HISTORY OF WELTON ROVERS
Welton Rovers were one of the founding members of the Western Football League. The club itself being formed in 1887 and throughout the years has achieved success both at local and regional level. Welton provided a chance for the local people of the Midsomer Norton and Radstock areas to forget their hard lives, many as coal miners in the local Somerset coalfield and escape and either play or support their local team playing at West Clewes at Welton.
Early club history
Founded in 1887, Welton Rovers provided the opportunity for the mining community of Midsomer Norton and Radstock to play and watch football. One of a number of long-established clubs in the North Somerset coalfield, their ground, West Clewes, is the oldest in the area.
Welton Rovers joined the Western League in 1903–04, along with near neighbours Radstock Town and in 1906–07 they won the Somerset Junior Cup for the first time, sharing it with fellow finalists Camerton after a replay. They also won the league title for the first time in 1911–12, losing only two games and finishing four points ahead of Barry District. In 1911–12 they won the Somerset Senior Cup, a trophy they retained for the next two seasons.
On their return to football after the Great War, Welton won their fifth Somerset Senior Cup but unfortunately in 1922–23 after finishing as runners up by two points to Weymouth, went into liquidation. The ground at West Clewes was sold to the Miners Welfare and it was only the generosity of local miners’ contributions that enabled the club to stay in existence.
The club rejoined the League in 1924–25 and throughout the remainder of the 1920s achieved high league placings without adding another championship. They did, however, win the Somerset Senior Cup in 1924–25 and again the following season.
The 150 seat grandstand at West Clewes was built just before the Second World War but when football resumed afterwards, Welton finished bottom of the single division league in 1945–46. The following season was notable for the havoc caused by the weather with only two of the 31 clubs in the League completed their fixtures. Welton, in Division One, completed only 20 games out of 34 and were relegated. They remained in Division Two until 1959–60, when they finished as champions, four points ahead of Stonehouse. In 1960–61 they again won the Somerset Senior Cup, and retained it for the following two seasons. In 1961–62 Rovers played all their home games at nearby Radstock Town, while the pitch at West Clewes was levelled.
Return to professionalism
The return to professional status and the arrival of former Huddersfield Town and Bristol City striker Arnold Rodgers as manager led to a period of unprecedented success in the mid-1960s. They won the Championship on three successive occasions: in 1964–65 they finished three points ahead of Bideford; in 1965–66 they finished eleven points clear of Portland United; and in 1966–67 they were five points ahead of Minehead.
In 1964–65 Welton also reached the first round proper of the FA Cup, losing to Weymouth after a replay. In 1965–66 Welton Rovers were unbeaten for the entire league season, Ian Henderson scored a club record 53 goals (including six hat-tricks) and on 11 September 1965 Welton won 10–0 at Dorchester Town.
The following season Welton again reached the first round proper of the FA Cup, losing 3–0 at Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic. However financial problems affected the club and Rodgers departed to Bath City, followed by ten players. With the decline of the coal industry at this time (the last coal was mined in 1975), the Miners Welfare donated the ground to the local authority for continued use for football and since then, Welton have leased West Clewes from the local council.
After a number of mid table finishes, in 1973–74 the club, now managed by former Bristol Rovers player David Stone, won their fifth championship by a single point from Taunton Town. However, a long period of decline followed, culminating in relegation at the end of the 1981–82 season and it took six years to regain their Premier Division status. This was achieved when Steve Coles led the club to the First Division championship in 1987–88, finishing a single point ahead of Chard Town.
The Modern Era
Their status was lost again with relegation in 1991–92 until 1999–2000 when, under manager Adrian Britton, Welton returned to the Premier Division, finishing as runners up to unbeaten Devizes Town. Since then they have maintained their status and with new manager Chris Mountford, 2005–06 was the most successful season since the 1970s, ending with a fourth place finish. In June 2007 part of the main stand was damaged by fire.
At the end of the 2007–08 season, Chris Mountford left the club and was replaced by a new managerial team at the helm of Welton Rovers, of Mark Harrington (ex-Bath City and Paulton Rovers) and assistant Graham Colbourne. After rebuilding the squad with the addition of 11 new players Welton finished the season a commendable 8th in the league table while reaching the semi-finals of two cup competitions.
In anticipation of the 2009–10 season, Harrington made wholesale changes to the first-team squad with Gary Banks, Lee Bryant, Timmy Thompson, Danny Maye and Ollie Edwards joining the club to assist with Welton's push for improvement.
The 2009–10 season saw the first team compete in the top 3 for a large proportion of the season when injuries and suspensions took their toll in early March resulting in a 5th place finish in the league. In the Les Philips League Cup Welton lost 1–0 to an extra time goal in the semi-finals to the eventual winners Hallen.
The pinnacle of the 2009–10 season saw Welton win the Somerset Premier Cup for the first time in the club's history, overcoming Paulton Rovers, Chard Town, Wellington and Yeovil Town on the way to beating Bridgwater Town in the final. The final, at Yeovil Town's Huish Park on Tuesday 4 May 2010, saw the team win 4–2 on penalties after a goalless 90 minutes and extra time.
On May 19, 2010, after a successful season in 2009–10, manager Mark Harrington handed in his resignation as 1st team coach to the bemusement of supporters at the club. The club appointed Mark Leaney at very short notice, and Leaney's squad struggled in the Premier Division before he left the club and handed over to Nick Beaverstock. Unfortunately Welton's fate was sealed and relegation followed.
Beaverstock completed one season in the First Division taking the club to seventh position after a fantastic run in. Sadly Nick could not continue due to work and handed over to former manager Stuart Minall. 2012-13 was a hard season for Welton as they finished sixteenth, however a re-structuring at the club had been agreed with Stuart Minall becoming chairman, Nick Beaverstock returning as first team manager, and a group of new directors arriving in the form of Stuart Rogers, Gareth Paisey (of Los Campesinos! fame) and Clayton Dando. Former first team manager Malcolm Beck also returned to join former Southampton player Andrew Catley as assistant managers.