Hastings United F.C.
Hastings United Club badge
|Full name||Hastings United Football Club|
|Founded||1894 as Rock-a-Nore|
|Ground||The Pilot Field|
|Capacity||4,050 (800 seated)|
|League||Isthmian League South Division|
|2016–17||Isthmian League South Division, 5th of 24|
Hastings United Football Club is a semi-professional English football club that currently plays in the Isthmian League South Division and is affiliated to the Sussex County Football Association and the Hastings Football Association.
The club is based in the borough of Hastings and is based at The Pilot Field. Originally known as Hastings Town and Hastings & St. Leonards before that, the club changed to its current name in 2002, partly taking on the identity of the old Hastings United football club, which ceased to exist in 1985.
The present-day team known as Hastings United Football Club was founded in 1894 as Rock-a-Nore. The team played in local leagues until 1921, when they merged with All Saints (becoming Hastings & St. Leonards Amateurs) and joined the Sussex County League, where they played until 1927. In 1952, the club rejoined the Sussex County League, remaining there until the 1984/85 season.
Sussex County League
In 1921, Hastings & St. Leonards Amateurs moved to the Sussex County League and finished runners-up to Worthing. The club again finished second in the 1926–27 season, this time behind Southwick, but then moved back to the Hastings Football League due to ground problems. The club joined the Sussex County League again in 1952, but had to wait until the 1959–60 for success, finishing second in Division Two of the Sussex County League. In 1979, the club changed its name to Hastings Town and, in the 1979/80 season, won the Division Two championship and the Divisional Cup. The 1980–81 season saw the club win the County League Cup.
When, in 1985, the old Hastings United ceased trading, Hastings Town applied for membership of the Southern League Premier Division, though, following objections from another club, were admitted into the league's Southern Division. The club also negotiated a long term lease with Hastings Borough Council for use of United's Pilot Field ground, moving from their former home at The Firs.
1991/92 culminated in a win at second placed Weymouth to clinch the league title and promotion to the Southern League Premier Division, where they played for the following six seasons. At the start of the 1997/98 season, local lottery winner Mark Gardiner became involved with the club, but his money still didn't help the club's progress on pitch, although they did win the Sussex Senior Cup, beating Burgess Hill Town in the final. The end of the 1998–99 season saw Town in administration and not knowing which league they were to play in the following season, as Gardiner's attempt to withdraw the club's resignation from the Southern League had been refused, with Gardiner stepping down as a consequence. The Club was saved from extinction by a last gasp bid from another local lottery winner, Mick Maplesden and Town were accepted back into the Southern League, but only to the Eastern Division (formerly Southern Division). The club went close to promotion in each of the next two years, but with George Wakeling appointed as manager early in the 2000–01 season, an unbeaten run near the end of the campaign saw Town win the title and promotion back to the Premier Division.
The 2002–03 season saw Hastings Town renamed as Hastings United, playing in the former team's traditional claret and blue kit. Although reaching the first Round of the FA Cup (losing 1–0 to Stevenage Borough), was an early season highlight, the club was ultimately relegated back to the Eastern Division, in the process losing many players to fellow Sussex side Eastbourne Borough and Kent side Folkestone Invicta. Starting the 2003/04 season under a new chairman in David Walters, a new manager in former player Steve Lovell, and with only the bare bones of a playing squad, United only just managed to escape relegation to the County League.
Following the restructuring of the non-league football pyramid, United kicked off the 2004–05 season in the Isthmian League, playing in Division One. After manager Steve Lovell's resignation in November that year, United surprised many by bringing in ex-Wales and Everton goalkeeper Neville Southall, and with him came an upturn in fortunes, with eventually United consolidating their position in their new league.
A few months into the 2005/06 season, Southall parted company with the Club after disagreements with the chairman Dave Walters. He was replaced by the inexperienced management duo of senior players, Nigel Kane and Pat Brown. The latter stepped down before the end of the season, but returned to coach the club's goalkeepers for the following campaign, as Hastings attempted to improve on a disappointing final placing of twelfth.
The 2006–07 season was a Jekyll & Hyde affair for the club. In the early stages, Hastings struggled and looked destined for a relegation battle, but from the end of November, after Nigel Kane's brother Norman had been installed as assistant manager and Gareth Sefton as coach, the team embarked on two separate long undefeated runs and found themselves chasing eventual league champions Maidstone United, even topping the table for a twenty-four-hour spell in mid-March. A dip in form towards the end of the campaign led to Hastings eventually finishing in fourth place, good enough for a place in the divisional play-offs. Hastings played away to Dover Athletic in the semi-final and, despite being reduced to ten men after half an hour, triumphed 2–0. The final saw Hastings travel to take on Tooting & Mitcham United at Imperial Fields, where another 2–0 victory earned them promotion to the Isthmian League Premier Division for the 2007–08 season.
The return to Premier Division football began well, and a fine sequence of results at the Pilot Field enabled United to sit proudly in the top six at an early stage. A failure to win a single away match in the league, coupled with a sudden and complete loss of home form, saw United fall down the table and into the relegation places, culminating in the departure of Nigel Kane as manager on 27 December 2007. A couple of weeks later, his successor was named as the former Tonbridge Angels manager Tony Dolby, who was appointed together with his long-time assistant Mike Rutherford. Dolby's brief was simply to help United escape relegation, and despite the Club's situation still looking hopeless in early March, an excellent run of six wins in their last nine matches took them to safety, sealed by a 3–0 victory away to Leyton on the final day of the campaign, as United finished their first season back in the Premier Division in fourteenth place, three points clear of relegation places.
Despite this relative success, barely a week after the season had concluded, Dolby and Rutherford both announced that they would be stepping down from their roles, leaving United manager-less for the second time in four months. With several key players also leaving the club, former player and current reserve team manager John Lambert was promoted, along with assistant Wayne Farrier, to take charge of first team duties, allowing preparations to commence for the 2008–09 campaign.
However, on 2 February 2009, John Lambert was sacked from his role of manager along with assistant Wayne Farrier. Tony Dolby returned to the role.
From November 2011, Sean Ray was appointed player/manager. Ray and Mark Stapley initially took over in a caretaker capacity, but wins over Horsham (5-0) and Aveley (1-0) in their first two games led to Ray being appointed player-manager and Stapley assistant manager.
Central defender Ray steered the club to safety in the 2011/12 season despite some topsy-turvy form after Christmas, securing their Ryman League Premier Division status with a notable win away to Lowestoft Town on the penultimate weekend.
United achieved back-to-back league wins early in the 2012/13 campaign before pulling off their first FA Cup victory in six years against Chatham Town. That proved the start of an unbelievable run in the world’s most decorated domestic knockout competition which ended with two of Ray’s finest moments in football.
2012-13 FA Cup run and relegation
Previously, Hastings United only ever made one appearance in the first round proper of the FA Cup, this being a 1-0 away defeat to Stevenage Borough in 2002, before then the town has seen FA Cup qualification, but only under the original 1948 incarnation of the team. Since then, Hastings had fallen short of another appearance in the contest proper, until 2012-13 which started with entry in the first qualifying round, after gaining a bye from the extra-preliminary round, due to their level of the seventh tier on the league pyramid. After qualifying for the first round proper, the team beat Bishop's Stortford 2-1 away before following this up with a 1-1 also away from home, against Harrogate. This meant that the team faced a replay on their own territory, only to draw by the same scoreline again in normal and extra time. This meant to settle the tie a penalty shootout was required. Hastings having scored the same number of penalties as Harrogate after each team took five, won the tie on sudden death enabling them to travel to Middlesbrough for the third round, doing so as the lowest ranked team left in the competition. On 5 January 2013, Hastings were finally knocked out by Middlesbrough, beaten 4-1 at The Riverside Stadium. Despite this Hastings' goal will be widely remembered by all Hastings fans as it was quite possibly the biggest match in the club's history.
Ray and his players were the toast of the town after a second round replay win over Harrogate Town on penalties which was televised lived on ESPN as over 4,000 fans packed into The Pilot Field. That was followed by a gallant 4-1 defeat against Championship outfit Middlesbrough at The Riverside Stadium in January.
United’s league form couldn’t match their cup run, however, and a three-and-a-half month stretch without a win contributed heavily to their relegation at the end of the campaign. Ray had been set to stay and try to guide the club back up, but resigned just a few days before the start of the new season. Mark Stapley and Terry White briefly took charge for the start of the 2013-14 season before John Maggs was appointed first team manager in September. After a disappointing run towards the end of 2013, start of 2014 and unable to produce any quality signings John Maggs was sacked as Manager of Hastings United after 5 Months, One Day later first team coach Terry White was appointed as Manager. White took the U's to the play off semi final where they lost in extra time to Folkestone Invicta. The start of the 2014-15 season saw United struggle to get consistent form and Terry White resigned in October. Dominic di Paolo was appointed in his place but after a run of poor form, he himself resigned on New Year's Day 2015. Former United Manager Nigel Kane was quickly appointed with the task of keeping the U's in the league. After a tense last few weeks of the season Kane achieved that goal with United avoiding the drop on the last day of the season. Early April also saw Chairman David Walters stand down after 10 years at the helm selling his majority shares to David Ormerod. Ormerod quickly appointed a new board and at the end of the campaign the club and Kane parted company once again with the new board appointing Garry Wilson as Manager in May 2015.
Colours and crest
The club colours are claret and blue. As Hastings Town the colors were white and red, with the team wearing an all white kit with red trim. The team currently play in claret and blue shirts, with white short and socks, for the initial few seasons after renaming the club also used kits with claret or blue shorts and socks. Their current away kit is all yellow with dark blue half shoulder and left side. For away kits, the club have traditionally used yellow or blue kits, though a couple of exceptions are a red and black kit in the late 1990s and an all white kit in the late 2000s. The club use the town's coat of arms as their club badge.
The Parkwood Firm is an English football hooligan firm associated with Hastings United. The firm are named after the local 6th form college (Parkwood College) where they met, and have become notorious within the non-league football scene for their innovative use of French Bangers and general unruly behaviour.
Hastings United play their home games at the Pilot Field Elphinstone Rd, Hastings, East Sussex TN34 2AX
Hastings United's current home ground is The Pilot Field, where the club have been based since 1985. The club used the ground as Hastings & St. Leonards, but were forced to move in 1948 after the council granted use of the stadium to the newly formed Hastings United. Hastings & St. Leonards relocated to The Firs, next door, and spent a short spell playing on municipal pitches. The Pilot Field has a capacity of 4,050 and has a main stand to the side of the pitch which seats and covers spectators. There is also a club bar near the main entrance to the ground which hosts various events in the function room, which is available for hire. The ground's record attendance is 4,888 v Nottingham Forest, for a friendly which took place in 1996.
Due to the increasing ground maintenance cost and ageing main stand,former club chairman Dave Walters expressed his interest in working with the council to build a new stadium as part of a new sports complex, which would involve selling off The Pilot Field and the neighbouring Firs football ground, currently lying derelict. However, there has been a lack of progress regarding the proposals. More recently, the club replaced their ageing floodlights which has involved fund-raising schemes and a grant from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund
- As of 14 August 2017.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
- For all Hastings United and Hastings Town players with a Wikipedia article see Category:Hastings United F.C. players.
|Assistant manager||Chris Agutter|
|First team coach||Lee Carey|
|Head of football development||Glyn White|
|Development squad assistant||Paul Tuppenney|
|Academy team manager||Dean White|
|Matchday kit man||Dane Martin|
- Southern League 
- Isthmian League 
- Sussex County League 
- Sussex County League Runners-Up (2) 1921–22, 1925–26
- Sussex County League Division 2 Winners (1) 1979–80
- Sussex County League Division 2 Runners-Up (1) 1959–60
- Sussex County Cups 
- Gilbert Rice Floodlit Cup 
- Winners (1) 1990
- Record attendance: 4,888 vs Nottingham Forest, 1996
- League attendance: 1,834 vs AFC Wimbledon, 2005
- Transfer fee paid: £8,000 to Ashford Town, for Nicky Dent.
- Transfer fee received: £50,000 from Nottingham Forest, for Paul Smith.
- "Club Info". Hastings United Football Club. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
- "Club History". Hastings United Football Club. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
- "Hastings United". Nomad Online. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
- Stevenage 1–0 Hastings – BBC Sport
- "Parkwood Firm🐊 (@ParkwoodFirm) | Twitter". twitter.com. Retrieved 2017-07-25.
- "Club statement | News | Hastings United Football Club". www.hastingsunited.com. Retrieved 2017-07-25.
- United Stadium bid takes step – Hastings Observer
- Hastings United's new ground dream – Hastings Observer
- Light at the end of United's tunnel? Hastings Observer
- "First Team". Hastings UnitedF.C. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
- "R.U.R. Cup Final Results – Sussex County Football Association". Sussexcountyleague.com. Retrieved 2012-11-11.