Marlow United were formed in 1977 and entered the Wycombe & District Football League for the 1977/78 season. They began life in the Fifth Division at a time when local Saturday football in the Wycombe area was booming. They had a reasonably successful time finishing second and also losing out in the Subsidiary Cup Final to former ground hosts Flackwell Heath F.C. The following season saw the team promoted to the Second Division which resulted again in coming second. However along with close neighbours Marlow Rangers, United were expelled from the league due to the member clubs voting both Marlow teams out of the league, for Rangers it meant extinction but for United it was a catalyst.
With the Wycombe League kicking off the 1979/80 season for the first time in its history without any Marlow clubs in membership, United had applied and successfully joined the Pages East Berks Football League. This particular season proved one of the most successful periods in the clubs short history, Manager Geoff Turner had cleverly exploited Marlow Rangers demise and introduced three senior players to bolster what was then a very young team, average age 17. United went on to win the Championship and Berks & Bucks Junior Cup in a thrilling and controversial final at Wallingford, beating Steventon Sports 2-0. That same season United reached two other semi-finals but found 14 matches in 21 days too hot to handle with a limited sized squad. The following 1980/81 season was a dull affair for Marlow as they found it difficult to rise to the previous seasons efforts and a poor mid table spot was all they could muster. Graham Pritchard took the helm midway through the season and finally got the team back on song during the 1981/82 season when they magnificently went through the season unbeaten in the league, but still finished second! albeit on goal difference to a capable Bracknell Boys Cub team (now defunct). They also reached the League Cup Final but went down to a shock extra-time defeat to Cox Green (Also now defunct) at Bracknell Town F.C.
United returned to the Wycombe League in 1982/83 and with them they brought a reserve team. During this season they came second in the First Division. Again difficulties with the Wycombe League resulted in United failing to gain promotion and the 1983/84 season saw them appear again in the First Division, but this time they went one better winning the First Division Championship at a canter along with the reserve team who won the Third Division Title. The 1984/85 season saw United promoted directly to the Senior Division, and what a season with Marlow clinching the title with an emphatic last game of the season at Stocklake (Aylesbury) by 6-0. The reserves also won the Third Division Title. The 1985/86 season saw United come within a whisker of retaining their title but fell to third following a final day defeat. Some consolation was gained however winning the League Cup and a first ever Wycombe Senior Cup Final at Loakes Park going down 3-1 to Chesham United. The reserves made an appearance at York Road winning the Maidenhead Junior Cup by 2-0 over East Bracknell (now defunct). A fundamental decision was made during this season and United joined the Premier Division of the then Reading & District Football League for the 1987/88 season. It was also at this time that Graham Pritchard ended his successful spell at the club moving on to Wooburn Athletic F.C.
Geoff Turner returned to take the helm at United and a reasonable fourth place was bettered by a tremendous 2-1 Maidenhead Senior Cup Final victory over Wokingham Town (now defunct) at York Road.
Marlow achieved runners up spot under Geoff Turner in the Premier Division during the 1989/90 season which enabled promotion to the Senior Division. The Reading & District Football League & Reading Combination amalgamated and in 1990 became known as the Reading Football League with its Senior Division taking on Step 7 status in the FA National League System. Marlow United FC are joint founder members of this league. United had an insignificant spell between 1990 and 1996 although they did finish 4th in the 93/94 season but then in 95/96 were relegated to the Premier Division where they spent four years before finally winning promotion as Premier Division Champions under the guidance of manager Kevin Carvell. During the same season they reached the final of the BTC Senior Cup losing out on penalties at the magnificent Madejski Stadium. United however were gaining respect fast as a blend of talented youngsters average age 16 were supported by some seasoned semi-pros and the first whispers of 'young guns' were heard throughout the league. United spent a couple of seasons adapting to the Senior Division but it was noticeable that they were growing into a force to be reckoned with and they finished third in season 2003/04 before launching themselves at the league in 2004/05 where they went on to become the only side from Bucks to ever win the Reading Football League Championship clinching the title against Cookham Dean. just three days earlier they had lost in yet another BTC Senior Cup Final at Madejski Stadium to local rivals Cookham Dean. United held on to their championship until the final 15 minutes of the 2005/06 season before finally relinquishing it albeit on goal difference, again to Cookham Dean. Yet another final appearance at the Madejski Stadium ended in heartbreak as they went down in the Reading Evening Post Senior Cup Final to Ascot United. But while United suffered they still attained the crowning glory of achieving promotion to Division One East of the Sport Italia Hellenic League, which was made possible two years previous when they embarked on a ground share agreement with Flackwell Heath FC which meant leaving their spiritual home of Gossmore Lane probably never to return.
The 2006/07 season kicked off in bright sunshine as United took their place at Step 6 of the FA National League System, Prestwood FC were their first ever opposition at this level and Marlow ended up with an emphatic 3-0 victory with Aaron Clarke scoring their first ever goal at this level, which will undoubtedly form one of the questions in future years in the towns pub quizzes. United created yet another first in the club's history when they took the field in the blazing heat at Wilks Park on Sunday 16 September as they made a historic first ever appearance in the FA Vase, a thrilling match saw them triumph over Wessex League Premier team Bournemouth FC by 2-1 in front of a crowd of 161. Although United were to lose 2-1 in the next round they still earned the accolade of 'FA Vase team of the round' for their giant killing exploits over Bournemouth FC.
Due to various cup exploits United were destined to play catch up in the league and much of the season was spent in the lower regions, however an agonising semi-final defeat in the Berks & Bucks Intermediate Cup Semi-Final kick started a surge up the table as Marlow exploited there games in hand to good effect, eventually finishing a creditable 7th. However yet more heartache was awaiting at the Madejski Stadium as United made their fourth appearance and crashed to defeat yet again in a second consecutive Reading Senior Cup Final, this time against Highmoor Ibis.
During the close season United, excitingly, inherited a youth team hereafter known as Marlow United Youth which was a great stride for both the senior and youth teams.
The 2007-08 season kicked off with much excitement as United made a famous first ever appearance in the FA Cup being the smallest and financially restricted club ever to appear in the competition. A narrow 2-1 defeat to Cove at Wilks Park could not hide the pride that was evident as United stepped on to the pitch with their youth team counterparts. This was followed by a victory in the FA Vase as United overcame Buckingham Athletic to progress to the 1st Round, yet another first in the clubs history. The match against Lymington Town however was one of frustration as United were held 1-1 in a game they should have won. The replay was different affair however as Marlow were blown away in a second half flurry by 5-1. United's league season however was progressing nicely and while this form was not transferred to the Reading Senior Cup significantly United progressed in this competition however unconvincingly. Christmas saw United head Division One East although Chalfont Wasps had many games in hand but the honour of Christmas number one went to Marlow. Alarmingly however United went on a run against the lower placed teams and points were dropped and it appeared that any aspirations United had of league honours were unfounded. A quarter final place in both the Reading Senior Cup and HL Supplementary Cup were secured and United's league form improved and Easter was to prove the turning point in their season as challengers Holyport and Englefield Green Rovers were blown away in the space of 48 hours to put United firmly in second spot. The visit of champions Chalfont Wasps was the defining moment as a hard earned 2-0 victory clinched promotion to the Hellenic League Premier Division. A stuttering 4-2 defeat at Ardley United saw Marlow exit the Supplementary Cup but an equally stuttering 2-1 victory over Woodcote saw United progress to a fifth consecutive Reading Senior Cup Semi-Final appearance where they staggered past RFL Premier Division outfit Frilsham on penalties. A few days later United came up against newly crowned Reading Football League Champions Westwood where an 85th minute Lewis Brown winner saw United at last lay to rest the Madejski jinx by 1-0. With United's reserves winning the Reading Junior Cup and climbing to runners up spot in the RFL Premier Division it ended a wonderful season with the Youth team also winning the Bucks Free Press Junior League 4th Division. The topping on the cake came with the news that United were to appear in the Berks & Bucks Senior Trophy. Yet another first for the flying blues.
United's Premiership campaign began 12 August 2008 at Wilks Park recording a hard earned 0-0 draw against Kidlington but this was nothing compared to their next match against mighty Hungerford Town at the Bullpit in the FA Cup where a magnificent backs to the wall performance saw United earn yet another 0-0 draw to force a replay at Wilks Park where against all the odds they forced extra time before ending the affair locked at 2-2. United's penalty shootout triumph will long live in the memory of those who were there that evening. A first home defeat at the hands of Hook Norton by 1-0 was followed up with another mouth-watering FA Cup clash against an even mightier Beaconsfield SYCOB of the Ryman League and United fell 1-0 after another magnificent effort this time at Holloway Park where but for an appalling decision not to allow a last minute equalising goal that had clearly crossed the line United may have gone on to produce an even bigger shock than which they had enjoyed in the previous round.
United endured a torrid September crashing out of the FA Vase and recording defeat after defeat until 23 September where they recorded their first ever Premier Division victory 2-0 over Woodstock Town who had also enjoyed promotion the previous season. The month however ended on a high as United knocked out Abingdon Town away in their debut in the Berks & Bucks Senior Trophy.
October opened well defeating Old Woodstock Town 3-1 away to record a first ever 'double' which was quickly followed up by a similar victory away to Bicester Town, United were on a roll and on Tuesday 14 October found themselves 'away' to Flackwell Heath recording a historic 3-2 victory. However if United ever needed reminding of the gulf between the top four or so teams at this level they got it at the hands of Almondsbury Town falling to a thumping 0-4 home defeat where in truth United were lucky to get nil. Despite this and a further narrow set back at Witney United Marlow advanced in the floodlit cup and could be reasonably satisfied with their fate to date. By the end of November United's growing reputation as a more than capable team grew as further advancement in the floodlit cup was topped by a stunning 3-2 victory over Witney United in the league cup. A mixed bag of league results saw Marlow continue to pick up valuable points.
December proved to be a wakeup call and presented United with the blackest month in the clubs history where a relatively small unpaid amateur squad was exposed to the full might of the divisions big hitters, United scored just one goal in the month in a Reading Senior Cup defeat at home to Henley Town while conceding 27 including three 6-0 home and way thrashings and suddenly everything at the blues was far from rosy as they found themselves languishing in the relegation zone. That they escaped relegation with relative comfort is a massive compliment to the squad of the day, that they did it with such aplomb was astounding.
January saw a weather disrupted period which in fact came to the rescue of a depleted United squad suffering through injuries and simple fatigue but and despite a narrow 1-0 quarter final defeat at the hands of Flackwell Heath in the Berks & Bucks Senior Trophy United went through the month collecting valuable points before facing Cheltenham in the quarter final of the Floodlit Cup in February where the recorded a fine 3-2 victory and signing the month off with a tremendous 2-0 triumph at Wantage Town.
If December was a black month then March was the shining light kicking the month off with a stunning 0-6 victory at Bicester Town and a semi final triumph at cup holders Kidlington 2-0 to seal a place in the final at Hungerford Town against Hungerford Town who they had so nobly knocked out of the FA Cup earlier in the season but succumbed to two heavy league defeats since by 3-0 and 5-2 respectively. 6 invaluable league points had been picked up in the month but United's crowning glory came on the very last day of the month when they yet again stepped out at the Bullpit to face mighty Hungerford Town, current league leaders and destined to be champions. That Marlow took their hosts to extra time and then went a step further to seal the match 3-2 in open play to lift the cup will forever be etched into United's history no matter what else they may achieve.
So on to league survival and this was achieved on 28 April in the most satisfactory manner recording a double over landlords Flackwell Heath with a fine 2-0 victory capped by one of the most stunning goals ever likely to be scored at Wilks Park by Lewis Browne and so on to the 2009/10 season but the writing was already on the wall......
Having played 62 competitive matches the previous season and knowing what was to come United entered the 2009/10 season with some trepidation. The football club, resources stretched to breaking point, simply were not equipped financially to cope with the demands of Hellenic League Premier Division football and an early away midweek draw to Almondsbury Town (Bristol) was the straw that effectively broke United's back with an early FA Cup and FA Vase exits at home to Hallen and away to Melksham Town respectively thwarting any hopes of a financial lifeline through these competitions. United produced a mixed bag of results throughout August and September with the headline result of beating Witney United away 2-1. Into October and drawn to play Almondsbury Town in defence of the floodlit cup won so magnificently the previous season saw the Bristol based club edge United by 4-3 in a thrilling encounter.
The rest of what was to prove to be United’s last season in the Hellenic League was a mixed bag but that included a 1-0 Reading Senior Cup Semi Final defeat to Westwood United and as the season drew to a close United suffered like they had never suffered before accentuated by a final defeat by Ardley United to the tune of 10-0! For all of this Marlow had avoided relegation before eventually throwing a lifeline to Fairford Town as United confirmed their withdrawal from the league.
United as a football club were tottering of that that there was no doubt. Long serving player manager Kevin Carvell moved on to Holyport and it was left to Gary Wiltshire to gather the reins and pull United back from the brink.
United left the National Pyramid System to join the Premier Division of the Reading Football League. One major plus for Marlow was the move to Bisham Abbey boasting some of the best playing surfaces in the country.
Its not an exaggeration to suggest that Wiltshire’s baptism into management was a real baptism of fire as the nucleus of United’s first team left for pastures new as in time honoured tradition many players moved to other clubs. A decision was made to consolidate both first team and reserve team squads which meant effectively folding the reserve team. So it was, that United embarked on the 2010/11 season. Things started well winning 5 out of 5 matches in a frantic opening spell but then United fell away. Although this was more to the fact that an outstanding South Reading team proved a cut above Premier Division football and won the league at a gallop. United finished a creditable fourth but also reached yet another semi final of the Reading Senior Cup just missing out on a final spot on penalties following a heroic 0-0 after extra time draw against Hellenic League Premier Division club Flackwell Heath.
Due to the Reading Football League wishing to increase the number of clubs in the senior division United were thrown a lifeline and promoted back up to step 7 re-joining the National Pyramid System.
With returning players United embark on the 2011/12 season with some confidence. This confidence was justified as United finished in 4th spot while losing out in the semi final of the BTC Senior Cup to South Reading 2-0. With the conclusion of the season came the resignation of Gary Wiltshire. Gary who had led United out of its darker times had decided he had taken things as far as he could and stepped aside for Nick Flint to take the helm and lead United into the 2012/13 season.........
The 2012/13 season began with much promise as new manager Nick Flint pulled together a talented group of players who at one stage during the season threatened to sweep all before them. The season was disrupted by as severe conditions as had been experienced in a number of years and United's championship challenge, disappointingly fell away. However two cup finals at the Madejski Stadium kept the smile on United faces winning the Berkshire Trophy Senior Cup 2-0 over South Reading while narrowly losing out to Wokingham & Emmbrook 2-1 in the Reading Senior Cup Final. Another notable achievement was Adam Dickens scoring 46 goals for the club which is a club record for one season.
Thames Valley Football League » Premier Division
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Last updated Saturday 20th December, 11:30