Chelmsford City F.C.
|Full name||Chelmsford City Football Club|
1938 (Chelmsford City)
|Ground||Melbourne Stadium, Chelmsford|
|Capacity||3,065 (1,311 seated)|
|2012–13||Conference South, 5th|
Chelmsford F.C. was established in 1878 by members of the Chelmsford Lawn Tennis and Croquet club in order to give them something to do in the winter. The club won the Essex Senior Cup in 1892–93 and again in 1901–02. In 1895, it was a founder member of the North Essex League, which it left in 1900 to join the South Essex League. In 1903–04, it also entered a team into the South East Anglian League and in 1908–09 it spent a season playing in the Eastern Division of the Spartan League.
In 1912, it was amongst the founder members of the Athenian League, although it also continued to play in the South Essex League for another season. In 1922, the club failed to be re-elected and dropped into the Middlesex County League. In 1923–24, it also entered a team into the Essex & Suffolk Border League. That season, the club won the Middlesex County League and finished second in the ESBL, prompting it to step up to the London League. In the following season, Chelmsford won the East Anglian Cup, a feat repeated in 1926–27 and 1928–29. The club won the title in 1930–31 and in 1935 was a founder member of the Eastern Counties League. Two years later, it left the ECL to become a founder member of the Essex County League.
In 1938, it was decided to form a professional club in order to join the Southern League. Having seen how Colchester Town had fared so badly after the formation of the professional Colchester United, it was decided to close down the existing club and to reform as Chelmsford City, despite the fact that Chelmsford itself would not be granted city status until 2012.
Chelmsford City was established in 1938 and took over Chelmsford's New Writtle Street ground. It joined the Southern League and made an immediate impact in the FA Cup, reaching the fourth round in its first season after defeating two League clubs before losing at Birmingham City. At the end of the season, the club applied to join the Football League, but received only one vote. In the 1939–40 season the Southern League was split into Eastern and Western Divisions. City was Eastern Division champions and was declared joint overall champions after drawing a play-off with Lovells Athletic 3–3. The club was the Southern League's first champions when football resumed after the Second World War, also winning the league cup that season.
Chelmsford won the league cup again in 1959–60 and the league title in 1967–68 and 1971–72. The club continued to apply to join the Football League, but never received more than eight votes. The club remained in the top division of the Southern League until 1976–77, when it was relegated to Division One South. In 1977, City was one of six clubs to represent England in the Anglo-Italian Cup. After the formation of the Alliance Premier League it regained its top division status. The club was relegated again in 1987–88 but made an immediate return to the Premier Division after winning Division One South the following season. Another relegation was experienced in 1996–97 and after an issue with the seating at the ground meant they were refused promotion in 1997–98, they did not return to the Premier Division until 2001.
In 2004, the club transferred to the Premier Division of the Isthmian League and was champion in 2007–08, earning promotion to the Conference South. It reached the play-offs in the following season but lost to Hampton & Richmond in the play-off semi-finals. The club qualified for the play-offs again in 2009–10 and 2010–11, but lost in the semi-finals on both occasions. City reached the second round of FA Cup in 2010–11, losing 3–1 at Wycombe Wanderers. In the following season City reached the second round again, taking Macclesfield Town to a replay after drawing at home, but losing 1–0 away at Moss Rose. During the 2012–13 season, the club reached the second round for the third year in a row, defeating along the way its Essex rivals Colchester United 3–1 at Melbourne Park. At the end of the season the club qualified for the play-offs for the fourth time in five years, but lost in the semi-finals to Salisbury City.
When Chelmsford City was formed in 1938 it entered a reserve team into the Eastern Counties League. After the Second World War, the team were champions in 1946–47, 1947–48 and 1948–49 (a season in which they also won the East Anglian Cup), going unbeaten in the first season. They also played in the London League between 1945 and 1948, winning the Premier Division in 1946–47 and 1947–48. Although the clubs' later years in the ECL were not as successful, it won the League Cup in 1960–61, before withdrawing in 1963 after losing the title to Lowestoft Town on goal average. It then joined the Metropolitan League, winning the league title and Professional Cup in 1967–68 before being disbanded in 1969 to reduce the club's running costs. However, it was resurrected briefly in 1970–71 and then again in 1976 when it joined the Essex Senior League, in which it played until 1990. The reserves team then joined the Essex & Herts Border Combination and was disbanded again in 1997. Resurrected again in 2004, the reserves team rejoined the Border Combination, before moving to the Capital League in 2007.
After its establishment, Chelmsford City played at the New Writtle Street ground, which it purchased in 1939. During the early parts of the Second World War it was shared by Southend United, before it became a barrage balloon site in 1942. After the war, it briefly hosted greyhound racing. The record attendance of 16,807 was set for a local derby with Colchester United on 10 September 1949. Floodlights were installed in 1960. Several plans were made to increase facilities at the ground, including installing a swimming pool and building office blocks or a hotel, but none came to fruition.
In 1997, the site was sold to developers and the club had to move out of Chelmsford. They initially shared at Maldon Town's Wallace Binder Ground, before moving to Billericay Town's New Lodge. In January 2006, the club moved back to Chelmsford when it became a tenant at the Melbourne Athletics Stadium, also known as Chelmsford Sport and Athletics Centre. The first game back at Melbourne Park was against former landlords Billericay Town and was played in front of a record crowd of 2,998. The club has plans to upgrade the stadium to a 5,000 capacity capable of achieving the necessary 'A' ground grading. The record attendance at Melbourne Park was 3,201 for a game against AFC Wimbledon on 15 March 2008.
Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
- Isthmian League
- Premier Division champions 2007–08
- Southern League
- London League
- Champions 1930–31
- Middlesex County League
- Champions 1923–24
- East Anglian Cup
- Winners 1924–25, 1926–27, 1928–29
- Eastern Floodlight Cup
- Winners 1966–67, 1974–75, 1977–78, 1981–82, 1982–83, 1986–87
- Essex Professional Cup
- Winners 1957–58, 1969–70, 1970–71, 1973–74, 1974–75
- Essex Senior Cup
- Winners 1892–93, 1901–02, 1985–86, 1988–89, 1992–93, 2002–03, 2008–09
- Non-League Champions Cup
- Winners 1971–72
- Blakeman, M (2010) The Official History of the Eastern Counties Football League 1935–2010, Volume II ISBN 978-1-908037-02-2
- Chelmsford at the Football Club History Database
- Chelmsford City at the Football Club History Database
- history of admission to the Football League
- Chelmford City Reserves at the Football Club History Database
- Million pound ground development revealed This is Essex