History of Kingstonian F.C.
1885-1887 Seasons- Kingston & Surbiton YMCA F.C



We the people- Minutes of the first meeting courtesy of Kingston & Surbiton
YMCA with many thanks to Audrey Giles for her help. Audrey has written a book on the Kingston YMCA containing interesting elements of social history.
See here for the early minutes of the club.



Kingston town has a rather spurious claim to be the founders of football or at least the Medieval version of it. Early football in Kingston can be traced back to a game involving many of the younger and rougher townsfolk.

The 'Mob football' match, as it was widely known, commenced with a football being carried from door to door to beg for 'sponsorship'. Two teams were formed and the game then kicked off around midday. Goals were at Kingston Bridge and Clattern Bridge (near the Guildhall) and the pitch stretched between those locations via the Market Place and Thames Street. Traditionally the Mayor of Kingston, often with some trepidation and political doubts, would start the game by throwing the ball from the balcony of the Town Hall. Prior to this, shops and houses had all been boarded up because of the reputation for violence. The game itself was a free for all, almost certainly without rules, and would last around 4 hours when the players would retire to the pubs to spend their sponsorship money. Anyone who manged to get hold of the ball and take it into a nearby pub was rewarded with a gallon of beer although there were plenty of variations on these general themes over the lifetime of the tradition.

The exact origin of the Shrove Tuesday game in Kingston is wrapped up in legend although evidence suggests it started with some kind of battle victory that may (or may not) have been celebrated by kicking the loser's severed head around the town. The most likely event that started this annual 'game' was the 11th century victory over the Danes, commemorated in future years with the kicking of an inflated pig's bladder around the town. One team represented the Danes and the other team represented the people of the town. An even earlier claim goes back to AD 786 when Cynewulf, the Saxon King of Wessex, was murdered. It has been claimed this took place in Merton and that the folk of Kingston went over to Merton to exact revenge and bring home the murderer's head which was then kicked around the town. Although this legend would add spice to the rivalry between Wimbledon and Kingstonian, most modern historians now go with the theory that his death was at Marton in Wiltshire. Some though still hold with the Merton theory.
Shrove Tuesday "Mob Football" in Kingston
In any event Shrove Tuesday was significant as it signalled the last chance to let hair down before the serious business of Lent during which harsh penalties, including death, were enforced for relatively minor transgressions.

Because of the violence involved, the Shrove Tuesday game began to fall into disrepute and the final game through the streets was played on February 13th 1866. The mayor had refused to start the game and that signalled the start of a process to get it banned. The following year the council did ban the game through the streets but provided an official venue on the Fairfields. However, the Fairfields was just used as a base to play cat and mouse with the police and a haystack there was burned to the ground. Police re-inforcements had been brought into Kingston and guarded the flashpoint of the market area where kick off traditionally took place. Rioting and fighting followed with incidents throughout the day especially singling out anyone who the mob felt had been responsible for the banning.

Particularly targetted was Councillor Wenman who was considered one of the main opponents of the game. He had received a threatening letter that was printed in the Surrey Comet the week after the fighting. He and his colleagues had been described as "mongrel beings" and the letter suggested that if "you shows your face" in Kingston on the day he would get "the soundest thrashing". The police, some on horseback and threatening to draw their swords, more or less kept a lid on things but there had still been some serious incidents.
Thereafter the game settled down at the Fairfields but with little change to its roughness until the Fairfields was modernised into a more sportsmanlike venue during the 1880's.

T
he origins of the modern day Kingstonian FC were a much more genteel affair with Autumn 1885 seeing the formation of a football team by Kingston and Surbiton YMCA. The formation and subsequent impetus and ambition of the club in those early years came from virtually one man- William G Carn. On 9th November 1885 he called a meeting at the Kingston YMCA in Union Street with the aim of forming an Association Football Club. It was said that the YMCA turned to Association Football rather than rugby because of a shortage of players. Indeed it was true that the initial take up was only about 13 or 14 players (from a total membership of around 175) many of whom volunteered without knowing anything about the game. It was also true that the majority wanted to play rugby but it is equally true that William G Carn had fallen in love with Association Football having taken holidays in Birmingham where he watched Aston Villa and formed the opinion that football "ought to be football and not handball". (Quote from a series of articles Carn wrote for the Surrey Comet in 1928 giving a detailed history of the Pre WW1 years)

Practice matches, and basic coaching on the laws and tactics of the game followed and on 28 November 1885 they played their first match against Surbiton Hill losing 3-1. Sadly the team (or the scorer) of their first game is not known and indeed only one scorer (Hugh Walmsley) was mentioned during the first season despite the Surrey Comet and other Kingston papers generally giving a small summary on most of the matches, albeit based on reports sent in by team secretaries. All games in the early years were friendlies and early on there were no referees with the captains of both teams acting as 'umpires'. The spirit in the early days was such that referees were not needed and even when they were introduced they tended to be provided by the home side. It all had the feel of a Sunday morning team and there were regular occurances of teams playing with less than the full complement of 11 players. Many an 'A.N.Other' would appear on teamsheets with subs allowed for injuries as well.

The first colours of the club were dark blue jerseys with a Maltese Cross (a religious symbol) as a badge with the letters YMCA in each corner.

Although William G Carn was largely responsible for forming the club and was captain of the team, putting himself at Centre Forward, there were others who took an active part in the club. Philip Salisbury was elected Secretary and Edwin W. Stringer the Treasurer. William Carn related a story that Salisbury had asked to be released from footballing duty as he said it was affecting his concentration for his Sunday School services. A month later he returned to the team saying his thoughts about the game the previous day were even worse when he hadn't been playing. Captain James Cundy, who was involved in much charitable work, was made the first president of the club. He was in his 60's at the time so was never to appear on the field of play.

William G Carn in Saxons Colours:
Carn was main founder of the Kingston
& Surbiton YMCA F.C. that was to eventually become the modern day Kingstonian F.C.
Carn picture taken from Surrey Comet- March 1931


Picture courtesy of Peter Morrell and taken from his research into the History of the London Homeopathic Hospital.

A committee was set up to run the club. The committee were responsible for vetting new members and a rule was introduced that prevented anyone joining who had been 'black balled' by at least two committee members. The Committee could also expel a member but only on a unanimous verdict. The original 'home' ground for their first season was in Bushy Park for which there was no rent payable. The club did need to provide and put up their own goals, albeit one early report suggesting the crossbar was simply made of tape that was broken after a powerful shot. The cost of the nets was 17 shillings and 6 pence, which took up much of the initial expenditure and was financed by a membership subscription. Members paid a subscription of 2 shillings and 6 pence but they also had to pay for their own jersey. There was also an 'entrance fee' charge for non members of 1 shilling. An early report on the finances from February 1886 showed a shortfall of 4 shillings on total expenditure of £2. A donation from 'a lady' of 2 shillings and 6 pence was handed over by William G Carn and the committee agreed to cover the rest of the shortfall themselves.

Although full teams are not available for the first season, around 30 players took part and the club played 14 matches, winning 3 of them and drawing 4.

One problem for the club was actually finding teams to play against. There were only a handful of Association teams in the Kingston area at that time and they often had to rely on opposition from clubs and schools whose main game was Rugby but were willing to oblige with a game under Association rules. The other Association teams from the area at the time included Surbiton Hill, who were opponents in their first game, along with Middle Mill (a team formed from a Kingston printing works and arguably the premier club in the town) and Kingston Young Men's Club And Institute. The lack of opponents was not helped when the committee refused to honour a return game against Surbiton Juniors on account of their "bad behavior".
At this early stage there was nothing to suggest that in later years the team that was to become Kingstonian would be the dominant force in Kingston football. Both Middle Mill and Surbiton Hill (who made the final of the Surrey Senior Cup in 1890) were more established and in any event the football club was only open to members of the YMCA. Aside from this, Rugby was the main sport in the town hosting two senior Rugby clubs; Kingston FC and Kingston Rangers. Kingston FC even had a proper enclosed ground at Richmond Road more or less on the site of the ground played on by Kingstonian for much of the 20th Century. Additonally the YMCA organisation had also already laid down a marker as early as February 1886 that a football club and sporting events in general were only to be seen as secondary to their chief object of "building up and strengthening the faith of those already in the Kingdom, and the winning to Christ of those that oppose themselves".

In the Summer of 1886, The YMCA football club also set up a cricket team to run in conjunction with the football club and this fielded many of the same players who had played for the football team. The team won 4 matches, tied one game and lost 9.

Because of the problems of often playing with less than 11 players the club brought in a new rule of a fine of 6d if someone had agreed to turn up and then failed to show, but problems of playing short were to continue for another 10 years or more. William G Carn took over from Salisbury as Secretary when Salisbury left the area and Harris was made Captain of the team.
After a first season at Bushy Park the club moved to a new private ground at Spring Grove (in Grove Lane/Beaufort Road) in a kind of "ground share" with Dr Dawes' School. Rent for the ground was 2 Guineas (£2 & 2 shillings) and total expenditure in the second season was around £5. Costs also increased because the new location had a thick hedge on one part of the ground increasing the number of footballs damaged. Footballs were 8s 3d a time and a pump was 2s 6d. Despite this the club was still able to build up a healthy balance of around £2.

1886-1887 also saw the team itself take more shape. Although there were plenty of occasions where people had to fill in, only twice were the club to play short and there was a steady group of players with around 10 players regularly seen in the starting line up. Alongside Carn in the forward line were top scorers, Henry Harris and Harrison Briscoe as well as winger George Jones and Hugh Walmsley. George Peck, Albert Collins, Frank Dolling, and George Kerrison (later to become a mayor of Kingston) were regular players in the Back and Half Back lines along with Robert Sivers and Edwin Stringer who alternated in goal and outfield. There was certainly the semblance of a first choice eleven even if there was much switching of positions.

It was only in this 2nd year of existence that YMCA were to meet Middle Mill and even then it was against Middle Mill's 2nd team. The first game saw YMCA thrashed 4-0 but just before Christmas YMCA won their first game of the season with a 2-1 win over the Middle Mill reserves. They also managed 2 draws against Surbiton Hill who had beaten them twice in their first season. YMCA had a good record in the second part of the season and seemed to be on the up with increased membership and a relatively stable team. All in all there was a mood of general satisfaction at the progress they had made when it came to the Annual General Meeting at the end of their second season. This had produced a record of 6 games won and 5 games drawn out of a total of 17 played. Results, however, had to be put into perspective with the Kingston Rangers Rugby club agreeing to a game under Association rules and thrashing the purely Association YMCA 6-1 towards the end of that second season.
George Kerrison, one of Kingston YMCA's earliest players, pictured in Mayoral outfit in 1919. Photo taken from a picture hanging in the Kingston Guildhall with thanks to Kingston History centre for access.


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