AFC Croydon Athletic were officially born on 6th February 2012 after a group of supporters gathered at Selhurst Evangelical Church in South Norwood to form a new club. The newly appointed committee had just 7 weeks to put everything in place to convince the Football Association and the League that they were worthy of a place at Step 6 in the pyramid. Despite the challenge it was a successful journey.
The need to form a new club had about because of the demise Croydon Athletic FC who had become the innocent victims of an international cricket match-fixing scandal by their then owner. Valiant attempts to find a buyer, which looked very positive at times, turned out to be fruitless and with debts mounting and owners unwilling to pay what they owed the club folded playing its last game in December 2011.
Having secured the support of the Combined Counties League and the London FA, representatives of the Club met officials from the FA and made their case for being placed in Division One. Having made a presentation and answered questions for more than ninety minutes there followed a long wait to see if they would endorse the application. On the day of the first annual general meeting, on 10th May, the Club got the call that they had been recommended to placed at Step 6.
The biggest challenge had been securing a stadium to play at. The club’s real home remains the Keith Tuckey Stadium off Mayfield Road but that currently lies empty as the owners of the old Club refuse to give it up and back to the Council. It is hoped that this will be resolved and discussions can start with the Council about the Club’s return there in the future. For this season at least, however, it is indebted to both Croydon FC and Croydon Council who have facilitated the use of Croydon Sports Arena as its new home.
With a place in the league secured the focus shifted from off the field priorities back to the team. On 29th May the Club were pleased to announce the appointment of Antony Williams as its first manager and along with his management team he set about the task of putting together a squad capable of competing in the division. The preparations begun in earnest with the first pre-season friendly against Fisher FC and the journey had really begun.
The first competitive game took place at Croydon Sports Arena on 4th August 2012 with the visit of Westfield. Sadly as 0-2 defeat was not the result that was wanted but the Club had started playing for points.
Expectation during that first season were to simply be competitive but the team started to play well and spent much of the campaign in the top half of the table. They successfully navigated a couple of rounds of the FA Vase and defeated higher league opposition in the Premier Challenge Cup. But it was in the Division One League Cup that they reserved their best performances. A first round victory over Epsom Athletic followed by wins over Banstead Athletic and Farleigh Rovers saw them into the Semi-Finals. A long trip to Eversley & California saw them win again in a tight game and ease their way into a Final in their first season. With much anticipation the team and a supporters made their way to Windsor FC for the game against Staines Lammas. An even first half ended goalless but the second half belonged to the Rams and they ran out 5-0 winners to lift their first piece of silverware.
Their second season saw a first entry into the FA Cup although interest lasted just one game with a defeat at Colliers Wood United. The FA Vase saw further success over higher league opposition with a 6-0 demolition of Fisher FC before going out at the same stage as the previous season. In the league it was another reasonable season but never quite good enough to really challenge for promotion. There was also no retention of the Division One Challenge Cup as a rematch with Staines Lammas saw them secure a victory at the Quarter-Final stage.
The 2014/15 season would be remembered particularly for the return to the spiritual home but some last minute pitch problems meant that the season would begin with a run of away games. Despite this difficulty the season began well in the league and they spent most of the time in or near the promotion places. In the FA competitions, however, they succumbed at the first hurdle losing at Erith & Belvedere in the FA Cup and in a "home" match against Chessington & Hook.
After much work had been completed it was on Saturday 15th November that the day finally arrived and a home game at Mayfield Stadium. The 1-0 win over Banstead Athletic was the perfect start and saw them back into the top three.
The biggest attendance of the season occurred against top of the table Farleigh Rovers just after Christmas and saw the Rams win by 3-0 as they started the new year in the top two. This would be a position they would hold for the rest of the campaign. Farleigh would get revenge toward the end of the season as they did enough to take the Championship but a second place finish secured promotion and prompted lots of celebrations.
Whilst promotion was the main aim it was also a season that saw even more silverware. Victories over Lewisham Borough, Club Langley and Barking Reserves set up a London Senior Trophy Final against Middlesex County League side Interwood at Corinthian-Casuals. The opposition raced into a 2-0 lead in the first half but the right words from the Manager saw a comeback that took the game into extra time and a 4-2 lead. Interwood pulled a goal back but it was not enough.
The Football Association have decided that for the 2015/16 season the Club will be moved into the Southern Counties East Football League. The first season at this level and in this league proved to be one of consolidation and resulted in an 11th place finish. It was a mixed season with some good performances and some poor defeats. There would also be no Cup glory with an exit from all competitions before Christmas.
Whilst preparations had already begun the Club was rocked with the resignation of Manager Antony Williams. He had accepted a job at Chipstead FC in the Ryman League and after four seasons was moving on with the club's good wishes. A careful search resulted in the appointment of Kevin Rayner to replace him.
- A shortened downloadable version is attached