Wellingborough Town Football Club

History Of Wellingborough Town Football Club

1867 - Present

The original Wellingborough Town Football Club was formed in 1867 and is the sixth oldest football club in the country. The club was a founder member of the first professional football club in the country. Wellingborough Town are also the oldest club in the County of Northamptonshire.

Upon formation in 1867 the club played under part Handling Code until 1869 when they became a true soccer club. At that time the club ground was in Broad Green, Wellingborough. The club colours were old gold and black. The first secretary was a gentleman by the name of Thomas Slinn.

In 1879 Wellingborough Town became the first club to play under floodlights when they entertained Bedford at the Bassett's Close, Wellingborough. The game was a close encounter with Bedford winning 1-2. The lights were powered by generators positioned at each end of the pitch.

In the 1880's Wellingborough FA was formed as was the East Midlands Association and in 1887 these two Associations merged to become the Northamptonshire F. A.

In 1894 the Wellingborough Charity Cup Competition started and by this time the Club was playing on the Thomas Field, Union Lane. Wellingborough. In the same year the Club became founder members of the Leicestershire & Northants League and in the following season joined the Midland League. The first recorded winners of the now 1st Division of the United Counties League were Wellingborough Town Reserves. The following year, 1896-97, saw the Club become founder members of the United league.

In 1899-00 the Club were runners-up in the Midland League before joining Division 1 of the Southern League in 1901-02. It was at this time they moved to their current ground at the Dog & Duck, London Road, Wellingborough. The Secretary at that time was a Mr S.J.Burns.

In 1905 the Club changed it's name to Wellingborough Redwell but resigned at the end of the season after finishing bottom of Division 1. The first recorded silverware was won when they became League Champions in 1910-11.

The Club continued to be known as Wellingborough Redwell until 1919 when they reverted back to their former name of Wellingborough Town F. C.

In 1922 the Club ground record of 7,169 was set when they entertained Kettering Town in the Maunsell Cup Final, winning 2-1. The clubs goals were scored by Harry Loasby and Stevens.

The Club records during the twenties, thirties and forties in the Northants, East Midlands, United Counties and Central Alliance leagues are somewhat scant and it was not until the fifties that that the league history of the Club was recorded in more detail. However, there were lean periods in the fifties before some success was recorded when the club became winners of Division 1 of the United Counties league in 1962-63.

Wellingborough Town repeated this success in 1964-65 during which time they only dropped six points. They successfully applied to join the Metropolitan League in 1968-69 and finished a creditable 7th. The following year however, Wellingborough were League Champions and in 1970-71 they joined the West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division finishing a creditable 3rd. With their ambitions now on a 'high' the Club joined the Southern League Division One North in 1971-72.

Wellingborough was able to maintain mid-table positions throughout the seventies before a reorganisation of the league saw them entered into the Midland Division of the Southern League after the League was split into Southern and Midland Divisions with no Premier Division. Wellingborough remained in what was known as the Southern league, Midland Division until 1988-89 when they were relegated to the United Counties l League.

There then followed 13 years of struggle with Wellingborough Town Football Club avoiding relegation from the Premier Division of the United Counties League on several occasions. Their worst dreams became a reality when in season 2001-02 they folded and resigned from the League. This was a black period in the history of a club that had formed the back-bone of the first professional league.

Wellingborough Town Football Club has figured prominently in the annals of the F.A.Cup and many exciting encounters have been recorded against old opponents such as Peterborough United, Kettering Town, Corby Town and Cambridge City. The pinnacle of their Cup success was when they reached the First Round proper in 1965 being drawn against Aldershot, who at that time were in the Football League Third Division. Despite losing 2-1 Wellingborough were not disgraced.

'The Doughboys'

Wellingborough Town Football Club has been traditionally known as 'The Doughboys' which derived from the traditional local dish of 'Hock & Dough'.

Wellingborough's most 'famous' son is Phil Neal who started his career at the Town before moving to Northampton and then to Liverpool. His glittering career with Liverpool and England was followed closely by his many local admirers who saw him progress from the Dog & Duck to such exalted venues as Wembley, the San Ciro and numerous other international stages.

Reviving Wellingborough Town Football Club

Wellingborough had been without a senior football team for a period of two years when a local retired Senior police Officer, Laurie Owen, formed group of sporting friends in an attempt to resurrect the 'Doughboys'. He was joined by a local businessman, Alan Warwick, whose father played for the 'Doughboys' in the twenties and the then Mayor of Wellingborough, David Smith. David's brother was formerly Manager of Aberdeen and St. Mirren in the Scottish League.

Together these three persons recruited other friends including Peter Ebdon the former World Snooker Champion who agreed to be President of the Group, Paul Joy a local Magistrate and Brian Hill, the former Premiership referee. Each member recruited additional friends until there were 24 people who were prepared to get the Wellingborough Town Football Club 2004 back on it's feet.

The Dog & Duck Football Ground was owned by Geoff Coles a local businessman who has since moved to Portugal. During the early days of his tenancy of the ground part of it was sold to Whitbread's who built a travel-lodge. This obviously reduced the overall size of the ground but the pitch, training ground, grandstand and clubhouse remained.

In their first season back in senior football 'The Doughboys' finished 2nd in the Eagle Bitter United Counties League Division One and were promoted to the Premier Division after losing just one game. The NFA Junior Cup was also won after beating Peterborough Northern Star 2-0 after extra-time at Northampton Town's Sixfields stadium.

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