A History of senior football in St Albans - Part 2

The foundation of the present club

By Derek Roft

A meeting was held on April 13th 1908 at the Town Hall to “discuss the possibility of forming a new football club”. After an hour of heated debate and calm discussion the new club was formed and named as theĀ “St Albans City Football Club”.

Ivan Sharpe

Among those present at the meeting was Ivan Sharpe. He was actually born in St Peter’s Street and after playing for Watford Rovers he played for St Albans in their earliest years. He went on to play for Glossop North End and Derby County and was also an Amateur football International. He later became a respected football writer. George Wagstaffe Simmons told the meeting how he would organise the new club.

Newspaper report

A week later the club held their first meeting in an upstairs room at the Queens Hotel in Chequer Street. This building was replaced by the St Albans branch of the Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society. The Herts Advertiser commented:”Mr Simmons was voted into the chair and retraced the circumstances that led to the founding of the club. A letter from the Town Clerk was read out stating that Clarence Park would be used for home matches. The council would take one quarter of the gate to pay for maintainence. The club would pay one guinea for the use of the dressing rooms. Mr R W Fox was appointed as the club secretary. He stated that, owing to the large number of players interested, the club would run two teams. The first team would play in the Herts County League, the Spartan League, the FA Cup, the F A Amateur Cup, the Herts Senior Cup and the Herts Charity Cup. The second team would play in the Mid Herts league, the Herts Junior Cup and the Bingham-Cox Cup. The civic colours of blue and gold would also be the club colours. The Queens Hotel was decided upon as the club’s headquarters in future and the landlord, Mr Craddy, said that the club was very welcome and he would try to help in any way that he could”.

A willingness to play

In the following few weeks lists of names began to appear in the Herts Advertiser. These were players who “expressed their willingness to play for the new club in the coming season”.

Too few spectators

On September 5th 1908 the club played their first game, a friendly against Clove. This was a team of undergraduates from the London Grounds School. The honour of the first goal scorer went to George Habbijam, and with Tommy Walker adding two goals, the new club won 3-0. However ,the Herts Advertiser took their supporters to task by saying;

“On Saturday a fair number of supporters gathered at Clarence Park to witness the first match of the new St Albans City club with Clove. The spectators numbered far less than the game merited. During the past year we have heard much concerning the proposed football club for St Albans. A few people have worked hard for the success of the club. But no club will prove successful unless the general public will support it”.

Strong words indeed.

The first season

The first competitive match was away to Leavesden in the Herts County League on September 19th. This game finished in a 1-1 draw. H Day scoring the goal.

As the season went on a more settled side took shape. Local player Leslie Hosier played at outside right. Tommy Noel, the former St Albans Abbey captain, was the captain of this club.

By Christmas the Football Notes column in the Herts Advertiser had an optimistic ring. “The team has certainly found its feet. The players are understanding each other and that is the main thing”.

Second in the League

Some of the fixtures in the Spartan League were against teams such as Walthamstow Grange, Luton Clarence, Aylesbury United and East Ham. In the Herts County League they played teams such as Welwyn, Rickmansworth, Hemel Hempstead, HarpendenĀ  and Redbourn.

By February 1909 the club were lying 2nd in the Herts County League table. Towards the end of the season a few injuries upset their form.

Amateur players

There was a case of a player not being able to play because “he had to work an extra shift at his place of work”. Remembering the fact that these players were strictly amateur and did not get paid for football. It is understandable that if he was offered to work an extra shift for money he would take it.

Towards the end of the season a goalkeeper was signed who would play for the club until 1922. Herbert Smith was signed from Abbey United. His nickname was “Miker” apparently the reason being Michael was his middle name.

Every reason to feel confident

The Herts County League was split into three divisions Eastern, Northern (which took in all of the middle of the county) and Western. To determine the destiny of the championship the three winners of the divisions had to play play off matches. St Albans met Ware in the play off final and drew 4-4. So the Herts County League title was shared. They also finished 2nd in the Spartan League. This was every reason to feel confident for the new season.

 

This page was added on 27/05/2010.

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