In the early days the arrival of the railway brought prosperity to the town and as it grew industry arrived in the shape of the Railway Works and Brickworks. There were also factories associated with the agricultural life of the area, such as a Bacon Factory, cheese making and a creamery.
Sporting activities were soon to spring up and football was probably one of the most popular. Employees from the various businesses soon formed teams and football matches between them became a regular pastime.
In 1906-7 there was evidence of a team called Highbridge Rovers and a reserve team in 1911.
There was also another team, the Highbridge Athletic, but little is known about it. In those far off days, Highbridge Rovers played in the Bridgwater and District League, whether or not this was their introduction to a full competitive league is not clear. It is known that the Highbridge Town association football Club was first registered with the Somerset Football Association in 1932. Records and reports of matches are sparse and little is known of where teams played their home matches. It is possible “Daunton Field” now Poplar Estate, provided pitches or perhaps the Recreation field, previously known as “The Home Field” off Grange Avenue that was officially opened in 1933.
The “White Hart Hotel” in Church Street, had by now become the clubs headquarters. In 1949 the club attained its highest league status when Highbridge Town A.F.C. joined the Somerset Senior League.
The team’s shirts were in the colours of claret and blue quarters. The team had a good regular following, the supporters coach was full for most away matches, a few of those being held at places such as Chard, Winscombe, Watchet, Ilminster, R.A.F. Locking and Frome.
Home matches were played on a ground off the Bristol Road, opposite the entrance to Poples Bow.
In the 1952 –3 season a match was played against Mount Hill Enterprises (Bristol) this was in the Football Association Amateur Cup at the local Bristol Road ground. Highbridge was defeated 3 – 2.
Highbridge having played at the Bristol Road ground for some years returned to the Recreation ground in January 1953, for home matches and have continued to play there until the present day.
Matches played against the old rival Burnham during the 1950’s were for the Fred Thomas Challenge Cup these always provided a lot of interest, supporters of both towns turned out in force to cheer their team and the result always caused much discussion afterwards.
Highbridge Town played in the Somerset Senior League with some success but by the end of the 1950’s times changed and in September 1960 the team left the League to join the Weston-super-Mare & District League until around 1970 when they joined the Taunton & District Saturday League where in 2003-4 they are in Division Two. There have been good and bad seasons but the team continues to get local support and many enjoy watching ‘their’ team on the ‘Rec’. A small celebration was held in 2003 to mark “50 Years of Football” at the ‘Rec’
(This article has been compiled with additional information from previous research by Tony Smith and Bill Sheils)
Many followers of football will remember a certain Brian Clough, who it is learned played for R.A.F .Watchet at the Recreation Ground on January 14th 1955; he scored in his team’s 2-1 victory over Highbridge Town in the Somerset Senior League