History of Kingstonian F.C.
1895-1896 SEASON


Those who had expected the formation of Kingston On Thames A.F.C. to transform Association Football in the Kingston area were having their hopes badly dashed during the third season of the new club's existence. Little change had been seen in the first couple of seasons to the standard of football and, with the exception of the Surrey Senior Cup, the club was still only engaged in friendly matches. While results in the first two seasons had been satisfactory they took a turn for the worse in 1895-1896 and by the end of January the club had only managed 4 wins, all during the first 5 weeks of the season, and seemed to be falling apart due to internal problems. Matches were often one sided because one of the two teams was not fully represented and the genuinely well matched and competitive games were few and far between.

The early part of the season had mirrored the previous year with several positions not filled by regular players. Arthur Peck had taken a place in the forward line to make way for two new full backs, Morfett and Collinson, with Lloyd also moving into the forward line as they tried to turn around their goalscoring problems. However, after a bright enough start, the adjustment failed to improve the situation as the team moved into the winter months. Wingers Ocock and Kemp were still going strong but Kingston lacked a regular goalscorer from any of the forward players. Kaines and Pyke arrived at the club in the middle of October, having previously played for Guernsey Rangers, and Kaines was to become a regular for most of the season but did little to improve the goal tally despite a promising start.

Kingston began the season flattered with a 6-0 win against London Welsh Reserves who turned up 5 short and had to be provided with 4 substitutes. Further wins followed, but the last good result for some time was at the start of November with a 4-1 home win over Clapham Rovers. The Clapham Rovers club had won the F.A. Cup in 1880 although they were well past their glory years by the time of this match. The game saw a number of free kicks given for foul throws as players were having problems mastering a rule change that decreed both feet had to be on the ground when a throw was taken. Despite this it was one of the better games to be seen on the Fairfield that season.

A bad run began after their only competitive fixture in the Surrey Senior Cup, where 300 spectators on the Fairfield saw them lose a first round game to Guy's Hospital in early November. The 3-1 defeat was a big improvement on the 12-0 result in the same competition the previous year but they never gave Guy's any serious worries.This was then followed by two bad defeats against an Army team, Kneller Hall, by 5-0 and 4-0 and things came to a head shortly afterwards. The trouble started with the resurfacing of an issue from the previous season where some players had been reluctant to turn up for away games. This caused bad blood among those who did and the club decided to suspend some players for non attendance. The result was a very weak team put out for a home game against Chertsey in early December with a 0-0 scoreline the outcome. Ironically, Collinson, who had played in every game that season, was the only regular player missing from the line up against Chertsey and later joined Ham & Petersham.

In an effort to shore up the first team, reserve fixtures were suspended, but the following week matters were even worse and Kingston needed 4 substitutes in their game against Lorn on 14th December which they lost 1-0. It seemed that by suspending unreliable players the only effect was that the club had lost those players but without finding reliable replacements. The "unsatisfactory support accorded by the playing members" led to the resignations of Carn and Lloyd from their posts of Treasurer and Secretary respectively and things were starting to look grim. Jack Kemp, who had been struggling with injury anyway, also resigned as captain of the first team. Fred Lanham, who had once again been called back into action, took over as the regular Kingston goalkeeper and became the new Captain with Charles Bartlett taking over the post of Secretary. Lloyd played his last game for the club at the time of his resignation and Kemp only re-appeared for the final game of the season after recovering from injury. Kemp was however to return regularly again in the following campaign.

The start of January saw a hard game at Addlestone, which Kingston lost 4-0 with three Kingston players suffering injuries. Amazingly a letter of complaint to the Surrey Comet concerned the roughness of the Kingston team. This was responded to by the Kingston representatives on the basis that he must have confused the two teams. This did not prevent a return game at Kingston which was without similar incident. It was not the only time that season that things had got unpleasant with a home game against Ferry Works a couple of weeks later equally nasty. The referee had missed a bad foul on one of the Kingston players and the game was held up for a while after a pitch invasion with outbursts of hooting taking place for the remainder of the match.

By February the club had settled down again after all the turmoil and were able to fully restart the reserve team, although whether by design or accident all their remaining reserve games were played at home. Charles Bartlett was commended for steadying the ship and it was reported that by the end of the season the club had started to increase its membership with 10 shillings in hand. Results also picked up for the first team and although they only managed 5 games before the end of the season they remained unbeaten in all of them. The club finally appeared to have a more settled team with the arrival of Jack Baker, who had largely been playing in the reserves in previous seasons, and with the return of Harry Short. Peck had also resumed his duties at Full Back, and Blackmore from the reserves had been added to the Half Back line. Aside from Short and Ocock though the attack was still a problem and still lacking a reliable goalscorer, although Wade played the last 4 games of the season at Centre Forward scoring a goal in three of those games.

It was a much happier club that finished the season with matches that included an away day by bus to Croydon Park winning 3-2 with a total party of 30 making the journey. This was only their second away win in two years and one which saw a genuinely competitive match and virtually a full first choice team turning out, and It seemed that they had finally put the non attendance at away games behind them. Their season ended very early on 14th March with a 2-2 draw at home to Tooting Externes, having had Scottish Fossils scratch the scheduled game the following week, and then a Kingston & District League trial match that took precedence on what would normally have been their final game of the season.

Despite a problematic season for Kingston-on-Thames A.F.C. it was events outside of the club that were to provide the leap forward they had been looking for with the setting up of the Kingston & District League and the promise of regular competitive games in the coming year. Alan Shaw, himself a committee member of the Kingston-on-Thames club, was one of the main figures behind this. He was responsible for much of the initial work but was also supported by William Carn, who had remained a member of Kingston-on-Thames despite resigning his official duties.

After initial proposals for a league had begun around the turn of the year progress was very fast, delayed only slightly by the inability of Alan Shaw to write letters following the crushing of his hand in a railway carriage door. By February the league had been set up and had been well received and supported by many of the clubs in the area. Teams within 5 miles of the Coronation Stone in Kingston were invited to apply and a Senior Divison of 9 clubs and a Junior one of 10 clubs had been put in place and agreed upon. The teams and the make up of the divisions changed fairly significantly by the time the season started but there remained 17 clubs taking part in the two divisions even if there were only 7 teams in a Senior Division that included Kingston-On-Thames. Kingston also entered a reserve team for the Junior Division.

Some people were a little irritated with Carn and with the Surrey F.A. in their objection to "pot hunting". Mr. Hunt, the owner of the Cricketers pub, had offered a 10 guinea trophy for the competition and later Mr. Knapp from the Surrey Comet also offered medals to the players. Despite their objections It was made clear that it was the Football Association itself that would sanction the league and that the Surrey F.A. had no say in the matter and eventually the pots became a reality. Despite his objections to trophies for amateur football, Carn still actively promoted the league and became its first Chairman with Alan Shaw elected as Secretary.

The Kingston & District League was christened with an an inter league meeting with the North Middlesex League on 4th April on the Fairfield and around 2,000 spectators saw the Kingston League win 3-0, contrasting markedly with the 300 who had watched Kingston's only competitive game that season. The team included five regulars from the Kingston-On-Thames club and it seemed that the Kingston members would have something to look forward to during the coming season.

Results, appearances, scorers, links to match reports and general articles.

Season 1896-1897

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