Town are confident of achieving their highest league gate of the season at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium on Easter Saturday when they welcome Dulwich Hamlet, a club with a fine tradition and sizeable support, as the push for play-off places at the top of the Ryman League Premier Division intensifies.
Town currently sit in 9th position, with Dulwich in 4th, four points ahead but having played a game more. The first match between the two clubs this season, at the South Londoners’ Champion Hill ground back in January, attracted a crowd of 2,249 – the highest 2015/16 attendance in the division anywhere to date.
Town, meanwhile, have already recorded an impressive gate of 883 this term, against Hitchin Town in the FA Cup in September. This represents their highest competitive home figure since moving to the QES some four and half years ago after a decade of groundsharing at Goldsdown Road, the former home of Brimsdown Rovers FC, to the east of the Borough. The highest overall gate of 969 at the ground was recorded for the opening of the newly refurbished stadium against a Tottenham Hotspur XI in November 2011.
Since moving back near to where the former Enfield FC ground at Southbury Road was located, Town have secured promotion into the top division of the Ryman (Isthmian) League, and have subsequently registered some eye-catching victories such as those at Maidstone United, Margate and Hendon (all, coincidentally, by three goals to nil during the last campaign against teams who went on to either win promotion into the National League or reach the play-offs).
Chairman Paul Reed said “I can’t wait for this game, which promises to be another memorable occasion. When you think back to the start of our club’s journey back in the Essex Senior League in 2001/02, we sometimes played in front of crowds in that league which were barely into three figures. The thought of needing to make specific additional matchday arrangements for home games such as those against Hitchin and Dulwich some fifteen years later is a phenomenal testament to the progress of the club since its early days, and in particular to the large band of dedicated volunteers who set the club up and have kept it going through thick and thin.”
“On a budget which has been built steadily and sustainably over the years, without reliance on a single source of income, all those associated with Enfield Town can rightly be proud of its achievements. We have a talented young manager, Bradley Quinton, who plays the game in the right manner, and he has assembled a squad which is young, exciting and entertaining.”
“Everyone at the club was devastated at the end of last season when we were denied a shot at a promotion play-off match, after finishing in a qualifying league position on merit, by a draconian points deduction after the player registration systems of the Football Association were proved to be inadequate, but we, not they, picked up a penalty as a consequence of an error relating to a player.”
“Whatever happens against Dulwich, and we of course wish them all the best in their own quest for the play-offs this season, we will have taken another step onwards and upwards as we follow our vision of being an inclusive club for all and a football and social centre for the community, with a range of teams playing at the highest sustainable levels possible. If we don’t achieve promotion this season, I am sure it will not be too long before we do, and I am sure that everyone attending this match, perhaps coming along to the ground for the first time - there are no Premier League fixtures scheduled over Easter - will have a great day out!”
Updated 14:12 - 27 Mar 2016 by Ken Brazier