The club joined the Ashton and District League as the 19th century drew towards a close, but playing standards were declining and the club failed to gain membership of the newly formed Manchester League in 1892. The club were in the wilderness until finally joining the Manchester League some seventeen years later, when a new lease of life was provided by wealthy mill owner, Alderman Kenworthy; James Ingham, captain and goalscorer in the 1885 Manchester Cup triumph was now a committee member and the capable Jim Ferris was appointed club secretary (in the days before managers) – a post he held until the mid-1920s.
Club colours in those early days were black and white stripes and the ‘new’ club was an instant success on the field - only losing the league title after an end-of-season play-off. The following campaign saw the Manchester Junior Cup won and in 1912 the cup was retained as the club also won the Manchester League championship in their final season in the competition (team pictured below).
In 1913 Hurst gained promotion from the 2nd Division of the Lancashire Combination and in 1915 the club finished runners-up in the 1st Division before standing down from competitive action. Hurst did resume playing in 1916-17, going on to win the Lancashire Combination, before standing down again until World War I ended.
In 1918 Hurst resumed playing in the Lancashire Combination with mixed success, a 13-1 club record victory over Marple in February 1919 was recorded but no silverware came to the club for many seasons. Hurst joined the stronger Cheshire League in the 1920s and the current club colours of mainly red shirts began to be adopted. The early years in the Cheshire League were fairly uneventful; the club finished in the top half more frequently than the bottom half of the table but the first post-war trophy wasn’t lifted until 1933, when the Manchester Junior Cup was regained after a gap of 21 years.
Having broken their cup ‘duck’ Hurst then went on to reach four Manchester Challenge Cup finals between 1935 and 1940, winning the trophy in 1936 and 1939. Just before the outbreak of World War II the club secured the services of William "Dixie' Dean (pictured signing for the club below and in club colours left) at the end of his glorious career; alas Adolf Hitler was to deny the folk of Hurst more than a couple of glimpses of Dean's skills and the club's progress was once again interrupted by war.