Old Castle Swifts F.C.
|Full name||Old Castle Swifts Football Club|
|Nickname(s)||The Castles, The Swifts|
|Founded||1892 as Castle Swifts F.C.|
|Ground||Dunottar Park 1892
Temple Meadows 1892–1894
Hermit Road 1894–1895
Old Castle Swifts Football Club, the first professional football club in Essex, was formed by Scottish shipowner Donald Currie in September 1892 as Castle Swifts Football Club. Old Castle Swifts' demise saw several players join the newly founded Thames Ironworks, the team who later became West Ham United. The Castles' first home ground, located in West Ham was named Dunottar Park, after the Castle Line company's ship Dunottar Castle.
Old Castle Swifts Football Club was formed by Scottish shipowner Donald Currie in September 1892 as Castle Swifts Football Club. They were the works team of the ship repair yard of The Castle Shipping Line and initially the majority of the team were drawn from the mainly Scottish workforce. Players were paid extra wages when they played for the team, on a game to game basis.
The Castles' first home ground, a field located opposite the West Ham Police Station in West Ham Lane was named Dunottar Park, after the Castle Line company's ship Dunottar Castle. The ground had perimeter fencing and admission was charged at 3d.
The Castles did not remain long at Dunottar Park, having to find a new ground after a dispute with the landlord. One was soon located in fields beside Wakefield Street in East Ham, known as Temple Meadows, which lay in the grounds of Temple House, not far from East Ham railway station. The team would change into their kit in the nearby Denmark Inn (now the Denmark Arms, located on the Barking Road. The Denmark Arms is used today by many West Ham United fans.
In March 1893 they faced Barking Woodville in the final of the West Ham Charity Cup held at Clapton's Spotted Dog ground. The Castles were two goals down before coming back to win the tie 4–2, with the goals coming from outside-right Grundy, inside forwards Mitchell and Taylor and an own goal. A local newspaper made the following account of the final:
- "After the match the crowd made a rush to the Grand Stand where the Mayor presented the large silver cup to the captain of the Castle Swifts and Mr. Comerford of the Cup Committee announced that ‘the medals had not yet come to hand, but they would be forwarded to the winners as soon as possible’. With that the captain was lifted on to the shoulders of several of his followers and carried from the ground."
At the end of the 1893–94 season, the team merged with Old St Luke's, and the newly formed team was renamed as Old Castle Swifts, and used Old St Luke's ground in Hermit Road, Canning Town. Hermit Road had been described as a 'cinder heap' and 'barren waste'. It was surrounded by a moat and had canvas sheeting for fencing.
Their demise came in March 1895 when the club became bankrupt, with chairman Donald Currie no longer willing to bankroll the club.
Arnold Hills, the Chairman of Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co. Ltd, saw the opportunity to fund a works side, so provided the money, in order that he may take over the tenancy of the Hermit Road ground, and Thames Ironworks was born. The club later became West Ham United.
Many of Old Castle Swifts' players were absorbed into the newly formed Ironworks team. Among them were half-backs William Morton, Walter Parks and John Woods, forwards Jamie Lindsay and George Sage, and full-back Robert Stevenson, who became the Ironworks first ever captain. Goalkeeper David Furnell would also eventually join Thames Ironworks in 1897.
- West Ham Charity Cup Winners 1892–93
|Player||Position||Apps||Gls||Date Signed||Previous Club|
|Castle Swifts F.C. 1892–1893 West Ham Charity Cup Winning Team|
|A. McFarlane||RB||1+||1892||Upton Park F.C.|
|W. McFarlane||CH||1+||1892||Upton Park F.C.|
|Other known players|
|H. Butterworth||CF||0+||1894||Old St. Luke's F.C.|
|David Furnell||GK||0+||1894||Old St. Luke's F.C.|
|William Hickman||LH||0+||1893||Old St. Luke's F.C.|
|Jamie Lindsay||FB/FW||0+||1894||Millwall Athletic|
|Frank McCulloch||FW||0+||1894||Millwall Athletic|
|John Morrison||I/OL||0+||1894||Old St. Luke's F.C.|
|Walter Parks||LH||0+||1893||Old St. Luke's F.C.|
|George Sage||IR||0+||1894||Old St. Luke's F.C.|
|Robert Stevenson||RB||0+||1895||Woolwich Arsenal|
|Johnny Stewart||HB/FW||0+||1894||Old St. Luke's F.C.|
|John Thomas Archer Woods||WH/OR||0+||1893||Old St. Luke's F.C.|