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PART ONE: St Michael’s, Camberley

St Michael’s Football Club, to the best of our knowledge was formed in 1895 following a discussion between a group of gentlemen including Dr. A.T. Wooldridge at St Michael’s church (below) in the early months of 1895. Attempts had been made 10 years earlier to start a club when a meeting was held on Monday, 7th September 1885, at the parochial rooms at the church. (newspaper clipping, left)The meeting was chaired by the Reverend G. Sumner Wilson and discussed the rules and regulations for a football club linked to the church. Play was to start immediately thanks to Mr. John Craig, owner of Barossa Farm, who kindly provided a pitch on his land for the club to play on. As far as we are aware that’s as far as it went as there was nothing reported again in the local press for another 10 years. The 1895 discussions proved much more fruitful and a club was set up and played friendly matches initially. The first friendly reported by the local press of the time was on Saturday, October 16th 1895 which St Michael’s, Camberley, as the club

was known, defeated ‘D’ Company of the Royal Military College, 4-2 with A Adkins scoring the first goal. The location of this first match remains a mystery but was believed to have been in the grounds of the college. With the club proving quite popular, the club put in an application to join the Surrey Football Association and they were accepted at the January 1896 meeting of the Surrey F.A, held at Leatherhead. Camberley entered their first competitive competition in the 1897/98 season, the Surrey Junior Cup. It proved to be quite a success with the club winning the cup at the first time of asking. The first competitive match was the 1st Round match at home to Farncombe on Saturday, 16th October 1897. St Michael’s, Camberley ran out comfortable winners, 5-2 with A. Adkins scoring a hat-trick and W. Finch scoring the other two. The following month, on 13th November 1897, Walton St Mary’s were beaten 2-1 in the club’s first competitive away match in the 2nd round of the competition. A. Adkins, again, and J Pyniger scoring the goals. 

Weybridge 2nd XI were beaten 3-0 away in the 3rd round and Guildford were beaten 3-1 at home in a replay, following a 1-1 draw in the 4th Round. Camberley had to overcome tough opposition in the form of Kingston-on-Thames in the Semi Final at Guildford. St Michael’s fought their way through 2-1 in a replay following a 1-1 draw. St Michael’s Camberley returned to the Guildford Sports Ground for the final on 12th March 1898. Despite having lost the services of top scorer A Adkins to a knee injury in February, St Michael’s went on to win the cup with a win over Norwood & Selhurst. Norwood & Selhurst took the lead after 15 minutes through A. Jones who fired home a rebound after St Michael’s, Camberley goalkeeper W. Collins had saved. Two minutes before half time , the ‘Saint’s’ were level when M Dobson headed home from close range. On the hour, St Michaels had the lead when M Dobson’s shot was saved and W Morrison followed up to fire the loose ball into an empty net. St Michael’s victorious team that day was W. Collins (goalkeeper), C. Smith (right back), S. James (left back), J.Perkes (right half), F Kinsman (centre half), J Pyniger (left half), F. Dobson (outside right), C.W. Andrews (inside right), W.H. Morrison (centre forward), A. Godwin (inside left) and G.B. Scott (outside left).


In September 1898, the club set about finding a permanent home ground. They had hoped it would be the London Road Recreation Ground which had opened during the previous year. Permission was granted to play matches there but only on a temporary basis but the club were given permission to collect donations for the club as they were not permitted to enclose the ground and collect a gate.

Due to the cup success, the club were granted ‘Senior’ status by the Surrey F.A. as well as entry into the East & West Surrey League and the Surrey Senior Cup

The start of the 1898-99 season also saw the first of a number of players who went on to better thing’s at Southampton F.C. Arthur ‘Archie’ Docwra Turner (left) joined from South Farnborough Athletic and made his debut for St Michael’s, Camberley on 1st October in St Michael’s first ever East & West Surrey league fixture against Guildford at the scene of the previous season’s cup triumph. Although the ‘Saints’ lost the match 4-1, Turner showed his potential. At the end of the season he had been noticed by Southampton’s scouts and was snapped up by the then Southern League club. His rise to the top of the game was meteoric. On 18th October 1899 he made his Southampton debut at Arsenal. On 26th February 1900 he represented the Southern League v Amatuers of the South. Just over one week, on 7th March later he was called up for England trials in the North v South match and ten days later, 17th March 1900  he was at the old Lansdowne Road ground in Dublin making his England debut. It is believed he was the first Hampshire born player ever to represent England. A year later, almost to the day, he earned his second cap against Ireland but was injured after 20 minutes and never played for England again. Archie also appeared in both the 1900 and 1902 F.A. Cup finals for Southampton, the first non-league team to reach the final since the formation of the Football League, but unfortunately they lost both. 

Archie Turner, Former St Michael's, Camberley player who transfered to southampton and we on to be an England International

As Archie left St Michael’s he was replaced for the following season by his brother Harry Turner (left). Harry was dual signed between South Farnborough Athletic and St Michael’s, Camberley. This was allowed at the time as the two sides were in different leagues and members of different F.A’s, Harry stayed for a season and he too went on to join Southampton in 1903.      


Another player who went onto better things was P.A. White who was a striker during the 1902/03. White went on to play for Torquay United, who at that time were playing in the Eastern League. During the 1904/05 season he was scorer for them, hitting 26 out of their 60 goals.


Before the end of the 1907/08 season, goalkeeper, Harry Griffiths and forward L.M.B Salmon had also moved onwards and upwards to play for Southampton.

PART TWO: Arise, Camberley & Yorktown 

Just after the start of the 1900-01 season it was announced that St Michael’s, Camberley would not be continuing past the end of the season due to the considerable financial pressures the club were under.

It gave time for those interested in the game to consider their position. A preliminary meeting was held on Thursday 10th January at the Council’s offices to discuss the setting up of a football club to represent the town. A second meeting was set up for Tuesday, 15th January to discuss the purchase of equipment and set up costs which they worked out would be £25. The question of obtaining a private ground and a sub-committee formed involving Mr. J.W. Brown and Mr Frank Holden to investigate options. A public meeting, chaired by Dr A.T. Wooldridge, Vice-President and a key figure in the foundation of the St Michael’s club, was called to officially set up the club on Monday, 21st January at the Yorktown Schools building.  It took just a few minutes to agree the proposal for a town club and It was also decided that the St Michael’s club would continue under the umbrella of the town club and play friendlies which the town club would organise and that there would be no competition between the two. Camberley Magpies, another recently formed club, also decided to throw their lot in with the new club at this time. This formation of the town club was proposed by Dr. Herbert Rayner and seconded by Mr. George Doman. The next thing to be decided was 1 – The name of the club. 2- The colours and 3 – The league and cups to be entered. The second and third points were quickly decided. The new club would play in red & white vertically striped shirts, blue shorts and would take over the memberships of the St Michael’s club which was agreed with by the Surrey F.A. and the East & West Surrey League but senior status was not granted.

The biggest and longest discussion was about the name of the club and at times became quite heated. The initial proposal was for the club to be called West Surrey Rovers. An army man, Sergeant Elliot suggested that the name should have a local connection to the town it came from and Mr. J.W. Brown explained that if it was called Camberley Swifts or something of that sort, the York Town members would want to complain and that West Surrey Rovers was suggested to avoid friction. Dr. Rayner supported the view of Sergeant Elliot that West Surrey covered a too large an area and it needed to be more localised. Mr. Pearce suggested York Town & Camberley. Mr. Harry Doman then suggested Camberley & Yorktown. Mr. Tolley then suggested Camberley United which was seconded by Mr. Jackman. Mr. Pearce then suggested Yorktown United which in turn was seconded by Mr. Traviss, The discussion raged and both proposals were eventually withdrawn and Mr Harry Doman’s suggestion of Camberley & Yorktown F.C. was adopted.

Dr A.T Woodridge was elected President of the new club and Dr Rayner, Messrs. George & Harry Doman and the Reverend C. Berryman who all were involved in the setting up of the original St Michael’s club were all elected Vice-Presidents along with Messrs. Goffe, Vaughan, Kennett, Hurlock and Truman. Bagshot Park Trust were also granted a vice-presidency.  A meeting would later be organised to discuss the headquarters of the club and the selection of a playing ground.


The first offer towards solving the ground problem came early in 1902 from the late Mr Hollings J.P., who offered them the choice of two pitches at “The Watchetts” near Park Road. Dr Wooldridge, Mr Frank Holden, who was the first captain of the club, Bill Wellman, the writer and others from the Club attended the first inspection but after taking many measurements it was decided that neither ground was suitable without a great deal of expense. With no other ground being made available, it was decided, by the kind permission of the Urban District Council, to do as the old St Michael’s had done and play on the Recreation Ground and trust to collections at matches. When the Recreation Ground was not available, a temporary ground on the other side of Southwell Park Road was used.


With Dr.  A.T.  Woodridge, Mr D. Sparvell, who afterwards, for a while was President of the club, George Doman, Harry Doman, Dr. Herbert.E. Rayner, Mr A.M Kennet running the new Club, a successful start was made but finances were still difficult. Their stay in the East & West Surrey League lasted until the end of the 1901/02 season when the dropped down into the newly formed and more local Aldershot Combination. The Surrey Junior Cup continued to be entered and the Ascot & District, the latter in it’s infancy, was entered in 1903/04. 

The choice of the Ascot & District League proved to be a good one as Camberley & Yorktown saw regular success in this competition. In the first season the club finished runners-up to Sunningdale and the following season, 1904/05, they won the league title, beating Wokingham Athletic on goal average with Sunningdale finishing a point behind in third. The trophy was accepted on behalf of the club by team captain J. Nolan following a league clinching 4-0 win over Emmbrook on 18th March 1905. The team that day (pictured to the right) was W.J. Collins, D. Brown, C. O’Shaughnessy, G. Styles, J. Nolan, A. Knapton, A.G. Kemp, F.M. Javes, E. Rideout, A Young and A.E. Try.

The Camberleyy & Yorktown team that beat Emmbrook 4-0 to win the 1904/05 title on the 18th March 1905

Whilst playing on ‘the Rec’, and relying on collections, the financial position was anything but satisfactory. Despite finishing as runners-up in the Ascot & District League in the 1905/06 season, a public meeting held at the Yorktown Schools premises in June 1906 to decide whether the club should continue or be disbanded. Mr D. Sparvell, who by this time was President of the Club, chaired the meeting. Also in attendance were Dr A.T. Wooldridge, Mr. A.M. Kennett, the first Honorary Treasurer, Mr. W.H. Goff and Mr.J.W. Brown, members of the original committee, as well as Mr. A. Dowie, founder of the Ascot & District Football League and Mr. F.J. Mattingley, Honarary Secretary of the League. At the meeting the Club took the opportunity of taking the public into their confidence and explained the financial situation. It was disclosed that the Club had a debt of £15. After a long deliberation it was decided that the Club would continue and new Officers and Committee were elected. Mr D. Sparvell was re-elected as President and Messrs. J.J. Appleton, W.F. Coe, J.F. Brown, W. Vaughan, E. Sharp and E. Alexander were elected to the Committee along with Mr. Stallwood who was elected as Honourary Secretary.

Again, the decision to continue proved to be the right one, as over the following four seasons the debts were cleared and the Club went on to win a hat-trick of Ascot & District League titles (1907/08, 1908/09 and 1909/10) as well as finishing runners-up once (1906/07), and appear in two Surrey Cup Finals. The first the cup finals came in the 1907/08 season when Camberley & Yorktown took on Kingston-on-Thames at Woking FC’s ground on 18th April 1908 and were beaten 2-0 in the final of the Surrey Junior Cup. The team that appeared in that cup final (pictured to the left) was Harry Griffiths, J. Shaw, D. Brown, Alf Knapton, W.King, Jack Nolan, N.Baldwin, D.Sparvell, E.Rideout, J.Hunt and T.Milton. 

The Camberley & Yorktown 1907/08 Surry Junior Cup Finalists, losing 2-0 to Kingston-on-Thames

The 1907/08 season also saw Camberley register their biggest ever win. On the 12th October Camberley & Yorktown defeated Warfield in the Ascot & District League 25-1 with eight players getting on the scoresheet. E. Rideout 5, Lt. L.M.B. Salmon 5, D. Brown 5, E. Parr 3, J. Shaw 2, W. Baldwin 2, Aif Knapton 2 and even the goalkeeper E Shepherd all scoring. The second final came the following season in the Surrey Junior Charity Cup. This too, ended in defeat at the hands of Selhurst Park FC by a narrow 1-0 scoreline. Camberley & Yorktown also reached the final of the inaugural Rayners Hospital Cup where they met Camberley St Georges and were defeated again, this time 2-0. The Rayners Cup was a competition between local sides devised by Dr Herbert Edward Rayner. Dr Rayner was an enthusiast for the local cottage hospital, by this time a former Club committee member, and prominent member of local society, who agreed to supply a trophy and help organise a competition if the sum of £20 to £25 be donated to the cottage hospital each season.


The finding of a permanent ground continued to be a problem. By this time the club were playing at Southwell Park Road, having moved there in 1905, using The Aspen Tree Public House as a base and changing rooms. In 1908, the France Hill Estate was developed and it looked likely that the ground would be lost to development and discussions for a move to new premises took place. Then a bit of luck came the club’s way. Mr. James Flynn, a friend and supporter of the Club, became tenant of a large meadow (Martins Meadow) on the France Hill Estate. Prior to his tenancy he informed the club that ‘he was up for the meadow and had every chance of getting it’ adding “If I do, you are welcome to it for football every Saturday afternoon.”. He got the lease and the club got a private playing ground, which was voted on and the offer accepted on June 19th 1909 at the Club AGM. At the same meeting, the new Club President, Dr. A.T. Wooldridge and Honorary Secretary, Mr E. Brewer, presented a balance sheet which showed a turnaround in finances. Total income for the previous season was stated as £63/14s/6d. After expenditure the club was in the black to the tune of £4/11s/6d. 

So the Club had its first private ground, which they occupied with considerable benefit financially for several years. Mr Flynn was the best of Landlords and the club had the ground on a novel sort of tenancy, that if, at the end of the season, they could pay any rent they should do so, but if they couldn’t, well it didn’t matter. The Landlord of the Hope public house nearby also made his premises available as a new HQ for the Club.

Now playing on their new pitch, the 1909/10 season saw more success. The Ascot & District League was won without a game being lost, Camberley & Yorktown winning thirteen matches and drawing the other three. Only two defeats in cup competitions, both against Camberley St Georges, were suffered. Camberley & Yorktown also made another appearance in the Surrey Junior Cup final. On 29th March 1910, Camberley & Yorktown travelled to Kingston and to take on Sutton United, J. Hunt and Jack Nolan scored to ensure Camberley & Yorktown beat Sutton United 2-1 to win the trophy for the second time and the first time under the new name (1909/10 side pictured above).

1909/10 Surrey Junior Cup Final winners; beating Sutton United 2-1 on 29th March 1910

With the Surrey Junior Cup win came the award of senior status again. A decision was taken to apply for entry into the West Surrey League for the start of the 1910/11 season. The season did not start well with the opening three matches all ending in defeats. The fourth game saw Camberley & Yorktown travel to Farnham for a Surrey Senior Charity Cup match. The attitude shown by the side was certainly not charitable as the club got themselves into trouble with the Surrey F.A. after a referee had to stop the game after 80 minutes owing to 'a little unpleasantness on the pitch'. The Club appeared before the Surrey F.A. disciplinary committee at Woking and three members of the playing staff were suspended for a month.


April 8th 1911 saw Camberley & Yorktown play their first big prestigious friendly against Southern League side Portsmouth. Martins Meadow was not big enough to take the expected attendance and the game was switched to the London Road Recreation Ground. A big turnout saw a full strength Portsmouth side narrowly beat Camberley & Yorktown 5-4. The Portsmouth side that day featured Stanley Shute Harris who made 6 appearances for England. Surprisingly no gate was taken for this game and an attendance was not calculated but was estimated to have been around the 2,000 mark. The AGM two months later revealed Camberley & Yorktown back in the red to the tune of £32/11s/7d.


James Flynn’s tenancy of Martin’s Meadow, like all good things came to an end, and the club were again in a quandary as to what was going to happen. Proposals were made for the formation of a Sports Ground company to acquire Southwell Park, as the ground became known, after Lord and Lady Southwell, who at one time occupied the Southwell Park Estate. The proposal was very warmly received, but before anything could be definitely done, some members of the Frimley District Council devised a second proposal. The second proposal requested that Southwell Park be acquired by the Council and made an adjunct of the North Ward Recreation Ground by which it was only divided by France Hill Drive. There was of course the process of referring both proposals to the committee and of the committee reporting and having the question referred back again and so on. Eventually, due to inaction, the ground was lost to the public by being bought and cut up for building purposes. It was thought at the time that it was a big mistake in not securing Southwell Park for the public and that the members of the council had not interested themselves in the matter.


But the main consideration was that the football club were again without a ground. Subsequently, another ground at then extreme end of Yorktown, near Blackwater was hired but this did not provided the answer and the club made it’s way back to the recreation ground and the old principle of relying on collections for financial support.


On the playing side of the Club had improved .In the 1912/13 season they finished runners-up in the West Surrey League and won all four matches in a three team Aldershot Senior Civilian League to win the title. The justification of returning to the Recreation Ground rather than persisting with the Yorktown ground was proved on October 6th when 1,500 turned out for the 4 -0 home defeat against Woking.


The beginning of the 1913 /14 season saw the side significantly strengthened with players arriving from the Camberley St Georges which had folded at the end of the previous season. In October 1913, goalkeeper M.Daborn became the first Camberley & Yorktown player to receive county honours when he was selected to represent Surrey in a Southern Counties Championship match. The season saw Camberley (left) win the West Surrey League with 16 wins out of 20 matches, suffering just 2 defeats and they also won the inaugural Wright Hospital Cup with a 2 -0 win over the Kings Royal Rifle Corps. 

To celebrate their achievements, a smoking concert was held at the Victoria Hotel where both trophies were presented to Dr A. Wooldridge, 

Camberley & Yorktown team from the  1913/14 season

the Club President. Season 1913 /14 also saw Camberley & Yorktown make their first appearances in the F.A. & F.A. Amateur Cups. On September 13th Camberley & Yorktown played host to Sutton United and won 5 -3 in their first F.A. Cup match. They went out of the competition two weeks later at home to Guildford 3 -1 in controversial circumstances. A huge demonstration occurred at the end of the game and the referee had to be escorted from the pitch by the police. The first F.A. Amateur Cup game did not have as good a result as Camberley & Yorktown were soundly beaten 7-0 by the Royal Army Medical Corps on November 1st. (1913/14 Championship winning side pictured above).


Crowd trouble seemed to be a problem for the club at this time and just prior to the return of Guildford for a West Surrey League match on 21st February, a letter was sent to the Camberley News in an effort to ensure that trouble did not occur again. It read:


"Our opponents are making their second appearance this season in our midden. Who will not remember the debacle which took place in the English Cup tie when Guildford ran out most fortunate winners by three goals to one? On that occasion the referee's uncertain decisions riled the crowd to such an extent that an ugly demonstration took place on the termination of the match in question, the official mentioned having to be escorted from the ground to his dressing room. Let us hope on this occasion our supporters will give the referee their unreserved support. His is a thankless task. If he makes an error he does so unwittingly. Remember too, he is a sport and does not undertake the job for what he can make out of it and, remembering that the club has twice this season come under the ban of the authorities through the rowdiness of a section of its supporters (so called), Camberley Officials ask for the indulgence of their followers towards those controlling today's important match. It is practically certain that several Association officials will attend with their note books too."


The letter seemed to work as there was no further trouble during the remainder of the season.


On the declaration of war in 1914 a notice was posted. It stated that "The competitions and the clubs all realise that the Empire comes first and it is the business of footballers in common with everybody else to do their best to see that Kaiser Wilhelm is not going to referee everything and everybody". On that note Camberley & Yorktown decided to cease playing for the duration of the war from which many of the players were never to return. Some football did take place during the War. On December 11th 1915 the first of three matches between a W. Rumble Camberley XI and a Royal Aircraft Factory XI took place to raise money for the Cottage Hospital Fund.

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