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Club History

THATCHAM TORNADOES FOOTBALL CLUB

Life Vice President: F.Richardson.
Honary Life Members: P.S.Allen, W.Richardson, J.A.Thomas, R.Partridge, A.G.Taylor, V.G.Gabriel, P.D.Dore, R.Read, B.L.S.Way, D.Quaintance, B. Wheeler, Mrs D.M.Read, D.F.Sword, G.Sturmey, D.Campion, L.Clark, C.Metcalfe, B.Miller, D.Southgate, D.Harragan, S.Farley

Chairman: Graham Bartlett.
Hon Secretary: Steve Corcoran
Hon Treasurer: Gary Brooker
Fixtures Secretary: Kelsey & Paul Buxey
Director of Coaching: Colin Metcalfe
Committee Members: Alan Wells, Andrew Prior, Andy Rogers, Abi Witting, Karen Harrison, Peter Walker

In 1970, there was no organised football in the local area and the boys of Thatcham were left to organise themselves on the Memorial Playing Fields. During the next year following the formation of an Under 14 league in Newbury the boys including their sons approached Roy and Debbie Read and persuaded them to form a Club and Thatcham Tornadoes were born in 1971. This team featured John Goddard a prolific forward who later went on to play many a season and also manage Thatcham Town Football Club. Another player was the late Steve Vaughan who captained Thatcham Cricket Club until his untimely death in 1986.

In 1972 an Under 12 team was formed and this brought Mike Gabriel into the Club and his father Bill. Bill became one of the all time stalwarts of Tornadoes initially as a manager, then Treasurer and Secretary. With no coach for the team, a young Tony Wimbush was approached and he became club coach and took Junior and Intermediate coaching badges over the next two years before becoming a manager himself. The Under 12 team finished third in their first season, the champions Bear Hill in Andover included Nigel Spackman in their team and he scored both goals in a memorable 2 - 2 draw at the Memorial Fields. He later went on to have a successful professional career. Under 12 and Under 14 teams were again run in the 1973/1974 season with the Under 12s under the guidance of managers Jack Thomas and Stan Money becoming Champions. Mike Gabriel and Paul Chadwick scored over 70 goals between them that season. In 1974 to accommodate the boys moving up both Under 13 and Under 15 sides were formed and the club effectively doubled in size. In the Under 15 side that year was Gary Richardson who later went on to become a BBC television boxing commentator. His father Fred, another Tornadoes stalwart, also joined the club this year as Under 15 manager. In 1975 the Under Thirteens managed by Tony Wimbush reached the clubs first major final the Hampshire Cup Final and lost 5 - 4 after extra time at The Dell the then home of Southampton Football Club in front of almost 1500 spectators. They were in fact leading 4 - 3 with two minutes of extra time left only for their Southampton based opponents to score twice in the final minute ! Some well known local names represented the Club in this match:- Clifford Eden, David Thomas, Peter Saville, Neil Birrell, Andrew Morgan, Jon Stirland, Lester Hunt, Mike Gabriel, Paul Chadwick, Keith Fisher, Graeme Gourlay, Nigel Warwick and David Barr.

Within a few years there were teams starting as young as Under Nines right through to Under Fifteens and in those early years Tornadoes played their home matches in Newbury, Cold Ash, Midgham and as far away as Padworth due to the lack of suitable facilities in Thatcham at that time.

The Club held their first Six-a-side tournament in 1975 and the winners awards were presented by Reading Football Club player Tommy Youlden. The first Club Presentation evening was held at the end of the 1975/1976 season with Queens Park Rangers goalkeeper Phil Parkes as the guest.

By the mid eighties Tornadoes had grown into West Berkshire’s largest boys’ football club, providing football for over 250 boys and it was also one of the most respected boys’ football clubs in the South of England.

Once "The Moors" playing fields off Lower Way became available for use it became the home of Thatcham Tornadoes and remains so to this day for our younger teams playing small sided football and also to our youngest eleven a side teams. Other eleven a side home matches are now played at Henwick Worthy and the Club also has exclusive use of one pitch on Sundays and a second pitch for Sunday afternoons at "The Park", Douai Abbey for the older teams. There are also four small sided pitches at "The Park".

During the Club’s history the prestigious Hampshire Youth Cup has been secured on no fewer than four occasions. This is no small achievement as normally well over one hundred teams enter each age group per season from all Clubs affiliated to the Hampshire Youth Football Association. The Cup was first secured in the 1985/1986 season by Dave Beasley's Under Sixteens. The second occasion was in 1992/1993 Season when Dave Campions’ Under Tens triumphed. During the 1996/1997 Season there were two successes with both Graham Bartlett’s Under Twelves and Mick Field’s Under Tens lifting the trophy within weeks of each other.

The 1999-2000 Season saw Tony Lawsons' Under Sixteens win the Berks & Bucks Cup for the first time in the Club's history. Congratulations to all of the players involved in those squads !

The Club has achieved League Title and League Cup successes on too many occasions to mention here but congratulations go to all of those players also !

In 1991 Thatcham Tornadoes Boys F.C. became Thatcham Tornadoes Boys and Girls F.C. with the formation of the first all girl squad within the Club. Sadly there is no longer an all girl squad in the Club although there are girl members amongst our small-sided squads.

In 1995 Tornadoes resurrected their annual Six-a-side Tournament which with thanks to Thatcham Town F.C. for allowing them to use their fine facilities, has become one of the best tournaments in the area accepting entries from Under Sevens through to Under Fourteens.

In the Summer of 1997 the Club introduced a "Nursery" squad for boys and girls of Under Seven allowing them to participate in weekly skills training which culminated in their participation in Six-a-side competitions during the Summer of 1998. This proved to be a huge success with over forty members enrolling during the first season and the trend continues. Since then the local leagues have introduced small sided football for teams as young as Under Sevens with the emphasis "on fun" allowing them to experience "matches".

With the introduction of the younger age group Tornadoes now boasts in the region of 300 members with teams from Under Seven to Under Eighteen.

In 2003 Thatcham Tornadoes Boys & Girls F.C. became Thatcham Tornadoes Football Club. This change of name was made for simplicity. Girls are very welcome at the club, as members of our small-sided mixed squads they play in mixed teams up to the age of Under Eleven, after which they can form their own teams.

Late 2003 we set about an improvement program which culminated in us achieving the FA Charter Standard Award as a Development Club. The award was granted in June 2004 with the presentation taking place at the Madjeski Stadium in front of a crowd of 20,000.

Further progress in 2005 saw the club attain Charity Status.

Due to its growing success the annual Six-a-side Tournament was moved to Kennet School, Thatcham in 2006 allowing the number of available pitches to be increased.

Graham Bartlett
Club Chairman

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