Hullbridge Sports FC
Hullbridge Sports FC
Real Football, Great People, Your Local Club

Club History

Club History

Records show that Hullbridge United Football Club was formed by a group of local men, fronted by the then proprietor of the Anchor Inn, a Mr. A. W. Moss. He owned a room behind the pub known as Buff’s Hall. This was where the club held its first meeting. A Mr. Brown generously allowed the club to play on his land, on the corner of Pooles Lane and Long Lane.

Hullbridge United’s first colours were Green and Gold quartered shirts, White shorts and Green socks, which, by an amazing coincidence, were the same colours as those on the flag flying outside the Anchor Inn!

Affiliating to the Essex County FA in 1947, Hullbridge United entered the Southend & District League for the upcoming 1947-48 season. 1950-51 saw Hullbridge United reach their first Cup Finals. In the Section ‘C’ Final of the Southend Charity Competition, United beat Maxwell Sports 4-1. Four weeks later, in the Southend & District League’s French Cup, Hullbridge faced Rochford Athletic but, somewhat unluckily, lost the Final by three goals to four.

After six seasons of Second Division football, 1951-52 saw Hullbridge finally gain promotion – and they did it in style, winning both the Championship and the French Cup. In the final, Hullbridge defeated the reserves of Great Wakering Rovers by three goals to nil. In all, the club played 28 matches that season, scoring an amazing 141 goals.

The summer of 1953 saw the club change name to Hullbridge Sports. After a few poor seasons, times improved for the club when they won the 1956-57 Third Division Championship and the League’s Shaw Cup. They finished five points clear of Canvey Island Sports in the League and saw off Victory Athletic reserves 3-2 after extra time in the Cup Final. Suffering relegation at the end of the 1958-59 season, Sports’ stay in the Third Division lasted but four seasons as, in 1962-63, ‘Bridge won promotion as runner-up in the newly named Second Division with a dramatic final day victory to ensure promotion on goal average. Drawing 4-4 at home to Southwick Rovers, ‘Bridge scored three goals in the final fifteen minutes to gain a 7-4 victory and promotion.

Another double was achieved during the 1965-66 season when Hullbridge won the First Division Championship and Section ’C’ of the Southend Charity Competition – beating Southchurch Rovers 3-0 in a replay after a 2-2 draw. A respectable fifth place finish was achieved in the Premier Division the following season, along with being French Cup finalists. 1968-69 saw Hullbridge finish bottom of the Premier Division but just three seasons later the club regained their Premier Division status, finishing runner-up to Canvey Island Amateur FC at the end of the 1971-72 season. Good cup runs that year saw the club reach the semi-final of the Ramuz Cup and the Fourth Round of the Essex Junior Cup.

In the late 1970s the club decided it wanted it’s own ground. Negotiations with Rochford Council proved successful and the club took control of 16.5 acres of farmland in Lower Road (at the top of Coventry Hill), with the club moving during 1980. Transformation of the site was slow, with the clubhouse not officially opened until 1983.

The end of the 1979-80 saw Sports put six goals past the Southend Estuary ‘keeper to win Section ’B’ of the Southend Charity Competition.

A move up to the newly formed Southend & District Alliance in 1982 found the club wanting. Finishes of sixth and eighth and First Round knockouts in the League Cup wasn’t exactly what the club had hoped for. The only bright spot was reaching the 1982-83 Southend Charity Shield Final, although they lost 0-4 to Rayleigh Town. Nevertheless, again, looking for a higher standard of football, Sports then joined the Essex Olympian League for the 1984-85 season. They immediately won promotion after finishing third in the Second Division.

At the end of the weather-hit 1987-88 season, Hullbridge (now in the Second Division again) brought home the Essex Intermediate League Cup, beating First Division Benfleet in the Final, held at the old New Writtle Street ground of Chelmsford City FC. After a 1-1 extra time draw, courtesy of a Mark Wood goal, Sports went into the replay 12 days later having played five League matches in between! However, after a goal-less 120 minutes, Sports won 5-4 on penalties.

Looking for a further climb up the non-league ladder, Hullbridge made improvements to the ground during 1989 so it passed the grade for senior football. 1990 saw the Essex County FA grant the club senior status and so the club joined the Essex Senior League for the 1990-91 season.

Matt Petre had the honour of scoring the club’s first goal in senior football when, on 25th August 1990, in the club’s first match of the Essex Senior League season, he scored Sport’s only goal in a 1-3 defeat by visitors Stansted, in front of a 163 crowd. At the end of their first season, the club finished in a respectable 12th place.

The new floodlights were put to good use during the 1999-2000 season when, after seven cup-ties, the youth team reached the Third Round (last 64) of the FA Youth Cup. Visitors Blackburn Rovers won the tie 6-0 in front of a crowd of over 800.

After taking over the managers hot seat during February 2006, Enrico Tiritera oversaw a gradual improvement in the club’s fortunes on the pitch. The 2008-09 season showed a good improvement for the club and they attained their highest number of points (41) over a 30-match programme. The club also reached the Quarter-finals of the East Anglian Cup for the first time.

In 2009-10 Hullbridge reached the Quarter-finals of the Essex Senior Cup, again for the first time, before losing narrowly 0-1 to Football League side Dagenham & Redbridge.

The 2010-11 season saw Sports reach their first Cup Final as a senior club, the County FA’s Tolleshunt D’Arcy Memorial Cup. Unfortunately, Sports were beaten 1-2 by Braintree Town.

Dan Braney and Mark Bliss took over the reins from Enrico Tiritera, who departed the club in March 2013. In their first full season, 2013-14, Dan and Mark guided the team to their best ever FA Vase Cup run, reaching the Fourth Round (last 32), before being beaten 1-3 by eventual winners Sholing FC. It was unfortunate that the club had to travel to Southampton for the fixture on a wet Tuesday evening in January. The team under Braney and Bliss took the new record of points that had been achieved in the 2008/09 season, finishing ninth with 53 points from a 38 game season, but the icing on the cake was winning the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy, the first ever silverware as a senior club, beating Haringey Borough 1-0 in the final, Michael Edgar scoring the only goal.

Mark Bliss took sole charge of the team during the 2014/15 season and was joined by coach Steve Tapley. Between them they took the club to its highest ever league position and points tally, finishing fourth in the Essex Senior League with 71 points and 73 goals along the way. With yet another Fourth Round FA Vase run, only losing away to Flackwell Heath FC.

Mark and Steve decided to step down from the management of the mens senior side for the 2015/16 season and Hullbridge appointed its youngest ever management team installing Rob Hodgson as the new First Team Manager along with Aaron Hunwicks as the new Coach.

In their first season (2015/16) Rob Hodgson and Aaron Hunwicks took the club to new FA Cup heights by making Hullbridge Sports history and reaching the Second Qualifying Round, where they were unfortunately beaten by Grays Athletic of the Ryman Premier Division. It was a last 32 exit again in the FA Vase equalling previous records and demonstrating the FA Vase consistency shown from previous seasons. 

In their second season (2016/17) running the First Team Rob Hodgson and Aaron Hunwicks found life more difficult as the side finished 11th in the Essex Senior League and disappointing early exits from most of the cup competitions, but they did take the side to the second Tollshunt D'Arcy Memorial Cup Final in successive seasons, but were unfortunately beaten again by Heybridge Swifts FC.

Rob Hodgson and Aaron Hunwicks continued in the hot seat at the start of the 2017/18 season, but early exits from the FA Cup, Essex County Cup and poor league form saw an emotional farewell after the FA Vase victory over Wembley FC at Lower Road. Rob stayed for a short while to play for new manager Darren Manning, but Aaron left the club that had been his home since 2012 for pastures new.

New manager Darren Manning had one main objective after taking over and that was to keep the club in the Essex Senior League and he managed to achieve this finally finishing 15th (out of 21), but unfortunately Hullbridge exited the FA Vase again in the last 32 away at Tring FC.

2018/19 sees Darren Manning's first full season at the helm and his side will be playing at the newly renamed Ryan's Heating Stadium at Lower Road. Darren and number two James Wakeling start the 2018/19 campaign in the Essex Senior League. 

In the first major cup competition of the 2018/19 season, Hullbridge went out of the FA Cup in the Preliminary Round away at Newmarket Town FC (2-1).