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History

History

Founded in 1962 by pupils from St Wilfrids school which was predominantly biased towards Rugby football, Oakwood FC took its name from the estate where the school was situated.

After three seasons competing against other local school teams, it was decided that the club was established enough to apply to join the Crawley and District Football League for the 1966/67 season.

The Oaks worked their way up through the Divisions and after 5 years had reached C&DFL Division 1. During the 1972/73 season the club reached the Sussex FA Junior Cup Final losing 1-0, and were again runners up in the same competition the following season to the same score-line.

However by the time they had reached their second consecutive County Final, they had been crowned Crawley League Division 1 Champions and Winners of the Crawley Senior Cup.

By 1980 the club was beginning to re-structure and joined the Southern Counties Combination League, where they finished a creditable 4th in the first season, and incredibly runners up the following year also winning the league Cup.

1983 was an important milestone that saw the club purchase its present home at Tinsley lane, Oakwood Park, and begin to lay the foundations for the future. With the extension of the Sussex County Football League by introducing a Third Division for season 1984/85, the club were accepted on application and emerged as Champions at the first attempt.

After promotion and adjusting to life in Division 2 the club finished third during their third year, and should have missed promotion as the old ruling was two down two up.

However promotion was granted to Division 1 as Bexhill Town, who had finished as runners up, did not have adequate facilities for the top Division at that time. Unfortunately Oaks found life very difficult and were relegated after just one season.

Another landmark event for the club was the installation of the floodlights for the 1989/90 season, presenting further evidence of the desire to be involved in staging top flight football. This seemed to give a fresh impetus to the team who finished the season as runners up, ironically to Bexhill Town.

Some consolation was gained though with the first senior trophy for the club in the shape of the Division 2 cup, where they defeated Stamco 2-1 in the final.

1990/91 saw the Oaks back in Division 1 and with a sense of optimism, but with too many clubs competing for too little local talent, some of the previous seasons squad chose to depart, and a closing place of ninth fell below expectations.

A tough season 1991/92 ended with a slip to 14th, before 1992/93 saw a steady climb back up to 8th. 1993/1994 was a memorable season which saw the club reach the final of the Sussex Senior Cup, played at the old Goldstone Ground, former home to Brighton & Hove Albion.

Two notable scores along the way were against Isthmian League teams beginning with the 2-0 home victory over Worthing Town, a team that included the former Irish world Cup star and player/manager Gerry Armstrong.

The result ended Worthings unbeaten run of thirteen games! That was followed by a 2-1 semi-final win against Bognor Regis Town, played at Queen Street, Horsham, which set up an all County League Final clash, an occasion not witnessed often in recent memory. Oaks opponents were a very strong Wick team at the time who took the honours with a 3-1 win.

There then came a period of struggle which resulted in relegation back into Division 2 at the end of the 1996/97 term after six years in the top Division. With numerous developments being undertaken throughout the region, the on-going saga to find a new home continued, as the present facility dates back to the early fifties.

A move to recruit new talent on the field was needed, and at the end of season 2001-2002 an approach was made to neighbours TSC who were making headway in County Division three but about to lose the use of their facilities.

Both parties agreed and for the start of the 2002/2003 season the rejuvenated club took to the campaign narrowly missing out on promotion by finishing fourth, and the following seasons fifth placing was regarded as a disappointment.

However the club reached two cup semi-finals and the last eight of the Sussex Senior Cup with the playing surface beginning to repay the hard work and money lavished on it over the two summers since the amalgamation.
Allied to the progress made to the playing surface the committees efforts off the field were recognised with the granting of the English National FAs Club Charter Standard award. To date we are the only club to have been awarded the Charter for both Adult and Youth sections independently.

This represented another major leap forward and enabled the club to enter an under 18s squad into the prestigious Southern Youth League, home to some of the best talent around where clubs within the National League pyramid system are to be found.

Widely accepted as one of the best around the Sussex County, The Oakwood Youth Section incorporates some 22 teams to date, ranging from FA Approved mini-soccer age groups from 6-10, through to FA Approved 11-a-side football from age groups 11-16.

In fact there are more than twenty club coaches several managing within the youth section, at least twelve qualified at level 1, five at level 2 and three at level 3, and one coach in his final year for obtaining a UEFA A license which would mean he would be able to coach at a professional level.

By forging links with recognised coaching organisations there is always potential for players to progress through the system at Oakwood and become involved at professional clubs.

Last year three players who started in the Oakwood Youth Section were awarded professional scholarships with Crystal Palace, Milton Keynes Dons and Brentford respectfully, and so far this year one player has been given a one year apprenticeship with Brighton & Hove Albion.

Bridging the gap from youth to senior football Oakwood has now embarked upon an ambitious local school link programme currently re-forging links with its roots of origin at St Wilfrids School, to continue the clubs long standing association with the people of Crawley.

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