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Non League Football Under The Microscope

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Eastbourne Borough fans celebrate - August Bank Holiday Monday 2003                                Photograph by Sam Hicks

Metropolitan Police FC

Metropolitan Police (Imber Court) Sports Club, East Molesey, Surrey
Telephone: 0208 398 1267
Nickname: The Blues
Isthmian League

Note The Metropolitan Police FC was founded in 1919, ninety years after the first organized Police Force in the world was formed by Sir Robert Peel. The Imber Court site was acquired by the Force for use as a sports ground in 1919 and the main clubhouse, which has been vastly extended since, was originally opened the following year. 

In 1923 a grandstand of timber and steel construction was opened, and was subsequently doubled in size in 1934 at a cost of £265. It accommodated 672 spectators on six rows of benches but was sadly demolished in 1994 in the wake of the 1985 Bradford Fire disaster.

Despite the presence of a main stand, there was no further development of any real note until the 1960s, up until when a canvas sheet was all that enclosed the ground. A wooden fence allowed the club to charge admission for matches although at this time the playing area was still not fully enclosed due to the proximity of the cricket square and outfield.

Three of the impressive floodlight pylons were erected in 1971. However, the ground remained three-sided until it was finally closed off with the provision of a tall concrete wall in 1973. Even so, it was a further twenty years before a fourth floodlight pylon was added.

Shallow terracing was laid down around three sides of the ground in 1984, with the terrace at the near end of the ground (the Mounted Branch End) covered with a long cantilever roof four years later.

The void caused by the demolition of the old stand in 1994 was quickly filled by a slightly smaller fire-proof replacement of brick and steel construction, with a capacity of almost 300, and affording a good view of the action. It took just fourteen weeks to complete at a cost of £123,000 and was opened as part of the club’s 75th anniversary celebrations with a commemorative match against The Army.

Funding for the improvements to Imber Court are generated form a service-wide lottery set up by the Football Club in the late 1960s. This lottery also provides funding for the forty-four sports section which make up the Metropolitan Police Athletic Association.

Imber Court is certainly a well-appointed ground and is invariably described as “immaculate”. This is undeniable: from the main entrance to the sports complex, to the clubhouse facilities which are situated outside of the football ground itself. It almost goes without saying that the playing surface is also first-class. Despite all of this, and to my mind at least, it is a rather bland venue with all the facilities on two sides of the pitch only and the relatively low gates struggling to generate much of an atmosphere. DB