Hello Again Isthmian Premier

Following a dramatic promotion via the play-offs the 2015-16 the club returned to the Isthmian League Premier Division and embarked on it's first season at step 3 for eight years.

The beginning of the campaign saw us lead the embryonic league table with three straight wins from the opening day. However cup runs and injuries to key players saw us eventually finish in fourteenth, by which time Jon Meeney had stepped down as Joint-Manager to leave Gary Elphick in sole charge.

We did, however, enjoy our best run in The FA Trophy since 2003-2004 with an impressive win at National League play-off semi-finalists, Dagenham & Redbridge before finally bowing out – after extra time in a replay – at FA Cup heroes Sutton United. This bringing an end to a fourteen match unbeaten run.

February saw the departure of striker Omar Bugiel to Football League bound Forest Green Rovers, where he would taste victory in The National League Promotion Final against Tranmere Rovers at Wembley.

Forward Omar Bugiel transferred to National League Forest Green Rovers Image: Stroud News & Journal

An increased number of youth team alumni made first team appearances throughout the season while also managing to reach the first round proper of The FA Youth Cup, the run ended by Millwall at the intimidating New Den.

The newly absorbed Ladies team lead the way on the trophy trail, by winning the The South East Counties League Division One (West) title along with an emphatic victory over Lancing in the final of The Sussex Women’s Trophy. They were only denied a clean sweep of silverware by Premier Division Champions, Parkwood in the League Cup final at Maidstone and a semi-final defeat to Charlton Athletic in The Boux Avenue Women’s Cup at Thamesmead Town.

Unfortunately, a twelve game winless run extended into the following season. Although not helped by pitch problems at Woodside, which saw home games played at Bognor until October and the first five games of 2017-18 all away, an unwanted club record of eight straight defeats from the opening day saw the eventual resignation of Gary Elphick on the 9th of September. Our first point finally came at ‘home’ to Staines Town in match number ten, before the end of the month saw the return of Adam Hinshelwood to the Managerial hot seat.

A number of new, along with one or two familiar faces were brought in by “Hinsh” as he set about the unenviable task of preserving the club’s Premier Division status.

A return to The Bibby Financial Services Stadium in October – and a first ‘proper’ home point of the campaign against Met. Police – became the start of a potential great escape. With the watershed moment coming on the 24th of the month, when – after thirty-two games without a win – Lancing were vanquished 5-0 in The Senior Cup, immediately followed by victory over Lowestoft in The FA Trophy and successive league triumphs over Dorking Wanderers and, at Needham Market.

Despite these positive results, there was still over half the season to play and, after a December defeat at Harlow increased the gap at the bottom to seven points behind our conquerors that day, with The Owls also having a game in hand, it looked very much like mission impossible.

However, undeterred the management and squad completed a remarkable turnaround with an Easter Monday victory at Woodside Road over Merstham sealing our place among the Isthmian elite. Hinshelwood was rewarded with a new three year contract and given the role of Academy Head as we increase our commitment to the local community with a new education and footballing programme.

Kwame Poku celebrates scoring against Hornchurch at Woodside Road
Kwame Poku celebrates scoring against Hornchurch at Woodside Road

2018-19 started promisingly but an unprecedented number of injuries and suspensions – eleven players were out at one stage – saw a play-off place slip away in the final five games, to leave the team in ninth at the end of April. Although it was still our highest finish since we came eighth in 2005-06 and teenage prospect, Kwame Adubofour-Poku signed for Colchester United after only joining us in February. Both major cup competitions were exited in the last qualifying round.

The U-18’s were only denied a championship-winning campaign on goal difference by Lewes but continued to be a vital source of first team talent. Previous Management duo, Matt Langley and Bob Crayton left the club in February, as part of a reshuffle and saw their places taken by Aarran Racine. Despite taking the side to the top of the table after being the first – and only – team to win at Eastbourne Borough.

The Women had a mid-table term as they struggled for consistency amid changes in the dugout, with the hugely experienced former Albion and Fulham Boss, Michelle Lawrence taking over in the close season. Our Academy lads finished fourth in their inaugural campaign and many progressed into the Seniors, while the newly-introduced U14’s, U’15’s and U16’s all came third in their debut year. The U16’s almost put a trophy in the cabinet but were beaten in the League Cup Final.

Explore Our History

Formation

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Early Years

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Hello Isthmian League

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Into the 21st Century

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The George Dowell Era

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Null and Void, the Covid Years

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