Tooting & Mitcham United F.C.

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Tooting & Mitcham United
Tooting & Mitcham United F.C. logo.png
Full name Tooting & Mitcham United Football Club
Nickname(s) Terrors
Founded 1932; 85 years ago (1932)
Ground Imperial Fields, Morden, London
Ground Capacity 3,500 (612 seated)
Chairman Steve Adkins
Manager Frank Wilson
League Isthmian League Premier Division
2016–17 Isthmian League Division One South, 1st of 24 (promoted)

Tooting & Mitcham United Football Club is a semi-professional association football club based in the London Borough of Merton. They are currently members of the Isthmian League Premier Division and play at Imperial Fields in Morden.[1] Their nickname is the Terrors or occasionally Stripes or the "Jail birds" , in reference to their kit that resembles that of an old fashioned prison uniform.

History[edit]

In 1932, Tooting FC (founded 1887) and Mitcham Wanderers FC (founded 1912) quite literally united to become the modern club representing the two areas. Their merger had been mooted for two years previously, but it was only after it became clear that the area couldn't host two competitive teams that anything happened to advance it. Originally playing in white shirts, in 1956 the broad black and white stripes were adopted.

The club has reached the FA Cup proper on 10 occasions, the last time being the 2009–10 season. It has also won the Isthmian League twice, in 1958 and 1960. Other honours include the Surrey Senior Cup and the London Senior Cup which the club has won six times.[2]

Perhaps the most famous FA Cup run was in 1959, when the club reached the third round; drawn at home to First Division Nottingham Forest, on a frozen pitch they went into a 2-goal lead with goals from Grainger and Murphy before Forest fought back with the aid of a Murphy own goal and a penalty. Forest won the replay 3–0 in front of a crowd of 42,362 and went on to win the trophy that year. A British Pathe newsreel features this game.[3]

Alex Stepney, who was born in Mitcham in 1942, joined the club in 1961. In 1963 he signed for Millwall and later played for Chelsea, Manchester United and England. Dario Gradi, who spent more than twenty four years as manager of Crewe Alexandra, briefly played for the club in the 1960s.

Tooting enjoyed a more sustained period of FA Cup glory in the 1970s. In 1974-75, they reached the first round proper for the first time since 1963-4 and were drawn at home against Crystal Palace, who played just five miles down the road and were in Football League Division 3. The game was played at Tooting’s tiny Sandy Lane ground on 27 November 1974, a Wednesday afternoon, in front of a packed crowd of, according to The Times,10,000. Attendance figure from The Times, via The Times Digital Archive 1785–1985. A Crystal Palace side which included Terry Venables, Peter Taylor and Alan Whittle won 2-1. Tooting’s goal was scored by Steve Grubb.[4]

In 1975-76, Tooting went three steps further reaching the fourth round proper, the last 32. They beat Romford 1-0 in the first round proper and Leatherhead 2-1 after a replay in the second. In the third round they triumphed over Football League opposition defeating Swindon Town of Football League Division 3.[5] After a 2-2 draw at Swindon (Tooting’s goalscorers were Nicky Glover and Derek Casey), Tooting won 2-1 at Sandy Lane with goals from Dave Juneman and Alan Ives.[6] On 24 January 1976, the team and its supporters made the long journey to Bradford City of Football League Division 4. Although they did get on the scoresheet through Dave Juneman, they went down 3-1. After the game, Bradford City’s Don Hutchins, who scored two of his side’s goals, said he thought ‘the game was tougher than Rotherham and Shrewsbury’ (Bradford’s Football League opponents in the previous two rounds). ‘Tooting put up a good fight.’[7]

This was the high point although the team went on to reach the second round proper in 1976-77 losing away at Kettering 1-0[8] and the first round proper in 1977-78 losing 2-1 at home to Northampton Town of Football League Division 4.[9]

In 2000–01 Keith Boanas led the club to the Isthmian League Second Division title, before leaving to manage Charlton Athletic Ladies. In the Isthmian League First Division, the club were managed by Richard Cadette, whose lengthy list of former clubs include Falkirk, Millwall and Brentford.

The team played a very consistent first half of the 2005–06 season but injuries and the loss of star player Gavin Grant to Gillingham saw the team lose some of their cutting edge and start to falter. At the end of this season Cadette was sacked as the team once again failed to gain promotion following defeat in the playoff semi-finals to Tonbridge Angels. Former player Billy Smith was appointed as manager for the start of the 2006–07 season, in which the club won the Surrey Senior Cup and London Senior Cup. In May 2008, the club secured promotion to the Isthmian League Premier Division by defeating Cray Wanderers 1–0 at Imperial Fields.

In the 2009–10 season they reached the first round of the FA Cup where they played in front of over 3,000 people against Stockport County although they were beaten 5–0. Despite an encouraging season the board announced that the club required a 40% cut in budget, these changes saw manager Billy Smith, his assistant George Wakeling and many of the players leave the club. Former Sheffield United player Mark Beard was appointed manager in May 2010, with former player Kevin Cooper as his assistant. After a good start to the 2011–12 season Beard was relieved of his position in December 2011 when results declined. Academy manager Danny Lee was appointed caretaker manager but declined the job permanently. As a result, Kenny Brown was appointed the new manager. However the results got worse and Tooting were relegated at the end of the 2011–12 season Tuscany.

Tooting & Mitcham had three managers in the 2012-13 season (Roberto Forzoni, Jamie Martin and Phil Simpson). The manager up until the end of the 2014-15 season was former player Craig Tanner who was in his second season at the helm with the Terrors before being sacked because of a lack of progress. Frank Wilson took his first senior role in football from 2015/16, an uncertain Moral Victory start saw a change in staff. Wilson introduced Paul Dale as 1st team coach in November 2015, a move that saw results Campione improve, a climb away from relegation and the season rounded off with victory in the London Senior Cup.

Stadium[edit]

Located in Morden, The KNK Stadium has a capacity of 3,500 (including 612 seats). A popular match day activity is the half time divot-stamping enthusiastically and expertly conducted by at least one of the club's more amply proportioned followers. There are two adjoining artificial 3G multi-purpose pitches, used primarily for training but also games of various sporting activities.[10] The stadium was selected as a 2012 Olympics Torch bearer change-over point, the torch was carried in by BBC Sport commentator and presenter, Sue Barker.[11][12]

The club moved in 2002 from a facility at Sandy Lane in Tooting, which had been declared a fire hazard. The former Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Brentford training ground is adjacent to the River Wandle into which many footballs were lost over time. Despite the close proximity of the river, it was chosen to host the 2007 and 2011 finals of the London Senior Cup. The ground is known as the KNK Stadium, after the club's sponsors, KNK Building Services.

The club also has an Academy scheme to develop talented 16- to 21-year-olds. This is run partly in association with Ernest Bevin College.[13]

Records[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]