Club History

As a result of an historic meeting in late 1893, the football club started in earnest at the beginning of the 1894/95 season. Considering the school did not have a sports ground of its own at the time, it is surprising how well the club flourished from the start, and in the third season the club ran two elevens, with a third added in 1900/01.

The fixture list included some well-known opposition teams from the earliest times, and quickly improved to a very respectable level. We used a pitch next to Ewell Cricket Club and changed in their pavilion for some of the home matches in those days. That was as close to luxury as we came playing at home, although we also used the school’s hired ground at New Beckenham after a few years. Unfortunately, the playing surface there left a lot to be desired; it was uneven, and had the odd hazard, such as a lump of concrete protruding from the ground. Both grounds had one advantage - they were near train stations, a distinct plus point for travelling before cars became the norm.

Raising a team was even more difficult then, with slow communications. You certainly didn’t want to receive a post card or letter on Friday telling you someone was dropping out of the Saturday team! Our players were spread all over the London area, just as our players are today. At least with local teams, people lived within a small area, making it a bit easier for them.

At some point in our early years we joined the Arthurian League, although it is unclear exactly when this happened. The league was actually an association of clubs of old boys’ sides from independent/public schools wanting to play football in the Corinthian spirit. There was not a league competition as such, and clubs played friendlies with other outside teams too. In the very early years penalties were frowned upon by many people, as gentlemen would not foul in the penalty area on purpose! The Arthurian League did instigate the Arthur Dunn Cup to give a knock-out competition for members. The cup is still played now, but a league competition was started in the 1960s.

By 1905/06 we had an Easter Tour in Sussex. CL Gregory scored 27 goals in the season. There was a Boxing Day tour in which we played Worthing on December 26th and Eastbourne. Players also made Sunday trips to play in France.

In 1907/08 we had a good year, reaching the third round of the Dunn, and the semi-final round of the Surrey AFA Cup. That was under the leadership of HF Pimm, who captained the club for eight consecutive years. PJ Peacock, who skippered for the next five, was a good club man; he pulled together all three sides every week when the club first started the third eleven at the start of the century. 

Despite the inevitable intervention of the First World War, the early 1920s saw the Club running five sides. In the 1924/25 season we played 91 fixtures. Many of the people playing football for us took part in other Old Citizens’ sports as well. Bill Lewis skippered the football club second eleven, and the cricket club first eleven in the same year, and he managed to play fives as well. Denis Collier captained the football and cricket first elevens simultaneously. WFJ ‘Thommo’ Thomson captained cricket, football, and swimming and water polo at different times, and Freddy Pearson also skippered both the football and cricket in different years.

The Club’s future was dealt a fatal blow in 1929 when the school switched from football to rugby. However, the Club was still strong enough in the 1930/31 season to reach the final of the Arthur Dunn Cup, which we lost to the holders, Old Wykamists. In the first round we beat one of the favourites, Old Carthusians, 5-4, in an exciting match, where the half time score was 3-3.  Broughton had a fabulous game for us, scoring two goals and supplying key passes in the build-up for the other three.

The Times (December 22nd, 1930) carried a match report. Here is an excerpt:

‘In the Dunn FC Hawker marked GD Kemp-Welch much more successfully than many better known half-backs have done in the past. ECW Broughton had a most successful match as he scored two goals and played a part in scoring each of the other three. F Pearson made some delightful passes and LE Youngman and CC Taylor kept a firm grip on a very strong wing.’

In the same season, before the Dunn started, we warmed up with a top performance against Old Chigwellians - Old Citizens 12 Old Chigwellians 3. We were leading 8-0 at half time, so Chigwell recovered a bit. Three of our players scored hat-tricks!  - F Pearson 3, EDS Offord 3, and ECW Broughton 3. AR Fulford scored 2, and LW Barnett 1.

Other notable wins included hammering Old Quintinians 10-1 with Offord scoring 5, and Pearson 3, and a victory over Catford Wanderers, one of the teams fancied to win the Senior AFA Cup. We ended their unbeaten run with a 5-2 win, with Offord hitting another five goals. The club had an impressive unbeaten run. Sixteen games unbeaten, winning 13 and drawing 3.

Noteworthy OC footballers include: EDS Offord, a speedy attacker with an eye for goal, CL Gregory, a handful for most defences, SA Kyffen, a good early centre forward, and WFJ Thomson, a goal taker who worked hard for the team and played for many years, in all elevens, and was top scorer overall for the Old Cits, scoring 303 goals in total. It is impossible to be certain of the exact number of goals each player scored, with the exception of Thomson. Kyffen was the first to score 100 goals and went on to achieve more than 150. Gregory reached 200. EDS Offord was probably the most skilful player. He had the honour of being selected to play for the famous Corinthian side on a regular basis. Quite an impressive number of OCs were chosen to represent their counties.

Scorers usually get the plaudits, but over the years we had a good goalkeeper in FE Jarvis, and DL Collier and CC Taylor were sound full backs. F Pearson was an attacking half-back (mid-fielder) who retained his place in the first eleven over a long career. Frank Hawker was a reliable centre-half, or central defender.

The club was obviously not in a position to restart after WWII, with no school football having been played for sixteen years. What we did not know at the time was that CLS would later return to football instead of rugby.

In 1972/73 OC football was starting to be played once again using the Junior School Ground for home matches, thanks mainly to the initiative of Alan Culverhouse and AG and DC Harper. One, or sometimes two, sides were turning out, and we were accepted back into the Arthurian League in 1974/75. In 1980/81 season we rose up to be champions of Division 3, and in 1982/83 we progressed to topping Division 2. However, in 1989/90 the club had to leave the league, and folded because of lack of players. At that time, we were in Division 1, so it was a failure to recruit new members and the running of the club that was at fault, rather than shortage of ability that forced our demise.

There was another relaunch, with Rob Harris and Tim Levene behind it. In 2009/10 we played some friendly matches to qualify to rejoin the Arthurian League for the 2010/11 season. We use the excellent facilities at Grove Park for home matches and have started climbing the league. OC football looks forward to the future.