Sittin’ by the docks – not a bay, we watched the Boro’ go to play; Tilbury were the reason we were there. But what’s the story? The town is more famous, we’d reckon, for being one of the UK’s biggest sea ports. Football? Not so much. They were relegated from Vauxhall Opel League Division One just one season before we’d suffer the very same fate. Maybe we should’ve taken their 1986-7 campaign as an uncomfortable premonition of our own doom? The Dockers also had a couple of seasons out of the Isthmian set-up in the mid-2000s. But they’ve since returned.
Tilbury: The Facts
St Chad's Road, Tilbury, Essex, RM18 8NL
Let’s roll it back to the start so we can put this tale into some sort of context. The Dockers were formed in 1889, which makes them pretty long in the tooth. Mind you, we could say that about any side established before 1976 – right? Unsurprisingly, the club’s roots grew out of the docks; early players and officials plying their trade by the side of the Thames during the week. And the first steps they took were in local league competitions.
In the first half of the 20th century, they started to broaden their horizons; swapping those local leagues for county competitions and then into the London League (1931). After World War Two, they picked up where they left off in that competition and were a major force – though couldn’t quite win the title. Even so, the start of the 1950s saw them move into the Corinthian League. It didn’t last, however, and they returned to the London League in 1957 for four seasons.
Why do we know the Dockers?
The next stops were the Delphian and Athenian Leagues, before joining the Isthmian League in 1973. The 1975-6 campaign saw them win the Division Two crown with a massive 102 points; a milestone that won them promotion to Division One. A year later, this division was rebadged as the Premier Division. Three years on, however, they lost their spot at the Isthmian League’s top table and ‘returned’ to Division One. They narrowly avoided a second straight relegation too.
But for that, our first encounter with the Dockers could’ve come a couple of years sooner when we joined Division Two North in 1984. Alas, good things come to those who wait and it was just two years after we joined the Isthmian League that we were promoted to Division One.
There are just 40 spaces at the ground itself, which are in front and behind the clubhouse. If you opt to park on the street (which is likely), be considerate of the club’s neighbours.
Station: TILBURY TOWN
Services to: LONDON FENCHURCH STREET
Come out the station onto the A126 and head up Calcutta Road to the right. Go past St Mary’s RC Primary School and turn left onto the A126. Keep going up here and you’ll be seeing the ground on the left.
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