YOUTUBE sensations Hashtag United are settling in south-east Essex for the latest chapter of their incredible story.

Hashtag, who have more than 1.3million followers online, have grown in stature and popularity since first being formed in 2016.

And Hashtag founder Spencer Owen is relishing putting roots down so close to home with his teams now playing in Pitsea, Billericay and Canvey Island.

“I’m from Brentwood and it’s great to have all our teams so close together like this,” said Owen.

“We’ve got a great facility here we’re renting from Bowers & Pitsea.

“We’ve got a women’s team who were formerly known as Basildon and we’ve merged with the Forest Glade youth team.

“In the last six months there has been a real growth spurt.

“We’ve gone from one team to 40 teams and we’ve gone from 15 to 20 players to 400 men and women.

“But a lot of people round here still don’t know we are here and that’s something we want to change.”

Hashtag were formed after Owen himself created a huge online following.

But it took time for him to get maximum exposure after he originally began recording at East Thurrock United.

“I have been making YouTube videos for decades now but the first ones I ever made were filming my dad at East Thurrock where he was physio and no-one was really watching them!” said Owen.

“I was just a fan of non-league but fast forward not that many years and I’ve got a team in the FA Cup second qualifying round and it’s just been crazy.”

Hashtag’s FA Cup success, on penalties against Soham Town Rangers, was shown live on the BBC red button.

And it was also the latest in a long line of memorable moments for Hashtag.

“We’ve done a string of crazy things in a really short period of time and we did some crazy things before even going into non-league,” said Owen.

“We played at Wembley in front of 34,000 fans, we had Steven Gerrard playing with us and you do kind of pinch yourself and think, what is this really happening.

“But we have an amazing audience and that allows us to do things way beyond our level.”

Hashtag have won all four of their games in the Essex Senior League this season.

And Owen feels their presence has been a huge boost for the non-league game, although he also appreciates not everyone agrees.

"We’ve got a young audience and we’re bringing people to non league who just wouldn’t be going to non-league otherwise,” said Owen.

“We’re helping other clubs get fans too. It’s maybe a bit alien to football traditionalists and maybe a bit scary if they don’t understand it.

"But we aren’t here to take anyone’s place and we didn’t take over another team.

"We’re our own team and although people might not like us we like everyone.

"We’re turning some heads slowly but surely and people are starting to realise it’s not a bad thing and it’s been really fun to do it.”

And Owen is putting no limits on Hashtag’s future.

“If I told you four years we’d do all this you would think I was bonkers so if I say now we could be in the Premier League one day people will say I’m bonkers.

“It’s going to cost a lot of money we don’t currently have but there’s no reason why we can’t do it. It could take decades or it might not ever happen and that’s fine.

“We don’t have one set goal.

“Our main aim is to keep that going but I just love doing this and I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up being somewhere amazing one day.”