NON-LEAGUE fans are set to flock to Harwich & Parkeston’s Royal Oak ground on Saturday (November 18) as the club celebrates the 75th anniversary of its famous grandstand.

The structure, built in 1948 to sit more than 500 people, is widely revered in non-league circles and to mark the occasion the Eastern Counties League club are staging a special ‘groundhopper day’ at which non-league supporters from around the country are expected.

Among those in attendance will be Micky Johnson, one of only nine men to have played 400 games for the club, who is back in the UK on holiday from Australia, where he now resides.

As part of the day, a guided tour of the Royal Oak ground – situated in Main Road, Dovercourt – is being held at 2pm, prior to the Shrimpers’ game with Dussindale and Hellesdon Rovers, which kicks off at 3pm.

The history of the stand and the 125-year-old ground will be explained to those in attendance, while a photo exhibition, showing the stand and ground over the years, is being staged in the social club.

Club chairman Tony Armstrong said: “We get quite a few visitors from far and wide over the course of the season, coming to see the ground and the stand, so we thought the idea of having a dedicated ‘groundhopper day’ would tie in nicely with the stand’s anniversary.

“We’re hoping to see a few new faces on the Oak, as well as plenty of our regulars, all of whom will be welcome on the guided tour.”

The stand was officially opened by then-FA secretary Stanley Rous on November 13, 1948 and has since witnessed many a big game, including two FA Cup first-round ties.

Safety concerns over its steep design led to all but two rows being sealed off only five years ago but a crowdfunding scheme during the COVID pandemic led to a refurbishment.

Crucially, a handrail was added to the main steps, while new seats were installed throughout. Following another lick of paint last summer, the stand is now looking as good as it has done for many years.

The modern-day Harwich team is currently vying for promotion out of the ECL’s Division One North.

They will head into Saturday’s game just outside the play-off positions having seen their 10-match unbeaten league run come to an end last weekend.