A.F.C. Hornchurch

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AFC Hornchurch
Hornchurchfc.png
Full name Association Football Club Hornchurch
Nickname(s) The Urchins
Founded 2005
Ground Hornchurch Stadium, Upminster
Ground Capacity 3,500 (1,000 seated)
Chairman Colin McBride
Manager Jimmy McFarlane[1]
League Isthmian League
Premier Division
2013–14 Isthmian League
Premier Division, 5th

A.F.C. Hornchurch are an English football club based in Hornchurch, Greater London. The club are currently members of the Isthmian League Premier Division and play at the Hornchurch Stadium.

The club was formed in 2005 after Hornchurch Football Club suffered financial problems and was closed down. The new club joined the Essex Senior League, an English football league covering Essex and east London, during the 2005–06 season, where they were champions at the first attempt, and followed this up by winning the Isthmian League Division One North title in 2006–07. A monthly fanzine named the Eastside was started by Jordan Newman in 2009.

Club history[edit]

The club's history dates back to 1923 when the team were formed as ‘Upminster Wanderers’. The home ground was the local recreation park in Upminster. The club were quickly elected to the Romford League and won the Second Division Championship in their first season.

After the Second World War the club joined the Spartan League and played in Division One East for several years before being promoted to the Premier Division. In 1953 they moved to the Delphian League and also took up residence at ‘The Stadium’ in Bridge Avenue, Upminster - which is still their home today. The club changed its name in that same year to Hornchurch and Upminster FC and this was changed again in 1961 to Hornchurch Football Club. The club were runners up for the Championship that same year, a performance which was good enough to see them gain election to the Athenian League. The club won the Division One Championship in 1967, were relegated in 1969 and promoted back again in 1971.

1974/5 saw the club reach the fifth round of the very first FA Vase Competition where they lost to eventual finalists Epsom & Ewell F.C. by one goal. That performance helped the club gain election to the Isthmian League. In 1978, the club once again suffered relegation but three years later they were back after achieving the runners up slot behind Feltham. Disaster struck in 1989 when a fire destroyed the clubhouse and that single event led to years of struggle. Eventually, after the regionalised Isthmian Divisions were in place the club were relegated to Division 3. Manager Mick Marsden was appointed in February 1998 and in his second season in charge of the club took them to fourth place.

2000/1 was disappointing as far as League performances were concerned, but the team had an excellent run in the FA Vase before being knocked out by eventual finalists Berkhamsted after an exciting replay.

2002/3 saw the club promoted as runners up from Division 3 into the Ryman Division One North. That promotion saw the whole club restructured. The old members club was disbanded and a new Limited Company was formed. The club's shareholders, a European Investment Company provided funds for the redevelopment of the ground, the clubhouse and also the building of a team capable of gaining Conference status. Indeed, the ground dramatically change from the old derelict stadium to a well seated and covered ground (3,500 capacity) with all amenities including a new restaurant, bar, changing rooms and gymnasium. The team played well all season and were never out of the top five, going into the last game against Great Wakering Rovers F.C. with promotion to the Ryman Premier already secured. The team needed the away win to ‘pinch’ the Championship from Northwood. It wasn’t to be however and a 3-3 draw sent the title to Chestnut Avenue with the Urchins one point adrift.

2003/2004 season saw the squad strengthened further with the arrival of five new signings to add to the previous campaign's impressive line up. The club had 12 full time professional players with a total squad of 30 playing in both the Ryman Premier Division and the Capital League. The second Round proper of the FA Cup was achieved with Darlington disposed of in the 1st Round.[2] Tranmere were the controversial winners of a memorable televised 2nd round tie at Bridge Avenue in front of a capacity crowd. Promotion to the new Conference South was achieved at the season's end.

2004/05 saw the appointment of Garry Hill as manager and the squad strengthened still further, taking the playing budget to its highest level. This ultimately proved unsustainable and in January 2005 the club shareholders removed the old Board of Directors and installed Jon Smith as Managing Director with Jenny Cliff as co-Director. Tony Choules was immediately appointed as Manager and all contract players were duly released. A good end to the season on the pitch saw Choules' budget side finish in a most creditable position, but the off pitch affairs could not be resolved and the club re-formed under the name AFC Hornchurch and were duly placed by the FA in the Essex Senior League. Ex Urchins Youth Manager John Lawrence was appointed by The Board to first team duties in May 2005.

2005/06 saw a treble winning campaign for the team, with an almost brand new Urchins squad becoming the first club in England that season to win their championship and in doing so setting a new points record for the Essex Senior League.. This was closely followed with the winning of the Gordon Brasted Cup and the League Cup. As the close season began John Lawrence resigned his manager's position and Colin McBride (previously with Thurrock in the Conference South) was appointed to lead a further strengthened team for a campaign in the newly formed Ryman Division 1 North.

2006/07 saw the Urchins have another memorable season when they took the Ryman North League by storm finishing Champions with 103 points, 21 points clear of second placed Harlow Town. In the process the team lost only three league matches and finished the season by setting a new club record of 35 games undefeated - a record which they took with them for their coming campaign in the Ryman Premier League. In addition to the League Championship additional silverware was earned when the team won the Essex Senior Cup for the first time in the club's history. A memorable Final was played against a hard working Great Wakering Rovers F.C. team at Roots Hall, home of Southend United FC, in front of an estimated crowd of 2500. The Urchins were victorious by two goals to one.

2007/08 saw the Urchins return to the Ryman Premier Division and build upon their successes of the previous two seasons. In a very strong and competitive League they secured a play-off place but lost out in the semi-final to AFC Wimbledon on a memorable night at Kingsmeadow in front of a crowd of 2897. One of the high points of the season was ‘doing the double’ over League Champions Chelmsford City – the 4-0 away victory will be long remembered by the travelling Urchin faithful. The Urchins almost made it to the First Round Proper of the F.A. Cup but a narrow home defeat at the hands of Team Bath dashed their hopes in the Fourth Qualifying Round.

2008/09 proved to be another eventful season with success in several major Cup Competitions. The biggest thrill, and the most bitter disappointment, was probably the 1-0 defeat to Peterborough United at a packed Bridge Avenue in the First Round Proper of the F.A. Cup.[3] The Urchins had held the League One side for 90 minutes, and even had a goal disallowed, but a 91st minute winner for the Posh broke the Urchins hearts. In the previous round the Urchins had scored a major victory when they travelled to Conference National side Weymouth and came away 2-1 winners. Other success came in reaching the Quarter Final of the Essex Senior Cup and the Fourth Round of the Ryman League Cup. A 6th place finish in the League meant the Urchins just missed out on a play-off place.

Off the field distractions in 2009/10 may have contributed to the Urchins early exit from the F.A. Cup although they did make it to the Third Qualifying Round of the F.A Trophy. After a thrilling 4-4 draw at Melbourne Park the Urchins lost 2-1 in the replay at Bridge Avenue. There was, however, success in the Essex Senior Cup where the Urchins again reached the Final. They had won this Competition three years ago when they defeated Great Wakering Rovers F.C. by two goals to one at Roots Hall, home of Southend United. This time their opponents were Colchester United. Sadly, heavy rain immediately prior to kick-off saw the postponement of the Final which is now scheduled to be played pre-season 2010/11.[4]

In 2012 AFC Hornchurch won promotion to the Conference South by beating Lowestoft Town in the playoff final 2–1.[5] Hornchurch were relegated after one season and reached the Isthmian Premier League play-off final the following season, but this time lost 3–0 to Lowestoft[6]

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