Devizes Town Football Club

Devizes Town Football Club
Football in Devizes was recorded to have been first played in 1876 when Devizes Rangers played out a goalless draw against local rivals Holt. In those days the games were played under both association football and Rugby Union rules. Devizes Rangers existed in tandem with Devizes Football Club (Rugby) and the two clubs swapped players as well as codes, until Rangers disbanded in the late 1880s.

The origins of Devizes Town Football Club itself stretch back to 1884 when Southbroom Football Club was formed by the members of Southbroom Cricket Club as a winter activity. Games were played in a field behind the vicarage in Brickley Lane until 1886 when the 'blues' as they were known joined forces with the cricket and tennis clubs and formed Devizes Recreation Club based in London Road. In 1896 the club tasted success for the first time in winning the Wiltshire League Championship.

In 1898 Southbroom and other smaller clubs amalgamated to form a much larger club, and so Devizes Town Football Club was born. The new club leased a playing field in Quakers Walk and in their first season won the Wiltshire League as well as reaching the First Round Proper of the FA Amateur Cup and the Wiltshire Cup Final. The elusive Wiltshire Cup finally came to Devizes in 1908 when they defeated Trowbridge 3-1 to lift the trophy for the first time.

In the aftermath of the Second World War the club had to find a new ground to play, thankfully due to the generosity of the Jennings family they were offered a free 21-year lease on a ground at Nursteed Road. The first competitive game there was against Purton in 1945. In 1949 the Wilts League Championship came to Nursteed Road for the third time, and then the following year this was followed by the capture of the Wiltshire Senior Cup for the first time since 1908 in front of a crowd of over 4000. The late 1950s and 60s were a golden period for the club with numerous league and cup triumphs, including several good runs in the FA Amateur Cup - the most notable bring reaching the Third Round Proper in 1958. In the Wiltshire Senior Cup the team appeared in every final between 1956/7 and 1962/3 winning 6 out of the seven finals. Roger Hunt joined the club in 1958 and formed a lethal partnership with prolific striker Tony Edge. Roger Hunt went on to become one of the most celebrated players of his age - playing for Liverpool and the World Cup Winning England side. . 'Edgey' the goal machine was in line to represent Great Britain in the 1960 Olympics as a result of his prolific goal scoring talents for Town, before he was persuaded to join Bristol Rovers in 1959. He returned to Town though and in 1961-62 scored 92 goals in the treble winning season. He managed the side in 1967 and the following year was honoured by the club for achieving the amazing record of 500 goals in 500 games.

The 1961/2 treble winning season was remarkable as Town collected the County Senior Cup, Premier League Championship and the League Subsidiary Cup. Walthamstow Avenue visited in 1965 to officially re-open the Nursteed Road Ground which had been purchased by the club after six years hard work. 1967 brought a new era for the club as they joined the Western League, with the new ground facilities being completed the following year with Roger Hunt returning to officially open them. The season 1972/3 saw the club managed by former Bath City player Ken Owens clinch the Western League Championship and the Subsidiary Cup, as well as having good runs in the FA Cup and Amateur Cup. Ted Chivers, chairman and benefactor of the club for 24 years, retired in 1974 and was honoured with a club presentation to thank him for his unstinting support of the club.

Three years after achieving the Western League Championship the club suffered their first ever relegation. However the stay in Division One was short lived and in 1980 under Paul Lloyd the club returned to the Western League Premier as Division One Runners-up. The following year Lloyd led the side on their greatest run in the FA Vase reaching the quarterfinals - where they were beaten by Whickham in freezing conditions in the North-East. Success continued with Town winning the Wiltshire Premier Shield in 1983 in a hard fought victory over Trowbridge Town.

However all changed with Paul Lloyd's resignation in 1984 - playing fortunes declined and once again Town found themselves relegated to Division One the following year. The late 1980s and 1990s were inauspicious times for the club with increasing financial pressures which were only partially eased by the sale of the Nursteed Road ground to neighbours Linpac in 1991 in return for a lease deal securing the ground for 99 years.

Having survived some years of crisis the season 1999-2000 was the most outstanding in the clubs history. Manager Brian Newlands had over the last four years been building a talented squad and they repaid his faith by winning the Division One title with a remarkable run of 32 unbeaten league games to gain promotion back to the Premier after 15 years. The season ended with an emphatic 8-0 demolition of Chard Town where Andy Coombes stepped up to receive the Division One trophy. The following season the success continued with Town enjoying an excellent FA Cup run that took them to a Fourth Qualifying Round tie against Conference side Kingstonian and a chance of reaching the First Round. Unfortunately in wet and windy conditions the cup run ended with a 5-2 defeat to the Conference side.

After seven successful years Newlands resigned at the start of the 2002-3 season. After a brief 15 weeks stay in-charge by ex-Chippenham player Ray Baverstock, former Town stalwart Peter Tripp was appointed. He was to lead Town on another epic FA Vase run that took them once again to the a quarter-final appearance, this time against Maldon Town. This was their ninth game in the competition and as in 1981 Town failed on the day, being beaten 3-0 by the Eastern Counties League outfit.

The start of the 2003-4 season saw major changes in the structure of the club with a new committee being appointed and a rigorous financial structure bringing much needed stability to the club. Since then there has been a major investment in the facilities at the club with a new Members' Bar (named after Jack Goodship, a stalwart of the club for over 25 years who passed away in 2003) and ongoing plans for refurbishment throughout the clubhouse and grounds. On the pitch results have been variable and the club has flirted with relegation. On the managerial front Dave Hopkins, Mark Godley and Nathan Sheridan all tried to bring success but results were variable and the club flirted with relegation. In 2005/6 the Under 18's side under Gary Hopper won their section of the league with some style and then only narrowly lost to Malmesbury in the play-off final.

In the summer of 2006 Nathan Sheridan was relieved of his position and former player Paul Thompson appointed as first team player/manager. Thompson enjoyed a successful two years as manager before departing towards the end of the 2007/8 season. Also departing earlier in the season was popular Chairman Phil Rossiter who had led the club out of one of its darkest periods. Phil was given Life Membership in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the club. For the 2008/9 season former Reserve Team managers Shaun Moffat and Kev Whitbread took the reins but with injuries, suspensions and loss of playing budget were unable to save the club from finishing bottom of the league and so ending their 8 year stay in the top flight. In the close season Shaun took on the role of Chairman and Kev took over full control of the side, being joined as Joint First Team Manager by former boss Paul Thompson. The club had another difficult campaign but managed to retain their Western League status, finishing in penultimate place in Division One. Kev stepped down at the end of the season and Tommy Dryden, the former Malmesbury and Calne Town manager took over as First Team Manager, with Trevor Vowles taking over the Wiltshire League side.

It was all change again by the end of September with Tommy Dryden deciding to step down for personal reasons. Former Shrivenham and Wroughton manager Mark Love took over the reigns assisted by Darren Smart, James Dore and Richard Gee the latter being in a player/coach capacity.

Mark and his team came into the role and rapidly we got together a squad to take us up the table and got a club record of 12 games unbeaten, Manager of the Month and Team of the Day in the Independent Newspaper. We were close to a promotion place but a slight dip in form gave us a 5th place finish in the league. Already this season we have more new faces and are looking forward to another good season under the tutorship of Mark, his management team and his players.

The reserves also saw new management appointed with Jamie Bayes and Peter Huntley taking joint responsibility for the Wiltshire League side, they have alot of local knowledge in the football scene and have added a new vigour to the reserves and are able to feed the first team with local talent.

We have also taken the under 18s team back under the main club banner and have appointed a local young coach Steve Hooper to work together with Mark,James,Jamie and Peter to push the future of Devizes Town FC into the senior squads.

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