History of Huntingdonshire FA
Governing football in Huntingdonshire since 1894
A meeting held in September 1894 resolved to formalise the game of football in the County of Huntingdonshire.
Unfortunately, early records of the Association have not survived. However, thirty years later the Earl of Sandwich was still President, Mr W.S. Shepherd was Chairman and Mr F.W. Harding was the Hon. Secretary. It was Mr Harding who represented the Association at the banquet to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the English Football Association on October 26th 1938.
The Association’s activities at this time also reflected national and world events. In February 1939 affiliated clubs were given permission to take a collection on behalf of Lord Baldwin’s refugee fund if they wished, and later in September of the same year, all league matches and cup competitions were automatically cancelled until further notice – friendly matches continued subject to the Rules of the Association.
At a meeting on January 20th 1940, Mr Shepherd, Chairman remarked that “it would, perhaps, be out of place to wish members a Happy New Year, but he hoped the present clouds would soon roll by…” In June 2940 it was agreed to have the Association telephone disconnected, and clubs concerned were ordered to return the various trophies to the Hon. Secretary forthwith so that he could arrange to have them placed in safe custody. The “present situation” was then discussed and it was decided that the A.G.M be postponed. It was also decided that the date of the next meeting be left to the Chairman on Hon. Secretary.
The next meeting was not to take place until June 9th 1945, when an open meeting was called by advertisement. At this gathering the Hon. Secretary, Mr Harding, referred to the great loss of the Council and the County Football Association had sustained by the deaths of Mr Shepherd, Chairman and those members of various clubs in the county who had lost their lives in the war.
In October that year MR H. Bell was elected as the new Chairman with Mr A. Harvey being appointed as Hon. Secretary in December 1945.
Godmanchester Rovers v Brampton 1946/47 season
When competitive football was re-established in Huntingdonshire in the 1946/47 season, after World War II, Brampton and Godmanchester emerged as the leading Junior Clubs in the County, and there was a keen rivalry between the two clubs, especially after they had been drawn against each other in the third round of the Hunts Junior Cup.
Before this tie was played on December 28th 1946, a Brampton player transferred to Godmanchester Rovers, and their secretary upon enquiry was advised by the Hon. Secretary Mr Harvey, that his player was eligible to play for Rovers in the cup match. Consequently the player was included in the Rovers squad at Brampton when they obtained a 2-1 victory over their rivals.
Much controversy followed when Brampton lodged a protest to Hunts F.A. claiming that the player was ineligible to player for Godmanchester in the Junior Cup under rule 4 of the competition which stated “A registed player of a club shall not, for the purpose of competing in these competitions (Senior and Junior Challenge Cups) be transferred to or registered for another club in the same season)”
When the case was debated by the Council, opinions were divided. Mr Harvey admitted that he had misinterpreted the rule and some sympathy was expressed for the Godmanchester Club, who sought his advice and acted in good faith. However, the final outcome was that the Council ordered the match to be re-played and no fine was imposed. The sequel to this decision was that the Rovers Secretary, on the instructions of his committee, appealed to the English F.A. and all relative correspondence was sent to the E.F.A Secretary. The Rovers suffered further disappointment when the E.F.A declined to intervene stating that the cup competition was under the sole control of the County F.A. and their decision was final.
Because of the peculiar circumstances which led to the match being re-played, unusual interest was aroused in many parts of the County and a record crowd of over 500 were at Brampton to see the two sides provide a thrilling game which ended with the scores level at 2-2.
The second re-play attracted a similar sized crowd at the Recreation Ground, Godmanchester and spectators were treated to another thrilling game in which the two teams again finished level on terms 3-3.
As no ‘penalty shootouts’ existed then, a third replay was necessary on neutral ground and after several postponements due to weather, the game was finally played at Hinchingbrooke Park – the then home of Huntingdon Town F.C. – on Sunday March 29th 1947 before a crowd of over 1000 people. Once again, this record crowd for a Junior Cup tie, had their money’s worth and witnessed a fast moving game in which both teams produced some excellent football. However thanks to a fine display by Rovers keeper Roy Drury, who saved a penalty, Godmanchester Rovers won the game 4-3. Following their win over Brampton, Godmanchester Rovers beat Ramsey in the Semi-Final and Phorpres Sports Reserves 2-1 in the final.
By the beginning of 1948 the Council had become increasingly concerned with forget signatures on players’ affiliation forms; whilst the Referee’s Association complained about the lack of Council support and difficulty in travelling to matches because of petrol restrictions. Later in the year it was decided to award long serving medals to any offer serving for fifteen years or more, and, at the end of the 1948 “concern was expressed at the lack of interest in fixing matches shown by some clubs” Unspecified “drastic action” was threatened.
Eynesbury Rovers 1947 - 1955
The post war years saw Eynesbury Rovers gain prominence and quickly established themselves as one of the premier clubs in the County. The Hunts. Senior Cup and Hinchingbrooke Cup were won five times each between 1947 and 1955 and the Hunts. Premier in 1950/51 season. Numerous other charity and challenge trophies were won during this period.
Much of their success can be attributed to the hard work and enthusiasm of their General Manager, E.G. Childs who devoted endless time searching for players throughout the area and building up a successful team to compete in the Eastern Counties and United Counties Leagues.
During the War, Childs was taken prisoner and was in the same camp as the well-known Tottenham Hotspur Manager, Arthur Rowe, and their friendship continued after the war. In 1951 when ‘Spurs won the League Division One Championship, Arthur helped his war-time colleagues by taking all of his famous “push and run” championship team to play Eynesbury at Barford Road. Later, ‘Spurs signed on Denis Emery, Eynesbury’s promising 18 year old forward.
In 1952, Charlie Revell, the ex-Charlton and Derby County player was appointed player-coach and the Rovers enjoyed further success in local and County Cup Competitions. Then in 1955, Childs brought off another wonderful coup for Eynesbury when he arranged for the illustrious Stanley Matthews to player for Rovers at Barford Road against Fulham F.C.
Events outside of the County continued to make their mark – in March 1958, there was a Council agreement to collect donations for the Munich Air Disaster Appeal.
Three years later, at the A.G.M held on June 26th 1961, Mr E. P. Brand was elected Patron of the Association, a position he held until July 1994. At the same time in 1961, Mr J. C. Jacob succeeded the Rt. Hon. Lord de Ramsey as President after thirty nine years of service on the Council. Mr K. Milner took his place as Chairman. At the following A.G.M Mr Bell was elected as President.
In April 1967, Mr Bell resigned as President after forty three years of service. He was succeeded in due course by Mr G. L. Grey. In January 1967 Mr F. E. Rooke replaced Mr K. Milner as Chairman. One month later Mt Harvey, Hon. Secretary announced his intention to retire after twenty one years in the post. He was eventually replaced by Mr R. D. Lyons. At the July 1967 A.G.M, it was agreed that in the 1967/68 season an additional five shillings charge would be levied on clubs to send one outstanding young player to Lilleshall. This was to be known as the K.A. Milner Award. Two years later a similar exercise with respect to another long-serving councillor resulted in the W.B Everett Memorial Fund.
In July 1971, Mr Harvey, who had been Hon. Secretary to the Association for many years, was elected President. Under his Presidency an attempt in 1973, by The Cambridgeshire Football Association, to absorb Huntingdonshire Football Association was successfully repelled. A year later the Hon. Secretary, Mr Lyons resigned to take up an appointment with Durham F.A., and was succeeded my Mr K. Masters who stayed in post until 1978, Mr Masters’s resignation, to take the post of County Secretary at Kent F.A. led to the appointment of Mr M. Armstrong who remained in post until June 2004.
Mr Harvey, passed away in 1979 and was succeeded by Mr F. Rooke. Mr G, Gayton became the new Chairman and five years later Mr Rooke was re-appointed as Chairman.
Minutes of Council Meetings at this time show that discipline was still a mayor concern of the Association. Again, national events were acknowledged when the Council agreed to make a contribution to the Bradford Fire Disaster Fund. And, at the end of 1986, the Council proposed to set up a fundraising scheme for clubs.
Mr D. Roberts replaced Mr Rooke as Chairman in July 1987, and, by June 1988 the Hon. Secretary was able to report to the A.G.M “County Cup Finals had produced excellent crowds and entertaining matches in the 1987/88 season”.
By this time much of the business of the Association was delegated to sub-committees. There were in existence thirteen which included; Emergency, Disciplinary, Referees and Cup Competitions, Rules, Technical, Finance, Benevolent and Development. This was also when a computer was introduced to aid administration.
Inevitably the Hon. Secretary’s report to the Annual General Meeting in June 1989 mentions the Hillsborough tragedy and the Council’s swift response to support the disaster fund.
The administrative workload of the Association continued to expand rapidly, a situation which was recognised at the AGM in June 1991, when Mr Armstrong was appointed County Secretary on a part-time basis; a move made possible by the provision of external funding.
One month later Mr R Carter replaced Mr D Roberts as Chairman and the following year Mr F Hall was elected President.
Throughout the later 1980’s and early 1990’s there were regular reports of improvements in club grounds and facilities. Warboys Football Club played under floodlights for the first time at their home ground on December 5th 1992. So, as the 1993/94 season got underway, a number of clubs looked forward to celebrating their centenary year in style, Somersham, Buckden and Brampton amongst them.