3 years ago
By Malcolm Boyes
Fisher FC visit us on Saturday and as it's the first time we've played them there can't be a better reason to give the Christmas shopping a miss.
Perhaps nomads should form part of their name.
Forget about the last bit of Christmas shopping with the partner, what you haven't got by now you either don't need or don't really want, also you'll end up having too much food and drink left after the festive period and having to have the left overs in different formats for the next two or three days for breakfast, lunch and diner.
After all, buying that present for a relative you only see or think of at Christmas time can't be that important in reality, especially if you've left it to the last shopping weekend before the festive period and therefore, to spend it listening to the continuous loop of festive jingles whilst waiting in a huge queue can't be that much fun.
So what better way of escaping the hordes who have no other interests in their life but to wander the streets endlessly looking through shop windows for things they don't really want to buy or really don't want to spend their money on and get down to the Community Stadium to see the Crows take on visitors, Fisher FC.
Our visitors have had a chequered and nomadic existence, especially of late but hopefully now there is light at the end of the tunnel and they will soon have another ground of their own within the Bermondsey/Rotherhithe area, near their old Surrey Docks Stadium.
The club were first formed back in 1908 and eventually ended up playing in various leagues until 1965 when they were in the Parthenon League but had to fold at the end of the 1964/65 season. The club was eventually reformed ready for the 1966/67 season but were not based in their initial area but in Mitcham this time and they played in the Western Section of the Kent Amateur League that season.
After a few years Fisher were elected to the Spartan League in 1974 and won back-to-back championships in 1980-81 and 1981-82. The latter season coincided with a move to their own purpose-built Surrey Docks Stadium.
Fisher were elected to the Southern League’s Southern Division for the 1982-83 season and won the championship at the first attempt, earning promotion to the Southern League Premier Division. 1984-85 saw Fisher reach the first round of the FA Cup, losing 1-0 to Bristol City.
In 1986-87 they won the Southern League title and were promoted to the Football Conference (Blue Square Premier). The following year brought another run to the first round of the FA Cup where the Fish once again lost out to a Bristol side, their nemesis this time being Rovers who won 3-0.
Fisher’s success came to an end in 1990-91 when they finished bottom of the Conference and dropped back to the Southern League Premier Division. The following season brought a second successive relegation, to the Southern League Southern Division, where they remained until the turn of the millennium, generally finishing in mid-table.
The 1999-2000 season saw the club win the Southern League Eastern Division. However Fisher’s success was short-lived, as after just one season in the Southern League Premier Division they were relegated back into the Eastern Division, where in the following season they finished 6th.
The following two season saw mid-table finishes, with Wayne Burnett taking over the managerial hotseat in February 2004. The club was moved to ground share with Dulwich Hamlet while planning permission was granted for a new stadium and development at the Surrey Docks Stadium. A raft of top signings followed and the club were successful in 2004-5, winning the Southern League Division One East title and the London Senior Cup. The Fish were promoted to the Isthmian League Premier Division for the 2005-06 season.
Wayne Burnett resigned as manager for personal reasons on 21 November 2005. With former Tottenham Hotspur player Justin Edinburgh taking the reigns, Fisher finished third in the Isthmian League Premier Division that season, also winning the Isthmian League Cup and London Senior Cup, and beating Hampton & Richmond Borough 3-0 in the play-off final to win promotion to Conference South.
The 2006-07 season saw the club finish in 10th place in the Conference South under Edinburgh. Wayne Burnett returned to the club in the off season, and assembled a supremely talented squad. The Fish played superb attacking football, but ended up finishing 4th, and losing to Hampton & Richmond Borough in the play-offs, the side they’d beaten to win promotion two years before.
The close season saw a player exodus, with six of the previous season’s squad moving to Football League clubs. The club’s financial difficulties also came to a head, as massive debts were found to be piling up. The club hadn’t been paying players since November 2008, while a winding-up order for unpaid income tax issued by the High Court was, on 13 March, adjourned for 49 days until 22 April, and then adjourned for a further 21 days to 13 May 2009.
A run of sixteen consecutive league defeats between 19 November and 9 March saw the club eventually relegated on 28 March. At the High Court on 13 May 2009, Fisher Athletic were wound up.
Following a meeting in Bermondsey on the evening of 28 May 2009, a supporters trust was formed to take control of all forthcoming club matters, with 42 founding members. Renamed as Fisher FC and continuing to play at Dulwich Hamlet, but no longer the owners of the Surrey Docks Stadium, the Fish appointed Gary Lisney as manager and finished 13th from 16 in their first season in the Kent League Premier, embarking upon a fine run in the London Senior Cup.
The 2010-11 season was a disappointing campaign for the Fish, and though it started well with a brief run in the FA Vase, a last-placed finish in the Kent Premier League was confirmed on the final day of the season. For the 2011-12 season, former Greenwich Borough manager Steve Firkins was appointed, bringing a coaching staff of Billy Walton and Adam Lawrence. An exhaustive overhaul of the squad ensued and a fine pre-season had hopes high for a good season, however a faltering start and misfortune with injuries saw the Fish struggle to match this early promise. Nevertheless, with a strong second half of the season, Fisher managed their best league placing since reforming, finishing 10th in the Kent Hurlimann League.
Steve Firkins returned with new assistant Gary Davies by his side for the 2012-13 season, but in January 2013 Firkins stepped down from his post for family reasons. Former assistant Billy Walton rejoined the club, and accompanied by joint manager Martin Ford, led the Fish to a final placing of 14th of 17.
The summer of 2013 saw the board taking huge strides in their work to return the club to its spiritual home of Bermondsey. At its AGM, the club unveiled proposals for a new community football facility at the St Paul’s playing fields site, just over the road from the old Surrey Docks Stadium, working with new SDS freehold owners Fairview Homes on a scheme to redevelop both sites together, and bring Fisher home.
Back on the pitch, the 2013-14 season saw Billy Walton in sole charge as Ford departed to join the management team at promoted Erith & Belvedere. Familiar struggles saw Fisher once again come in 14th at the final reckoning in the renamed Southern Counties East Football League, but a run in the Macron Challenge Cup came to a dramatic end in a thrilling semi-final. The Fish came from 0-3 town to win 4-3 in the first leg before finally succumbing to the competition’s eventual winers Beckenham Town 4-6 on aggregate.
In the summer of 2014, Southwark Council’s Planning Committee unanimously approved plans for the new developments at the sites on Salter Road, bringing a return to Rotherhithe within reach, a decade after Fisher Athletic’s former owners uprooted the club to East Dulwich. The journey continues, as work to secure the necessary funding goes on in earnest.
For the 2014-15 season, Billy Walton started as joint manager with former Lordswood and Herne Bay boss Simon Halsey however, Dean Harrison is now in charge of the Fisher, having taken up the position earlier this month.
The club obviously hope that their nomadic existence will come to an end in the near future and that they can once again play at a stadium within Bermondsey and one they can call their home after playing for so many years at Dulwich Hamlet.