Jack Duffin, Chairman of East Thurrock Community Football Club, established his position after loyal fans of the club, which was forced to dissolve, came together to make a new football team. 

Duffin said he was “devastated” when the local community lost the football club, but found hope in a new attempt to rekindle the spirit of the old club. 

“We came together as a group of fans, people who weren’t involved in the day to day running of the club and said we want to create something different, do we want to make a completely fan owned club?” he said. 

Installing a strong foundation at the club before its first season is of paramount importance for the chairman, including fan and owner input. 

He said: “10% of our ownership is in the United States, we’ve got owners in Australia and a couple in Qatar and Italy. About two thirds are from the local area, however, there are people all over the UK and the world supporting us and that is massive towards our growth.”

Before the club dissolved in September 2023 the old football club competed in the Isthmian League North Division.

Previous owner Alfie Best placed them into liquidation, the club stating this due to historic debts from the previous owners.

Alfie Best has recently made headlines in The Sun newspaper, stating that he believes he will be the ‘world’s first Gypsy billionaire’, living an income-tax free with a £10 million superyacht. 

It is suggested that the business mogul has amassed a fortune of £947 million after founding his caravan park empire, Wyldecrest Parks. 

Having bought East Thurrock Football Club during Covid, he was then forced to liquidate the club after apparent previous debts. 

Since then a new club has formed, solely fan owned, actively advertising for fans to become owners by buying shares. This has created a greater sense of community pride around its founding. 

Duffin said: “We don’t need the model of this one sole owner, we are going to be community based, making it sustainable and working really hard to make it ridiculously transparent, every penny we spend, we send a weekly email out to our owners and they know where that money goes.

“Whether we are buying some balls or medical supplies for our physiotherapist, we are able to show where every penny of our money goes, we then publish our accounts every year so anyone can access it.”

East Thurrock Community Football Club – Our Plan page

Having not even played a game of football yet, the strength of willingness for the club to achieve highly is remarkable.  

He continues: “Without having kicked a ball yet people are like, we own a piece of this football club and they want to help out, they want to be involved in it.

“Other clubs would be like why am I giving up my time to support this club and that narrative is definitely helping us. They want to be part of this project.”

The chairman, like most who share the love for the non-league game, is an advocate for people right across society to get themselves involved within the games.

“The atmosphere you may find different, you can spend time after the game chatting to the manager and the players and that human being connection, they are not sat on some ‘ivory tower’ and separated from you as normal people and that is something that is genuinely enjoyable.”

“We are doing something special here. We’ve already got over 200 owners and that’s without having a player signed and business things are only going for strength to strength.

“I’m positive that in a year’s time we will be looking at 1000 fan owners and at that point that we know that we can go and compete at a much higher level.”

Playing at the Wyldecrest Sports Country Club in Corringham, Essex, the club have their first game back in just over a month’s time.

The old club, East Thurrock United, played their games at the 3,500 capacity Rookery Hill ground in the town.

The team originally played at Corringham Recreation Ground. They would move and share multiple locations to play their football before Rookery Hill was officially opened in 1984. 

It is hoped by both board members, owners and fans that the new club will be able to emulate the success of the previous club in the area. 

In 2011/12 the club reached the first round of the FA Cup for the first time, crashing out to Macclesfield Town losing 3-0. They would then go on to reach the opening part of the cup again in 2014/15 this time losing 2-0 to Hartlepool United. 

With a total of 7 different league victories, their history has fluctuated through times of success and disappointment; not least mentioning liquidation after Covid-19. 

“The progression off the pitch will hopefully match what happens on it and if you keep your eyes on us we will hopefully be moving up the leagues in years to come,” Duffin added.

Will the new club be able to bring successful, sustainable football back to the local area?

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