In the late eighteen hundreds the sporting young men of Bedford played mainly football of the kind now known as Association Football. There were in fact two such clubs, Bedford Britannia (formed in 1873) and Bedford Football and Athletics Club (1876) but who changed their name in 1878 to Bedford Rovers. The two clubs attempted to satisfy the demands of their members by playing Association Football one week and Rugby Football the next. Eventually a special Annual General Meeting of the Club held on 2nd September 1882 agreed that "Bedford Britannia would henceforth play football of the Association code".
Those members who wanted to play rugby left and immediately formed a new Club to be known as Bedford Swifts Football Club. Their home ground was in London Road, Bedford where now stands the Bingo Hall and Service Station and the Club Headquarters was the Clarence Hotel, still standing, in St. Johns Street, Bedford.
The first playing shirts worn were "black with a red band, two inches wide, from the top of the right shoulder to the armpit of the left". The badge was the eagle and castle of the Town of Bedford. The new club had very strong links with Bedford Modern School, both pupils and masters playing together on a Saturday. The Swifts went from strength to strength, not so the Rovers who got into financial trouble and had to be rescued by supporters. In November 1886 the two clubs amalgamated under the name Bedford Swifts with the Swifts officers running the new Club. At the Annual General Meeting on 14th September 1887 it was agreed "that the Club should henceforth be known as Bedford Rugby Union Football Club". The Blues were born but the name Swifts was to be lost for 63 years.
ONCE A SWIFT ALWAYS A SWIFT!!!
The Bedford Town Colts team of 1949/50 went through the whole season unbeaten but the officials of the Club were concerned that young men of under 18 years of age were not physically mature enough for first team football and that they should be encouraged to gain more experience before being picked for the Town side. The boys themselves did not want to split up and join other local clubs and so at a special meeting held on the 31st March 1950 and with the help of the Bedford Club, it was decided to form a new Rugby Club in the Town, mainly for young players of between 18 and 22 years of age. The names of both Rovers and Swifts were put forward for the new club and it appears that the meeting favoured Rovers but an elderly gentleman who had been sitting quietly at the back of the room got to his feet and in a rather nervous voice introduced himself as the very last surviving member of the original Swifts that had ceased to operate in 1886. Those present listened intently when he made a special personal request that the new club take the name Swifts in order to ensure that the name was not lost forever. With a unanimous vote it was agreed the new club should be called Bedford Swifts Rugby Union Football Club.
Despite many difficulties over the last 50 years and which would have put an end to lesser clubs, and including even often being homeless, the Swifts have continued and now look forward to the next 50 years.
Once a Swift always a Swift!!!