Association Football

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)

(Footnote)

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

6 responses to “Association Football

  1. I remember Highbridge Town playing Cheddar AFC on several occasions on the Cheddar Ground in the Somerset Senior League back in the late ’50’s. Something keeps prompting my memory that I think I recall once seeing a photo of the Town team in the collar less laced up neck jerseys that were the common style of the ’20/ ’30’s. Possibly it could have been in a feature in the Weston Mercury some years back. I don’t think they were quarter reversed – rather an inverted semi-circular pattern in a contrasting colour.

  2. Does the town have an archive on the football team? MY brother, Tony ( Ginger ) Hoyland has just passed away and I have some material relating to his time playing for Highbridge Town back in the ’50s.
    If there is some place to put this stuff I would like to hear from someone. Regards, Phillip Hoyland

    • Dear Phillip, thanks for your comment and apologies not to have replied sooner. I’m not aware of any other site in regards to Highbridge though there might be a football association one. Of course there is a page on this site: https://capturehighbridge.wordpress.com/sport/association-football and if you have any pictures or information you would like to add then do let me know. I can either give you access to upload yourself or you could email the info to me. I moderate the site in my spare time so it can take me a while to do additions etc. Let me know and I’ll email you directly. sincerely Deb R

  3. Sorry to hear of your loss, Phillip. Deb, I hope you get contact with many off the local lads who spent time on the pitches with Tony.

    I am afraid I have nothing on the Highbridge or Burnham Teams at all, what little I had came from my fathers era at Cheddar AFC. It is a shame that all this local information on Soccer Clubs has been lost and a publication not created from it before it was too late. I remember the late Charlie Vardon, Secretary of the Weston and District League having a mass of photos on that League over many years. I recall him telling me how one of the Youth Cups was in fact originally the Trophy for the Winners of the Weston Thursday League who were comprised of players who had Thursday off work rather than the Saturday!
    Regards Colin

  4. Tony was Burnham United reserve team manager for a while in the 1990`s I believe. Albert Laurence may know more? You and I know one another Phil. Kind regards, Spencer Dibble.

  5. Now here is a wonderful tale that I heard of many years back and I wonder if someone might be able to ‘correct it’ or throw more light on the subject.
    According to the tale, Highbridge were playing a home match in extremely foggy conditions, the referee having decided to ‘give it a go, a decision he was to regret. The farce reached the highest level when one of the teams scored and made their way back to the centre circle only to meet with the opposing formation who were also convinced that they had found the oppositions net. The story is that someone had kicked a spare ball onto the pitch and both teams were playing at either end in the fog – successfully. The referee I was told had to abandon the game not being conversant with any precedent in Football!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s