West Ham gets behind non league Hornchurch in Hammers’ heartland
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
West Ham United has got behind local non-league club Hornchurch’s bid to reach the FA Trophy final.
The Urchins have won five ties to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy, the premier knockout competition for non-league clubs, including upset victories over National League sides King’s Lynn Town and Maidstone United.
Situated in the Hammers heartland just a few miles from the club’s Rush Green and Chadwell Heath training grounds, Hornchurch has long held links with West Ham United and its fans, with the club close to joint-chairman David Sullivan’s heart after growing up in the town.
With many local clubs deprived of vital matchday income after their respective leagues were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, covering wages, travel and other costs has become a real challenge in recent months.
Hornchurch are no different, with their own Isthmian League suspended since early November. Despite the absence of regular football, Mark Stimson’s team has defeated Bowers & Pitsea, Tonbridge Angels, Dulwich Hamlet, King’s Lynn Town on penalties and Maidstone United in a 5-4 thriller to set up a quarter-final at Darlington on Saturday, February 27.
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Manager Mark Stimson would like to take his squad to the North East for an overnight stay to prepare for the tie, and the Urchins have appealed to the wider football family to help cover the £2,500 cost of travel and hotel rooms.
As the leading club in east London, West Ham has regularly supported local non-league teams, hosting reserve and women’s team matches at Thurrock, Bishops Storford and most recently Dagenham & Redbridge, while also sending a first-team squad to the latter for a fundraising match in 2018.
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Now, just two wins from the biggest match in their history, a Wembley final, Mr Sullivan has made a sizeable donation to the club.
“I grew up in Hornchurch and back then the local football club was in the Athenian League, and I remember going down to watch them play when I was a boy,” the Joint-Chairman explained.
“As well as being a West Ham fan since I was eleven, I have always been a big football supporter and someone who wants to help local clubs where I can, and I know many of my fellow Hammers feel likewise and went to watch their local non-league teams when the lockdown restrictions were lifted last year.
“This match is a huge opportunity for Hornchurch as they are only two wins from a Wembley final, so let’s all get behind them and help an east London club lift a trophy!”