A History of Football in Wisbech
The 2020-21 season squad. Wisbech Town FC
Organised league football has been played in Wisbech since the 1880s, there were a number of teams at this time, including, in 1892, Wisbech Town FC which played at the Flint House ground and won the Hinchingbrooke Cup in 1895 and 1896. Alfred House took up the mantle of Town team and won the Cambs Challenge Cup (played in a League format) in Season 1903/04. St. Augustine’s reformed and became the dominant force in the town becoming a senior team in Season 19/11/12.
Wisbech Town FC as we know it today began at a meeting on 18 May 1920, when it was agreed that all the local teams should join together. Wisbech Town FC was established in 1920 by the merger of Wisbech Working Men’s Conservative Club, St Josephs and Park Works, and played their first season 1920 – 21.
One hundred years on and Wisbech Town FC is still going from strength to strength and this exhibition has been co-curated with the Wisbech Town FC, the club historian and past players, fans and the current team to celebrate this Centenary year.
In their first year as a club, Wisbech Town FC joined the Peterborough and Lynn leagues and without an official ground, matches were played at Wisbech Park. Under the captaincy of F. Cole, the club enjoyed quite a successful season and by commendable consistency in the lesser of the two leagues in which they were competing, they won the Lynn League with 17 points from ten matches and the Walsoken and Wisbech Charity Cup from Lynn Swifts. Two trophies to grace the club sideboard was not at all a bad performance for their first season.
It was obvious from that first season that Wisbech Town F.C. were going to be a force in Fenland football for many years to come.
Wisbech Town F.C. 1920/21. Newspaper Archive
In the club’s second year, matches were played at Rectory Field. In the season 1922-3, Wisbech Town FC rented a field in Harecroft Road belonging to local landowner Mr Overland. A grandstand was erected to enable more people to watch matches and this stand was still in use by the club up to 1990.
The first of five Peterborough League championships was won in Season 1924/25, the team winning their last eleven games. This season saw the first occasion when Wisbech caused an F.A. Cup upset – beating the Southern Amateur League side Cambridge Town on their own ground by two goals to one.
In season 1927/28 and the following season the Club again won the Peterborough League, and were now being recognised as a ’power’ in East Anglian football.
In early January 1928 the Grandstand at Harecroft Road was damaged in a terrific storm and thanks to Mr. Horace Friend, a true supporter of the Club, the stand was re-erected to its original length, and in addition a glass side was fitted to windward, and the seats were boarded up as a protection against draughts. These improvements were much appreciated and one hopes that all users of the stand who have not yet made their contribution to the fund will do so without delay.
Photo of the grand stand roof from a newspaper report. Newspaper Archive
It was decided by the Wisbech Town Football Club Committee to change the Clubs “Change Colours” from Black & White stripes to Green jerseys. It was the custom then for the home team to change if the colours clashed.
Leading goalscorers for Wisbech in the 1920’s were Cyril Wright with 151 to his credit followed by Ted Cozens with 94. Most appearances came from full-back Joe brown with 258.
Wisbech Town FC in 1928-9. Wisbech & Fenland Museum
The 1930s were an amazing decade for the team, seeing in many changes from the start. The 1930- 31 season Wisbech Town FC came 5th in the table in the Peterborough League., but for the very first time, the team reached the First Round proper of the F.A. Amateur Cup. They played at home against a London side, Hayes to a record-breaking ground capacity of 2500 supporters, but lost 1- 6. At this time the team were known as 'The Poppies', due to the distinctive red and white kit, this name was chosen over ‘the Strawberry Pickers’ and the ‘Canners’, influenced by Wisbech's industries.
The Cambs Challenge Cup was won for the first time this season with an 8 – 2 win over R.A.F. Duxford.
The Wisbech Town FC Supporters Club was established on 30 September 1930 and is still going strong today. Football is very much part of our community with supporters at the heart of the club.
The following season, 1931/32 the Peterborough League was won yet again and a “Cup Double” – the Hinchingbrooke Cup, a 6 – 3 win over St. Neots and a 5 - 2 win over Spalding United to take the Clegg Cup. The afore-mentioned Cup was a very prestigious competition to win and the trophy itself was mentioned as being second only in value to the F.A. Cup.
Winners of the Hinchingbrooke Cup in 1932-3. Wisbech & Fenland Museum
Wisbech Town FC reached the 2nd round of the F.A. Amateur Cup during the 1932-3 season and won four trophies: the Peterborough League title, the Hinchingbrooke Cup, Peterborough Senior Cup and the Wisbech Charity Cup. A record breaking 218 goals were scored this season. Two players, Eddie Youles and Bert Titmarsh scored 119 of the goals between them.
Bert Titmarsh is the record goalscorer for Wisbech Town with 245 goals in total from 278 appearances.
In 1935 the club was elevated from an amateur side to playing semi-professional football and became Wisbech Town Football Club Ltd. The Company subscribers were from the local area and included fruit growers, bulb growers, a Cold Storage Director, farmers, as well as clerks, a Railway Foreman and a School master.
Entry was made into the United Counties League and a Secretary-Coach-Player was appointed. Ex-West Ham player Sam Jennings was appointed in August and the first team was soon getting fit for the new season aided by professional players such as Eddie Earle, Reg Blackham and Jack Jenkinson.
A good start to the season was tempered by the fact that Jennings had no say on the selection of the team, which was being done by a committee formed from the Directors. Some of the team selections amazed the supporters as the committee picked their favourites, even the local Press sympathised with Jennings’ position which unfortunately became untenable.
Third in the United Counties League was an achievement considering the upheaval in mid-season with the local Press giving an opinion that second-place could have been attained if Jennings had stayed,
Eddie Earle with the assistance of Bert Barker took over the management the following season, Earle insisting on having the final say on selection of the team.
The first trophy as a semi-professional club came when the ‘Poppies’ won the United Counties League Cup, held over from last season due to fixture congestion. On Saturday, November 21st, at Harecroft Road, Wisbech defeated Biggleswade Town by three goals to two in the final. However, the club’s tenure on the trophy only lasted three weeks as Stamford won a first round match in early December.
Fourth place in the United Counties League was attained in 1936/37. The club also entered the East Midlands League, which was a supplementary competition to the UCL and finished mid-table.
Mr. Horace Friend donated a cup to be played for and assist the North Cambs Hospital. Lynn Town were the first opposition and a record ‘gate’ of 3,045 watched as Wisbech town became the first holders of the trophy with a 4 – 0 win over their long-time rivals.
Wisbech Town 1936/37 with the North Cambs Hospital Cup. Newspaper Archive
There being no radio or TV coverage in those days, whenever the Town played away both local newspaper offices windows would be surrounded by eager supporters waiting for the result to be posted in the window.
A crowd waiting outside the Wisbech Standard Offices in Nene Quay awaiting the Town’s result to be posted up. Newspaper Archive
A well-known and popular figure in Wisbech, former St. Augustine’s forward and County player Algy Newitt took over as Manager, with Bert Barker as assistant.
Another season of contrasting fortunes on the pitch, the best run so far in the F.A. Cup. Reaching the Fourth Qualifying Round for the first time, losing to Lowestoft Town in a match the ‘Poppies’ dominated, but lost to a dubious penalty. In the United Counties League fourth place once again in a campaign typified by the teams start, one point from the first five matches, then a nine goals to one win at St. Neots. One could never be sure how the team would play!
There was also mediocre performance’s in the East Midlands League through the season; one unfortunate result was a ten goals to four defeat away at Wellingborough.
However, Watford sent a strong team to play the Town for the North Cambs Hospital Cup, a ‘gate’ of 2,000 watched the Football League side win by three goals to nil. Another result of note was a two goals to nil win over Lynn Town at The Walks in a Charity Cup Final in May.
Wisbech Town First XI v Watford 1938/39 Wisbech Town on left. Watford on right. Newspaper Archive
By the end of the 1930's everything began to change with war beginning in Europe. The 1938-9 season was the last full season before the outbreak of World War II.
Crawford Whyte, a full-back from Clapton Orient, was appointed player-manager and efforts are to be made to build a team that will challenge keenly for the championship.
Pre-season training had gone well and there was a feeling of real optimism about the new season which was justified with a sensational start which saw mighty Rushden Town humbled at Harecroft Road by four goals to one. The “Russians” even left a player who failed to board their bus, a wing-half by the name of Bland, who had to hitch-hike the forty odd miles home. The following Saturday Wisbech travelled to Rushden for the return East Midlands League fixture, another sensation, Wisbech returned victorious by five goals to one.
All was looking good for a splendid season; however, the outbreak of War brought an end to the UCL Competition. Wisbech Town and Spalding United were refused admission due to travelling restrictions to a War-time League, which was a fifty-mile radius of Northampton. This league eventually closed down the following January. The East Midlands League also closed down. The Town applied for admission to the Midland League, but this was also refused.
So the Club embarked on a series of friendly matches and one match result of note was three goals to one win over an Army XI who had eight West Ham first-team players in the side.
Eventually admission was gained to the East Anglian Emergency League and the Reserves joined the Peterborough War League. On October 21st the Player – manager left to become an Army P.T. Instructor, he had become a popular figure in the short time he was with the club and had fully justified the Director’s faith in his abilities. Only one team was run from December onwards due to players joining the Armed Forces.
The player making the most appearance in the 1930’s was a very popular school teacher – Bob Harriman with 280 appearances for the first eleven.
For Season 1940/41, the club benefited by the introduction of several Football League players who were serving in the Forces and based locally. The East Anglian Emergency League was entered, the team finishing as runners-up to Cambridge Town. The Peterborough War League did not run.
The East Anglian Cup Final was reached losing by two goals to three to Ford Sports. At the end of May, a Norwich City XI were beaten by nine goals to one in the Hospital Cup. The season went on and as late as June 14th, an RAF XI were beaten by nine goals to nil in a friendly match. Only one match was played the next season before it was decided to end proceedings until hostilities ceased.
After the war
The season’s after the Second World War can rightfully be called the “Glory Years” as the Wisbech Town Football Club enjoyed apparelled success.
Three United Counties League Championships and once runners-up put the “Poppies” on the national football map as the Club prospered. And in this first season after the conflict the Club reached the First Round Proper of the F.A. Cup for the very first time.
In the qualifying rounds, Newmarket Town were the visitor’s in October that year and went away losing 5 – 0, Wild scored four, Hanley the fifth. Wild later signed for Manchester United. Cambridge Town were next and in a bad-tempered game Wisbech won 3 – 1, Hanley, Pownall and an own goal, the first for the Club in 17 years of playing in the competition.
Southern League side Colchester United were the fourth qualifying round opposition and in front of 2,748 spectators they could not match the home side who scored five goals without reply. Pownall 2, Cory 2 & Roberts scored for Wisbech. Communications at that time were not back to normal and the result did not reach F.A. Headquarters in time for the Draw for the First Round. Assuming that the team from a higher status league had won the tie, the F.A. paired Colchester United with Ipswich Town in the First Round. Matters were soon resolved and Wisbech entertained the Division Three (South) club on November 17th 1945. Before a crowd of 4,302 spectators, Wisbech lost the first “leg” by three goals to nil. This was the first game of the season that the team had failed to score. The result was a great disappointment to all Wisbechian’s as well as to the many hundreds who came from all parts of the district. However, Gate and Grandstand receipts for the match soared to the new record of £351 5s 6d (£351- 27½p).
This was the only season the Rounds Proper were played over two legs up to the semi-final stages, so on November 24th the Club met Ipswich Town at Portman Road; 10,598 spectators watched the home side score five without reply.
Despite the lack of away support the “Poppies” finished in third place in the United Counties League and on Saturday October 27th the clubs record score of 18 goals to one was achieved at Harecroft Road over once-mighty Rushden Town, goalscorers in this match were Archie Livingstone 7, Hanley 4, Pownall 3, Roberts 2, Cory and Ken Melton.
In Season 1946/47 the Club appointed ex-Oldham player Bert Blackshaw as Player/manager at a wage of £4 - 00 a week and the team made a tremendous start to their United Counties League campaign, winning the first six matches with a goal difference of 29 for to 7 against. The first defeat was a single goal reverse at Desborough. The return fixture was the following week and revenge was enacted to the tune of seven goals to nil. The Christmas games with Lynn Town were both convincingly won. However, the Linnets took Wisbech to three games in the United Counties League Cup before losing at The Walks before a then record gate of 5,201. Town lost by four goals to one away to Rushden Town in the Final. The F.A. Cup was not entered this season.
In September land in Lerowe Road was purchased for £2,000 for a new football ground and work started in preparation for the next season.
The winter of 1947 was particularly harsh and with many postponements the season was extended until early June and the race for the championship was between Wisbech and Kettering Town Reserves. On May 30th Kettering Reserves beat Holbeach United by eighteen goals to nil which meant that Wisbech had to win by three clear goals in their last match of the season to be played the following Saturday against Eynesbury Rovers.
Wisbech won the championship after winning by five goals to nil in the last-ever first team game at Harecroft Road before a ‘gate’ of 1,628.
Wisbech Town 1946/47. Newspaper Archive
At a Board meeting on Monday evening (July 7th), the Directors of Wisbech Town Football Club agreed on the name for the new ground situated in Lerowe Road. Fenland Park is the name agreed.
Sefton Park, The Fenland Stadium amongst others, had been put forward for the name for the new ground, as work went on throughout the close season to get the pitch and a perimeter fence ready for the first game. The removal of the Grandstand, dressing rooms and other equipment from Harecroft Road had cost the football club over £600 and there had been doubts expressed as to the legality of the Grandstand removal. Plans exist for a new Grandstand with dressing rooms underneath to be built on the opposite side of the ground but a licence to build the structure was refused by the Ministry of War.
The opening match went ahead without due ceremony on Saturday August 30th against Leicester City “A” for whom Hines opened the scoring in the 28th minute before a ‘gate’ of 2,644.
The first Wisbech goal was scored by Manager Bert Blackshaw in the 42nd minute. A three – two defeat was Wisbech Towns only home defeat of the season as they stormed to the United Counties League title in great style. A run of nineteen straight victories in the league with a record ‘gate’ of 5,340 on April 10 against eventual runners-up Brush Sports cheering a three goals to one win to clinch the title.
Two emphatic wins at Easter over neighbours Lynn Town swayed enough members of the Norfolk club to vote for professionalism, which was carried on March 23rd, However, rather than play in the United Counties League, Lynn decided to enter the Eastern Counties League for the following season despite overtures from the Wisbech Board of Directors.
Opening Day team v Leicester City “A”. Newspaper Archive
In early May Chesterfield again sent a strong team to play the Town for the North Cambs Hospital Cup and over 5,000 supporters watched Wisbech match their Football League Division Two opponents and earn a two-all draw.
Wisbech Town with the Hospital Cup 1948. Newspaper Archive
In June Wisbech Town F.C. Directors were called to attend Wisbech Magistrates Court on a charge of unlicensed building work to the value of £1,009 had been carried out at Fenland Park. It was stated that ‘Zeal outran discretion.’
In defence Chairman J.K. Mellor stated that the work had been carried out with second-hand materials and voluntary labour and as such they thought they did not require a license.
However, the Court found Wisbech Town F.C. guilty and imposed a fine of £25 with costs of £5/5/- (£5.25p).
In Season 1948/49 The Club, now known as the Fenmen, were United Counties League runners-up, losing out to Desborough Town by one point, despite a record number of 148 goals scored in League games. In a hectic last four weeks the first team played sixteen games including a benefit match against Norwich City for Bert Blackshaw, who decided to relinquish his player-manager role after breaking his leg in a match at Spalding on April 15th. Over 6,000 spectators paid tribute at this match and Bert remained in the town becoming well known as a physiotherapist at the North Cambs Hospital.
On hearing that it would be doubtful if he would ever play again, Bert Blackshaw donated his football boots to Heinz Tamborski who scored two goals playing with them in the return match with Spalding United.
The Final of the East Anglian Cup was reached losing by a single goal away at Chelmsford. On their way to the final the team accounted for Lynn Town, Cambridge Town and Gorleston.
Bert Blackshaw talking to some Norwich City players and the Referee before his Benefit match. Image credit: Gordon Smith
The Directors of the club moved quickly as to the appointment of a new Manager and ex-West Ham & Sheffield Wednesday wing-half Joe Cockroft was appointed on May 22nd Joe held the record number of 217 consecutive appearances for West Ham and was the first player transferred between the two Sheffield clubs for £6,000. The previous season he had been playing for Peterborough United.
Once again the Championship of the United Counties League was won. An eight-match un-beaten run at the end of the season ensured enough points to stay ahead of challengers Rushden Town and Corby Town.
In the East Anglian Cup Wisbech Town were drawn to play Ipswich Town. Mindful of how well the Fenmen had played when the two clubs met a few seasons ago in the F.A. Cup, Ipswich Town sent a strong team including six first-team players to Fenland Park where the result was a three goals each draw.
At Portman Road, Ipswich Town won by five goals to four in an exciting match. However, winger Peter Dobson had impressed the League Club’s management in both games, with the result that he was transferred to the Suffolk side for £750.
Wisbech Town F.C. 1949/50. Newspaper Archive
At the match at Holbeach in August, play was held up for some time, as a spectator, sitting inside the ropes and almost on the touchline, refused to move when asked. Another spectator eventually moved him – with force!
Leading Goalscorers in 1940’s were Fred Bates with 97 goals followed by Bert Bradshaw with 92. ‘Jockie’ Barr with 165 Appearances topped the Appearances table.
Before taking over the Bowling Green, Joe Cockroft was ‘Mine Host’ at the Angel and the picture below shows players visiting on his first night.
From Left to right: Colin Bunn, Sam Malpass, John Griffiths, Johnny Hutchinson, Dennis Foster, Terry Cockroft, Joe Cockroft, Graham Hood & Clive Bailey. Newspaper Archive
At First team level there was rumblings from the Supporters that the progress the club was making would falter if a higher grade of football was not attained. When the decision had to made, the Midland League, which had been the goal for several years didn’t appear likely to take entrants for the next season, so the Directors decided to enter the Eastern Counties League to whose management the club had to guarantee membership for two seasons. Their application to join the ECL was approved as early as April 2nd; however, the club had not resigned from the United Counties League, planning to play another first eleven in that league.
Ironically, with the furore this decision was to have next season, if the Club Directors had decided to apply for Midland League membership, they most probably would have been elected, as there were three vacancies. Scunthorpe United and Shrewsbury Town were elected to the Football League and Ransome & Marles decided not to seek re-election.
The Fenmen started off their 1950/51 campaign in the new surroundings of the Eastern Counties League with a splendid six goals to one win against Yarmouth Town. Four days later, the first game in the United Counties League was played, a one – all draw at Fenland Park against neighbours March Town.
By now the UCL management committee were not amused as the team that played against March Town was obviously the Reserves, so they referred the matter to the Football Association. The Reserves next fixture was away at Bourne Town, which was played, the game becoming a friendly encounter. In Wisbech Town’s mitigation, it was revealed that the club had twenty-one professional players on the books and were seeking more; and were expecting to do well in the United Counties League.
Despite petitions from Wisbech, the F.A. found Wisbech Town F.C. guilty of not withdrawing the first eleven from the UCL; a fine of £100 was imposed, later reduced to £25 after an appeal and the Reserves were placed in the Peterborough Premier. Also March Town received compensation for the loss of a home fixture.
One club’s representative, commenting on the decision made, stated that the Wisbech Club were attempting to better themselves, and the UCL should be proud of the Club’s efforts and it was a shame that Wisbech were not on the fixture list as most clubs had good attendances when they met the Fenmen.
The ground record up to then of 6,781 spectators in early December witnessed a two goals to one win over Lynn Town in the Eastern Counties League Cup. It was in this competition that the Fenmen reached the final, played at The Walks against Chelmsford City Reserves and only an injury-time equaliser by the Essex side prevented the trophy from making its way to Wisbech. The replay the following Tuesday at Fenland Park also ended in a stalemate with confusion as to whether extra time was to be played or not. Agreement had been reached before the kick-off to no extra time but the spectators were not informed, and with no vacant dates available. It was agreed to play the second replay at Chelmsford at the start of next season.
A view of the Popular Side at Fenland Park before the Fenmen Stand was erected. Newspaper Archive
Season 1951/52 was not a good season for the Club, an ageing side was caught out too often and a six goals to nil home defeat by Kings Lynn was the heaviest defeat for many years. Lynn also defeated the Fenmen by two goals to nil at The Walks in the F.A. Cup. British Rail ran an excursion train for this match; the cost of a return ticket was 1/9d.
However, a single goal from Johnny Hutchinson was enough to take the Eastern Counties League Cup at the third attempt, winning away in the third match against a Chelmsford City Reserve side that included seven first-team players. After a near-faultless performance, goalkeeper Jack Cole was deservedly carried shoulder-high of the pitch by his delighted team-matches.
1951 - 52 players from 1940s- 50s scrapbook. The Alan Balding (1928-2020) collection, Wisbech & Fenland Museum
The Fenmen’s tenure of the Cup didn’t last long, for they were knocked out of the current season’s competition, a fortnight later, by West Ham “A”.
The Wisbech Town football club was honoured by becoming a full member of the Football Association, which was reported in the local newspapers in December.
In the Boxing Day clash with Arsenal “A”, the visitors included in their line-up the well-known Yorkshire and England cricketer Brian Close, but he never impressed with his soccer skills, of which it was said would never compare to his summer sport proficiency.
The news came in June 1952 that the Fenmen had been elected to the Midland League at that organisations a.g.m. Wisbech were not represented at the meeting, which elected Corby Town to membership. It was then pointed out that there was now an odd number of clubs in the League, so Peterborough United proposed Wisbech Town for membership and this was agreed. When the news reached Wisbech that the Club could join, there was no need to call a meeting. The Club was in!
Letter from the Midland Counties Football League confiming Wisbech Town F.C.'s election to the League. Image credit: Gordon Smith
However, on July 12th it was announced that Dave Lindsay, ex-St. Mirren, Luton Town and Barnsley defender had been appointed player-manager and preparations were made for the new season.
The first game of Season 1952/53 in the Midland League was at home to Scarborough and the result was a splendid four goals to one win before a ‘gate’ of 4,160. Archie Garrett with a brace, Lindsay and Ernie Stevenson the goalscorers. However, the Fenmen found the new league hard going and only collected two points out of the next ten games. Add to that losing to Cambridge United in the F.A. Cup after a replay meant a most disappointing season. The player-manager suffered a bad injury and Garrett became more responsible for team selection.
Histon v Wisbech Town F.C. Cambs Invitation Cup Final progamme. The Alan Balding (1928-2020) collection, Wisbech & Fenland Museum
The Cambs Invitation Cup was won, beating Histon after extra-time in a replay by two goals to one. Add to that two wins over neighbours Kings Lynn in the Culey Cup was all the cheer the Fenmen could muster this season and it was no surprise when Dave Lindsay resigned at the end of the season.
A test using floodlights took place in January 1953, which was not very successful, the Chairman, Ald. J.K. Mellor stating, “The correct type of bulb is difficult to obtain.” It would be another eleven years before floodlit football arrived at Fenland Park.
For the following Season, 1953/54, the Board of Directors appointed goalkeeper Joe Robinson, ex- Blackpool player, as player-manager and he set about putting a better team to compete in the Midland League.
As the Club was playing at a higher level, there was no problem in placing the Reserve side in the United Counties League. The Eastern Counties League imposed a £50 fine on the Club for late withdrawal and also wished the club every success in their new league.
The Peterborough League also fined the Club for the late withdrawal of the Reserve side the sum of Five pounds.
In the running for the manager’s job was Leicester City player Bert Barlow and a certain Oscar Hold, who decided to join Football League Division Three (South) club Queens Park Rangers rather than pursue the position.
A letter from Peterborough United congratulating Wisbech Town on gaining admission to the Midland League. Image credit: Gordon Smith
1950s Wisbech Town FC Football scrapbook. The Alan Balding (1928-2020) collection, Wisbech & Fenland Museum
While researching this project we began to build a picture of the lives of the players coming to terms with their experiences of war. Many players from Wisbech and those who came to Wisbech to play for the team had served in the forces.
Goal keeper, Joe Robinson (1919-1991) originally from Pegswood, Northumberland, was Wisbech Town FC's player/ manager from 1953 to 1956, he settled in Wisbech following a career playing for Hartlepool, Blackpool and Hull City. In what went on to become a regular feature in the local newspaper, 'Spotlight on Sportsmen' Robinson's experience as a Prisoner of War in a concentration camp for 5 and a half years working in a Polish salt mine during World War II was discussed. Joe Robinson did well as player-manager, making the club a respected member of the Midland League.
In 1955, two players based at RAF Marham, Winston Bernard, originally from Jamaica and Gordon Emptage from Margate made several appearances. Both Bernard and Emptage were ground crew in their day jobs with a real passion for football. Winston Bernard was Wisbech Town FC's first black player.
1950s Wisbech Town FC Football scapbook. The Alan Balding (1928-2020) collection, Wisbech & Fenland Museum
Wisbech Town FC welcomed professional Scottish player, Eddie Grant (1 October 1928 – 30 June 1979) pictured below in the 'Fenland Football Folk' newspaper feature, into the side in 1956. Eddie had played football during World War II for the British Team in competitive cup games and also exhibition games. Football during the War had been hugely important in keeping up morale, maintaining fitness levels and helped to build a network and good working relationships between armed forces in Europe.
1950s Wisbech Town FC Football scapbook. The Alan Balding (1928-2020) collection, Wisbech & Fenland Museum
Wisbech Town F.C. 1954/55. Newspaper Archive
For Season 1954/55 the Club decided not to engage full-time professionals and with Terry Ryder finding the net on twenty-four occasions the Fenmen finished their Midland League campaign in a respectable tenth place. The attendances for the local derby’s against Peterborough United and Kings Lynn were both in excess of 6,000.
This season the ‘Shilling’ gate was opened, which was a reduced admission charge for pensioners and juveniles.
The Cambs Invitation Cup was won, a two – nil win over Pegasus in the Final at Cambridge City. Pegasus were an amalgamation of the best players from Oxford and Cambridge Universities and were recognised as a force in amateur football, having two F.A. Amateur Cup Final wins to their credit in the 1950’s.
Wisbech Town with the Cambs Invitation Cup. Newspaper Archive
In the first week of January manager Joe Robinson was informed that his contract would not be renewed and the Board of Directors appointed former Norwich City player Reg Foulkes to the position on May 2nd, announcing this at half-time during the match against Denaby United. Foulkes had been awarded a three-year contract.
Before he left the town, Joe Robinson, also an accomplished snooker player, won the Wisbech & District Individual Snooker Championship, beating Downham’s Danny Alflett who had won the trophy four times in the last five years.
1956/57 was not a happy season for the Town, every supporter was surprised that the new manager, Reg Foulkes, had decided not to retain last season’s leading scorer Terry Ryder and only when Jimmy Bloomer signed did the team start to score goals. Ex-Grimsby Town player Bloomer finished the season leading goalscorer with nineteen goals to his name. The team finished in a disappointing 20th position in the Midland League.
F.A. Cup 1st Round Replay March Town United v Wisbech Town F.C. The Alan Balding (1928-2020) collection, Wisbech & Fenland Museum
Once again March Town dumped the Fenmen out of the F.A. Cup leading to many supporters suggesting the Hares were the Town’s ‘bogey’ side.
Foulkes was plagued by an injury and only played eleven games and on January 19th resigned his position. His replacement, a certain Oscar Hold, was to build the greatest – ever Wisbech Town side. Oscar promised to bring some ‘star’ names to the Club and much travelled in football, he certainly had the contacts. Oscar also held the record for the longest suspension at the time, six weeks!
Oscar Hold’s promise of some ‘big-names’ held true. On July 5th it was announced that ex-England Internationals Jesse Pye and Bobby Langton had signed for the Club. Add to that England “B” International Johnny Crosland, ex-Notts County player ‘Tot’ Leverton and ex-Aston Villa star Amos Moss had also signed – all household names at the time.
Moss had just won the Southern League with Kettering Town where he was captain of the side, a position he also took over at Wisbech.
Left - Oscar Hold greeting Jesse Pye on his first visit to Wisbech. Newspaper Archive
Manager Hold also did some transfer dealing, Jimmy Hill signed from Millwall but was then transferred to Shrewsbury Town, Wisbech no doubt having some recompense.
There was no doubt that Oscar Hold had galvanised interest in the Club throughout the district and the season opened with a splendid three – nil win away over Scunthorpe United Reserves.
The following Tuesday August 28th, Fenland Park hosted the record attendance of 8,044 for the visit of Peterborough United. The team hadn’t gelled together yet and the mighty ‘Posh’ won by four goals to nil with Dennis Emery the ‘star’ of the show. The final piece of the jigsaw came with the signing of ex-Manchester United player John Downie and crowds flocked to see some brilliant football.
On September 28th for the match against Scarborough; the new Dressing Rooms were declared open by Sir Stanley Rous, President of the Football League.
F.A. Cup 1st Qualifying Round Chatteris Town v Wisbech Town pogramme. The Alan Balding (1928-2020) collection
A wonderful F.A. Cup run started with wins over Newmarket, Chatteris Town. Then a superb display in a Wednesday afternoon replay win over Kings Lynn. Controversy with a postponement for a week due to a ‘flu epidemic and subsequent win against March Town, a fourth qualifying round win over to amateur side Hounslow earned the Fenmen an appearance in the First Round Proper at home against Colchester United who were beaten by a Jesse Pye goal before a ‘gate’ of 6,540. For their efforts in this game the team received a bonus on top of their wages of £1/10/- (£1.50).
Jesse Pye and FA Cup Excitement
FA Cup Run from 1950s Wisbech Town FC Football scrapbook. The Alan Balding (1928-2020) collection, Wisbech & Fenland Museum
It was also in this year that supporters raised money for the Munich Air Disaster for the Lord Mayor of Manchester’s appeal.
Thank you letter from the Lord Mayor of Manchester for Wisbech Town FC's donation to the Munich Air Disaster Fund. Image credit: Gordon Smith
The Fenmen finished second in the Midland League to the ‘Mighty Posh’
Following the Munich Air Disaster the generous Supporters attending the Wisbech v Kings Lynn match on February 23nd raised the magnificent sum of £66/15/- (£66.75p) for the Lord Mayor of Manchester’s appeal. Above is the letter of thanks.
The Fenmen finished second in the Midland League to the ‘Mighty Posh’ and also won the Cambs Invitation Cup defeating Cambridge United 5 – 3 in a final played over two legs.
The Midland League, which comprised twenty-four clubs, with twelve non-league clubs and twelve Football League Clubs Reserve sides, was rocked by the resignation of eleven of the Reserve sides who were to form a new league, the Northern Regional League, which would be for Reserve sides only. With the same thing happening in the North-Eastern League, which in effect shut down, the non-league clubs in that league were invited to join the Midland League.
Not relishing the extra traveling expenses, Wisbech Town, Corby Town, Boston United and Kings Lynn all decided to join the expanding Southern League.
Peterborough United, now famed throughout the land with their F.A. Cup exploits, were still hopeful of election to the Football League, but the ‘Old Pals Act’ kept them out for a further two seasons. ‘Posh’ decided to stay in a severely depleted Midland League and walked away with the title for the next two seasons before gaining Football League status.
The Kings Lynn and Wisbech Town Football Clubs were both fined £100 by the Midland League for late withdrawal.
The first-ever radio commentary of a Wisbech Town game was broadcast to the Peckover Ward at the North Cambs Hospital on February 26th. Patients enjoyed listening to the match against Kings Lynn thanks to equipment loaned by local electrical firm Nicholls & Peed.
In June a party consisting of the Wisbech Town Youth team plus manager Oscar Hold visited Germany for a Youth Tournament, losing two and drawing two of their four matches.
The Wisbech Youth Team outside Wisbech (East) Station before starting their tour. Newspaper Archive
Season 1958/59, and disappointment in that Wisbech Town were placed in the Southern League North-West Section and neighbours Kings Lynn placed in the South-East Section. The top eleven sides in each section would comprise a Premier Division for next season.
However, the Fenmen made a wonderful start to their Southern League campaign, winning the first five matches, indifferent form gave a final placing of ninth and Southern League Premier Division football next season.
To augment the Southern League fixtures the league ran an Inter-zone competition, the 35 clubs were split into seven sections and Wisbech Town won their section and received a small trophy.
On 5 July (57 or 58?) ex-England internationals Jesse Pye and Bobby Langdon signed for the club. England B international Johnny Crosland, ex-Notts County player Tot Leverton and ex-Aston Villa star Amos Moss also signed. During this season, a record attendance at Fenland Park of 8044 fans watched the local derby against Peterborough United. Wisbech Town FC had a cracking FA Cup run, making it to the first round proper at home against Colchester United.
Wisbech Standard Postcard of Wisbech Town F.C. 1958-9. The Alan Balding (1928-2020) collection, Wisbech & Fenland Museum
The Wisbech Town team pictured above played in the Southern League North-West, they won their first five matches and ended the 1958-9 season in ninth position in the table. They lost some key players, Johnny Downie left for Mansfield Town and younger squad members, Terry Marshall and Bryan Harvey also left.
Wisbech Town 1959/60. Newspaper Archive
The following season a ‘Save Our Soccer’ appeal was launched to raise funds for the club in the last year of the decade. The team played this season in the Southern League Premier Division, which would be the ‘National League’ today and finished tenth in the league. The leading goal scorer of the season, Jesse Pye became player/manager on 1 March 1960. A special Jubilee Day fundraiser for the SOS appeal was opened by celebrity author, Jackie Collins.
Photos from Jubilee Day. Newspaper Archive/ Gordon Smith
Jubilee Day programme. The Alan Balding (1928-2020) collection, Wisbech & Fenland Museum
The 1960s were full of highs and lows for Wisbech Town FC. The decade began with relegation. A sad 1960/61 season for the Fenmen as Jesse Pye attempted to compete in the top level of non-league football with what can only be described as a paltry wage budget. Relegation was ensured well before the season ended. Bad defeats included two nine goals to nil reverses away at Oxford United and Yeovil Town The only silverware gained was at the expense of March Town in the Bancroft Cup.
March Town United v Wisbech own F.C. Bancroft Cup final programme. The Alan Balding (1928-2020) collection, Wisbech & Fenland Museum
Another development that month was that ’mine host’ of the George Inn, John Crosland had given Elgood’s Brewery notice that he was to leave the pubic house and move to another at Blackpool. Lancashire Combination Club Lancaster City were keen to sign him and part of the agreement between the two clubs was details of a competition which kept, not only the Fenmen’s finances in better shape, but those of several local football clubs.
This became known as the ‘Wisbech & District Sportsman’s Club.’ Fifteen local clubs showed interest in the project, as they were to receive a percentage of the profits according to how many members they were an agent for. For a shilling a week each member had six chances of winning £50 and the draw was a big success.
However, a very successful Gala Day ensured the club had enough funds to ensure success on the field. A superb 1961/62 season followed with the First XI winning the Southern League Division One title and the Reserves winning the United Counties League.
Wisbech Town Season 1961/62 Southern League Division One Champions. Newspaper Archive
Floodlighting came to Fenland Park in 1964 when Wisbech Town FC played Chelsea in a friendly. 1960s Wisbech Town FC Football scapbook. The Alan Balding (1928-2020) Collection, Wisbech & Fenland Museum
By the end of 1962 Wisbech Town FC were promoted back into the Southern Premier League but in January and February 1963, freezing conditions halted play with no competitive matches. Disappointment was felt when the forms addressed to the FA to take part in the FA Cup were not received and Wisbech Town missed out on an FA Cup run during the 1963/64 Season.
The following season ended in relegation. Floodlights arrived at Fenland Park and were opened with a friendly match on Thursday 22 October 1964, against a Chelsea XI, the Fenmen winning 4 - 2.
Souvenir programme. The Alan Balding (1928-2020) collection, Wisbech & Fenland Museum
There was still a good F.A. Cup run as Wisbech Town played Brentford, a division 3 side, and were described as underdogs as a ‘£200’ a week team with the lowest wages bill in the whole of the Southern League.
Before a ‘gate’ of 3,846 the Fenmen lost to Brentford by two goals to nil – and it was stated at the time that they put up a good performance and Brentford supporters were full of praise for the game and the welcoming reception at Fenland Park.
Jesse Pye talking to his players before the Brentford game. Newspaper Archive
In the 1965-6 the team went 18 matches before a defeat and the FA Cup run ended at the First Round proper against Brighton & Hove Albion. A 10-1 defeat was bad enough but a fortnight later Bedford Town defeated Brighton and worst of all, the Fenmen beat Bedford twice in the Southern League that season.
The following year a ground-breaking and historic experiment took place, with the approval of the Football Association, on Sunday 19 March 1967, the club took part in the first ever professional football match played on a Sunday.
Entrance to the match against Dunstable Town was possible by purchasing a programme for three shillings and 1,379 spectators attended.
The experiment was deemed a success, however, Wisbech lost the game by two goals to one. The first Wisbech Town goal on a Sunday was a penalty converted by ‘Bunny’ Larkin. Former Luton Town player Seamus Dunne scored the first-ever goal in a Sunday match for Dunstable as early as the fourth minute.
Wisbech Town FC 1966/67. Newspaper Archive
The next three seasons were a struggle with falling gates and no cup success and at the start of November 1969 the Directors held a Press Conference and announced that the Club was losing £200 a month. In December came the news that Wisbech Town were leaving the Southern League.
The resignation letter to the Southern League as follows: -
Dated Tuesday 23rd December 1969.
To/W.E. Dellow Esq; Secretary Southern Football League.
Dear Mr Dellow,
At a Board Meeting held yesterday evening the Directors resolved that the Club should resign from membership of the Southern Football League and I am accordingly giving notice under the League Rules of the Clubs intended resignation at the end of the current season. It is with very much regret that they are having to take this step and the reason, as the Chairman announced to the Press after the meeting, was simply “continued lack of public support”. The Club has been incurring losses consistently over the past few years and has now arrived at a position where a change of policy has to be made in order to avoid insolvency. A lot will depend on public reaction over the remaining months of the current season as to the future operations of the Club but it appears that a substantial reduction will have to be made in the Club’s Professional Staff and that the Club will probably have to operate in a lower standard of football for a year or so and hope that if better public support is forthcoming we can re-build from that position.
We are feeling a little despondent at the moment but nevertheless we do wish you a Happy Christmas and continued success to the Southern Football League in the New Year.
Yours sincerely G.Bamber Company Secretary.
1960s Wisbech Town FC Football scrapbook. The Alan Balding (1928-2020) collection, Wisbech & Fenland Museum
In 1969-70 Wisbech Town FC made the decision to leave the Southern League due to falling attendances although the team pictured above had made a great start to the season. This was the first year of a Football Association national knockout competition, the FA Trophy. The team, pictured above, also played in the FA Cup but ended their journey away at Boston Utd with a loss.
Cup glory in the 1970s
The Wisbech Town FC team after the last ever match in the Southern League in 1970. Standing, left to right - Bill Clarkson (captain), Michael Pope, Sam White, Ray Preston, Colin Metcalf and Alan York. Kneeling, Neil Foxton, Byan Boggis, Ken Price, Johnny Shreeve and David Benchley. Mascot on the foreground - Richard Kiddle. From 1960s Wisbech Town FC Football scrapbook. Wisbech & Fenland Museum.
Colin Flatt was the highest goalscorer in the sixties for Wisbech with 75 goals from 153 appearances. Bill Clarkson and Malcolm Devitt made 382 starts each, but Devitt could add one substitute appearance to his total.
In 1970, Wisbech Town FC joined the Eastern Counties League. Also in this year, a consortium of local businesses and the Club’s Directors raised the money to purchase Fenland Park for £8,000 so it could be rented by the football club until it could afford to buy it at the same price.
Wisbech Town FC ended a magnificent season as runners up to Lowestoft Town and they won the League Cup with a 6 – 3 win on aggregate over two legs over Ely City. The club had made a financial loss in the Southern League but in their first season in their new league managed to double the takings on the gate and because of a reduced wages bill made a profit. The Club was finding its feet, and on the way to improving its finances.
Wisbech Town FC: Eastern Counties League Cup winners, 1971. Wisbech & Fenland Museum
In January 1971 Wisbech Town FC played a charity match to raise funds for the Ibrox Park Disaster Fund and collected money from supporters at other matches. (In 1971 supporters were crushed as they tried to leave Ibrox Park in Glasgow, many were injured and 66 people died as a result of the injuries sustained in this disaster)
The 1971-72 season saw a ‘League and Cup ‘Double’ for the Fenmen as they finished six points ahead of Lowestoft Town and beat them 5 – 3 on aggregate in the League Cup Final.
Mel Harnwell with the League Championship Cup. Wisbech & Fenland Museum
The season ended in less than a satisfactory way. Mel Harnwell, who had done so well and revitalised the Club, and a Director of the Club couldn’t abide each other and one had to go and unfortunately it was Harnwell, who took the nucleus of the steam with him.
During the 1972-3 season Wisbech Town FC were knocked out of the Cambs Invitation Cup by Parson Drove and were beaten in an FA Cup match by Chatteris Town. Bill Clarkson took over as manager and results improved as he rebuilt the team.
The 1973-4 season saw a Friday market take up residence at Fenland Park as part of a move to diversify income streams for the club. The season was marred by events at a match against Yarmouth Town in November 1973 and Wisbech Town FC were fined £10 and contribute towards costs of a hearing by the Football Association. Also in November, the Government’s ban on floodlight use due to the Miner’s strikes had an impact on training at Fenland Park. Luckily the team were able to use the gym at the Isle College gym to train. At the end of the season the club were league runners-up to Sudbury Town and the Eastern Counties League Cup Final. The Fenmen Fiesta Day at Fenland Park celebrate the end of the season and helped to boost the club’s income in anticipation of the upcoming season. Unbeaten in a twelve-match run in the 1974-75 season, the team went on to win the Cambs Invitation Cup.
In the 1975-6 season the team’s new kit was donated by an anonymous benefactor reportedly from King’s Lynn. The team entered the Eastern Professional Floodlit League competition and won their section and the Fenman ended the season in the Eastern Counties League in third place. This season the Eastern Counties League became known as the Magnet and Planet League after its sponsors.
The Fenmen were the champions of the Eastern Counties League for the second time in the 1976-7 season but lost the League Cup final to Sudbury Town. The Supporters Club continued to boost club finances and, in this season, raised £4,961 the equivalent of £36,864 today.
Wisbech Town Season 1976/77
In the 1977-78 season, the team finished in fifth place in the league. The FA Cup run saw a 2 – 1 win away at King’s Lynn. Two former Linnets scored the goals – Dave Clarke and Malcolm Lindsay.– the Cup run ended with a 5 – 1 defeat at Fenland Park to Boston United.
In this season, former player, Wally Hughes, who played for Wisbech Town FC in 1956/7, took charge of the New Zealand national football team in their world cup run.
Success continued and in the 1978/9 season, third place in the Town & Country League.
Bill Feary and Barry Malpass became joint managers and Wisbech Town FC finished third in the Town & Country League after a less than auspicious start.
Wisbech Town 1979/80
A surprise for supporters was the departure of last season's joint‑manager’s Bill Feary and Barry Malpass in July. The duo's resignation came after a boardroom row, which, as reported in the local Press, according to Malpass gave them “no choice but to quit.” At the meeting club Chairman “Sonny” Roseberry walked out after a disagreement with Malpass, and that argument would be remembered in a few years time.
Mel Harnwell returned to take over as player-manager but a disastrous start to the season saw him dismissed by the end of August.
Dave Clarke took over and started to rebuild the team and a mid-table position was the end result. However, Boardroom rows an internal wrangling forced one of the Fenmen’s most experienced and valuable players to leave the club.
The only trophy won was the Culey Cup, a win over local rivals Kings Lynn in November. However, the Linnets did get revenge at the end of the season, being the first winners of the Kinsella Cup, the Fenmen by then under new manager Barry Wilson, who had been manager at Holbeach United & Parson Drove and had played for Wisbech Town “A” in the early sixties.
A much better 1981/82 season for the Fenmen. A good run in the F.A. Cup ended at the fourth qualifying round stage away at Bedford Town and this was the first season that the club entered the F.A. Vase, the first match, away at Brantham only attracted 60 spectators and was the lowest gate until beaten by S & L Corby in season 2010/11 when only 41 spectators paid to watch the game. The Fenmen lost away at Midland Combination side Knowle by two goals to one in the second round. This game was postponed five times through snow and ice and was eventually played on New Year’s Day and on a terrible pitch, fog swirling throughout the game, the few Wisbech supporters who made the trip struggled to see both goals, the winner going to the home side through a penalty in the last minute.
Fifth place in the Town & Country League and a two goals to nil triumph over March Town in the final of the Cambs Invitation Cup rounded of the season in good style.
In the 1982-83 season, Roy McManus was appointed as caretaker player-manager. The team came 9th in the Eastern Counties League and retained the Cambs Invitation Cup.
Wisbech Town Season 1982/83. Newspaper Archive
The team went from strength to strength and in the next season, they set a record in the Eastern Counties League in 1983-4 going 34 matches before being beaten but losing out on the League title to Braintree in the end by goal difference. They also joined the Lincs & Border Counties Floodlit League and won the Bancroft Cup over Cambridge United.
The 1984-85 season saw the team reach the FA Vase semi-finals and it was in this year the club purchased Fenland Park from the consortium who purchased the ground in 1970 with the help of a large donation from the Wisbech Town Sportsmans’ Club.
A poor start for the Fenmen– only one win in the first eight matches. However, it was the F.A. Vase exploits that caught the Wisbech public’s attention.
The run started with a close game against Newell United, an emphatic win over Brantham; Soham Town Rangers, Heybridge Swifts and Tunbridge Wells were all beaten. Then a splendid performance on a mud-bath of a pitch at Bury Town before facing Collier Row in a quarter-final match at Fenland Park which was a rather tense occasion, the Fenmen going through by three goals to two.
The Crowd in the Lerowe Road end shelter celebrating the Fenmen’s first goal against Collier Row. Newspaper Archive
The Essex side then lodged an official protest with the Football Association citing a bottle and coins had been thrown at their goalkeeper. Thankfully the F.A. dismissed their claim and Wisbech could prepare for the semi-finals.
The first leg was at Fenland Park against West Midlands League champions Halesowen Town.
The scene was set. Over 2,700 spectators crammed into Fenland Park gave the ground a real big time atmosphere. Officials and police were attending to their jobs. The Press were there in force. It was like the well planned funeral in George Eliot's famous novel Middlemarch. A leading character planned his own funeral meticulously. The only thing he forgot was that he would not be there to see it go according to plan. Wisbech had everything planned. They simply forgot to play the game. Yet they took the lead then allowed the visitors to equalise before half-time; and in the second half the visitors looked the better side.
The second leg at Halesowen saw one of the finest fighting performances by the Fenmen most observers had witnessed in years. After the disappointment of the previous week's semi‑final first leg at Fenland Park, which ended all square at 1‑1, the odds were stacked against Wisbech.
When they saw the dreadful state of the Halesowen pitch, they must have felt Wembley slipping from their grasp.
Just 45 seconds after kick off, Wisbech were a goal behind.
From that position they recovered and two hours later were still in the competition after a two – all draw. That was nothing more than they deserved, whatever the final outcome of a grueling semi‑final tie.
The following Wednesday evening both teams lined up at Nuneaton Borough’s Manor Park ground for the replay.
Once again Halesowen took an early lead only for the Fenmen to equalise in the 57th minute. Heartbreak for Wisbech came in the 73rd minute when the Birmingham side scored the winner. Halesowen Town beat Fleetwood Town by three goals to one in the final at Wembley Stadium.
Wisbech Town 1984/85. Newspaper Archive
Yet again the following season F.A. Vase fever swept the Town. Wins over Ely City, St. Margaretsbury, Hinckley Athletic, Sudbury Town and Havant saw the Fenmen through to the Semi-final stage against Isthmian League side Southall and a creditable 2 – 2 away draw.
The following Saturday a ‘gate’ of 3,218 at Fenland Park saw the Fenmen fall at the last hurdle to reach Wembley once again ,the visitors winning by 3 – 1. Halesowen beat Southall 3 – 0 at Wembley in the final.
The 1985-86 Wisbech Town squad. Back (from left): Wayne Garner, Martyn Wiles, John Waddicor, Kevin Hudson and Gary Rider. Front (from left): Billy Tyler, Mel Mattless, John Scase, Willie Rider and Jamie Brighty. Image: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant
Having ended the season in ninth place, the town looked forward to the 1986-7 season with optimism. Wisbech Town FC were awarded a pennant for ‘Non-League team of the year’ for the Eastern region, were the runners up in the Eastern League Cup and Cambs Invitation Cup. Defeated in the third round of the F.A. Vase by St. Helens Town who reached the semi-final stage.
In 1987 New manager, Alan Day, was appointed but resigned in December that year. Phil Ward was appointed as caretaker manager to take the club through the rest of the season. Wisbech Town FC ended 6th in the League table and won the East Anglian Cup for the first time following an exciting a penalty shoot-out. Locally they won the Kinsella Cup and the Culey Cup. Fan favourite, Stuart Hicks, then 20, ended the season with a move into professional football joining Fourth Division Colchester United. In another twist, in the following season (1988-9) Director Phil Ward became manager but stepped down in May 1989 and Dave Eldred took over as manager. Wisbech Town FC came third in the Eastern Counties League Premier Division and reached the quarter finals of the F.A. Vase.
Wisbech Town FC 1988/9 Season. Image: Fenland Citizen - Credit: Fenland Citizen
The final season of the decade saw a rise in ticket prices, all itckets were raised by 30p: adults went up to £1.30 and concessions, 70p. A record number of 50 advertising boards were displayed around the pitch. Also in this year, following a visit from the Fire Service, Wisbech Town’s grandstand donated in 1923 by Horace Friend and originally erected at Harecroft Road was condemned for not meeting fire and safety standards. Play continued with fewe fans until the new grandstand opened on April 5 1990 and the team went on to retain the Culey and Kinsella Cups. .
The final season of the decade saw a rise in ticket prices, all tickets were raised by 30p: adults went up to £1.30 and concessions, 70p. A record number of 50 advertising boards were displayed around the pitch. Also in this year, following a visit from the Fire Service, Wisbech Town’s grandstand donated in 1923 by Horace Friend and originally erected at Harecroft Road was condemned for not meeting fire and safety standards.
Demolition of the Wooden Grandstand. Newspaper Archive
The 1990s were a winning decade for Wisbech Town FC. 1990 saw the opening of a new grandstand with a match against a Tottenham Hotspur XI.
Opening of new Grandstand by Ray Clemence O.B.E. flanked by Chairman Mr. J.D. Petch and Club President Mr. J. Chilvers
Under manager Dave Eldred the Jewson League Premier Division league title was won. A twenty-five match unbeaten run put the Fenmen in pole position and they took the title with two games to go with a win over Felixstowe at Fenland Park.
It was also the year that groundsman, Don Smith, who had been looking after the pitch since 1947 retired.
Wisbech Town 1990/91 receiving their League Winners medals. Newspaper Archive
Eleven straight wins in the Eastern League before Christmas, however, all was not well as Dave Eldred resigned on March 30th. Gary Rider and Les Lawrence took over as caretaker managers until the end of the season.
Hopes of retaining the League title were lost by losing the last five games. Jackie Gallagher, assisted by former manager Keith Rudd, took over the managerial reins at the end of the season.
The Cambs Invitation Cup was won, a superb performance in defeating Southern League Cambridge City by two goals to nil in the final at the Abbey Stadium. The Bancroft Cup was the only other trophy won, a 1 – 0 win over Long Sutton.
Kelvin Morton, who grew up in Wisbech, was the fourth official at the F.A. Cup Final between Liverpool and Sunderland.
He was also the referee for the 1994 F.A. Vase Final which was won by Diss Town. He was on the League Referee’s List from 1982 to 1995.
The First XI started with an unbeaten run of 19 games in the Jewson Eastern League in Season 1992/93, before losing away to Harwich & Parkeston in late November.
However, losing twice to eventual champions Wroxham, both games attracting over 1,000 spectators, resulted in the runners – up position for the Fenmen.
Wisbech Town 1992/93. Newspaper Archive
A poor start to the Season 1993/94 cost Jackie Gallagher his Managerial position on October 1st, Ian Jones, assisted by Colin Garwood took over. The team eventually finished in sixth place in the Eastern League.
A charge against Wisbech Town of playing an unregistered player in their League Cup-tie against Thetford on 16/10/93 and in the League against Harwich & Parkeston on 23/10/93 was found proven. In accordance with League Rules, Wisbech were struck out of the League Cup and the tie awarded to Thetford Town. The match against Harwich & Parkeston was expunged from the records and replayed.
A great start to the 1994/95 season in the Jewson Eastern League with 17 wins, one draw and one defeat in their first 19 matches before the New Year. However, indifferent form in the second half of the season with only two wins in the last six matches cost the team their chance of finishing runners – up, eventually finishing in third place behind champions Halstead Town and runners-up Wroxham.
Once again disappointment in the National Cups: in the F.A. Cup an away defeat against Isthmian League side Hendon and in the F.A. Vase competition a remarkable match against United Counties League club Stotfold at Fenland Park. Manager Ian Jones was dismissed from the bench for alleged comments made, the referee sent one of the opposition off – the wrong man! And in extra-time the Fenmen conceded a soft goal to the visitors to end their interest in the competition.
However, a superb performance at the Abbey Stadium captured the Cambs Invitation Cup with a splendid four goals to two win over Cambridge City and a unique double was attained two days later when the Jewson League Cup was won, defeating Newmarket Town by three goals to two after extra-time in the final at Soham Town Rangers ground.
However, once again off-the field Board rows took the headlines, for in January the local press reported that six Directors had walked out following whilst George Campion has also resigned as Club Chairman.
The 1995/96 season saw Wisbech Town made Media headlines and not all in the best of circumstances.
Wisbech Town FC 1995/6 Season. Newspaper Archive
A lack of helpers created the situation where refreshments were not available to the visitors at the end of one match and the Club were reported to the Jewson Eastern League, who in their wisdom decided to suspend Wisbech Town F.C. from playing in the league. Whilst all this was going on the First XI reached the F.A. Challenge Cup First Round Proper for the first time since 1965. To the Eastern League Officers annoyance, the Media treated the suspension as a joke, the “Sandwich Saga” not only gave the Club notoriety, but column inches in the National Press. The Management, Officers and Directors of the Club resigned; an E.G.M. of the Shareholders was called in February and a new Board of Directors were elected under the Chairmanship of Eddie Anderson. Ian Jones returned to the Club as Manager, this time with Selwyn Shelton as his assistant.
New Directors. Newspaper Archive
On the field the F.A. Challenge Cup caught the Public’s attention when, due to injuries and suspensions, a scratch team including Reserves and Youth team members beat Northern Premier side Boston United at York Street. How Jimmy Woods survived the rest of the team leaping on him to congratulate him after scoring the winning goal from 40 yards out in the last minute is pure conjecture!
F.A. Cup clips from Kingstonian v. Wisbech Town F.C. 1995, Wisbech Town F.C. v. Billericay 1st Round 1997 and the team's first ever website in 1998. Credit: ITV NEWS ANGLIA
In yet another exciting game at Fenland Park, Isthmian League Billericay Town were defeated in a fourth qualifying round replay and the draw for the First Round Proper gave the Club an away tie at Kingstonian. It had been thirty years since the Fenmen last appeared in the Rounds Proper of the F.A. Cup.
Not the best of starts on the day as the team coach broke down on the way to the game, however, the Fenmen opened the scoring with a goal from Steve McLaughlin, whose need for dentil repairs was evident on the BBC’s “Match of the Day” TV programme, but found the Isthmian League team far to strong and finished losing by five goals to one.In the Eastern League, with all the turmoil at the Club, it was no surprise that a mid-table final position was attained.
Season 1996/97 - the new Board of Directors stated their intention of the Club gaining promotion to the Southern League and to this end extra terracing was installed at Fenland Park, along with a refurbishment of the floodlights. A suite of offices and hospitality rooms were built to meet Southern League requirements and named the “Bert Roseberry Suite” after the long-serving director.On the field the team finished in second place in the Eastern League, a twelve – match winning run at the end of the season earned promotion to the Southern League. One result of note was an eleven – one victory at Clacton Town. A wonderful night at Fenland Park in early May as a crowd of 923 celebrated a five goals to one win over Lowestoft Town and promotion to the Southern League.
Official match day programme Wisbech Town F.C. v St Albans F.A. Cup Special. The Alan Balding (1928-2020) collection, Wisbech & Fenland Museum
Once again the F.A. Challenge Cup First Round Proper was reached, losing to St. Albans at Fenland Park by two goals to one before a crowd of 2,509. The cup run included good wins away at Chelmsford City and Hitchin Town, both clubs playing in a higher level League.
The Quarter-final stage of the F.A. Vase was reached, losing by two goals to nil at Guisborough, members of the Northern League.
Peter Munns won the ‘Golden Boot’ for scoring 48 goals. This season was a club record breaker with 141 goals scored over the season.
Wisbech Town 1996/97. Newspaper Archive
The 1997-98 season saw the team joining the Southern League, known as the Dr Martens League, in the Midland Division. Gary Childs became the club’s first full-time manager.
Once again the Fenmen hit the headlines in the F.A. Cup. Given a bye until the fourth qualifying round the team did well to draw 1 - 1 away at Gloucester City. Everybody who attended the replay at Fenland Park will still recite details of that match which started with Gloucester 2 – 0 and coasting at half-time. Wisbech then had a man sent off and the ten-men tore Gloucester apart. A penalty missed and three goals saw the Fenmen through to the First Round Proper.
A win at Billericay was followed by a home tie against Bristol Rovers in the Second Round Proper; this was the Clubs second appearance in that Round, the first being in 1957/58. A good performance in front of 3,593 spectators, but the full-time professionals scored twice in the second half to end the Fenmen’s dreams.
Also in this season, Wisbech Town F.C. launched their first ever website which connected the team to supporters all over the world. In Wisbech, the players were conncting with the local community, coaching students out of mainstream education from Years 10 and 11 as part of a programme of learning and skills development. One student went on to gain essential work experience through a placement at the club and another joined the women's team.
The Fenmen ended the season in fifth place in the League. As a result of soaring popularity and success, revenue rose above the VAT threshold for the first time and the club had to register to pay VAT.
Player manager Gary Childs left in November 1998 and former Chelsea, Peterborough United and West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper, Tony Godden became manager. In February 1999 an Academy for young players in partnership with College of West Anglia was set up. There was cup success locally, the Kinsella Cup was won over King’s Lynn and the Addenbrookes Cup over Cambridge United and the team season 14th place in the Dr Martens League.
In the last year of the decade, Wisbech Town FC joined the Dr Martens Southern League East Division. Darren Bloodworth took over as manager. Again, the team enjoyed local cup success winning the Addenbrookes Hospital Cup over Cambridge United.
In November the club made a dramatic appeal for funds to keep going.
Wisbech Town F.C. Club Chairman and Director issue a plea for public support. Newspaper Archive
Club chairman Alf Bishop, who will stand down at the annual meeting before the end of the year, admitted on Wednesday: "We have run out of ideas. We don't know where we can get the money to carry on."
The club's situation will be explained in detail at a public meeting next Friday, November 12, when, according to a club statement: "All views and suggestions will be welcomed and all avenues explored with a view to maintaining the status quo." The football club has "pruned all the expenditure possible" according to Mr Bishop, with the budget for players being half what it was when the team made its Dr Martens League debut last season.
Company secretary and director Roger Green said: "We are looking for a Godsend. We want to stay in the league we are in, because we've got the best crop of young players we've had here for 20 years and an exceptional young manager.
"We are asking whether the public, and businesses in this area, want a first class non-league club, because that is what we are. We have done everything we can. We now need help, and quickly."
Mr Green said the club did not want to take out a loan because: "That could be a millstone round our necks for 25 years."
Tony Godden was appointed manager midway through last season and, acting under financial restrictions, was successfully able to carry out his duties in difficult circumstances. Having reviewed the situation for the forthcoming season, Mr. Godden has reluctantly decided to tender his resignation to take immediate effect. Wisbech Town FC appreciated his contribution during a time in which, with severely reduced costs, the club accrued virtually the same number of points as had been gained from the same number of games prior to his appointment, but with severely reduced costs.
The club understood the reasons for his decision and wished him well in his footballing career.
On July 1st Darren Bloodworth has been charged with the task of leading Wisbech Town through what promises to be a difficult season in a new Division.
The club reacted quickly to manager Tony Godden’s resignation on Tuesday by turning to the reserve team manager, who immediately accepted the challenge of taking the Fenmen into the South/East Division of the Dr. Martens League.
Football Secretary John Petch released a statement which said the club was “delighted to make the announcement.” He said the club had noted “the drive, ambition and enthusiasm” of Bloodworth. Both parties have agreed he will take the job on a trial basis with the situation being reviewed at Christmas. The statement said the move had been made quickly so the new man could “set about the task of bringing new players to the club.”
The 2000s saw many highs, lows and new developments: a move to a new stadium, playing in Europe and a news story featuring World Cup 1990 and Euro 96 star Paul Gascoigne.
During the 2000-1 season, the new position of Director of Football was introduced at the club and Ian Stringfellow was appointed player-manager. The team went on tour to Valthermond in the Netherlands to take part in a tournament with European teams and came fourth in the competition and received a gift of Delft pottery for taking part.
The following season, 2001/02 in January saw much‑travelled Ian Benjamin as the new manager of Wisbech Town, the fourth man to hold the post this season.
The 40‑year‑old whose last job was at Jewson Premier Club Soham, was a unanimous choice of the club's board of directors, who conducted interviews with three applicants on Tuesday. He becomes manager number nine in the past four years at Fenland Park, not including caretaker managers.
Benjamin succeeds Pat Clarke, who had been manager since September but who quit at the beginning of January for personal reasons. One of the other applicants was Pat O'Keefe, who had been caretaker since then but has not been able to pull Wisbech out of the lower reaches of the Dr. Martens Eastern Division.
Benjamin, who lives in Kettering and whose wife is from Wisbech, lists Sheffield United, West Brom, Peterborough, Northampton, Cambridge United, Southend, Exeter, Chester, Luton, Brentford and Wigan as his professional clubs in a career which saw him make almost 500 league appearances. He was appointed Soham manager in May, 2001, having had a spell with Warboys before handing over to former Wisbech boss Ian Jones in November, 2000.
Unfortunately ‘Benj’ couldn’t prevent the Fenmen holding the rest of the Division up, although whether or they would be relegated was all on the last match away to Dartford. The Fenmen were on top near the end and going all out for the winning goal which would see them stay up. A couple of ‘wonder saves’ from the Dartford ‘keeper and then a breakaway in injury time saw the home side snatch the winner.
The Fenmen were relegated to the Eastern Counties League for Season 2002/03. And the team had a 17-match unbeaten run which gave them sixth place in the final table. Also a good F.A. Cup run ended in the fourth qualifying round at home to Harrogate Town who won by two goals to nil in front of a ‘gate’ of 1,061 – the last occasion of a four figure attendance at Fenland Park.
In the press, rumours the club may have to sell Fenland Park due to pending insolvency began to build but were swiftly quashed in February with an official statement from the club.
Roy McManus and club legend, Jackie Gallagher, took over as voluntary managers. The 2003-4 season was a stark contrast to the previous and the club’s financial situation was deteriorating. The Fenmen finished 14th in the league and won the Kinsella Cup.
The 2004-5 season saw another change in management when Ian “Jigger” Jones took up the role of Manager. In October, this season, a hoax news story circulated that World Cup 1990 and Euro 96 star Paul Gascoigne had expressed an interest in taking over the club. The source of the hoax was found to be a 17-year-old in nearby Doddington. Such was the voracity of the rumour, Paul Gascoigne had to address the rumours publicly.
From the “Wisbech Standard”
FORMER England midfielder Paul Gascoigne may be on his way to Wisbech Town Football Club as player/manager "to do a Roman Abramovich".
His agent has told the Fenland club that Gascoigne is looking for a club to invest in at grassroots level to see how far he can take it.
And while not having the money of the Russian billionaire, who took over Chelsea, Gascoigne has received a massive cash boost with sales of his newly published autobiography.
Gascoigne, who quit Boston United after two months this week, now lives in Spalding and earlier this week stopped by for an informal look at the Wisbech club.
Next Tuesday, he plans to put his interest on an official footing, having arranged to meet Wisbech chairman Barry Carter.
The baffled chairman has spent the week fielding calls from Gascoigne's agent confirming the player's interest in Wisbech.
"The first call came right out of the blue," said Mr Carter. "But since then there has been at least five other calls from his agent expressing his interest."
Mr Carter was told that Wisbech was one of several clubs Gascoigne was looking at but he liked Wisbech and the area. Mr Carter admitted: "Of course, when I got the call it was a bit of a shock. And, so far, I've no idea exactly what Paul is looking for.
"We'll just have to wait and see. His agent said Paul wanted to do a 'Roman Abramovich' and invest in a club."
With Wisbech due to sell their ground for development and move to a new stadium, Mr Carter believes the Fenmen may offer a perfect home for someone of Gascoigne's ability.
"Not so much as a player, but definitely as a celebrity," said Mr Carter.
Gascoigne, who is looking to extend his career on the coaching side, is currently completing an FA coaching course.
The former Newcastle, Tottenham, Lazio and Rangers player, won 57 England caps and was a star of the 1990 World Cup and Euro 1996.
Two years on from when there were whispers of a possible sale of Fenland Park in the press and around the town, in May 2005, the club issued a statement to confirm that the sale of Fenland Park had been agreed.
The 2005-06 season saw Dick Creasy take the reins. The club went on to finish fourth in the Jewson Eastern Premier League. In a contrast to the previous season, the 2006-7 season only saw four home wins but the team managed to finish eleventh in the league table and to the fourth qualifying round of the F.A. Cup. A win over Mildenhall then three away games against clubs at a higher level, Bury Town, Redditch and Solihull Borough were all beaten and only a dubious penalty in the fourth qualifying round away at Fleetwood Town gave them the impetus to score two more.
A new site was found for the club, however, considerable opposition to the proposed development halted progress.
The 2007-08 season ushered in the return of Ian ‘Jigger’ Jones as manager, with Mel Mattless as assistant. A ‘whole club’ policy is introduced with the aim of encouraging local talent and providing opportunities for young people locally in the Youth, Reserve and First team and this still stands today and is at the very heart of the ethos of Wisbech Town FC. Following a difficult start to the season, Roy McManus and Steve Appleby took over as a management duo and the season ended with the club in a mid-table position. Also in this year, the club was granted planning permission for a new ground off Lynn Road, just into the Wisbech/ Norfolk border.
The 2008-09 the season started out at Fenland Park and then moved to the Nest at Outwell while work on the new ground commenced. Gary Setchell was appointed manager this season and the team finished 16th in the Ridgeons League.
The last game at Fenland Park took place on Monday September 15th 2008, a testimonial game for long-serving player Mark Jimson against Kings Lynn. A ‘gate’ of 350, the highest of the season, watched a no-score draw and the next day Wisbech Town vacated the ground.
“In the years to come, many a tear may be shed remembering certain matches or players, but this wonderful ground has been the catalyst for many strong friendships to evolve over the years between supporters and this should never be forgotten.
“Page after page could be printed giving all the names of those who have given their time, expertise and finance to the club over the years.
“From the Supporters Club, such a dominant force in the 1950’s, to the present helpers; all have or are working to provide entertainment in a world completely changed from those austere days in 1947.”
“To all those people – a sincere thank you.”
“Goodbye Fenland Park, old friend, you will be missed.”
During the 2009-10 season, the club received grant funding to cover a significant portion of the costs of building the new stadium at Lynn Road from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, which is a grant scheme funded by the Premier League administered by the Football Foundation. Dick Creasey took on a caretaker manager role when Gary Setchell left, a run of ten matches unbeaten meant the team finished the season fifth in the league and expectation was high for the new decade.
Wisbech Town 2009/10. Image credit: Gordon Smith
Wisbech Town FC won the Ridgeons League Cup in the 2010-11 season. Image credit: Spencer Larham.
The new decade began with the introduction of a new manager, Steve Appleby, the team finished fourth in the Ridgeons League and won the Ridgeons League Cup, which the players dedicated to all the faithful supporters who had been with them on their travels. The first game on the new ground was an F.A. Cup-tie against Leicester-based team St. Andrews
The first goal at the new ground scored by Tommy Treacher. Wisbech Town beat St. Andrews in the F.A. Cup 5 – 0 , but went out in the next round away at Radcliffe Olympic.
Crowd against Dunston UTS. Image credit: Gordon Smith.
A ‘gate’ of 458 for a Fourth Round F.A. Vase – tie witnessed an exciting two-all draw with Dunston UTS, the Fenmen unlucky not to win in extra time. However, Wisbech lost the replay the following week against the eventual winners of the competition.
The 2012/13 season saw the club finish runners-up to Dereham Town in the League but gained some consolation winning the Red Insure (ECL) Cup with a 2-1 win over Stanway Rovers. Promotion to Step 4 was declined during the close season and instead the club transferred to the United Counties League.
Steve Appleby resigned as manager after six games and was replaced by senior players Paul Cousins and Scott Johnson. Scott stepped down in January 2014 and was replaced as joint-manager by Dick Creasey, who returned to the Fenmen’s dugout permanently in after a couple of stints as caretaker manager in 2010 and 2013. The club made it through to the quarter-finals of the Carlsberg FA Vase, unluckily losing 1-0 away to eventual winners Sholing. In the League, seventh place was achieved, which was lower than had been predicted by many, but not surprising given the cup run and managerial changes.
2013/14 saw the Fenmen challenging for honours in the UCL after a 12-match winning run in the second half of the season put them in contention. The team ultimately finished 3rd after two away defeats in April cost the chance of runners-up spot as well.
After initially agreeing to stay on for the new season, Dick Creasey resigned as manager in June 2015 and was replaced by Brett Whaley. Brett’s tenure as manager started well, but after eight home defeats in the league, he resigned in late March 2016 and was replaced by the returning Dick Creasey. Once an inconsistent start to the 2016/17 season had been negotiated, the team finished 6th in the UCL and runners-up in the League Cup.
Dick Creasey called it a day 11 games into the 2017/18 season after a run of four defeats and he was replaced by Gary Setchell, some seven-and-a-half years after his last game in charge of the Fenmen. Just three league defeats for the Fenmen over the next eight months meant that a win over Daventry Town on the final day of the season would see the team crowned UCL champions. Unfortunately, the match finished one-all and so the Fenmen had to make do with the runners-up spot and promotion to the Northern Premier League Division One East.
The Fenmen’s first season at the new level proved to be a difficult one, with a record low of only six wins in the League all season, but relegation was avoided thanks to 13 draws which meant the team finished in 17th place. Gary Setchell decided to end his tenure as manager after the end of the season and the club appointed Seb Hayes as his replacement, for his first job at this level. He was left with almost no players from the previous season and had had to build a squad virtually from scratch to compete in the BetVictor Northern Premier League Division One South East. Seb resigned in December 2019 with Wisbech bottom of the table and after a month with Seb’s former assistant Kevin Ward in interim charge, Brett Whaley returned as manager, only for the season to be declared null and void after just four games due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Centenary Season
The Centenary year started badly for the club in February 2020 when Storm Ciara damaged the club's stand at the Walton End., and later in the year the 2020-21 season was abandoned due to the pandemic.
Storm Clara damage. Image credit: Gordon Smith.
Wisbech Town FC 2020-21 Centenary season squad
Wisbech Town FC have celebrated their Centenary/ FENtenary season through a global pandemic, lockdowns and huge periods of change and uncertainty. Both the Northern Premier League 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons were abandoned due to the pandemic.
The centenary was observed on 15 June 2020 with the social media campaign #FENtenary. This date was also the tenth anniversary of the club residing at Elgood's Fenland Stadium.
The club were allowed to continue to play football when larger clubs had to stop taking part in a number of friendly matches.
Fountain Fesh Park, home of Wisbech Town FC. Image credit: Spencer Larham
Social Media boycott. The FA
Although not on the pitch, the team were continuing their community work and in April 2021 Wisbech Town FC participated in the nationwide social media black out #NoRoomforRacism and the 'FA For All' #stoponlineabuse social media boycott in May 2021.
Wisbech Town Walking Football Club
The Wisbech Town Walking Football Club was established in 2019 and in a short time they have become champions.
The Over 50s team are the current PDFL champions and winners of the Sutton-on-Sea tournament and Queens Tournament. The over 50s also has some international players in the squad and are coached and managed by first team coach Jonny Pearce.
Cup Winners 2020. Reproduced with kind permission from Wisbech Town FC.
Walking football is a huge part of Wisbech Town FC's community presence and players of all ages are engaged in training session at the Wisbech Town FC Ground throughout the week from friendly socials to competitive training
Wisbech Town Walking Football Club 1st side. Reproduced with kind permission from Wisbech Town FC.
Wisbech Town Walking Football Club's 2nd side in the 'Norwich' kit. Reproduced with kind permission from Wisbech Town FC.
The Wisbech Town Football Club has gone through triumph and adversity in one hundred years but has always been part of the community. From the discussions on the game in the local Public Houses to today’s Social Media, if you never went to a match you had an idea of what was going on.
To those helpers over the years - ground staff, gatemen, tea ladies, draw ticket sellers, programme sellers, car park attendants, cleaners, builders, plumbers, carpenters, electricians with their expertise, those ladies over the years who washed the team kits after every game, bar staff, kitchen staff – I’m sure I could fill a page of people who have helped the club –all have contributed to that community spirit that can never be taken away.
One has only to see what happens when a Football Club ceases to exist – the Town is shocked and disappointed, but supporters rally round and a new club is formed and goes from strength to strength through those people doing their best for the club.
All the objectors to the new ground for Wisbech Town F.C. have now acknowledged that the Club is now part of the community and as the country gets back to normal after the pandemic hopefully more people will come to watch the Fenmen and get involved with the Club.
I’m sure the Club will be still going in one hundred year’s time, with the same triumphs and problems and I’m sure the Historians over the next century will look back with interest at these first Hundred Years and maybe learn from them.
Gordon Smith. WTFC Historian.
One hundred years on and Wisbech Town FC is still going from strength to strength and this exhibition exhibition has been co-curated with the Wisbech Town FC, the club historian and past players, fans and the current team to celebrate this Centenary year.
We dedicate this celebration of our club to all the supporters and players past, present and future. #UptheFenmen!
Our thanks go to Club Historian and co-curator Gordon Smith without whom this exhibition would not have been possible. Smith has been involved with the club for 64 years, starting as a programme seller at Fenland Park, he also wrote as a Match Correspondent locally for the ‘Wisbech Standard’, the ‘Eastern Daily Press’ and in Norwich, the ‘Norwich Pink ‘Un’. Our thanks also go to Martin Davis and finally to Spencer Larham for co-curating this exhibition with us.
Thank you to the Balding family for their donation of the Alan Balding (1928-2020) collection.
We would also like to give a special thank you to Jeremy Ransome at the Fenland Citizen, Rob Setchell and Donovan Blake at ITV News Anglia and Daniel Mason and John Elworthy at the Wisbech Standard.
Also, thank you to Charlotte Graves, Kickstart Museum Assistant, for her work in cataloguing fifty years of Wisbech Town F.C. programmes and to Wiebke Cullen, Collections Manager, National Football Museum for invaluable advice on developing the exhiition concept.
Thank you to Billy Garner, Mark Richardson and eveyone at Tin Fish Communications and finally, Cuatorial Assistant, Sarah Cousins.
This community co-curated exhibition has been made possible thanks to the New Conversations Project, funded by the Musems Association Esmée Fairbairn Sustaining Engagement with Collections Fund.
Sarah Coleman and Robert Bell, Curator, Wisbech & Fenland Museum.
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