The first mention of an Enfield Football Club appeared in the Meyers Gazette & Observer dated 6th December 1884. At a preliminary meeting, a resolution was passed stating “that gentlemen here present do form themselves into an Association Football Club to be called the Enfield Football Club”. The club’s playing debut was on December 13th 1884 when they beat St. Jude’s F.C. 3-1 on their home ground of Enfield Cricket Club. Their fixture list was composed entirely of friendly matches against other local teams. In 1893 they achieved one of their best results when they beat a team from Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 at their Tucker’s Field ground. The club joined a league for the first time in 1895, but despite early success, they folded in 1898.
Enfield Spartans Football Club
Meanwhile in 1893, a group of youngsters in the district had banded together to create Enfield Spartans Football Club. They played only friendly matches in their debut season at their Bailey’s Field ground, off Baker Street. On joining an organised league the following season, the Tottenham & District Junior League, they moved to the larger Tucker’s Field, previous home of the earlier Enfield F.C., renting the field from a local dairy owner. There were no amenities on site and players had to change in the George Public House in the town centre and walk the mile or so to the ground in full kit. Occasionally players would take a bottle of beer with them so they could enjoy half-time refreshments. When a ground nearer to the town centre became available on the demise of the other Enfield F.C., the Spartans took up residence and within a couple of years dropped the word Spartans from their title.
The club’s formative years were spent in a number of local leagues – the Tottenham & District Junior League (1894-5), the North Middlesex League (1896-1903), the London League (1903-1913) and the Middlesex & District League (1908-1912). Enfield managed to win four league titles during this time and won the Middlesex Charity Cup in 1910 and the Journal de Liege Cup on foreign soil in 1912. Their star player was Sid Crowl who played once for Tottenham Hotspur in the Football League and on fifteen occasions during the First World War. He was one of a number of players who was selected to play for their county and did participate in a trial for the England Amateur team. The club’s switch to the Athenian League in 1912 was an indication of their growing status, and the prestigious Middlesex Senior Cup was captured for the first time in 1914, but the First World War brought a temporary end to their contests on the football field.
Post War Football
When the players returned from the forces, they were faced with the problems of having no club and their former ground having been cultivated to produce food for the locals. A local junior club, Grange Park F.C initiated moves to re-start the club. Before the war they had rejected an offer from Enfield to act as their reserve team, now they saw their chance to progress to a higher standard of football. The Tucker family came to the rescue by allowing the re-born club to use their former pitch and this time the officials and fans started to build a ground worthy of the club. A stand and dressing rooms were erected using volunteer labour and the club spent their first post-war seasons in the Middlesex League and the London League before gaining re-election to the Athenian League in 1921. The inter-war years were not particularly successful ones for Enfield. Second place in 1935 was their highest placing, a season which also witnessed Enfield’s greatest achievement so far in beating Metropolitan Police in the London Senior Cup final at Leyton plus a place in the last four of the Amateur Cup, while the last three seasons before World War 2 saw the team finish in the bottom two. There was cause for celebration as Jack Anderson became Enfield’s first international when he was selected to play against Ireland in November 1929 and three more players, Billy Heal, Reg Beswarwick and Les Hockaday would gain international honours during the 1930’s.
In 1936, Enfield left Tucker’s Field, which would soon disappear under a housing estate, for the newly built stadium in Southbury Road. The first match against Golders Green in F.A.Cup was played on October 31st 1936 and Edgar Kirby had the honour of scoring the first goal at the ground. Sadly the new ground did not inspire the players on the pitch, but the facilities would stand the club in good stead for many years to come.
After war was declared in 1939, Enfield continued to participate in local competitions for three seasons until they decided to cease playing. The ground was used for fundraising charity matches and utilised as an ARP base and a temporary mortuary, together with the neighbouring swimming pool. When competition resumed in 1945, all teams faced disruption due to the problems of when their players would return from the forces and Enfield’s line-up was ever-changing, but one shining star emerged in the form of Jack Rawlings. He appeared for the England Amateur team eleven times, scoring nine goals, and was selected for the Great British Olympic squad for the 1948 London Olympics. Sadly his participation in the tournament was limited through injury to the 3rd-4th place play-off against Denmark. Enfield benefited from his presence when he scored the only goal as they won the Middlesex Senior Cup final against Hendon in 1947, but two years later Jack decided to leave the club and join Hayes. More lean years were to follow, the club’s tenure at The Stadium threatened by the council’s insistence that there should be a greater number of local players in the team and in 1954 the board of directors decided to appoint their first professional manager/coach. Former Chelsea, Swindon Town and Southport player Alex White was appointed to the role and the club’s fortunes started to improve and the good work continued when former Tottenham Hotspur player George Ludford succeeded White in 1957.
The major upturn in Enfield’s fortunes came in the summer of 1959. A number of new signings were made, foremost of which was centre-forward Tommy Lawrence from Hendon. Not only did he lead from the front with an avalanche of goals, but his presence was enough to persuade former colleagues from Hendon and Barnet to follow him to the club. The 1959-60 campaign saw the club progress to the second round of the F.A.Cup for the first time and the Amateur Cup semi final was reached for the first time in twenty five years. It was to herald a period of thirty years of near unbroken success.
The Modern Era
From 1960-1990, Enfield won eleven league titles (Athenian League twice, Isthmian League seven times and Conference twice) and were runners-up on a further five occasions. They reached fifteen Middlesex Cup Finals (winning ten), eight London Senior Cup Finals (five successes) and seven further county and league cup finals (winning four). However their most celebrated triumphs came in the national competitions.
Enfield finally reached Wembley for the first time in 1964, but their quest for Amateur Cup glory was hampered by injury. Talisman Lawrence had suffered a career ending fractured skull in a trial match for the Great British Olympic team. Stalwart defender Peter Terry injured his back days before the final, but the match itself saw goalkeeper Malcolm Mitchell suffer a broken arm with Enfield leading Crook Town 1-0. In the pre substitute days, winger Roy Thomas was forced to don the keeper’s jersey while Mitchell returned to play outfield with a heavily strapped arm, but the disruption caused was too big a handicap to overcome as Crook triumphed 2-1. With Tommy Lawrence now in the manager’s seat, Enfield were back in 1967 to face Skelmersdale United. Their path to the final had been blighted by tragedy when Highgate United centre-half Tony Allden had been struck by lightning and killed during the quarter final tie, the match being replayed at an emotion filled Villa Park. In the final itself, two hours of tense football was climaxed by Ian Wolstenholme’s penalty save late into extra time before a crowd of 75,000. The replay a week later at Maine Road, Manchester was witnessed by 55,000 and Enfield made no mistake and won the Amateur Cup for the first time by 3-0. Their success was repeated three years later with an emphatic 5-1 victory over Dagenham, while their fourth final in eight years ended in disappointment, losing to Middlesex neighbours Hendon 2-0 in 1972. Victory in the 1970 Amateur Cup final saw Enfield qualify for the short-lived European Amateur Cup Winners Cup where they defeated Italian champions Ponte San Pietro 4-2 over two legs.
The amateur era in non-league football ended in 1974 and the Amateur Cup was no longer competed for. The F.A.Trophy assumed the mantle of the pre eminent non league competition and Enfield had two further successes, beating Altrincham 1-0 at Wembley in 1982 and defeating Telford United 3-2 in a replay at The Hawthorns in 1988 after the first match finished goalless.
Enfield captured national headlines with their giant killing exploits in the F.A.Cup. Between 1977 and 1999, they defeated Football League opposition on eleven occasions. Their most successful campaign came in the 1980-1 season where after defeating Hereford United and Port Vale, they were drawn away to Barnsley in the fourth round. A late Peter Burton goal salvaged a 1-1 draw in Yorkshire and due to the interest generated in the tie, the replay was switched to White Hart Lane, a three sided ground due to the rebuilding of the West Stand. The thirty five thousand fans who filled the stadium, with many more locked outside, witnessed the end of the fairytale as Barnsley’s superior finishing saw them to a 3-0 win, but over the two matches Enfield could point to two disallowed goals, a dubious free kick award that lead to Barnsley’s goal in the first match and 4 efforts hitting the woodwork.
The team’s success was reflected in personal reward for the players. Enfield provided twenty seven players for the England Amateur International team between 1960 and its abolition in 1974, far more than any other club and a further ten played for its successor, the England Semi- Professional team. Club captain Tony Jennings had the honour of leading the latter in each of their first twelve matches. A number of players progressed into the Football League, the most notable of which was Paul Furlong who played for nine different league teams in a career spanning nineteen years, accumulating 581 appearances and 185 goals. At the time of his transfer from Watford to Chelsea in May 1994, the transfer fee of £2.3 million was the largest Chelsea had ever paid.
Everything in football is cyclical and Enfield’s years of glory were coming to a close. Two years after winning the F.A.Trophy, the club suffered it’s first ever relegation in 1990. Back in the Vauxhall (Isthmian) Football League, Enfield finished runners-up three times in the next four years, narrowly missing out on promotion back to the Conference. 1994-5 was an outstanding season. Enfield reached the third round of the F.A. Cup where they met top flight opposition for the first time. Handicapped by the absence of suspended top scorer Gary Abbott, they put up a brave fight before losing 2-0 at Leicester City. They also managed to win their league title, heading Slough Town by fourteen points, but they were denied promotion as their financial situation failed to satisfy the Conference’s criteria for admission. The club finished the next two seasons as runners up before a decline in fortunes set in and the biggest setback occurred in 1999 when their Southbury Road home was sold for development and with no replacement in sight, the club became nomads.
Formation Of The First Supporter-Owned Club
A large number of fans were concerned at what was happening to their precious club and in 2001 took the unprecedented step of breaking away to form their own club, Enfield Town F.C. This became a template for future fans-owned clubs, such as AFC Wimbledon and FC United of Manchester. Playing at the home of Brimsdown Rovers, “Town” started to compete in the Essex Senior League with no little success. Spurred on by their large support, the club won three cups in their debut season as well as finishing league runners-up. Two league titles in three years followed and in 2005 the club were promoted to Division One East of the Southern League, where they spent one season before switching across to Division One North of the Isthmian League.
Enfield Town F.C. Move To The Queen Elizabeth II Stadium
In 2011 Enfield Town F.C. club moved into the refurbished Queen Elizabeth II Stadium, across the playing fields from the old Southbury Road ground. They marked the event by reaching the end of season play-offs and gaining promotion to the Premier Division of the Isthmian League, the level at which the old club had been playing when they left Southbury Road.
Meanwhile Enfield F.C. struggled on, homeless and with a greatly reduced following. Ground sharing arrangements were made with Borehamwood and Ware Football Clubs, but in 2007 they were forced to cease trading when they were unable to reach agreement over debt repayment with the Inland Revenue. A new club, Enfield (1893) F.C. was formed to take its place and they too started their new life in the Essex Senior League, playing at Ware’s ground. Subsequently they moved in with Broxbourne Borough before returning to the Borough of Enfield in 2010 by merging with Brimsdown Rovers and playing at their Goldsdown Road ground. They won the Essex Senior League title in 2011, but were denied promotion to the Isthmian League as the facilities did not meet the required standard.