HISTORY OF EGHAM TOWN FOOTBALL CLUB
EGHAM TOWN's forerunners were a team called Runnymede Rovers who were established in 1877 and played in red and white - colours the present club have now adopted as their own. Rovers were reformed as Egham FC in 1905 and were founder members of the Surrey Senior League, claiming the inaugural Championship. The club had an unsuccessful six-year spell in the Spartan League between 1927-33 before returning to the Surrey Senior League, in which they played until disbanding upon the outbreak of World War II.
Unlike many clubs, Egham FC did not reform at the end of the War and it was not until a public meeting at the town's Literary Institute on December 9, 1963 that the present club came into being. The local council offered the use of part of a recreation ground for the new club to play on and this remains the club's home, although it is now an impressive ground for a club of Egham Town's stature. The former park has been developed into the Runnymede Stadium as it is known today. The ground has cover on all sides.
Having played in the Parthenon League in 1964-65 season, Town returned to the Surrey Senior League in 1965, and then moved back into the Spartan League, claiming the title in 1971-72. They were then elected into the Athenian League and captured the Second Division Championship at the first attempt in 1974-75 and finishing as First Division runners-up the following season. When the Isthmian League expanded in 1977, the Sarnies were duly elected but after finishing 6th in their first season success always eluded them. They have reached the fourth round of the FA Vase once in their history - the 1984-85 season. They narrowly missed promotion from the final season of the regionalised Division Two in 1990-91, when what was Divisions Two North and South was reorganised for the following season as Two and Three. Egham finished third in Division Two South with a tally of 87 points and 100 goals - both would have been good enough in almost any other season to secure one of the two promotion spots. In that season, they also had the best ever run in the FA Cup, reaching the 4th Qualifying Round before losing at Telford United. The 1991-92 season saw the Sarnies reach the Finals of the Surrey Senior Cup and Loctite Trophy but lose both. The club then went into a decline that culminated in relegation from Division Two of the Isthmian League in 1997-98.
For season 1991-92 the Club was promoted to Division One South of the Isthmian League as part of a re-organisation of non-league football and in 1997-98 were relegated to Isthmian Division 3. That started badly with a 0-9 defeat at Camberley Town. We were switched to the Southern League in 2004, which proved disastrous, as the travelling and a small budget virtually guaranteed the final finish of bottom, with 22 points.
With a final placing of sixth in season 2001-2 Egham were in one the allocated places for a move to Isthmian One South, that achievement helped largely by the goalscoring exploits of Clayton Whittle, who ended the season with a run of at least a goal a game for the last ten games, setting a club record. In the 2005-06 season they played in the Isthmian League Division Two but as a result of the restructuring of non-league football the club entered the Combined Counties League Premier Division. Season 2006-07 saw the appointment of first-time manager and former Egham Town defender Jack McKinlay, who resigned early into the following season as some heavy losses in the early part of the season prefaced a season long battle against relegation. They did however, enjoy a league cup run to the semi-finals, where they lost to Bedfont Green. Despite pre-season optimism, the club continued to struggle during 2008-2009 with the loss through injury of the previous season's top marksman, Jamie Thornby, hitting them hard. This led to another change in management, this time with former player Steve Baker taking the reins. He steadied the ship, and the campaign ended with four straight wins and a final league position of 13th place with 56 points. Baker's first full season saw the club finish 4th after a long unbeaten run, which success gave the club byes for the first two rounds of the FA Vase. However, even with some fine wins, John Pomroy (who had joined the club at the start of the season from neighbours and rivals Chertsey Town) scoring 26 goals, and, at one stage early in season 2010-2011 returning to 4th position, it was felt by the Chairman that change was needed.
With a new management trio of John Hamsher, who had a playing history at a very high level, former player Wayne Noad, and well-respected youth coach Colin Bartholomew an increased emphasis on blending youth with experience for season 2011-2012 certainly paid dividends. The first team, aided by 31 goals from Dale Marvell, were only pipped for a 3rd place finish on the last day of a season in which Egham registered, in an opening day 2-2 draw at Farnham Town, their 400th CCL Premier Division goal (from Marvell), and on the last day of the season, against the same opposition, their 500th, with a Marvell free kick. Just as eye-catching was the success of the brand new Under 18s, who were a revelation. with their capture of an historic debut season double of the Southern Youth League Central Section Championship and the League Cup, secured in a excellent match at Sutton United’s Gander Green Lane stadium with a 3-2 win over South Park. Under Bartholomew’s watchful gaze, and superbly assisted by John Cane, several Under 18s played for the first team, all demonstrating an ability to bridge the gap between the two levels. Chief among these was striker Brendan Matthew, with 8 goals for the Firsts and over 30 for the Youth.
Season 2012-13 started with the club expecting to progress under the same management but after ten games Hamsher and Noad jumped ship to join Ryman One South side Chipstead, taking half a dozen players with them. The vacant managerial slot was taken by Lee Pasmore, who rejoined the club last season after spending some of his earlier career with the Sarnies but was badly injured in the opening game of season 2012-13 at Sandhurst Town. He called on the services of former boss Jack McKinlay, who was joined in his return by another former player, Neerav Patel. Thereafter the season just got better and better, with some fantastic performances against Windsor, Cove, Badshot Lea and a memorable 3-1 home win against eventual runners-up Guernsey seeing the Sarnies creep up the table before taking up residence in first place. Appalling weather disrupted every club’s preparations, especially those of the Channel Islanders, but Egham were relentlessly picking up points and set a club record of 14 straight home wins before collapsing inexplicably by 1-6 to relegation threatened Hartley Wintney. That gave Guernsey hope. They had to finish the season with four games in as many days after season-long issues with their pitch, but even though they managed a 12 point haul, including an 8-1 win over the same Hartley Wintney side which had caught Egham cold, the Championship was won on 4 May 2013 with a 1-0 win (Luke Muldowney, 79th minute) against Bedfont Sports. Among the wild celebrations there was also time to reflect on the loss, early in the season, of Club President Brian Askew, who had been involved with the club since its reformation and had held several positions throughout his time with his beloved Sarnies.
Season 2013-14 saw a vibrant Egham Town looking forward to the challenge of football back in the Southern League, much better prepared than in 2004-05, aiming initially to better their previous mark in the Southern League, which was achieved fairly comfortably. Despite the clubhouse, the pitch and the surrounding area being badly flooded for weeks on end the club spirit held and in a very competitive division the final finish of 11th, and a run to the Semi Final of the Surrey Senior Cup, left the Sarnies in a confident mood to tackle season 2014 – 2015.
Egham Town were shaken on 4 October 2014 when Lee Passmore resigned his post as manager for personal reasons, Jack McKinlay and Neerav Patel following him. Continuing a club policy of trying wherever possible to promote from within the club the reins were handed to Luke Muldowney, the team captain, with the hugely experienced Richie Byrne assisting him. Unfortunately this only lasted 21 matches as after two heavy defeats and with the club sliding down the table a change was required.
Egham Town were next managed by Koo Dumbuya, a very well respected coach who used to play for the Sarnies. He was assisted by Trevor Norris, father of goalkeeper Jamie, and in his own right a manager and coach with a very impressive track record. The Sarnies progressed to the Semi-Finals of the Red Insure Cup. Slough Town were beaten 4-2 at the Runnymede Stadium, then Egham won 2-1 at Godalming Town and 5-4 on penalties at Burnham after coming from 0-2 and 1-3 to finish 3-3 at the end of normal time. Then we beat North Greenford United 2-1 at home before travelling to Premier Division leaders and Premier Division promotion challengers Poole Town. Mitchell Gutteridge gave us a half-time lead, the Dolphins levelled then Reis Stanislaus banged in a 35 yarder. We stretched Poole all the way and they only secured their 3-2 win with three minutes to go. Results were mixed thereafter and there was a novel switch as Dumbuya and Norris took each other’s role. It did not really work, and results into the start of season 2015-2016 led initially to Norris leaving then, with one match and one win (2-1 at home to Aylesbury United) with Dumbuya and recently installed coach Ahmet Akdag in charge, the appointment of exciting young manager Gary Meakin. The new man came to the club with experience as a player at Doncaster Rover, Telford, Hendon, Harrow Borough, Northwood and Hillingdon Borough. The nine operations he has had over this time eventually ended his playing career. His managerial experience started at Hillingdon Borough, before he went on to Northwood, then Wingate & Finchley. More recently two spells at Beaconsfield SYCOB sandwiched a stint in charge at Burnham. Highlights include saving Wingate & Finchley from relegation out of the Ryman Premier (2012 – 2013 season) and, after taking over at Beaconsfield SYCOB four days before the 2013-2014 season, leading the side to 8th place and the Berks & Bucks Senior Cup Final.
Two games in Meakin guided Egham to a club record away win as they walloped Uxbridge 7-0, then recorded the same score 11 days later at Arlesey Town. Egham recorded their first ever win on the road in the FA Trophy with a 1-0 success at Slimbridge, where earlier the Sarnies went out 2-3 aet in an FA Cup replay. In that replay Egham only had 11 players, and had to field leading scorer Brendan Matthew in goal! Egham reached half way in the 2015-2016 season in 3rd place after successive 1-0 wins against promotion rivals St Ives Town and AFC Rushden & Diamonds coming just before Christmas. The season included two 7-0 away wins at Uxbridge and Arlesey Town, and finished with the club going into the last day with everything on a knife edge. Egham were in third place when they travelled to Royston Town. Both sides were on 82 points, two behind leaders Kings Langley. When Egham took the lead the Sarnies were champions, for all of eleven minutes. Then a combination of Royston levelling and Kings Langley scoring the only goal of their game at Petersfield Town meant that the club finished third and faced St Ives Town in the play-offs. The Sarnies took the lead twice but with the score at 2-2 after extra time the visitors prevailed 4-2 in the penalty shoot-out. Finishing in third place was a superb end to a thoroughly entertaining season in which leading marksman Brendan Matthew scored a magnificent 37 times. The following season did not run quite as smoothly but an excellent late push moved the club into fifth place and a play-off at Farnborough. A 0-4 reverse was harsher than was deserved but the Sarnies were looking forward to another season under Gary Meakin and another promotion challenge. That didn’t happen as he and his management compadres jumped ship to helm the newly renamed Beaconsfield Town. Season 2017-2018 began with the experienced of Chris Moore and Wayne Carter in charge. Moore’s first managerial post saw him hang up his boots and use his contacts to bring in some decent players, and a five game winning run early on had Egham looking good in 3rd place. A club record FA Trophy win (7-1 at home to Shoreham) was followed by a drawn out saga with Bowers & Pitsea, who ended up being thrown out of the competition. Form dipped and after 36 games the pair were replaced with former Northwood boss Simon Lane. An exodus of players followed, mainly to Beaconsfield, who actively courted former Sarnies to boost their successful promotion run. Results were variable under the new manager, wins at home against AFC Rushden & Diamonds and Hayes & Yeading United played off against a home loss to doomed Arlesey Town. The final position of 16th was well short of early expectations.
Season 2018-2019 saw Egham Town re-discover what it was like to be an Isthmian League side after 12 years after the FA’s massive reorganisation of the non-league structure. Simon Lane was pleased to start the season with a good selection of the previous season’s squad but leading marksman Matthew’s signing for Beaconsfield Town was as inevitable as night following day. He has assembled a squad that mixes youth and experience, and is assisted in his coaching by the widely respected Adrian Browne. The Sarnies’ loyal fans are looking forward to a competitive season against rivals old and new.
Egham Town history penned originally by Gareth Coates
with later additions by Mark Ferguson