The football team was probably formed about the same time as the cricket team as the earliest report of a match is in the Berkshire Chronicle of 22 February 1868 when a team under the Curate Mr Younge played at home against Sulham and won 3-2. It is likely that both cricket and football teams came into being after Richard Fellowes Benyon came to Englefield in 1854 and allowed them the use of the Park.
The progress of the football team seems to have been a much more sporadic affair than that of the cricket team and nothing more is known of football in Englefield until a report in September 1889 that it was resolved to start a football club. In October 1890 the opening match of the season, against Woolhampton College, was cancelled, the afternoon being so wet that the opponents did not turn up and nor did three of the home side. The remainder of the season was obviously more successful with eight games played; five won, two lost and one drawn. Four matches were arranged for the 1891/92 season but there is no report of any being played and on Monday 18 September 1893 a meeting was held in the Workmen's Club to reform the football club. About 24 people indicated they were interested and a committee was formed with Mr Benyon as president and H Shackleford as captain and Charles Fisher as vice-captain. The committee members were: P Chamberlain, Lewis Smythe and messers Claydon, Eborne and Johnson. Mr Robinson the schoolmaster was Secretary.
Fifteen matches were played in the first season of the new club with six won and nine lost and the comment was made that certain opponents were not bona fide village teams but were packed with the best players from around the area. A new committee was elected in August 1893 with G J Taylor as captain, Dan Fisher as vice-captain and members T Cox, C Fisher, T Harris, G Johnson, A Lamperd and E Mosby. Mr Robinson continued as Secretary and the Rector was Treasurer. James Claydon was Referee. For the 1894/5 season 24 matches were arranged but only 13 could be played owing to the prolonged frost and in the following season, of 23 matches arranged 11 were played with only one being won, six lost and four drawn; goals for were 14 and goals against 44. Although it was resolved to continue in 1896/7 no matches are reported and in 1897/98 only one. Nevertheless, the club was "resuscitated" for 1898/9 but there are no reports of any more matches being played until 1904 when 25 were arranged. There is no further mention of football in Englefield after 1909 until the 1930s. The Dance brothers, Norman and Ken, were long-term members of the team, as they were of the cricket team. Both are seen the photograph from 1937/38 and Norman at least was still playing in 1978.
Football seems initially to have shared the cricket ground (as later did ladies' hockey) and at the 1893 meeting there was discussion about playing a little higher up in the park. but later moved to the field next to the timber yard. This was certainly the case by 1937 for the team photograph for the 37/38 season (lower right) is clearly taken there with the Street and number 11/12 in the background. The ground was separated from the road by a fence of closely-spaced six-foot tall iron pickets with spiked tops with a gate next to the fire station. Two adjacent bent pickets on the corner by the shop allowed small boys to get through without the need to walk all the way to the gate at other end. The gate and a section of the pickets (with the spikes lopped off) still survives by the nursery school playground but the rest has been replaced.
© 2021 Richard J Smith