The appellation Sussex remained in use as a ceremonial county until 1974, when the Lord-Lieutenant of Sussex was replaced with one each for East and West Sussex. The whole of Sussex has had a single police force since 1968.
The club was formed in 1896 and played their formative years in the West Sussex League. Five seasons later they entered the Mid-Sussex League and won the Senior Division in only their second season. Crawley remained in Junior Football until they entered the Sussex County League in 1951, although they had played in an Emergency County League competition in 1945-46. Four seasons in First Division ended in relegation, but Crawley returned to the First Division immediately as runners-up. The club then switched to the Metropolitan League, a competition for both professional and amateur sides. Still retaining their amateur status, Crawley won the Metropolitan League Challenge Cup in 1959.