Len Smith will be brimming with pride when England run out at Priory Lane for the opening match in the Four Nations Tournament tonight.

The Eastbourne Borough chairman can still remember the days when Priory Lane was hosting County League football in front of a handful of people on a pitch not much better than a recreation field.

Twelve years on and Smith admits he will have to pinch himself when the top non-league players from England and Ireland clash in a prestigious international.

A crowd of close to 1,000 is expected for the opening match of the tournament which also features games at Bognor's Nyewood Lane and Worthing's Gladwish Stadium.

Plenty more will flood through the Priory Lane turnstiles on Thursday and Saturday as fans look for one final football fix before the World Cup.

Smith said: "It is amazing when you consider we have gone from being little more than a parks team not so many years ago to hosting international matches, whatever the level.

"Priory Lane was literally just a field 12 years ago but it shows the progress we have made that the ground was even considered as suitable for big games like these.

"It has taken a lot of time and work, not to mention a sizeable amount of money, to transform the ground but it will all be worth it when England run out tonight.

"It is a great honour for the club, especially when you think of the number of other grounds they could have chosen instead."

The FA's choice of Priory Lane is a glowing endorsement of the way the club has developed its facilities to match Borough's meteroic rise up the non-league ladder.

The club was only founded in 1964 when they played in the Eastbourne and District League at a recreation ground near the seafront at Princes Park.

They moved to Priory Lane in 1983 when they were elected as founder members of division three of the County League but initially played on the area behind the current ground which is now used by the youth team and as a makeshift car park for big games.

In 1989 they switched the pitch to its present position but it looked nothing like today with just one small stand to hold the scattering of fans which turned up to watch.

Covered stands were added over the next ten years and the present main stand was opened in 2000 when Borough won promotion to the Dr Martens eastern division.

Since then Borough have risen to Conference south and Priory Lane is recognised as one of the finest grounds in Sussex, with covering on all four sides, an impressive 500 seat stand and executive boxes.

Smith said: "We never wanted to be in a situation where the team had done enough to win promotion but the ground wasn't good enough to go up.

"Our policy has been to gradually improve the ground a bit at a time. It has probably cost over £1million over the years but we have a ground to be proud of.

"The FA Cup match against Oxford United this year when we had a record crowd of more than 3,000 shows we are capable of hosting big matches and I think we'll do a good job this week.

"The best non-league players from all over Britain will be playing so I would urge supporters to come along for some good entertainment and there will certainly be a good atmosphere at Priory Lane."