A BRIEF HISTORY OF GORLESTON FC
Gorleston Football Club were always considered to have been formed in 1884, making them one of the oldest clubs in Norfolk. However Brian Bunn's book 'Evergreen' states the club was formed on 27th September 1887 by Gorleston Cricket Club who were looking for something to do in the winter.
Initially they wore Crimson Shirts and Blue Shorts earning the nickname of the Cards.
Their first competitive game was on 10/11/1888 when they played Beccles Caxton in the Suffolk Senior Cup, losing 1-0. In 1889 they moved to their spiritual home of the Recreation Ground playing their first game there on 09/11/1889 beating Yarmouth St Pauls 2-0.
It was in 1903 Gorleston adopted new colours of light green shirts and white shorts.
The first trophy for The Greens came in the 1906/07 season when they won the Norfolk Junior Cup. The next season they became founder members of the Great Yarmouth Borough League and became champions in that first season.
The club then immediately applied for membership of the Norfolk and Suffolk league, which was granted, thus gaining them senior status. In their first season they finished third.
The Greens progressed between the wars to become one of the most successful clubs in East Anglia, winning the Norfolk and Suffolk League title seven times, the first in 1921, and lifting the Norfolk Senior Cup on eight occasions, the first in 1922, when they beat Lynn Town 1-0 in the final.
In 1925/26 they did the double of League Champions and Senior Cup winners.
Needing a new challenge, Gorleston became founder members of the Eastern Counties League in 1935. However, their only honour before the outbreak of the second world war was the Norfolk Senior Cup in 1938 when they beat Yarmouth 3-0 in the final.
Following the war it was the 1951/52 season when Gorleston gained national fame. They held third division Leyton Orient to a 2-2 draw in the first round proper of the F.A. Cup. Several thousand fans turned up at the Recreation Ground to see the replay which was a goalless draw. The third and decisive game was a memorable cup-tie held at Arsenal's Highbury. At one stage Gorleston were 4-1 down but staged a remarkable comeback before eventually losing 5-4.
The following season the Greens completed a treble in what was their most succesful season. They won their first Eastem Counties League championship and the Norfolk Senior Cup again. They completed the unique treble by winning the East Anglian Cup. They also finished runners-up in the League Cup.
The League Cup was eventually won for the first and only time in 1956 when Spurs A were beaten 3-1 in the final. They again reached the F.A. Cup 1st round proper in 1957/58 season, but this time they were well beaten by Gillingham 10-1.
By the end of the fifties the club faced severe financial problems and were forced to withdraw from the Eastern Counties League back into the Norfolk and Suffolk league. In the mid-60's Gorleston became founder members of the Anglian Combination. They successfully rejoined the Eastern Counties League in 1969 after winning the Anglian Combination Premier Division title, along with the Norfolk Senior Cup, beating Downham 2-1 in the final.
In the ensuing 15 seasons the Greens won the Championship on 3 occasions in 1972/73, 1979/80 and 1980/81 and didn't finish lower than 8th.
In 1982/83 they won the East Anglian Cup for the second time beating Bishop Stortford in the final. It was also this season when the club moved from their spiritual home on Gorleston Recca to Emerald Park. The new purpose built stadium was built on part of the Magdalen Playing field on the outskirts of Gorleston.
Ambitious plans for the ground included a grandstand that had changing rooms, bars and a leisure complex. At the time, Development Committee Chairman Dave Benson said of the 5½ acres of land "the only way to become successful again is to develop the land into leisure pursuits. We are looking into the possibility of a dry ski slope and an international swimming pool cannot be ruled out."
This never came to fruition. Mobile changing rooms were imported from Tottenham and the referee had a caravan. However, a floodlit, hard surface five-a-side pitch was built.
The cost of the move to Emerald Park saw the Greens in financial difficulties once more and this had an effect on the field. League runners up in 1983 and Senior Cup winners a year later signalled the end of a winning period in the clubs history.
Following the move Gorleston were £150,000 in debt and it was only considerable good will from the bank and other creditors that kept the club afloat.
The next few seasons saw the Green's fortunes dip as they could no longer afford to pay for the top players and had to rely on local lads playing for fun. Subsequently, they were relegated to the first division in 1993/94. In the 1994/95 season the Greens missed promotion by two points and were finalists in the Norfolk Senior Cup. But, they bounced back the next season to the Premier Division after winning the Jewson League Division one title.
Sadly the end of the 2004-05 season saw Gorleston relegated again to the Ridgeons First, where they still remain.
The Greens last trophy was the 2001 Norfolk Senior Cup which they won by beating arch-rivals Yarmouth 4-0.
Former Norwich City Vice-Chairman, Jimmy Jones, has just finished his second spell as Chairman at Emerald Park. Since he returned he has overseen the continued rebuilding of the club, on and off the field, with Emerald Park currently being developed into a stadia with facilities up to Conference standard. Plans are now in the pipeline for a new main stand. Jimmys services were recognised in the Queens 2009 Birthday Honours list when she awarded him an MBE.
Brick changing rooms have been erected and seating installed around the ground. A new hospitality suite has opened and new 'dugouts' were incorporated into the stand. The clubhouse has been succesfully rebuilt following a serious fire. A canteen has opened aptly named 'The Emerald Cafe' and the club boost it's own Sports Injury Clinic. In December 2002 the Greens opened a new Club Shop selling hats, scarves, badges, T Shirts, Ties and a range of programmes.
In 2009, following the death of Bert 'Sailor' Brown the club named on of its stands 'The Sailor Brown Stand'.