Farnborough Football Club
In May 2007 with Farnborough Town Football and Social Club Limited facing liquidation the football club was expelled from the Conference and was no more.
The reformed did catch a break early on though. Benefiting from some league restructuring the ‘price’ for the club failing was a two level relegation and the new club was placed in the Southern League 1 South & West Division.
After a vote from fans the name chosen for the new club was Farnborough Football Club and fans also elected to revert to the clubs pre-Westley colours of yellow & blue.
The new club also saw a new and radical structure appear. Local businessman and Bisley FC Chairman Simon Hollis joined Tony Theo’s consortium and established a link up which see’s Bisley FC operate as Farnborough’s reserve side. This close relationship also sees Farnborough training at Bisley and Bisley’s Youth side playing at Cherrywood Road.
The relationship continued with Bisley’s successful management team of Andy Clement and Steve Moss taking over the helm at Farnborough with ex-Farnborough Town player Ian Savage taking over at Bisley.
With much redevelopment going on at Cherrywood Road and much more planned things are finally looking up as the reformed club looks to climb back up the non-league pyramid!
Champions at first attempt
Farnborough took a step back up the pyramid at the first attempt winning the Southern League 1 South & West division with great style. It was a season of two halves with the first half seeing a great number of goals scored, and a few conceded, as the individual talents of the likes of Rob Saunders and Ray Spence tore apart league opposition. It wasn’t plain sailing though as goals were also conceded and there was a high turnover of players.
In late 2007 Steve Moss left the club to be replaced by Ian Savage. At this point the squad finally started to settle and some quality players added to the squad. Boxing Day saw promotion rivals Fleet Town destroyed 5-1 and with the exception of a few poor performances (often in the South West) Farnborough’s march towards promotion became more and more probable.
In the end the league was won by a margin of four points and Farnborough fans saw a massive 110 goals for their side in the league.
Farnborough had mixed results in the cup going out at the first attempt in the FA Cup and after knocking out Southern Premier side Swindon Supermarine in the Trophy were disappointingly dumped out by Windsor & Eton. The Hampshire Senior Cup was more productive as Farnborough fans headed for their third Hampshire Cup final in five years. Farnborough failed to add to the seasons silverware after a narrow defeat to Conference South side Basingstoke Town.
Back to the Southern Premier
The end of the 2007/08 season saw more changes at Cherrywood Road with manager Andy Clement unable to commit the time required to the job and Ian Savage deciding to go back to playing the game. Andy’s replacement was local boy Francis Vines who had parted company with Basingstoke a few months earlier and had built up an excellent reputation taking Crawley Town into the Conference. With him came a few old boys from Basingstoke and with some other Conference and Conference South standard players Francis had his impressive squad mostly complete by the end of May.
Off the pitch saw the departure of Tony Theo, heading for warmer climes, and the handover of the club to Simon Hollis. The changes to Cherrywood started a pace with new stands at the Moor Road End as well as seating and dugout extensions to the main stand.
The P.R.E. stand came down in preparation for it’s 3,500 capacity replacement to be built during the 2008/09 season. Even with the Prospect Road End empty the many improvements that have been made mean that Cherrywood Road looks better than any time in it’s history.
Francis Vines strengthened the squad in the summer of 2008 and all looked good as Farnborough dominated the Southern Premier League in the first half of the 2008/09 season. Unfortunately the Farnborough side failed to build a big lead in the league and with Corby Town spending big after Christmas there was a fight for the title. A 2-2 draw with Corby at Cherrywood Road attracted Farnborough’s record crowd but ultimately Farnborough never hit the required form needed to hold onto the top spot. A late equaliser conceded away at Merthyr Tydfil proved to be the final undoing of Vines’ side and Corby Town took the title.
A penalty shootout win the playoff semi-finals was followed by a lacklustre performance against Gloucester City in the final and Farnborough missed out on consecutive promotions.
And we’re back
The summer of 2009 was more changes as Francis Vines was replaced as manager by Steve King who had enjoyed great success in previous years taking Lewes up the leagues and into the Conference. Along with the change of manager the squad saw many changes with only a few players remaining at the club. A number of players were brought in from higher in the leagues including Farnborough Town old boys Gary Holloway and Sacha Opinel.
Pre-season form promised great attacking football and as the league started they continued to deliver as Farnborough set the standard at the top of the table with some scintillating football. An awful winter saw many postponements and a terrific run of form from Nuneaton Town briefly threatened to scupper Farnborough’s drive for the title but Farnborough’s form was maintained and the Southern League title came to Farnborough yet again.
Just three years after the old club folded, Conference South football was back in Farnborough. Many fans feared the worst after Boro lost 3 out of the first 5 games but from there things just got better and better. An eleven match unbeaten run in the second half of the season saw Farnborough leading the chasing pack behind leaders Braintree Town. A fantastic 2nd place finish set up a Playoff Semi Final with near neighbours Woking which Boro edged by a single goal over 2 legs. A record attendance of 4267
Farnborough Town Football Club (1968-2007)
Boro’ kick-off with a 7-6 victory
Farnborough Town’s progress to the pinnacle of non-league football began on 31st August 1968 in the Surrey Senior League at Queens Road Recreation Ground. The first game, against Surbiton, resulted in a 7-6 victory for the Boro’ – a scoreline which established the club’s reputation for attractive, attacking football. After four seasons in the Surrey Senior League Boro’ were admitted to the Spartan League, a competition they dominated for the next four years, winning the championship on each occasion.
Goodbye to Queens Road; hello to Cherrywood
By the mid-seventies the lack of facilities at Queens Road was preventing any further progress within the non-League pyramid, so a new ground was developed at Cherrywood Road with the help of a local company, Worldwide Carpets.
Boro’s application to join the Athenian League was accepted and they immediately topped the Division Two Table in 1976/77. The following season they joined the newly expanded Isthmian League and a year on in 1978/79 the Division Two Championship was secured.
Eighty-seven games unbeaten at home
Whilst competing in the Spartan and Athenian Leagues the club set a formidable home record. Boro’ remained unbeaten on their own ground from Monday, 27th August 1973 to Saturday 23rd April 1977, a total of 87 games which spanned almost four seasons.
From park side to the Conference in 21 years
Farnborough Town spent six seasons in Division One of the Isthmian League, always achieving a respectable position until they finally topped the table in 1984/85.
The club soon established themselves in the Premier Division, finishing in the top nine in the first three years. 1988/89 was even more successful as they led the table for several months only to be pipped at the post by Leytonstone/Ilford. However, because of ground grading regulations, the Essex side were not promoted and Boro’, as runners up, were invited to join the GM Vauxhall Conference.
The Hampshire side made a healthy start to their first campaign in the top flight of non-league football but by the end of the season they had suffered their first ever relegation. The club bounced back, winning the Southern League Championship at the first time of asking, enabling them to make an immediate return to the Conference. The 1991/92 season saw Boro’ attain their highest ever League placing when they finished in an impressive fifth position. A year on and the club again tasted the bitter pill of relegation.
Ted Pearce’s reign ends after 23 years
The end of the 1992/93 season saw Ted Pearce stand down as manager after 23 years and the hot seat filled by his assistant, Alan Taylor. The new manager’s first season in charge turned to glory as once again Farnborough Town claimed the Southern League Shield and made a quick return to the Conference where they remained for five seasons, which included finishing places of 14th, 10th and 7th.
A new beginning
A very difficult 1998/99 season saw major problems both on and off the pitch. Manager Alan Taylor departed following a twelve year association with the club and his successor, John Harding, left after just one month. Despite the arrival of former player Dean Coney as manager, the club were relegated, this time back to the Isthmian League.
The arrival of Graham Westley as club owner and team manager during the summer of 1999 heralded a new era for Farnborough Town and his investment in new players bore fruit when the club returned to the Conference as Ryman League champions in 2001.
A false dawn
Graham Westley’s first season in the Conference saw Farnborough finish an impressive if unexciting 7th in the league. For the second season the signs were set out early that it would be his last and by Christmas amidst the run in the FA Cup the rumours were rife. The high profile game against Arsenal turned out to be his last as he left taking his backroom staff and seven players to Conference rivals Stevenage Borough who were heading for relegation.
Left in a situation where the club’s owner managed a rival side Farnborough struggled through to the end of the season with Ian McDonald as manager, a threadbare squad and thanks to Graham Westley a transfer embargo. He also left the club heavily in debt despite the proceeds from the Arsenal game.
In the summer Graham Westley gave control of the club to ex-Hampton & Richmond Chairman Vic Searle who appointed ex-Leyton Orient manager Tommy Taylor as manager. Tommy failed to deliver and after going for the first 14 games of the season Tommy and his assistant Ian McDonald were sacked. With a sense of déjà vu Farnborough fans were left again with an owner playing as manager with experienced player Ken Charlery as his assistant.
Relegation at the end of the 2003/04 season was only avoided when no teams were relegated from the league. Chaos at Farnborough kept going as the club headed towards financial disaster and Vic Searle was forced to step down passing control of the club to Reading businessman Tony Theo. Vic stayed as manager and ex-Spurs defender Dean Austin was appointed as manager. Vic then quit as manager as he didn’t receive the board level support he wanted, Dean Austin then replaced him as manager for the 2004/05 season.
Pinky & Perky!?!
Bitter at losing his manager’s job Vic Searle then stabbed Tony Theo and the fans in the back by agreeing to sell his shares to local businessman Ron Higgins and Tony Turberville. “Uncle Vic” went from being hero to zero in a matter of weeks.
Tony Theo refused to give up control of the club and with the backing of the fans fought his position for weeks in a bitter and high profile battle. Higgins and Turberville eventually won after the probable legal costs and damage to the club became too much and a compromise was reached which saw Tony Theo remain as Managing Director.
The ‘peace’ came to an end in February 2005 and Higgins was quick to sack Dean Austin. Ron Higgins then put ex-physio Neil Sillett in charge along with coaches Gary Thompson and Mick Jenkins. These three managed to drag the club even further down allowing even more senior players to leave and pretty much guaranteed the clubs relegation from the Conference.
After a humiliating 6-0 home defeat to Hereford United fans were delighted to hear that Tony Theo was back as director on the board and within days Neil Sillet and his team quit in disgrace. Protests at the last home game of the season looked to put the final nail into Higgins’ coffin and he is ousted as Chairman a few weeks later. During this time the club makes the decision to appoint ex-Leeds legend Frank Gray as manager and the fans launch FaST (Farnborough Supporters Trust) to try to secure a more stable future for the club.
The 2005/06 season saw a more positive outlook as Tony Theo looked to rejuvinate the club off the pitch and Frank Gray and assistant Gerry Murphy produced entertaining football that saw the club finish third in the league and claim the Hampshire Senior Cup for the seventh time.
Unfortunately things didn’t continue to go well off the pitch with only one director, Tony Theo, putting in time and money and early in 2006 he had to force their hands and announced he was stepping aside.
In July 2006, faced with another winding up order from the Inland Revenue, Ron Higgins elected to put the club into Administration. With the club facing debts of almost £1 million the administrators invited parties to put forward offers in order to maximise the return to creditors.
After a protracted period Tony Theo emerged victorious against Ron Higgins and was put forward to the creditors as preferred bidder. Unfortunately due to a technicality the club were denied the ability to enter a new CVA (Creditor Voluntary Agreement) and despite months of negotiations and campaigning Tony Theo’s offer went from from being an offer to buy the club out of Administration to one of buying the club out of Liquidation.
On the pitch it was a good season for Farnborough Town’s last. Faced with a ten point penalty for going into Administration and a season long player embargo new manager Ian McDonald’s task looked very tough. But his young side performed beyond expectations and even with the ten point penalty finished a very respectable 11th in the league.
Boro’s FA Cup runs capture the headlines
Farnborough Town can also claim a great deal of success in cup competition. They captured the nation’s attention with their superb FA Cup run during the 1991/92 season. A 4-0 replay victory in the first round over Halesowen Town saw the side make their first ever appearance in the second round.
The reward was a visit to Torquay United where a late equaliser denied Boro’ a famous win. However, at Cherrywood Road, with SKY broadcasting the match live, a thrilling 4-3 victory ensured that history was made as Boro’ claimed their first Football League scalp in the FA Cup.
The third round produced a dream draw at home to West Ham United. On police advice the tie was switched to Upton Park. A heroic performance in front of over 23,000 fans saw Boro’ gain a well deserved draw and it was only an 89th minute goal which gave the Hammers a 1-0 victory in the replay.
1995/96 saw the SKY cameras once again at Cherrywood Road, for a first round replay against Brentford. Although the result went against them, the tie generated Boro’s record home attendance of 3,581.
In 2002/03 Boro’ went one stage further when they eventually went out 5-1 to Arsenal in a Fourth Round tie that had been switched to Highbury amidst much controversy.
Boro’ come so close to Wembley, yet so far
Boro’ have been one step away from Wembley twice in their history. 1975/76 and 1976/77 saw the Hampshire side reach the semi-final stage of the F.A. Vase only to lose out both times to Billericay Town.
Hampshire Cup successes
In County competition the club have lifted the Hampshire Senior Cup seven times, the most recent occasion being 2005/06 when Farnborough Town beat Basingstoke Town 1-0 in Bournemouth.
Thinking of throwing away that old Farnborough Town tat that’s been taking up space for too long? Think again. Farnborough Town lost much of it’s history when the old club shop was destroyed by fire 20 years ago.
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