Eastwood Hanley FC (Defunct) their home ground at dusk in september 2005
A commonly occurring conversation is what you’d do with your life after winning the lottery or, by some other means, coming into a large amount of money. Most people seem to have definite ideas about what they’d do, whereas I only had vague answers predictably and somewhat blandly involving charity and lots of lazing about.
Since returning to the resting place of the now defunct Eastwood Hanley, I now have a definite plan: to resurrect this humble club back into the non-league pyramid. I spend many an idle moment formulating the revival – applying for grants to rebuild the stands and terraces, holding open days for prospective players – hiring semi-retired scouts with an encyclopaedic who’s who knowledge of the North West Counties and Midland Alliance leagues.
The first (real) incarnation of Eastwood Hanley only lasted 32 years between 1965 (I have since found out they were founded in 1946 – sorry), when they entered the Mid Cheshire League, until 1997 in the North West Counties. Their best period was between 1987 and 1990 where they played in the Northern Premier(now Unibond). I have struggled to obtain information about them, aside from their league history from a non-league club database. My work colleague, a Port Vale fan, dimly remembers a pre-season friendly against them and reckons it was a regular fixture in July; similar to the current arrangement The Vale have with Newcastle Town. As they folded just before the internet boom I guess information on them will be scarce. I would love to hear from an old fan and would love to see pics of their ground while active. Please comment or email me if you have anything on them.
I first visited Eastwood Hanley’s ground about 10 years ago, just after their demise. They are situated in an area just south of Hanley called Joiners Square; their ground running next to the disused railway line that used to connect Stoke to Leek and parallel to the Leek Road. The area used to be known as Eastwood, hence the name. Eastwood pottery was a well-known factory in Lichfield Street until it was taken over by Bridgewater in 1958. However the factory site is still known as Eastwood Works.
I lived in Joiners Square at the time and had heard vague rumours regarding this football team. I thought they were still in existence so one lazy Saturday afternoon I set out to try to find their ground. A newsagent, who I asked very furtively, almost apologetically, told me he thought they didn’t exist anymore but pointed me over the road to their ground with the look of bemusement I’d come to expect from one of my obscure football questions.
I was a sad sight that awaited me over the road and behind the trees. As I walked over a grassy mound a burnt out stand opposite came into view and remnants of a terrace on the near side. It was clearly a newly vacated site though, as apart from a slightly overgrown pitch, the rest of the ground was fairly intact. I was so disappointed as it was only a 7/8 minute walk from my flat and would have made a perfect second team for me.
It was situated in a nice location up a lane off the main A-road that almost immediately became a country track in a densely wooded area. What a shame to have left such a tranquil sylvan setting. I wondered what had been the cause of their demise and how many people in the area were as sad as I was to see their home left to the elements and to slow decay.
It was last year (2005) when I got to thinking about them again; by pure luck, I came across an old programme of theirs in a bric-a-brac shop. It was from 1989, a Northern Premier League fixture(Unibond now), the highest league they played in. It prompted me to go to revisit their ground.
I invited Tom along, suspecting a polite refusal; thinking that despite his own love of football and football related nostalgia, this might be too extreme even for him. Apparently not. He was all too willing to see how much evidence was left of Eastwood Hanley.
Luckily for us this area of Stoke has long been a land that time forgot with the only notable passage of time being the fading of shop signs and the crumbling of brickwork.
Luckily for me there was still quite a noticeable bit of their ground left, so I hadn’t dragged Tom half way across the city to see a patch of grass. It was only in a marginally worse state than a decade before.
A middle section of terrace was still standing and in fine fettle. It felt good standing there, imagining it being a match day for an FA Cup third Qualifying round or something. Ghosts from yesteryear seemed to hang around this structure mourning for lost football and praying to be reawakened.
The behind-the-goal shed was still very much in evidence, the long bus-shelter type affair made from corrugated iron, with an extremelely narrow path running behind serving as the entrance.
The picture is not great as dusk was descending more rapidly than I anticipated, but I like the big factory buildings you can see in the background, which I think provide a fitting backdrop to a team who’s name only really lives on in the pottery industry.
The other side had deteriorated the most since my last visit. I have vague recollections of a reasonably sized stand sitting there before, but now there is just a bare frame left of what was once there. Again, apologies for the quality of the photo.
Behind the other goal I suspect there was only a bar and single step path to begin with. There are certainly no remnants of anything bigger, and with a wall not far behind space was at a premium.
With it being in one of the renewal areas now, it probably won’t be there for too much longer. See it while you can if you like your ghost grounds. I expect it will become a city-centre-living urban box type thing before long. It was standing in the middle of the pitch taking photos that I’d decided exactly what to do with a few million – resurrect this football team that had been left behind the main road and ignored for 10 years. Donations welcome!
To read more…Eastwood Hanley Revisited
32 thoughts on “Eastwood Hanley (1946-1997)”
I am currently trawling the web trying to assemble phots of the 1500 or so football grounds I have visited in my time and wound up here looking for Eastwood Hanley. Thanks for your thoughts and pictures – I thought I would not find any at all.
I visited Trent Mill Road twice first on the 20th September 1989 for an F A Cup 1st Qual Round replay against Marine. At this time the ground was impressive in a home made way. It was quite obvious that the stands opposite the seats and the one behind the railway end were cheaply produced and indeed a part of the far side had collapsed. I can confirm that in its heyday there was never any terracing or cover at the “town end” it just being a concret path next to the barrier. I re visited the ground on the 10/05/94 when they were back in the North West Counties and boy what a change had occurred. The ground had been completely vandalised and the entrance / turnstile was nothing more than a pile of bricks. Both of the standing covers had been reduced to metal frames and most of the far side had completely dissappeared. The main seating stand was burnt out.
So if it helps I can confirm that the ground was pretty much as you photgraphed it BEFORE they folded. I believe that their folding was very much to do with the vandalism that they had to contend with.
Again thanks for your comments and photos
Thankyou for your reply. I would have replied a lot sooner were it not for virgin media having messed up my connection at home!
Anyway, I have some more pics and info on Eastwood Hanley, courtesy of another reader who visited recently and took some pics. I have them ready for uploading – I’m just trying to work out how to get a link to a photo site, as there are too many just to publish. He also managed to correct me on a few details, like their inception date (1946). Anyway, watch this space and hopefully I’ll have some more info for you. I’m glad you found it of use, and let me know if you find out more stuff.
This is all rather sad on reflection. I saw a very good Eastwood Hanley side narrowly defeated 1-0 by the emerging pre Football League Rushden & Diamonds. This was in the FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round at Rushden in September 1995.
Eastwood gave a very good account of themselves on that occasion, only a couple of years before their demise. The irony of that particular fixture being that the home side went on to the Football League, whereas their opponents went out of existence – a thin dividing line!
A thought provoking article Dave.
hello dave just going into this by curiosity and i was playing in this match ,and it was one of the best memorys of my career.my older brother micky was playing then as well,i have good memorys of eastwood hanley and the pitch was brilliant to play on.i was a star striker and scorerd plenty of goals to.please reply on this email adress.
i played and scored the winner in this game,it was a great feeling and the look on the faces of both their players and supporters is something i will never forget!!
thanks jason robinson.
Reading these comments brings back memories from the final years of Eastwood. I played in the Rushden game as mentioned by Simple Pieman and remember vividly playing in front of nearly 2000 people verus the usual 50 or so every other week. This was quite a shock but certainly a major highlight during my spell with the club. We also beat Rushden the previous season in the FA Vase (i think) at home with virtually the same squad and I believe the side would have gone from strength to strength if such things as lottery grants etc where succesful. Guess we werent far enough South to justify selection!!!
Your web page and pictures of Eastwood Hanley certainly brought back some excellent memories. I was a referee in stafforshire around the late 1980,s and early 1990’s. I did many a game at the ground and the famous stand has many characters!. The real demise of the team for me came when I did a game at Hanford, which was next door to Eastwood and in the old staffs senior league. They had more spectators at Hanford. Thanks for the excellent memories and what was a great local football club.
Thanks for your comment. Where did Hanford play in those days? Am I right in thinking that Hanford play at the Northwood Stadium now?
Good to hear from you!
Hello groundhog, i dont know if it is relevant at all but i thought id let you know that i have played their recently (about 4 years back). Im only 20, but i played their for a Newcastle Town break-away team called Castle Juniors, the team that played their home games at eastwood were called Ubberly & Bentilee (then folded and re-entered the Cheadle & District League under the name Reebok Rangers). Just thought you should know if you dont already that the Staffordshire FA still used the ground in its dishevelled state at least until recently.
Thanks for the information. I wasn’t sure who, if anyone used it. That’s really useful. I might have to do an update on the site soon, as I’ve unearthed so much more info, thanks to the comments here.
Bishop Auckland FC’s first every Northern Premier League game was at Eastwood Hanley on 20th August 1988.
I travelled on the team bus to witness was turned out to be a 1-0 victory to the Bishops.
We’ve had a bad time in the last few years, but it’s really depressing to see the pics of the ground now.
In the late 50.s early 60.s i lived in simpson st.I can remember going down austin st and over the river trent on saturdays to watch eastwood play.On some saturdays we marked the pitch out with saw dust. The only player i can remember is a lad called ? clark he played in goal.If anybody can remember me my emailis firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for the comment. Let me know if you’re interested in a get together in the Village Tavern for ideas on how to get the club back in existence?
please read my comment and get back to me
Sorry for not responding to your message. I usually respond to everybody’s messages straight away, as it’s extremeley gratifying to know people are reading my blog. I must have missed yours – maybe I was on holiday or something.
Anyway, good to hear from a player, so you were playing at the rushden match were you? It’d be great to hear some more from your playing days. Also, have you any ideas or contacts regarding a resurrection?
hows it goin dave,i have some great memorys playing for eastwood especially chiefy he was the worst physio in the world but whenever you needed treatment you always come out with a smile on your face,he was a top bloke who always had something to talk about and always give you confidence.i played under jimmy wallace who was a great character and you always respected him,my brother mickey was his assistant for a while ,it was a nightmare because he always pushed me on in the matches and there was always a few arguments.i remember we argued one night it was against nantwich and we were drwing 1-1 with 10 minutes to go he made me so angry i got the ball from 25 yards and smacked hit into the top corner and turned round and put my two fingers up at him.i also remember john reid the secretary he was a lovely man.i now live in n ireland with my wife and four children,i still play and coach a amateur league side, mickey and phil hulme live in spain with there wives.
Ah, this was a magical place!
Unfortunately however, I remember the team in the late sixties/seventies. We would often, as 12/13year olds, take our air rifles and go piffling along the canal and then make our way along the railway lines between the Berry Hill slag heap and the quarry. We’d then take in a game before riding the horses further along the fields.
I once got so bored watching a watch that I decided (like a typical stupid teenager) to shout abuse at the rather dwarf like Eastwood inside right. After ten minutes of my appalling abuse the player ran towards me (growing bigger every yard) and finally grabbed me by my jacket lapels and threatened to kick me into the Trent. He had morphed into the Incredible Hulk and I had reverted back into the cowardly spotty faced youth that I was.
The player had grabbed me around the neck and was slowly squeezing the lifeblood out of me. To this day I can still remember his snarling mustachoed spitting face as I slowly lost consciousness. The referee blew his whistle and came running over. I pleaded with the referee and begged him to allow me to continue to live.
I was allowed to live. A free kick was awarded. From the resulting corner the inside right scored a wonderful headed goal. He then returned to his normal size.
Years later I still fondly recall my days “taking a break” at Eastwood. This was a mystical place where all sorts of things could happen. This was the place where four foot headless midgets were transformed into six foot centre forwards and where gormless pre-adulescent teenagers could understand the meaning of respect and the quality of mercy.
I’ll lead up to the story by what prompted me to visit (Please be Patient) my nephew plays for Accrington Stanley when I have been to some of their matches,I swapped first letters of their fans songs e.g. Oooohhh Accy Stanley
I would say Oooohhh Staccy Anley and that got me thinking i’ve heard of Eastwood Hanley and thought I have’nt heard of them lately so I searched the
web and came here wondering what’s happened to them,I visited the ground
in 1991 (I think) in the Northern Premier League against Knowsley United (who
are also now defunct) my nephew in question,his dad (my brother) played for
Kirkby Town who later changed to Knowsley United they moved to Huyton
where their Rugby League team played,my brother was with them during the
transistion in 1988,I vaguely remember the game,I remember having a pint
in the clubhouse and Knowsley United won (I forget what the score was) I used
to live around the corner from where Kirkby Town played at their Simonswood
Lane round so there is the moral of me visiting this page,thank’s for listening.
It’s me Lyndon Hancock! I played with you for a couple of seasons under Jimmy and Micky. I was your supply for half your goals ( maybe not half !!) but was also your drinking partner after games In The Place or Valentino’s! My biggest regret was not turning up for FA cup match versus Rushden! Hope you are well mate. I am in Manchester, got 2 boys ( both good footballers ).
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My Nana lived on Victoria Road and my brother and I used to go and watch Eastwood in the 70’s and 80’s with my Dad who played for them when he was 14 ( now 80). Saw some great players, Mick Biddle, Bob Aston, Darren Twigg John Burndred, Steve Norris ( nogger) to name a few. In the late 80’s and early 90’s there was a fierce rivalry with Leek Town despite many players playing for both, Brian Mellor and Andy Morgan.
Real pity when they folded.
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I have the programme from Eastwood’s last ever game – home to Kidsgrove Athletic (North West Counties League) on Saturday 10th May 1997. Very sad what happened to them, constant vandalism killed the club off. There used to be a tea bar open during matches the first few times I went, and a social club too.
Somewhere I have match photos from a couple of their games, will try to find them.
Thanks for finally talking about >Eastwood
Hanley (1946-1997) | the groundhog <Loved it!
Have you revisited the ground recently?
I would recommend a walk over at 11.00 on a Sunday morning, the pitch is played on and you can see fantastic progress from a committed group of volunteers that share your vision.
Reestablished ( if it’s s word) in 2014 with 4 youth teams, Eastwood now have 21 youth teams across all age groups & 2 senior men’s teams.
The men’s 1st team currently plays it home games at Stond Dominoes as the ground does not currently meet league standards but we are working towards them returning HOME by next season.
My names Alan Harrison played there 75/78 number 9 started in the west Midlands premier league shame what happened to the club Jimmy Wallace manager then chief was the first aid man happy day’s