Saxons, now known as Kingston
Wanderers, brought in a new strip of cherry and white stripes for the 1890-1891
season and were to play under the new name for the next 3 seasons, still
only playing friendly matches.
The name change seemed to do the trick and 1890-1891 was to be their best season yet. They were accumulating a fair number of former Middle Mill players including Ernie Sayers and Charles Collins and, even though there was an increasing number of Association clubs in the Kingston area, the Wanderers were making a strong claim to be the top one. Wanderers won every game they played up to the end of January and only lost one match all season. Unfortunately the weather caused havoc to the fixtures and only 13 of the scheduled 24 games were played.
They had a much
more settled team with the addition of Fred Lanham in goal and George
Nott in the forward line. Nott had played a few games for the reserves
the year before and was also a professional cricketer with Surbiton Hill.
Lanham was another player who had previously been at Middle Mill and was
well known in the area and even able to arrange his own teams on occasion.
He was to have a long association with the club over a period of nearly
ten years although he was not the regular goalkeeper throughout that period
and, in common with other players in the area, there was a lot of switching
between clubs. Players could simply help out in other teams if they had
a free Saturday or wanted a change of scene as there was no need for player
registration and Lanham was also reported to have played in one of the
Aston Villa reserve teams.
Willie Hurliman (nee Thau) Pictured in later life. (Taken from Surrey Comet June 1942).
The season started happily with two 3-0 wins on consecutive Saturdays, but then tragedy struck during a 7-0 win at the Fairfield against Cobham Hawks which led to the death of Arthur Smith, one of the Cobham Hawks' players. He had been in what was described as a blameless collision with George Nott and received a knee in his stomach area. The game continued as it was not realised the seriousness of the situation but the player died on Monday after being cared for at home on Sunday. The Coroner noted that there had been around 50 deaths around the country in the previous season as a result of playing football although this was the first in the Kingston Borough. Kingston Wanderers' game for the following Saturday was cancelled as a mark of respect.
The winning run continued into November and December but then the weather wrecked football for a seven week period between the start of December and the end of January. The Thames might not have been frozen enough to host the "Frost fairs" that had been held earlier in that century but at times it was a close run thing with tugs having to break through packs of ice in the Kingston area and, in various places, conditions allowed brave individuals to venture a little way out onto the ice. It was only on 31st January that Kingston Wanderers were back in action with a 2-0 win over Weybridge Rovers with both sides reported as being rusty after the extended break.
There followed yet another cancellation as Kew Priory scratched at very short notice with Kingston Wanderers receiving a letter at 1pm on the day of the game telling them the Priory club "no longer existed". A week later saw the first defeat of the season when they were beaten 2-0 by Streatham. Kingston had previously beaten their reserve team twice that season and welcomed the chance to play against their first team. Wanderers did nearly all of the attacking but were caught by two breakaway goals and were left bemoaning "the hills and valleys which form the Streatham Club's 'Native heath' ". The Streatham ground compared unfavourably to the "smooth sward" of the Fairfields but matches between the clubs continued despite Wanderers' aversion to the playing surface and a journalist delighted in reporting a "mud pond" when playing there the following season.
The most exciting game of the season was seen a couple of weeks later when Wanderers drew 4-4 with St. Margaret's at the Fairfields. Wanderers put out a weaker team than normal including a substitute and it was a game that swung one way and then the other. Anstey, in his only game for the club, scored the final two goals for Kingston Wanderers, both of which cancelled out St. Margaret's' leads. Aside from matches against Middle Mill this was the first game where crowds were reported to be excited and competitive about their respective teams as big cheers greeted the goals.
Advert for the Charity festival featuring Kingston Wanderers printed in the Surrey Comet,
of their increasingly indisputable claim to be the top Association Club
in the Borough, Kingston Wanderers were invited by Kingston Rugby club to
take part in the annual charity festival to benefit local hospitals at their
ground at Richmond Road, more or less on the site of the future Kingstonian
ground. It was again St. Margaret's who were the opposition. 300-400 people
attended with the main billing being a Rugby match between Kingston F.C.
and Kingston Rangers. The result of the Association game was another close
fought match ending in a 2-2 draw. It was a good end to a very promising
season for the newly named Kingston team and the event had allowed them
to gain a much higher profile in the town.
The reserves did less well during the season, in part losing momentum because of the weather. They were only to manage 6 games, playing without a full team in two of them, and suffering an 11-0 defeat at the hands of Carrington Lodge when playing two short and with two substitutes in the remaining nine players. Their overall record was not too bad with 2 won, 2 drawn and 2 lost including a draw and a win against Old Centrals first team who were later to become Wimbledon FC. Old Centrals disputed the result however because of a late goal they claimed to have scored but which the umpire was unable to judge because of the light and their official committee meeting decided to record it as a draw in their records. Kingston Wanderers and the local Kingston papers however saw things differently and continued to regard this as a win. It wasn't the only controversial result for the reserves that season with St. Margaret's Reserves disputing a goal scored by Wanderers as they claimed the whistle had already been blown for offside. Again, the official Kingston verdict on the matter was a win for Kingston Wanderers Reserves.
Wiliam Carn- picture from the Surrey Comet dated 15th Dec 1928.
not as bad as previous years there was still a problem with attendance
and they had to include players who were just making up numbers. Wanderers
were still getting decent results though and it was late January before
their second defeat in a match at Eversleigh where they had to play with
just 8 players (and even then including one substitute) and lost
8-0 as a result. The substitute had been put in goal and the report
stated he was a "novice" and that you only had to shoot straight
in order to beat him. The Reserve team was resurrected but met with mixed
results. 6 games were played in November and December and results were
reasonable, however no games were recorded in the second half of the season
and it looked as though the team had once again had to fold.
1892-1893 had been a better season and Wanderers were only beaten 3 times in 20 games, but there was little in the matches worth reporting on, and many of the games in the latter half of the season were scantily reported on in any event. There was a feeling that there was of lack of progression about the club and for Association Football in the town as a whole. With the growth of the Association game in general, the town of Kingston was underperforming in relation to the national game in other towns and cities and it was increasingly clear that something had to be done to improve matters. In other parts of Surrey many of the towns had a club that represented the whole town and there had already been a West Surrey League set up to play competitive games among those clubs. The Surrey Senior Cup had started in 1882 and the F.A. Amateur Cup was to start in 1893-1894 season. Once again it was to be William G Carn who took matters into his own hands and he proposed an amalgamation of the Kingston clubs in order to produce one senior team to represent the whole of the Kingston area with Kingston Wanderers taking the lead in those proposals.