Bedford Town FC - 1st Team
Bedford Town Football Club has been in existence since 1884, although the name was changed to Bedford Association in 1887. As there were no leagues at the time, the club played friendly matches in cups, including the Kettering Charity Cup and the Luton Charity Cup, before disappearing in 1891. The name Bedford Town reappeared in 1894 when Swifts, a club founded in 1890, were renamed. They absorbed Bedford Rovers in 1896 and although local leagues had been formed, the club continued to play only cup matches and friendlies. However, the club disappeared around the turn of the century.
On 31 July 1908, the official Bedford Town was formed at the Association Rooms on Harpur Street. The club joined Division One of the Northamptonshire League, finishing bottom of the table in their first two seasons but avoided relegation to Division Two. In the following years, the club went on to finish as runners-up for three consecutive seasons between 1911–12 and 1913–14, before the league closed down due to World War I. They also won the Northamptonshire Senior Cup in 1912–13. The club won the league title in 1930–31, before winning back-to-back titles in 1932–33 and 1933–34. The league was then renamed the United Counties League, with Bedford finishing as runners-up in 1934–35 and reaching the first round of the FA Cup for the first time, losing 3–2 at home to Dartford.
The 1955–56 season saw them reach the first round of the FA Cup again, and for the first time they progressed to the next round after beating Leyton 3–0. The second round saw them defeat Football League opposition for the first time as they won 3–2 against Watford before being drawn against Arsenal in the third round. The first match at Highbury ended 2–2, with Arsenal winning the replay 2–1.See bottom of page for video highlights.In the following season the club again beat Football League opposition in the FA Cup, defeating Norwich City 4–2 at Carrow Road before losing 1–0 at Reading.
The mid-1960s was an extremely successful period for the club in the cup; in 1962–63 they reached the second round where they were again beaten by Gillingham. The following season saw them beat non-League opposition in the first and second round before being drawn against Second Division Newcastle United in the third round. A trip to St James' Park resulted in a 2–1 win for Bedford, before they were defeated 3–0 by Carlisle United in the fourth round in front of a then-record crowd of 17,858. In the 1965–66 season, saw Bedford reach the fourth round again, beating Exeter City 2–1 in the first round, Brighton & Hove Albion 2–1 in a second replay in the second round. Hereford United were then defeated 2–1 in the third round, before a fourth round tie saw them lose 3–0 at home to Everton in front of a record crowd of 18,407.
In 1982 the club was disbanded at the end of the season after their lease at Queens Park was terminated and a planned new stadium at Barkers Lane fell through. The club were reformed in 1989, and the club joined Division One of the South Midlands League for the 1991–92 season, winning Division One in 1992–93, before going on to win the Premier Division the following season, earning promotion to Division Three of the Isthmian League. A third-place finish in their first season in the league saw them promoted to Division Two. In 1998–99 they were Division Two champions, earning promotion to Division One and after finishing as runners-up in 2000–01, were promoted to the Premier Division. The following season saw their first appearance in the FA Cup first round since reforming and resulted in a 2–1 defeat at Peterborough United in a replay.
In 2005–06, a fifth-place finish the club qualify for the promotion play-offs. Following a 1–0 win at Bath City in the semi-finals, they beat Chippenham Town 3–2 in the final to earn promotion to the Conference South. However, they lasted only one season, finishing bottom of the division, and were relegated back to the Southern League. The 2013–14 season saw them finish second-bottom of the Premier Division, resulting in relegation to Division One Central.
The original Bedford Town played at London Road in 1886, before playing most of its matches at Bedford Park between 1887 and 1890. They then moved to a ground located off London Road.
After being reformed in 1908, the club started playing at a site off London Road, before moving to Queens Park in October. The pitch was originally between Havelock Street and Lawrence Street, before they moved to one at the end of Nelson Street. There were initially no spectator facilities, with duckboards only put down in November 1911. During World War I the ground was used by the Army, and it was still in use in 1919 when the club started playing again. As a result, they played on the playing fields of County School until being able to return to Queens Park in December 1919.
The club started to develop the ground in the 1920s, with banking created and a new 300-seat stand installed on the western side of the ground in 1922 at a cost of £250. With the extension of the roof, the seating capacity was later increased to about 400. However, players still changed in the nearby Horse and Groom pub. A covered terrace was installed in 1930 and dressing rooms built the following year. Another covered stand was installed at the Ford End Road end of the ground in 1935, which was replaced by a more modern stand in 1953. The capacity had reached at least 6,000, and a new record attendance of 5,667 was set for the FA Cup match against Dartford in 1934–35. The roof of the stand built in 1930 was destroyed in late 1938 and was replaced by the start of the 1939–40 season. Further ground developments in the 1950s raised the capacity to 18,500, with the record attendance of 18,407 set for an FA Cup game against Everton in 1965–66.
In 1982 the club's lease on Queens Park was terminated and after a proposed new ground in the Barkers Lane area failed to come to fruition, the club folded. When the club re-formed in 1989, they initially played on public pitches in Queens Park, before finding a site in Cardington to build a new ground. The New Eyrie opened on 6 August 1993 with a friendly match against Peterborough United attracting what remains the ground's record attendance of 3,000. It has a capacity of 3,000, of which 300 is seated and 1,000 covered. The ground is located next to McMullen Park, the home ground of local rivals Bedford.
Southern League - Champions 1958–59, South East Division champions 1958–59, Division One champions 1969–70, Division One North champions 1974–75, League Cup winners 1980–81
Isthmian League - Division Two champions 1998–99, Vandanel Trophy winners 1997–98
South Midlands League - Premier Division champions 1993–94, Division One champions 1992–93
United Counties League - Division One champions 1930–31, 1932–33, 1933–34, War League champions 1939–40
Eastern Professional Floodlit Competition - Champions 1970–71
Northamptonshire Senior Cup - Winners 1912–13
Bedfordshire Premier Cup - Winners 1924–25, 1926–27, 1928–29
Bedfordshire Professional Cup - Winners 1962–63, 1963–64, 1964–65, 1965–66
Huntingdonshire Premier Cup - Winners 1951–52, 1958–59, 1959–60, 1963–64, 1966–67
Bedfordshire Invitation Cup - Winners 1938–39, 1953–54
North Bedfordshire Charity Cup - Winners 1910–11
Best FA Cup performance: Fourth round, 1963–64, 1965–66
Best FA Trophy performance: Semi-finals, 1974–75
Best FA Vase performance: Fifth round, 1998–99
Most appearances: David Skinn
Most goals in a match: Joe Chamberlain, 9 goals vs Rushden Fosse, December 1911
Biggest win: 9–0 vs Weymouth, Southern League, 1954–55; vs Poole, 1958–59; vs Ickleford, vs Cardington
Heaviest defeat: 10–0 vs Merthyr Tydfil, 1950–51; vs Yeovil Town, 1960–61
At Queens Park: 18,407 vs Everton, FA Cup, 1965–66
At the New Eyrie: 3,000 vs Peterborough United, friendly match, 6 August 1999
When two clubs become one...
Bedford Town FC - Youth Development
The 2018/19 season has seen a welcome return of Bedford Town Youth to the parent Club after a 14 year absence. The merger of the “Eagles” and “Youth” into one organisation has seen us unite under the name of Bedford Town FC – Youth Development. We now have 21 Teams ranging from U8s to U18s offering opportunities for the local Girls and Boys to come and enjoy their football in an environment that is built on fun and a no fear football philosophy designed to bring out the best in our youngsters. Improved individual and collective performance is at the heart of everything we do. Yes we want to win but not at all costs. We want to develop our players to win in style and take the ups and downs of sport in their stride and recognise it as a valuable learning experience as well as a fun thing to do. We therefore ask that Parents / Guardians to continually support the players and their teams with positive encouragement regardless of the score and they will see the children grow in confidence and play with a smile on their faces. We always have opportunities to recruit new Coaches so if you are a Parent / Guardian that gets caught up in the game and shouts instructions from the sidelines, often in direct contradiction to the Coaches directions to the players, or feel you have something positive to offer or just want to help get directly involved then please let us know.
Dennis O’Meara – Chairman of BTFC - YD
Bedford Town Eagles - History
In 2004 the “Eagles” Youth organisation was established under the management and direction of Club stalwarts Dave Randall and then Stuart Harding. From the solid foundation built and maintained the “Eagles” grew under Stuart the Youth Development Officer and then the Chairmanship of Ray Schram. During this period Teams of various age groups were entered into the more challenging Eastern Alliance Leagues which attracted some very strong players to the Club who enjoyed various levels of success such as winning County Caps, County Cups, Local Tournaments and much more. Many of our youngsters were recognised by the Pro Clubs such as Luton Town, MK Dons, Northampton & Stevenage and invited to join their respective Elite, Schools of Excellence and Pre-Academy squads. Recent player successes have seen Ollie Swain a former “Eagle” play regularly in the Senior Club’s 1st Team and then gain a transfer to Hemel Hempstead playing a couple of steps higher again. In addition another “one of our own” Jonny Edwards is on Hull’s books and currently out on loan with Halifax Town. Whilst a credit to the Club’s support and encouragement to develop these individual’s the real success is the development opportunities provided by our excellent Coaches to all of our players and seeing all the teams out there playing each week and having fun. In recent years under Ralph Allen’s Chairmanship, Ralph is now the Senior Club Chairman, saw a number of improvements with one particular success being the relationship with the Council in looking to drive forward Ralph’s vision of a “one centre - hub”, a central home for all our teams to play their Home matches. Another is the centralisation for the majority of our teams to train at the Bedford School Gordon Fields 3G Floodlit facility for Winter Training.
Beds FA Youth Challenge Cup
2009-10 – U16 Winners – U18 Runners Up
2011-12 – U15 Runners Up – U16 Winners – U18 Winners
2012-13 – U14 Winners
2014-15 – U18 Winners
Bedford Town Youth - History
Bedford Town Youth were first affiliated in 1989, when a team was entered in the then Bovis Homes Chiltern League, at Under 13’s and finished a creditable 3rd in their league. The senior team did not appear on the scene until a year later, when they entered the South Midlands League, playing their home games at Allen Park.
Bedford Town Youth have always affiliated as a separate Club, originally with close links to the main Club and were completely autonomous and self financing, with a strong committee and teams finding their own kit sponsors and a main club sponsor, whose funds are used to put the managers through coaching courses and bring in external coaches, to either coach the coaches or coach the boys.
2004 saw a parting of Bedford Town Youth from the Senior Club, when talks broke down on the future direction of the Youth. We felt that ‘it weren’t broke and didn’t need mending’. We had been running independently for 15 years and did not want to lose our identity. Bedford Town Youth has since gone from strength to strength, being awarded Charter Standard Development Club of the Year in 2004/05 and again in 2005/06. Our publication ‘The Manager’s Handbook’ is a highly acclaimed document on running a youth section.
We have always tried to take the boys on outings, when the opportunity arises and recently took 25 youngsters to see England Under 16’s at the new Wembley Stadium and last season had two visits to Stadium Milton Keynes for England Under 21 and Under 19 games.
As we move into our 20th year, the fruits of our early teams are now playing a good standard of football locally, for teams such as Bedford Town, Bedford F.C., Hitchin, Ampthill, Stotfold and St. Neots. Our role of honour includes current and past players such as Rene Howe, who came through from our under 9’s and recently played at Wembley in the Division Two play-off final for Rochdale. Also, Gavin Hoyte, Ian Brown, Derwayne Stupple, Josh Sozzo, Jonathon Woolf and Aaron Cavill. Indeed over recent days former Bedford own Youth Managers have been seen at the New Eyrie, watching their sons either play for the 1st team or the reserves, namely Nigel Cavill, Paul Deverall, Martin Hole and Steve (Chunky) Damon and their sons respectively, Aaron, Ashley, Tom and Tom.
Bedford Town Youth regularly entered the F.A. Youth Cup and one season reached the 1st Round, playing away at Swansea and only being narrowly defeated 3-2. The Club were also keen participants in the East Anglia Cup (Easy Cup), until the Competition’s demise in 2003, shortly after Bedford Town Youth had incredibly won three Easy Cups that year at Wivenhoe at Under 12, Under 13 and Under 16 (Rene Howe played in this team), a feat never before achieved by one club winning Trophies at three age groups in the same year, and we still hold the silverware.