Eastbourne United Association F.C.
|Full name||Eastbourne United Association Football Club|
|Ground||The Oval, Eastbourne|
|League||Sussex County League
|2012-13||Sussex County League
Division Two, 4th
Eastbourne United Association F.C. is a football club based in Eastbourne, England. They were formed in 2003 after a merger between Eastbourne United and Shinewater Association. In 2009 they were the Sussex County League champions for the first time in 53 years, 18 years after leaving the Isthmian League. They are currently members of the Sussex County League Division Two.
The first incarnation of Eastbourne United FC was as the 1st Sussex Royal Engineers FC in 1894. In those early days the club played nearby to where the Saffrons (home of Eastbourne Town) now stands, and at the South Lynn ground in Tutts Barn Road, the site of their ground at this time is now covered by the St. Thomas A’Beckett RC Primary School. The club then changed ground again in 1901 when Eastbourne Council gave the club permission to use Gildredge Park. The club then changed its name in 1913 to 1st Home Counties Royal Engineers (Eastbourne) FC to reflect a merger between the RA Volunteers with the Territorial Army.
After the War the club continued to play at Gildredge park and in 1920 the club name was changed to Eastbourne Royal Engineers Old Comrades as the Volunteers disbanded due to the end of the war. During their first season as Eastbourne Royal Engineers Old Comrades the club got to the final of the East Sussex club beating the Royal Corps of Signals, the game however may be notable as the first ever outside broadcast of a sporting event in England as the Signals brought wireless equipment with them to send match reports back to their camp in Maresfield. The club joined the Sussex County League in 1921 and in 1922 they changed their name gain when ties with the Royal Engineers were broken and dropped the "Royal Engineers" part of the name, Eastbourne Old Comrades FC and started wearing the white and black stripes on their shirts. At the end of the 1927–28 season they broke away from the Sussex County League and joined the Spartan League, shortening their name to Eastbourne Comrades FC. They left the Sparten league at the end of the 1931–32 season and re-joined the Sussex County League in 1935. After the end of WW2 they rejoined the Sussex County League for the 1946–47 season, when they moved to The Oval. The club’s achievements at that time were very mediocre and in 1951 the name was changed to Eastbourne United.
Metropolitan and Athenian Leagues
The club’s fortunes changed with the new name and a new coach, George Smith, and between 1953 and 1956 they were twice County League champions, and runners-up once. That success saw them move into the Metropolitan & District League in 1956 (subsequently the Metropolitan League), and in 1964 United joined Division Two of the Athenian League, winning the championship in 1966–67.
Two seasons later, another promotion followed (as runners-up) and United were promoted to the Premier Division. After just one season though, they were relegated back to Division One. However, in 1973/74 the League was re-organised and the Premier Division scrapped.
In 1975 United were relegated to Division Two, and when the Athenian League was disbanded in 1977, joined Division Two of the Isthmian League, and subsequently Division Two (South) following reorganisation in 1984. When further changes to the Isthmian structure were made in 1991, United found themselves in the new Division Three and after one season, opted to rejoin the County League.
Sussex County League
Placed in Division Two of the County League they struggled initially and in 1996 came perilously close to dropping down into intermediate football after finishing bottom. They recovered however, and within two years had won promotion to Division One as runners-up to East Preston. In 2001–02 however, United were relegated once more.
The decision was made to amalgamate with fellow Division Two club Shinewater Association FC at the end of the 2002–03 season. A terrible playing surface at Shine’s ground in Shinewater Lane, and failure to gain permission to erect the floodlights necessary to advance any further, made it difficult to attract players of sufficient quality in a town where they were already at a premium. In addition, the ground was subject to constant vandalism.
Under the leadership of former Shinewater manager Dave Shearing, the new club won promotion back to Division One at the first attempt after finishing third behind champions Littlehampton Town, and runners-up Worthing United. That progression was maintained in 2004–05 with another excellent campaign and 5th place in the top flight of the County League. With constant rumours of disquiet off the pitch in the local media, Shearing resigned at the end of the 2005–06 season to take a break from football (he subsequently joined Bexhill United), with the Club in 14th position. He was succeeded by former Hailsham Town boss Brian Dennis.
Dennis brought success to Eastbourne United at the end of the 2008–09 season when they lifted the RUR cup for the first time since 1956 and also reached the top of the table, but the Sussex FA had spotted that Chichester City had fielded a banned player in their squad and were deducted points, the Sussex FA had talks whether to award points to sides who have played against a team fielding an ineligible player, which would mean Horsham YMCA would be promoted. However the Sussex FA declared that no points were to be given back and United were the Sussex County League champions, for the first time since 1956 giving Eastbourne United the double.
After the end of the 2009–10 season, the Eastbourne United AFC committee took the decision to focus all their efforts on the proposed redevelopment of The Oval, which meant the playing budget was cut and as a result the majority of the first team squad left. Brian Dennis left his role as manager in October 2010 and was replaced by then Reserve Team manager Paul Daubeney. Daubeney couldn't save United from relegation to Division Two however as the club was only able to muster 10 points from their 38 league games. The club have since remained in Division Two of the Sussex League.
The club have played at the Oval on Channel View Road since 1946. The area was originally known as the Gilbert Recreation Ground, which was owned by the local council, who invited Eastbourne Old Comrades to play there after their original home at Lynchmere was sold for development. The council at the time were developing it into a sports arena with an athletics track and a grass cycle track surrounding the grass pitch. Plans were made in 1951 to build a stand and a terrace, which was opened in September 1955 when Eastbourne United hosted a game against Queens Park Rangers.
Floodlights were first installed in 1958 and inaugurated with a match versus Eastbourne F.C. in front of a gate of 4,100. More floodlights were supplemented in 1966 when Eastbourne United were playing in the Athenian League; these were installed at a cost of £5,500 and were officially turned on 25 October 1967 with a friendly game with West Ham United. A third set of floodlights was officially opened on 18 February 1980 by former manager Ron Greenwood with another friendly game with Millwall.
The great storm in 1987 destroyed one of the covered terraces; this was not repaired as the council's insurance did not cover storm damage. The local athletics club left the site in 2003 to a new facility to the north of the town. Today the perimeter fencing now surrounds the pitch; this was bought from nearby Eastbourne Borough's ground at Priory Lane when they improved their facilities. The new fencing has allowed spectators to watch the game nearer to the pitch than they used to. The ground has had a £100,000 investment over the 2011–12 season, to bring it up to Sussex County League standards and is now equipped with new perimeter fencing, concrete walkways and a 113-seater stand. The new improved ground was officially opened with a friendly game against Brighton & Hove Albion on 25 July 2012.
- Sussex County League Division One:
- Champions (3): 1954–55, 1955–56, 2008–09
- Runners-up (3): 1922–23, 1926–27, 1953–54
- Sussex County League Division Two:
- Runners-up (1): 1997–98
- Sussex County League Division Three:
- Runners-up (1): 1996–97†
- Athenian League Division One:
- Runners-up (1): 1968–69
- Athenian League Division Two:
- Champions (1): 1966–67
- East Sussex League:
- Champions (3): 1920–21, 1991–92†, 1996–97†
- Brighton League:
- Champions (1): 1932–33
- Sussex Senior Challenge Cup:
- Winners (6): 1959–60, 1962–63, 1963–64, 1965–66, 1966–67, 1968–69
- Runners-up (6): 1929–30, 1955–56, 1956–57, 1961–62, 1970–71, 1989–90
- The Sussex Royal Ulster Rifles Charity Cup:
- Winners (2): 1955–56, 2008–09
- Runners-up (1): 1954–55
- The John O'Hara League Challenge Cup:
- Winners (1): 1950–51
- Runners-up (1): 1951–52
- Sussex Intermediate Cup:
- Winners (3): 1965–66, 1968–69, 1995–96†
- Metropolitan League Cup:
- Winners (1): 1959–60
- Metropolitan League Amateur Cup :
- Winners (1): 1960–61
- Sussex County League Division Three Cup :
- Winners (1): 1995–96†
- Runners-up (1): 1996–97†
- East Sussex Cup :
- Winners (2): 1920–21, 1937–38
- Sussex Royal Engineers Challenge Shield :
- Winners (3): 1901–02, 1903–04, 1905–06
- Eastbourne Charity Cup :
- Winners (12): 1931–32, 1937–38, 1939–40, 1966–67, 1967–68, 1971–72, 1973–74, 1978–79, 1982–83, 1983–84, 1984–85, 1997–98†
- Newhaven Charity Cup :
- Winners (1): 1951–52
- Bognor Charity Cup :
- Winners (1): 1925–26
- Bexhill Charity Cup :
- Winners (1): 1920–21
- Hastings Charity Cup :
- Winners (2): 1927–28, 1931–32
- Baldwin Cup :
- Winners (1): 1950/51
- Borough Centeanery Cup :
- Winners (1): 1985–86
- Seaford Centenary Cup :
- Winners (1): 1991–92†
- College Cup :
- Winners (4): 1953–54, 1954–55, 1955–56, 1959–60
- Eastbourne Challenge Cup :
- Winners (8): 1964–65, 1991–92†, 1993–94†, 1994–95†, 1996–97†, 1997–98†, 2010–11, 2011–12
† Shinewater Association F.C. Honour
- Highest League Position: 4th in Isthmian League Division Two 1979–80
- F.A Cup best Performance: Fourth qualifying round 1966–67, 1978–79
- F.A. Vase best performance: Quarter-final 1978–79
- Highest Attendance: 6,600 vs Eastbourne May 7, 1956
- Record Win: 15–0 vs Southdown Athletic September 13, 1933
- Record Appearances: 367 – Reg Pope 1953–1965
- Record Goal Scorer: 168 – Tom Barrow 1925–1938
- Most Goal in a season: 63 – John Pooley 1955–56
Notable former players
- Players that have played/managed in the football league or any foreign equivalent to this level (i.e. fully professional league).
- Players with full international caps.
Notable former coaches
- Managers/Coaches that have played/managed in the football league or any foreign equivalent to this level (i.e. fully professional league).
- Managers/Coaches with full international caps.
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- EASTBOURNE OLD COMRADES at the Football Club History Database
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- EASTBOURNE COMRADES at the Football Club History Database
- EASTBOURNE UNITED at the Football Club History Database
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- Published on Wednesday 29 April 2009 23:34 (2009-04-29). "United clinch RUR Cup – Sport". Eastbourne Herald. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
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- Published on Wednesday 20 May 2009 14:46 (2009-05-20). "City lodge appeal over 'ineligible player' row – Sport – Chichester Observer". Chichester.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- Published on Friday 23 July 2010 17:21 (2010-07-23). "Mass player exodus could be a blessing – Dennis – Sport". Eastbourne Herald. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- Published on Wednesday 13 October 2010 09:00 (2010-10-13). "Hutchinson interest but Daubeney takes charge at the Oval – Sport". Eastbourne Herald. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- "Football Club History Database – Sussex County League 2010–11". Fchd.info. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- Published on Wednesday 25 July 2012 17:49 (2012-07-25). "United take on Brighton and Hove Albion XI at new-look Oval Stadium tonight. – County League Football". Eastbourne Herald. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- Allchin, Dean (2012-07-25). "Eastbourne United AFC vs Brighton & Hove Albion XI – Eastbourne United Association FC". Eastbourneunitedafc.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- SHINEWATER ASSOCIATION at the Football Club History Database
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- "The Sussex Senior Cup". Sussexcountyleague.com. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
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- "Club - History". Crawley Down Gatwick FC. Retrieved 2012-10-26.
- "Division 3 Cup – Sussex County Football League". Sussexcountyleague.com. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- "Club Records – Eastbourne United Association FC". Eastbourneunitedafc.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-10-04.