AN impressive 125 years of history will be celebrated at Harwich and Parkeston Football Club this weekend as the club marks the anniversary of its move to the Royal Oak ground.

The Shrimpers’ first match at the ground was played on September 10, 1898 and to commemorate that occasion, a host of former players will return to the club tomorrow for a reunion.

They include many of the 1970s side which reached the FA Cup first round proper in 1976, several from the 1990s era which saw the Essex Senior Trophy won and the FA Vase quarter-finals reached, plus lots of the 2003/04 promotion-winning team.

A special souvenir programme has also been produced, detailing the history of the ground and highlighting many of the great players to have played on it.

England internationals Kevin Beattie and Danny Wallace are among those to have worn Harwich’s famous black and white stripes on the Royal Oak, while famous opponents include 1966 World Cup winner Martin Peters, plus other England stars such as Jeff Astle, Luther Blissett, Wilf Mannion and Vivian Woodward.

The reunion will begin at 1pm, with all ex-players welcome to attend. A question-and-answer session with former players Ian Brown and Matt Carmichael will take place at 2pm.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard:

The current Harwich team play Haverhill Rovers in a Thurlow Nunn League first division north match, which kicks off at 3pm.

Afterwards, the reunion will continue in the social club where the Ukraine v England game will be shown live from 5pm.

Chairman Tony Armstrong, who played in goal during the club’s successful 1970s period, said: “We’re looking forward to many old faces returning to the Oak on Saturday. I’ve personally not seen many of them for years and it will be great to see my former team-mates.

“We’re hoping plenty of fans come along too to meet some of those they used to watch.

“Playing for 125 years at the same ground is very rare and the club has a proud history which we feel is definitely worth celebrating.”

Back in 1898, Harwich and Parkeston moved to the Royal Oak, which is situated in Main Road, having previously played at the Phoenix Ground on Dovercourt seafront.

Legend has it that many balls were lost to the sea!

They originally leased the ground, playing their first match there against a team from the 1st Battalion of the Coldstream Guards, one which ended in a 2-2 draw.

The ground, which is the second oldest senior football ground in Essex, was bought by the club in 1922. The ownership is currently held in trust.