Club History

Club History

ashford united

In April 1930, Sir Charles Iggleden (then Editor of the Kentish Express) presided over a meeting to form a senior football club in Ashford and subsequently applied to compete in the Kent League, Kent Senior Cup and the FA Cup. Ashford Town was elected to the Kent League in 1930 and finished their first season in an impressive sixth position. It was around then that the club acquired its nickname of the ‘Nuts and Bolts’ as many of the members were drawn from the ranks of skilled engineers in the railway works.

The following year the club moved to Essella Park. It was the sale of this ground in the mid 1980’s that enabled the purchase and development of the present ground at Homelands, named after the farm which originally occupied the site, four miles south of the town centre, and with easy access to the M20.
Despite being champions of the Kent League in the 1948/49 season, it was cup football that has provided the greater success. Town reached the FA Cup First Round proper as a Kent League side in 1958-59 losing 1-0 to Crystal Palace, in front of a ground record of 6,525 spectators. In the 1960′s Town reached the first round of the Cup on four occasions, falling to league sides every time. Further honours arrived with success in the Kent Senior Cup in 1959 and 1963.
In 1972-73 Town reached the semi-finals of the FA Trophy, losing to Scarborough by a penalty goal. The following year Ashford finished third in the league when Alan Morton set the club scoring record of 46 goals from 69 games, which still stands today and is unlikely to be beaten.

The club earned promotion to the Premier Division of the Southern League in the 1986/87 season, at a time when the new ground at Homelands was being built. The final game played at Essella Park was a draw with Dorchester which ensured both teams gained promotion. The next two seasons saw ground sharing at Folkestone, whilst the new stadium was built. Sadly the first season at Homelands ended in disappointment as the club was relegated.

During the 1990’s then manager, Neil Cugley, produced an entertaining and successful side which gained promotion back to the Premier Division in 1995/6 and, as a highlight, drew an FA Cup First Round tie against Fulham then captained by Micky Adams. A capacity crowd of 3,300 packed into Homelands and Sky TV screened the highlights of the game. The result was a credible 2-2 draw and a replay at Craven Cottage. Again they impressed their League hosts and took the game to extra time with Fulham ending up winning 5-3.

The following year, Ashford defeated Dagenham & Redbridge in the first round and then drew Watford away in the second round; losing 5-0. The season ended poorly, with a finishing position of 18th and the club was only saved from relegation by the resignation of Sudbury.
Several managers then came and went with varying degrees of success until Don Crosbie and TonyBetteridge took over as owners. Their first appointment was Clive Walker who was then replaced as  manager by Steve Lovell.

After a major falling out at boardroom level, Ashford Town future was in the balance 08/09 & 09/10 season. This falling out had a large effect on the team, seeing many of the players that pushed the play offs leaving and Steve Lovell only just putting together a squad that battled, successfully, to stay in the Ryman South. This valiant effort was in vain though, as the boardroom split reached a peak and ended up in the courts. This was ultimately resolved with Ashford Town FC being put into Administration and Tony Betteridge purchasing the club from the Administrator.

Ashford Town now look to the future, with Mr Betteridge the sole owner of the Club, and a Board made up of local football enthusiasts. The boardroom battle consigned to the rather turbulent history of Ashford Town FC.