Today, 22nd November 2020 marks the 150th birthday of Marlow Football Club, one of the oldest clubs in the land. The following account of the early days of Marlow FC is based on an article provided by Michael Eagleton , originally written for Marlow Museum:
The early years of Marlow Football Club – 150 years 1870 to 2020
Marlow Football Club is one of the oldest in Britain being founded in 1870, following a meeting held on 22nd November 1870 at The Compleat Angler Hotel. It has the distinction of being one of the original 15 entrants and contributors to the first F.A. Cup Competition the following year.
Marlow FC are also the only team in the country to have entered every F.A. Cup Competition since that date, although one year they “entered” but did not compete due to lack of funds. In 1882 they reached the semi-final of the F.A. Cup, losing out to the eventual winners, Old Etonians, at the Kennington Oval.
In the early days of the game Marlow were rated as among the top teams in the land: two Amateur Cup semi-finals and a succession of Berks & Bucks Cup wins – one of which is celebrated in this 1894 photo, provided by Michael Eagleton and colourised by MyMarlow. This photo was taken in the courtyard of the Crown Hotel, which, when playing on Crown Meadow to the rear, the players used for training. This was also the year of a famous 1-0 victory over the professionals of Preston North End.
In 1894 the Club turned down an offer to join the Southern League, wishing to retain their amateur status and Tottenham Hotspur were elected in their place.
Up to 1918 Marlow FC played on Crown Meadow (now Riley Park) which had a 300 seater wooden grandstand, and the Crown Hotel was used for changing.
Although Edward Riley did many good things for Marlow he was obviously not a football fan, since having purchased the Meadow from the Crown he evicted the football club. After the war the enforced move to Star Meadow (now Spring Gardens) meant demotion as this ground was unfenced, but Hon. Secretary Alfred Davis, who appears in many early pictures, including the one above, was instrumental in starting fundraising to purchase Council land in Oak Tree Road. Sadly, he died before the first game was played on this new ground, but it was named in his memory.
Alfred had national as well as local fame and managed the England team who competed in the 1908 Olympic Games at White City