History of Kingstonian F.C.
1887-1890 Season- The Saxons


"The day we played the Mill, we were told that they would kill,
Smash, and bring us to a state of degredation;
But when the game was done, and the victory was won
Oh what an alteration!"


A William G Carn ditty composed after a "historic" victory over the Middle Mill club in a Kingston Derby match.

Having been in existence for two years, the Y.M.C.A. club showed their ambition by opening up membership to everyone and not just members of the Y.M.C.A., non Y.M.C.A. members however could still not serve on the decision making committee. Carn reported that, at the time, the move to allow non members of the Y.M.C.A. to join had not made much difference to membership numbers but it was obviously an important step to becoming the team that would eventually represent the whole town in later years. The club also changed its name to Saxons as Kingston & Surbiton Y.M.C.A. was considered a bit too much of a mouthful, but the name change did not sever links with Y.M.C.A. whose name was still included on their fixture card. The club also changed it's colours to white with a scarlet facing containing a badge of a white horse closely linked to the old Saxons. A proposal by Surbiton Hill to amalgamate was rejected by the newly named Saxons. It was no doubt seen as more of a takeover than an amalgamation with Surbiton Hill the more senior and successful of the two teams.

For the three seasons played under the Saxons' name the games continued to just be friendlies although they were now playing a better quality of opposition as the Association game became more established. There were visits to far flung places such as Streatham, Leatherhead, Putney, Richmond and Chertsey. The Saxons also experimented with a reserve team for the first time. The reserves only managed 4 matches in season 1887-1888, staggered throughout the season, which included a 16-0 defeat in their opening game against Surbiton Rovers when Saxons Reserves only managed to field 9 men. In later years though, a reserve team was to become a regular feature of the club.

The First Team were to have their best season to date; winning 12 and losing 7 of their 19 games. One of these was a 1-0 win at home to Surbiton Rovers which led to Saxons cancelling all other engagements with the Surbiton club after "unpleasantness on the field". It was not the first time they had had a run in with a Surbiton club. The Saxons committee stated that "the game was made unpleasant by the quarrelsome behaviour of some of the Rovers, who evidently cannot take a beating with that good humour which is so much needed in football". There were issues with other teams as well and Weybridge Rovers twice failed to turn up to scheduled games in sufficent numbers as well as cancelling a third fixture because of a clash with the F.A. Cup final. The first mention of a team photo being taken was noted during that particular season but sadly it is unknown if a copy still exists.

Although the club was still using a large number of players and there were still occasions when they played short of the full eleven men, they were beginning to produce the foundations of a regular team and they had 7 or 8 players who barely missed a game. One of their regular players from the first two seasons, Edwin Stringer, had left the area moving to Nottingham on a Church Mission to "work among the Navvies" of the area. Saxons had also lost Harrison Briscoe and Henry Harris, their top scorers from the previous season. Briscoe had left for Streatham where he played for Streatham Bees (a team that another early Y.M.C.A. player, Philip Salisbury, was also to play for against his former club) and was credited by William G. Carn with founding the Streatham Danes a couple of seasons later.

Harris had been involved in an accident which only allowed for him to play the odd game in goal when the team was short of players. Indeed the goalkeeping slot was one of the few positions not claimed by a regular player and still seemed to be treated very much as an afterthought in team selection after Robert Sivers, who had been the main goalkeeper in the first two seasons, was moved into the back line where he was getting favourable mentions in reports. Sivers primary game was cricket and was a regular with the Royal Hampton Wick Cricket Club during which he scored over 17,000 runs including a century against MCC.

George Jones and Jack Kemp, who had played in the latter part of the previous season, became able replacements in the forward line both netting on a regular basis with Kemp finishing as top scorer on 9 goals despite his position on the wing. They were joined in the forward line by Billy Ocock and Arthur Peck whose brother, George Peck, had already been a regular in the half back line. New regulars in the back lines included Bicknell and Ernie Sayers.

R.J. Sivers
(picture taken from Surrey Comet dated 9th April 1910)

By this time William G Carn was starting to drop out of the footballing side of the club, filling in when necessary but concentrating more on the adminstration as he took on the secretarial duties after Edwin Stringer left. He was also to become a regular referee for the home games but still managed a few appearances with the reserves and the occasional first team appearance.


Although the standard of football was improving and things were on the up, there were tensions developing between the Y.M.C.A. and the club, and in particular William G Carn. While folklore suggests that the Y.M.C.A. organisation felt that football was too rough for a Christian sport, it probably had more to do with their opinion that competitive football activities were turning the organisation into a sporting club and away from its primary objective as a religious organisation. Carn cited their refusal to allow a bagetelle board in the main meeting room as an example of the tensions at the time.

The Summer of 1888 saw William G Carn resign from the Y.M.C.A. This resignation meant that he could no longer be secretary of the football club but the members showed their support for Carn choosing to break the club's links with the Y.M.C.A. rather than lose him. The club became a separate organisation and William G Carn was able to continue as secretary.


A photo of Oil Mill Lane from 1901 courtesy of Kingston History Centre. Oil Mill Lane was later to be renamed Villiers Road. It shows how rural the area was at the time with the "ground" simply being a field somewhere along the lane.
For the 1888-1889 season the club moved to a new ground at Oil Mill Lane (since renamed Villiers Road) with changing rooms at the Victoria Hotel in Albert Road. They were able to fully establish a reserve team and, despite having to scratch some matches by not having enough players on the day, both teams were to have a successful season, although for the Reserves this success was only to last up to Christmas. The first team lost just 5 of their 20 games played and only conceeded 16 goals. The Reserves also provided some support for the first team and it was a great help to be able to dip into the squad when needed. In W.H. Chapman they had found a regular goalkeeper with much of the rest of the team little changed, although Charles Collins replaced Albert Collins in the half back line with Albert Collins moving to captain the Reserves. Charles Collins speciality was the long throw and on many occasions he would find the head of the centre forward in a goalscoring situation. Although the FA had introduced a two handed throw there was still an element of "flinging" allowed and Collins used this to the full.

After the New Year the Reserves ran into problems with attendance and playing short. One match against Hampton United saw only 5 players turn up but they still only lost 4-0 (it is not clear if they found replacements from spectators or not) and they then had to scratch two weeks later as they were not able to field a team. This caused the Secretary of the Reserves to threaten to cancel remaining fixtures if interest did not pick up. Although this threat was not acted upon, they were only to struggle through a handful more games and were forced to scratch another match. The early season form where they had been unbeaten until December was reversed and only one game was won after that until the end of the season, this being a 4-0 win against Kingston Grammar School who they had beaten 7-0 earlier in the same season.


The club had also lost George Peck who had been injured in a horrific train crash at Hampton Wick and, despite two attempted comebacks, was never to play regularly for the club again. 4 people were killed in the crash that had been caused by a passenger train and a light engine on the same track. Peck has serious leg fractures and was considered by the doctor who treated him as being "in danger".

The First team however remained in good form throughout the season and were also now managing some high scoring matches including an 11-0 win against Streatham Bees (in a game reduced to just 60 minutes) and there were several games in which they scored four or more goals. One of these at home to Hampton United just before Christmas was limited to 40 minutes because of the weather but still gave Saxons time to score four. In general the defeats they suffered came in matches where regular players were absent. Jones ended up top scorer with 10 goals followed by Philip Marsh on 8 despite Marsh spending half the season playing at Centre Half. Marsh also received a lot of positive mentions in reports for his general play and his brother Bedford Marsh, more often seen playing for Surbiton Hill, chipped in with two goals of his own in the only game he played.
There were plenty of goals to be shared around though with a total of 56 goals in just 20 games.

Games were usually sporting although Weybridge Rovers, who had scratched two matches against the Saxons in the previous season, carried their unpopularity into the current one. A 3-0 home win by the Saxons was marred by the Rovers team who "showed much greater proficiency in the use of offensive language than they did in playing the game".

There was no doubt that the club was on the up and the AGM reported a successful season with receipts of £13 and a profit of £1.

The 1889-1890 season saw a move to the Fairfields, where Middle Mill were also playing, but, despite a good start, coincided with the first step back in progress since the formation of the club. Only 16 games were played and reliability became a problem with substitutes often having to be obtained from spectators and "A.N. Other" regularly featuring on the team sheet as well as sometimes having to play short. Ironically, of the players who turned out in the first match of the season, only 2 were missing from the final game played that year, but inbetween the team was seeing changes on a weekly basis. The Forward line was relatively consistent with Ocock and Kemp ever present and Jones still a regular having moved to the Centre Forward position. Ocock and Kemp couldn't get enough of football and on a couple of occasions even turned out for the Reserves when the first team was without a game.

However, despite a decent enough forward line, the goals of the previous season were drying up. This was put down to a deficit of supply from the Half Back line where only Charles Collins remained a regular. George Whenman was also a regular but he was being asked to fill in wherever needed and had no chance to form much of a partnership with Collins. Goalkeeping problems also returned as Chapman played only a handful of games with outfield players going in his place and one game even saw William G Carn brought out of semi retirement to go between the sticks. As a consequence results dropped off with 8 wins and 7 defeats including a 9-0 defeat at the hands of St. Margaret's. The 56 goals of the previous season had been reduced to 24 with no single player getting more than a handful. The 2nd team was even worse and won just one of their 15 games and that being a game where they included several first team players, including Ocock, who scored the only goal of the game. They had been affected by having to supply players to fill gaps in the First Team but there was still a big turnover among the other players as well.

One key game that stood out in a poor season was early on when Saxons defeated Middle Mill before a "considerable number of spectators", some of whom were not well behaved and were criticised for crowding the players out on the touchline and acting "contrary to the English idea of fair play". A Smoking Concert held in March recalled this particular game with fondness, with the first known Kingstonian football song (of sorts) composed by William G Carn for the occasion who performed "The day we played The Mill" in commemoration of a 2-1 victory against their Kingston rivals. Carn cites this win as the time that they edged ahead of Middle Mill as the top team in Kingston and never looked back.

However there was little of other note during a season that included 2 defeats to Surbiton Hill. In one game it was reported that the Surbiton Hill keeper had not touched the ball throughout and in the other Surbiton Hill were a player down for the full game. There was also a bad 5-2 defeat against Cobham Hawks although Saxons had an excuse on hand as no umpire was available and the job was taken by a volunteer "having but a limited knowledge of the game"- a situation that many claim still exists in the modern era.

Despite a poor season, Carn was still trying to push the club foward and, after 3 seasons as The Saxons, the club agreed at the AGM to make a further name change to more closely associate itself with the town and the club became known as Kingston Wanderers.


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