trouble and picked up an impressive 45 points after Christmas.
Silverware also returned to Rookery Hill with the East Anglian Cup being won for the first time with a 1-0 victory over Long Melford.2003/04 saw the club reach the F.A Cup 4th qualifying round for the first time eventually losing to Conference side Woking 2-0 after a 1-1 draw at Rookery Hill. In the same season Rocks were in with a chance of promotion till April and a fixture backlog eventually took its toll.
2004/05 saw the club switch to the Southern League in an FA re-structure. The club were never out of the top five all season and finished runners-up to Fisher Athletic and the promotion that followed was to the Ryman Premier. Rocks survived their first two seasons in the Premier without too much trouble but in 2007-8 despite heading the table in the early stages, they found it more of a struggle, particularly after Patterson left in the autumn to take over at Conference South Braintree.
Patterson’s assistant, John Coventry, took over the reins but they were eventually relegated by the cruellest of margins, one deducted point for playing an ineligible player for a minute at the tale end of a game.
It looked as if Rocks would bounce back at the first attempt but they lost out on the Ryman One North title in a last day defeat by Aveley and then bowed out in the play-off to Concord Rangers - a fate that was to befall them again the following season after finishing fifth.
However, it was to prove to be third time lucky in 2010-11 when Rocks topped the table to join the Ryman top flight after overhauling early pacesetters Needham Market.
2011-12 brought tremendous success as the Rocks reached the first round of the FA Cup, going out to then Football League side Macclesfield Town, in a televised match in which the 3-0 scoreline to the Silkmen didn’t reflect the flow of the game.
The club also reached the final of the Ryman League Cup for the first time in its history, losing 1-0 to Bury Town, and the last 32 of the FA Trophy, where progress was eventually halted at Hampton and Richmond Borough in a much-delayed replay.
To cap it all off, a strong run at the end of the season saw Rocks finish tenth in the table, their highest position ever – and they were named the Ryman Premier League team of the season.
Not bad for the club’s first season back in the Ryman Premier but in their second (12-13) they again enjoyed a great FA Cup run, losing out in a dramatic and emotionally charged FA Cup fourth qualifying round replay against Chelmsford City on penalties after an exhilarating 4-4 draw at Rookery Hill. An equally dramatic 2-2 draw at Chelmsford three days before had put them in the first round draw for a second success season, though it was to be the Clarets that went on to beat Football League Colchester.
However, Rocks put that disappointment aside and in the second half of the season embarked on a remarkable run that saw them claim fifth place in the final table and a play-off game at Lowestoft, which they were unlucky to lose 1-0.
2013-14 was something of a contrast. A First qualifying round exit at home in a replay against Hornchurch set the tempo and though Rocks progressed through a couple of rounds in the FA Trophy they struggled in mid season and found themselves slipping down the table. Ultimately the season came down to a last day decider when Rocks needed a win at home to Bognor to secure their place.
When they found themselves two goals down thing looked glum but Covo’s side battled back and ultimately won 3-2 and though results elsewhere would have saved them anyway, Rocks were able to say they had saved themselves when it mattered.
Last season again brought an FA Cup first round appearance but a promising mid season position when Rocks flirted with the play-off zone eventually tapered away and they finished in mid table.