Hitchin Football Club, Founded 1865
Roger Reed left a help comment on Newsletter post "When was Football first played in Hertfordshire?":
Football is a very ancient game and various forms of it have been played for centuries. The Rules began to be codified in the 19th Century.
As far as Association Football is concerned, there were a variety of different sets of Rules around the country before a meeting was called at the Freemasons Tavern in Great Queen Street, London on October 26th 1863. None of the Clubs present were from Hertfordshire.
An indication of how difficult it was to bring together the different sets of Rules is that it was not until the fifth meeting that an agreed set of Laws of the Game was produced. It was at this point that Blackheath withdrew as the Laws prevented hacking. This can be seen as the separation of Rugby Football from Association Football.
A Hitchin Football Club was founded in 1865 and by 1870 they were members of The Football Association together with another Hertfordshire Club, Totteridge Park F C.
In those very early days only friendly fixtures were played but on 20th July 1871 a proposal was made to establish a Challenge Cup competition and there then followed an explosion of interest so that by 1881 128 Clubs from around the country had joined the Association.
The first competitive match played by a Hertfordshire Club took place on 11th November 1871, when in torrential rain Hitchin played Crystal Palace at Hitchin in the 1st Round of the inaugural F A Cup. The result was 0-0 and both sides were allowed through to the 2nd round.
The Hitchin F C side was: C F Reid, W T Lucas, F Shillitoe, W Hill, G D Baker, H E Baker, C A Baker, W G Hassirigg, T C Mainwaring, G Jackson and E Woodgate.
The next match played under F A Laws took place on January 10th 1872 when Hitchin entertained Royal Engineers at Top Field in the second round of the F A Cup. Despite only 60 minutes play being possible, Royal Engineers were 5-0 ahead when play was brought to a halt. Hitchin could field only 8 men (F H Lucas, W Hill, H Mainwaring, H O Crow, E Woodgate, T McKenzie, A Baily and A Dawson). The result stood and the Engineers went on to reach the first F A Cup Final where they lost 1-0 to The Wanderers.
NB; This Hitchin Football Club folded in 1911.
The Hertfordshire County Football Association was founded in 1885.
I decided it would be useful to use the British Newspaper Archives to track down the early press references to the Hitchin club and try and identify some of the the early players.
Hitchin: Foot Ball Club. A foot ball club has been established in this town. Hubert Delmé Radcliffe, Esq., is the president, and the Rev. J. Pardoe, the secretary. The members are admitted by ballot, and pay an annual subscription of 2s. 6d. The play is to commence each year at the close of the cricket season, and continue during the winter months. On Saturday last the members met for practice for the first time, in a meadow on the Dog Kennel Farm, and although a very unfavourable day about twenty were present.
Hertford Mercury 2 December 1865.
Hitchin: Football - On Saturday last the second game of football was played between Mr. Elphinstone's eleven and eleven of the Hitchin club. There was some excellent play on both sides, The Hitchin club won the first goal, and their opponents failed to make one in the agreed time.
Hertford Mercury, 24 March 1866
Hitchin: Football - The Football Club commenced play for the season on Saturday last, A match is arranged with the "Wanderers" to take place on December 1st, and another with the "Harrow Chequers" soon after Christmas. Play will be continued every Saturday afternoon, on the Dog Kennel Farm.
Hertford Mercury 20 October 1866
Hitchin: Football. - On Saturday last a match was played on the Hitchin club ground, at the Dog Kennel Farm, between the Wanderers and the Hitchin club, when the Wanderers were victorious.
Hertford Mercury 8 December, 1866
Hertford Mercury, 27 April, 1867
Herts Guardian, 30 April 1867
W. O. Atkinson
G. D. Baker
T. B. Latchmore
A. R. Lee
W. T. Lucas
Rev. J. Pardoe
A. G. Phillips
A. Delmé Radcliffe
Hubert Delmé Radcliffe
C. F. Reid
R. R, Shillitoe
A. J. Tuck
I decided to look for an early reference to the team members by name and came up with the following:
Pall Mall Gazette, 21 February, 1868
This lists the team with F. Stillitoe as captain and the Rev. J. B. Parker, W. Hill, W. O. Atkinson, G. Lewin, E. Logsdon, T. Mainwaring, F. Lucas, G. A. Passingham and L. Thompson.
I wondered where "The Wanderers" had come from and found a 1864 match described at length in the Kentish Chronicle of 19 November 1864 where "The United Band of Wanderers left the fog of the metropolis for the lines of the Royal Engineers' South Camp, Aldershot, last week, adjoining which was the ground set apart for their football contest with twelve of the camp. ..." [It is worth noting that in the search for "The Wanderers" the software ignored the word "The" and interpreted "Wanderers" as all possible variations of the verb "to wander" - most frustrating.]
I didn't carry out a systematic search for other matches but noted this report of a match at Maidenhead from the Reading Mercury of 21 November, 1874, which lists the then team as: E, Woodgate (captain), E. Dawson (goalkeeper), J. WIlkinson, G. Jackson, W. Lucas, S. Tuke, A. Bailey, H. Bailey, J. Gardner, R. Bassett and J. Taylor.
If you can add to the information given above tell me.
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