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Club History

WICKFORD TOWN YOUTH FOOTBALL CLUB

AFFILIATED TO THE ESSEX FA AND THE ESSEX ASSOCOATION OF BOYS AND GIRLS CLUBS

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Wickford Town Youth FC is one of the longest serving clubs in the Community, having been in existence since 1969. Following are brief highlights and some lowlights of the clubs history.

1968
▪ The very first game was in December 1968 at Wickford Memorial park, pitch 3 against the Wickford Cubs representative squad.
1969
▪ A junior section to the Wickford Town F.C. was launched and when the adult club folded later that year, the junior section affiliated itself to the Essex Association of Boys clubs and renamed itself Wickford Town Boys Club. Team colours – Old Gold shirts, Black shorts and socks.
▪ A single team (Under 12’s) played its first league game as Wickford Town FC on 21st January 1969 against Leigh Rangers in the Basildon Youth League.
▪ The first Committee was just 4 members – Founder George Merrin, assisted by Reg Bailey, John Carter and Audrey Carter.

1970
▪ An Under 13 team formed.

1974
▪ This year saw the start of a long running friendship with the German side Fortuna Bredeney in the town of Essen, West Germany. Numerous exchange visits and tournaments were regularly held between the two clubs over a 16-year period. Each year two teams from Fortuna would visit Wickford during the Easter weekend and two teams from Wickford would travel to Essen during the May bank holiday. Players and officials would stay with host families. Apart from football there would be a number of social events and many long-term friendships were made.

1978
▪ Founder George Merrin leaves the club to work in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
▪ Some years later George Merrin would emigrate to Cairns, Australia where he was to become involved in youth soccer, running the Far North Queensland Football Association and organise European tours for his representative sides that included here in the UK sightseeing, visiting Premiership League clubs and playing friendly matches against Wickford Town and other local teams.

1981
▪ Wickford Town for some unknown reason weren’t being invited to 5-a-side competitions so the football secretary decided that the club would run its own. The tournament was held on what was known as the ‘Runwell Pitch’ in Old Southend Road, a piece of land that had been left to the youth of Wickford by local resident on Colonel Burton. It is said that before the war both Arsenal FC and Essex County Cricket team played on this site.

1983
▪ John Bartlett took over as club chairman, a position he would hold for 11 years. John retired from the position in 1994 and was elected into the honorary position of club President.

1989
▪ The club had grown to 15 teams that required more pitches, more training and more dedicated people to run the club. Football matters were still split from club matters the small committee would continue to have monthly meetings at someone’s house.
▪ A team manager had found for his team a kit sponsor; the manager purchased Yellow shirts, Green shorts and Yellow socks. Much discussion took place at the next committee meeting where the decision was made to adopt the colour scheme as the new club colours.

1998
▪ The club changed its name to Wickford Town Youth FC to reflect the growing interest and involvement of girls and to reflect the non-discriminatory policy in the club.
▪ Child protection officer appointed.

1999
▪ Formation of the girl’s section of the club.

2000
▪ The first girl’s football team is formed.
▪ The club opened a relationship with the Rotary Club of Wickford and with their financial backing purchased a small parcel of land, known as the Runwell Pitch, on Southend Road (Opposite Hill Avenue). The club purchased this land, which had been used for many years by various Wickford clubs, from Essex County Council to ensure continued playing facilities for the club and its members. With help from the Rotary Club, the ground was developed by cutting back surrounding foliage, re-seeding the central pitch area and adding a car parking facility. The name of Wickford Town YFC was proudly displayed on a board by the entrance.
▪ The club became one of the first clubs in Essex to be awarded the prestigious FA Charter Standard, recognising the clubs commitment towards development and organisation of youth football.
▪ The club acquired from Basildon Council a 7-year lease for “Table-House”, a building located in Wickford Memorial Park. Previously used as a “holiday home” for disadvantaged children this had fallen into disrepair and been unused for 5 years. With generous help from club members and friends, the interior was renovated and transformed into a mini clubhouse with 4 changing rooms, toilets and kitchen facilities. External redecoration was also completed with help from the Princes Trust. Table House is open every Sunday morning during the season providing refreshments to players, spectators and match officials.

2001
▪ Another great achievement for the club being awarded FA Charter Standard Development Club status.
▪ The club moves the annual 5-a-side tournament from the ‘Runwell Pitch’ to North Crescent School. No more cars parked on Southend Road causing congestion for 2 days, no more tarpaulins strung between trees as a registration tent and protection for the referees in the blistering sunshine, no more large water containers. We have a Proper car park, a kitchen, electricity, running water and the luxury of toilets but above all else a safe environment for young players and visitors.
▪ The club Internet website is launched, developed and maintained by a dedicated club member.

2002
▪ Building upon the Charter Standard, Wickford Town YFC became only the 2nd club in Essex to be awarded FA Community Club status.
▪ The Under 13 team get promoted to the Premier division.
▪ Concurrent with the major house building programs at both ends of Wickford, the club sees an expansion of its mini soccer section (up to under 10’s) to 10 teams. Girl’s teams expand from 1 to 3 teams.
▪ Wickford Town starts its first Veterans (over 35’s) team, playing in the Ridley’s Veterans League.

2003
▪ The new season sees the introduction of an Under 18 team and continued upward expansion in mini soccer to 12 teams (plus 3 additional training only squads of under 6’s).

2004
▪ Enthusiasm reaches an all time high with an average of 21 people attending committee meetings. The club appears to be expanding where other clubs are folding.
▪ Best year in 35 years for league and county awards.
▪ Most of the managers and coaches have attained FA coaching qualifications
▪ Richard Neville receives a “volunteer of the year award” from the Essex FA.
▪ Most teams now have sponsors for their kits.

2005
▪ Parent Eddie Wright sadly had a heart attack pitch side whilst watching his son play, Eddie sadly passed away and at a committee meeting it was decided to arrange a Memorial game to raise funds to be given to a good cause chosen by Eddie’s wife. Many people supported the event, the players including Eddie’s son’s showed great attitude making it a fun event. Julie Wight thanked the club and asked if the match could be played annually as her family and friend’s enjoyed the occasion so much.
▪ League divisional honours – U9a Lions 1st, U10b Tigers 2nd, U17 2nd, and U8a Lions Cup Finalists.
▪ Wickford Town Youth FC awarded the Southend & District League Fair Play Trophy.
▪ Wickford Town Vets awarded the Ridley’s Veterans League Fair Play Trophy.
▪ U18 team awarded the Fair Play Trophy in their division of the Chelmsford & District League.
▪ Wickford Town Youth FC were Runners-up for the Chelmsford & District League Trophy, scoring 8.65 and coming second to a one team club who scored 8.66.
▪ At a committee meeting Alan Payne presented a plaque to Richard Neville in recognition of his outstanding services to the club. Richard had been club secretary for 10 years; he had been Instrumental in helping the club to become one of only 82 Charter Standard clubs in Essex and one of only 8 clubs in Essex who have Community Club Status; he had done a lot of groundwork to bring girls football the club; he is still an active committee member and team manager.
▪ The Rotary Club offers to pay for the car-park extension at the Runwell pitch.

2006
▪ 21st March and the club reaches a huge milestone in the history of the club. A special general meeting is arranged to discuss proposals to sell off the ‘Runwell’ pitch and acquire a piece of land at Shotgate. Proposals were explained and those present voted in favour of allowing the club to proceed. A dream for many years was finally taking shape and the Shotgate Project was up and running.
▪ Dave Boakes – Passes the FA Level 2 Coaching Course
▪ The weather turned the annual 5-a-side tournament into a mud bath but with several rolls of carpet, plywood panels (donations from club members) and marking out 4 repositioned pitches in the early hours of Sunday morning for the second day’s play, the tournament was once again an outstanding success.
▪ 2005-2006 League divisional honours – U8a Lions 1st, U9b Tigers 2nd and promoted and the Vets team win the Cup Final.
▪ The club took up the offer of hiring football ground at Rettendon; the ground was large enough for 3 mini soccer pitches and had a building that could be used for storage and changing facilities.
▪ The club is the largest it has ever been with 28 teams and in excess of 300 playing members (11 x 11-a-side teams, 4 x girl’s teams, 13 x mini soccer teams).

2007
▪ Several teams achieved league honours.
▪ A major down side to the year was and is the ongoing vandalising of Table House in Memorial Park. This is costing the club many hundreds of pounds in repairs. TV and media press have given news coverage to highlight the clubs’ plight. The police remain vigilant to eventually apprehend those who are vandalising the building and surrounding trees.
▪ The Shotgate Project – 25th September – The Basildon Council Planning Committee reject Outline Planning for the Shotgate site, the application would have to be revised and resubmitted.
▪ The Shotgate Project – 4th December – The Basildon Council Planning Committee approve Outline Planning for the Southend Road site.

2008
▪ An application for funding was reviewed at a Football Foundation preliminary meeting in January and was knocked back on 3 issues.
▪ The senior team finish 3rd in the Chelmsford Invitation League division 1 and win the division 1 Cup Final 4-2 against Durassic Park FC.
▪ Thundermite league divisional honours – u11a 3rd div A, u11c 3rd div B.
▪ Southend league divisional honours – u12a 4th div D, u12c 1st div D, u15a 2nd div C.
▪ Annual club football tournament moved to Bromfords School, a larger facility and the format revised to include both 5-a-side and mini soccer.
▪ Colin Bennett gets a Volunteer Leader Award from the Jack Petchey scheme.

2009
▪ The Shotgate project – Pitch preparation scheduled for March put back 1 year due to the economic situation.
▪ The Senior and Vets teams are invited to play in Berlin.
▪ U15 team have a successful tour winning games in Germany and Holland.
▪ Steve Amos completes the London Marathon.
▪ U11 Tigers and U11 Panthers win their respective Thundermite League Divisional Cup Finals.
▪ Steve Tilson (Southend United manager) is special guest at the U7’s Fun-day.
▪ The Men’s team win the Chelmsford Invitation Premier League Cup Final.
▪ An ex Wickford Town player (Claire Capon) currently with Colchester United Academy represents the Welsh National U17 team against France, Netherlands and Denmark.
▪ Our best ever annual football tournament. 100 teams took part with 850 children played football over the 2 days with no injuries or bookings.
▪ The Summer Ball was a great success and enjoyed by all who attended.
▪ A 9-year-old girl from the club has been chosen to play at the West Ham Academy.
▪ A double-decker bus painted in club colours was entered in the Wickford Carnival.
▪ Jeremy Lawrence entered his u12 team in the Association of Essex Boys and Girls Clubs National 5-a-side competition. The team represented South Essex in the Regional Final at Woking. The team finished runners-up and went through to the National Finals at the Trafford Centre in Manchester.
▪ The club retains its status as a Charter Community Club.

2010
▪ Shotgate Project – Preliminary work on 6 pitches due to start.
▪ U9 Tigers – South East Essex League – Div 4 Runner-up.
▪ U9 Panthers – South East Essex League – Div 5 Runner-up.
▪ U10 Panthers – Thundermite League – League Cup Finalists.
▪ U13a – Thundermite League – Div A Runner-up & League Cup Winners.
▪ U13a – Southend Junior League – Div C Champions.
▪ U16 – Southend Junior League – League Cup Finalists.
▪ Men’s team – Chelmsford Invitation Premier League Champions, League Cup Winners & Essex Junior Cup Finalists.

2011
▪ Connor Jones wins the club competition to design a new club badge. The winning design, one of 19 entries, will be applied to club football shirts.
▪ The application to the Football Foundation was reviewed at a preliminary meeting on the 18th January but was knocked back.
▪ Men’s team – Chelmsford Invitation Premier League Champions, Premier League Cup Winners.
▪ The senior team finish 3rd in the Chelmsford Invitation League division 1 and win the division 1 Cup Final 4-2 against Durassic Park FC.
▪ The u11a team finish 3rd in the Thundermite league division A.
▪ The u12c team finish 1st in the Southend league division D.
▪ The u15a team finish 2nd in the Southend league division C.
▪ Steve Dalligan, Jeremy Lawrence and Jon Boakes pass the FA Level 2 Coaching course.
▪ Planning application for the pitches and changing rooms etc at Shotgate passed by Basildon Council.
▪ U14 Lions are runners-up out of 3000 teams in the Street Soccer and Freestyle football competition.

2012
▪ Men’s Reserve team folds due to the lack of players.
▪ U14 Lions win the group stage of the Essex Boys and Girls Club 5-a-side tournament and qualifies for the Southern Region Finals.
▪ U14 Tigers Southend League Division D Champions.
▪ U11 teams start playing 9v9 games in line with format changes announced by The Football Association.
▪ Men’s Team Chelmsford Invitation League Premier League Champions (4th year running) & Premier Division Cup Winners (finalists 4 years running – 3 cup wins in 4 years).
▪ Paying player subscriptions on line begins and is very successful.
▪ John Bartlett, Chris Evans and Alan Payne receive long service awards.
▪ George Doyle (U16) signs for Norwich City FC.
▪ Annual Football Tournament another outstanding success.
▪ Chris Evans and Alan Payne retire as officers of the club, to acknowledge their long service they are elected to the honorary position of Vice President. Chris retires after 13 years as Treasurer; he had also been a team manager at various age groups. Alan retires after 7 years as Assistant Football Secretary, he has been with the club over 30 years, held various positions including Club Secretary and has played for and managed Wickford Town teams.
▪ A valuation of the Southend Road pitch is finally agreed and the developer starts enabling work at the Shotgate site.
▪ 2nd of November Wickford Town Football Club has been registered as a Charity in England & Wales. Fantastic news for the club and should provide greater funding opportunities for the club going forward.

2013
▪ The Under 14 team folds early in the year.
▪ Under 9 Tigers win 2012/13 Fair Play award at mini soccer.
▪ U15 Tigers reach the Cup Final to be played at Rootes Hall.
▪ The pavilion/changing rooms; car park and work on pitches at Shotgate are finished.
▪ The new Wickford Town Ladies team prepare for the forthcoming season.
▪ Under 16 and Senior teams fold at the end of the season.
▪ League season extended due to bad weather disrupting fixtures, annual football tournament reduced to one day because of teams having to play league games on the Sunday.
▪ The club has a float in the Wickford Carnival.
▪ The Eddie Wright Memorial match was once again a huge success.
▪ 13th December – Southend Road / Shotgate Facility legally completed today. Wickford Sports is now the official owner of the Shotgate Site. Massive thanks go to Paul Haine, Richard Neville, Chris Evans and Tony Silk for all their hard work over the years to make this Dream a reality.

2014
▪ U12 Tiger’s Southend League B Division winners.
▪ U13 Tiger’s are promoted to Southend League Division D.
▪ U13 Lion’s win Southend League Cup Final 4-2 after being 2-0 down.
▪ 7th June – After 12-15 years the wait is finally over – Open Day at the new Shotgate facility is a huge success. Club President John Bartlett cut the ceremonial ribbon and unveiled a plaque officially naming the facility ‘Bartlett Park’. The opening is attributed, after a huge amount of work, to Richard Neville, Paul Haine Tony Silk and Chris Evans.
▪ Our new ladies team begin their season thanks to the efforts of Jill and Freya Barnard and Niks.
▪ Paul & Sean King start a Girls Academy and enter a team into the U16’s league.
▪ The Eddie Wright Memorial match goes ahead once again and is enjoyed by all players and supporters.

2015
▪ U13 Tigers just miss out on promotion to the Premier division.
▪ Great celebration for the U13 East team winning their first game in 3½ years (3 yrs 6mnths 21days.
▪ U14 Lions Runner-up in both Southend League Premier Division and League Cup.
▪ U14 Tigers reach quarter finals of Essex County Cup.
▪ U15 Pumas have a very strong finish to the season beating all top 6 teams.
▪ U18 Lions finish season as League Champions
▪ U18 Ravens finish 2nd in their division.
▪ Our Ladies team complete their 2nd season and reach the Semi Final of the County Cup.
▪ President John Bartlett attends the Essex Boys and Girls Clubs annual dinner and awards evening to collect ‘The Matchroom Trophy’ awarded to Wickford Town FC as the club that had done the most for itself with respect to Bartlett Park.
▪ Bartlett Park used regularly by our teams for training sessions.
▪ 6th June – Hundreds of parents, players and supporters attend the Club Open Day at Bartlett Park.
▪ The annual Eddie Wright Memorial match played on 6th September is enjoyed once again by all who attended.
▪ Teams start using the all-weather pitch at Billericay school for winter training.
▪ 5, 7, and 9-a-side matches will be played at Bartlett Park for the 2015/16 season. 9 and 11 w-a-side matches will be played at Memorial Park.

2016
▪ 25 teams in action this season
▪ U13 East Div. D Champions.
▪ U15 Lions win Premier League and League Cup.
▪ U18 Lions Div D Champions.
▪ U18 Tigers Div B Runner-up.
▪ Ladies team Runner-up in the County Trophy and the Tiptree Charity Cup and also recruit enough players for a second team.
▪ President’s Trophy awarded to Robert Lodge and Josh Hudson for raising the profile of the club in the local community, supporting all events the club had facilitated for local schools and offered advice and support to youngsters. A number of schools had written expressing their gratitude and asked that Robert and Josh be recognised.
▪ Robert Lodge receives an award from the Essex Boys and Girls Clubs.
▪ Basildon Council approves the plans for the development of Bartlett Park.
▪ Discussions continue with the FA and the Football Foundation concerning the grant application.
▪ 2Worlds facilitate a variety of school events at Bartlett Park.
▪ An application submitted by Clive Lodge for a substantial grant from Community Initiatives Fund (CIF) was approved.
▪ The 11th annual Eddie Wright Memorial match played on 4th September is enjoyed once again by all who attended.
▪ Steve Amos, Clive Lodge and Stewart Cassidy all complete the FA Level 2 coaching course.
▪ The club passes the FA Health Check and win an award.
▪ Essex FA provides a mentor for its “FA Mentoring Programme” to improve coaching provision.

2017
▪ The Football Foundation grant is approved and the development at Bartlett Park can finally get under way.
▪ Needham Building Contractors arrive at Bartlett Park on 16th March to start the long-awaited development.
▪ U16 Lions – Southend & District Junior League – Premier League & League Cup Winners.
▪ U15 Lions – Southend & District Junior League – Divisional Shield Runner-up
▪ U14 South – Southend & District Junior League – Premier League Runner-up.
▪ U13 Tigers – Southend & District Junior League – Division E Runner-up
▪ Josh Hudson, Robert Lodge, George Neller, James Gregory and Connor Dobson-Amos all receive Essex Boys & Girls Clubs representative awards.
▪ Josh Hudson awarded Jack Petchey Achievement award.
▪ Helen Lodge awarded Jack Petchey Volunteer award
▪ Clive Lodge and Helen Lodge are guests of The FA – Community Shield at Wembley for Services to Grass Roots Football.
▪ Wickford Town FC awarded Club Mentor Status 2nd year running by the Essex FA.
▪ Josh Hudson and Robert Lodge receive awards from the Essex FA Youth Football Council.
▪ The Club Open Day on 10th June is a huge success.
▪ The Club football tournament, on 9th September, returns after a 4-year absence.

Compiled by Al Payne.

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