History of Falmouth Town
were formed in 1949 and joined the old Cornwall Senior League in 1950, before
becoming founder members of the South Western League in 1951/52. Until this
time, it was near neighbours Falmouth Docks who provided the only senior
football in the town. The club has played under the banner of Falmouth Town AFC
on and off since the turn of the century and after the Second World War were
playing junior football in midweek Wednesday League.
has had a number of grounds over the years. The first friendly games were played
on the Recreation Ground, loaned whilst negotiating for a more permanent home.
Eventually a home ground was obtained at Union Corner, where Falmouth
first ever SWL game was played. The game against St Austell on Saturday 18th
August 1951 finished 3-3 and was played in front of a crowd of 1,200. Cedric
Martin had the honour of scoring the first SWL goal.
Bickland Park became home in 1957
after the purpose built Ashfield Ground, home for only three seasons, was sold
to Shell-Mex BP for over £20,000 – a small fortune in the mid 1950s. The deal
also saw the ground on Bickland Water Road
being built for the club but another season at a more developed Union Corner was
needed before Town moved in for good and Newquay were the first visitors in
It was former
goalkeeper Ken Tewkesbury who was responsible for the introduction of senior
football in Falmouth.
His knowledge and experience were to be the essential link in the formation of
Falmouth Town AFC. By the late 1950s, professionalism was introduced on a large
The first major trophy was won in
1957/58 when Newquay were defeated 1-0 in the SWL Cup final at
En route to the final, the club didn’t concede a goal. The cup was retained the
following year when
was beaten 6-3, a scoreline which stands as a record today. Falmouth
completed the domestic Cornish treble in 1961/62 when they won their first ever
SWL Championship, the SWL Cup and their first Cornwall Senior Cup. It was Town’s
first appearance in the Easter Monday showpiece and the 7-1 win over St Blazey
is also a record score in the final.
The following season saw Town’s place
established in Cornish football history when they secured a place in the First
Round proper of the FA Cup, a feat no other Cornish team has achieved. Having
overcome the challenge of
Town, St Blazey, Bideford and
to reach this state, Town put up a brave fight against Football League newcomers
Oxford United. In front of a record crowd, reported to be between 6,000-8,000,
Town succumbed 1-2 with Johnny Penny’s late consolation goal sparking a pitch
invasion. This feat was repeated in 1967 when Town lost 2-5 away to Peterborough
United and in 1969 when the same team came to
and left with a 4-1 victory.
The Cornwall Senior Cup was won again
in 1964/65 along with the runners up spot in the SWL. The following season the
league was won and the Senior Cup was retained.
had become a dominant force in South Western football, a title the team uphold
to this day. Season 1967/68 saw a second domestic treble, which was repeated
three years later in 1970/71. This third treble was unique until St Blazey’s
efforts in 2001/02, as Town had achieved it without losing a single match in all
three competitions. In fact, out of 49 matches, only three were drawn. A
remarkable achievement that involved a squad of only 13 players.
The SWL title of 1970/71 marked the
first of four successive SWL titles; during this period 553 goals were scored
with 101 conceded from 130 matches. After the fourth championship and winning
the Senior Cup and the Pratten Cup (overcoming
in a two legged final) in 1973/74, Falmouth
successfully applied for application to the Rothmans Western League in search of
a fresh, higher challenge. Making an incredible transition, they completed the
League and Cup double without losing a match. It was New Year’s Day 1976 that
Town’s first defeat at this level was inflicted upon them after a mammoth 58
match unbeaten run. Three more consecutive Western League titles were won,
making it eight in a row for legendary manager Richard Gray, establishing an
English semi-professional record that is unparalleled in English football
history. Along with the manager special mention must be made of central
defenders Mervyn Rich and Keith Manley (who holds the club appearance record of
580 games) for competing in all eight of those seasons. In 1976, ace goalscorer
Tony Kellow was transferred to
for a club record fee of £12,000 and the previous season Roy Carter departed for
a long and illustrious career in the Football League. Club record goalscorer Joe
Scott departed in 1978 for
Bournemouth having netted 204 goals in
just 267 appearances.
stay in the Western League, four consecutive Cornwall Senior Cups were won
between 1975/76 and 1978/79
Increased travelling expenses forced Town to withdraw from the
Western League after nine seasons.
Upon their return to Cornish football,
Town found their application to rejoin the South Western League refused by
member clubs. The club had to settle for Cornwall Combination League football,
taking the place of the recently reformed reserve team. It was the beginning of
a new successful era under manager Dave Wadd. The Combination League was duly
won and Town’s application to join the SWL was successful. In their one and only
season in the Combination, they made history by being the only Combination
League side to compete in the FA Cup. With the league not being of sufficient
stature in the eyes of the FA, the club had to apply for special dispensation to
play in the competition.
finished sixth in their first season back in the SWL, but the following season
(1985/86), the League and Cup double was achieved and in 1986/87, the club
achieved national recognition once again by reaching the quarter finals of the
FA Vase. Following a 1-1 draw at
the club bowed out 0-1 in the replay to the eventual winners in front of a 1,500
crowd at Bickland.
Further SWL championships were added
in 1986/87, 1988/89 and 1989/90 taking their total to eleven. Between September
1985 and April 1988, Falmouth
played 52 SWL games at Bickland
With Trevor Mewton in charge, Falmouth
triumphed over favourites St Blazey 1-0 in the SWL Cup in 1990/91 and the
following season won their twelfth championship. The double was completed with a
5-0 win over the Devon & Cornwall Police in the SWL Cup final. After two seasons
without a trophy, former player Ray Nicholls was appointed as manager. With an
almost new team, the SWL Cup was won in the first season with a 2-1 win over
This was Town’s tenth League Cup success.
David Ball took over the managerial
post vacated by Nicholls in the summer of 1996. Finding himself with less than
half of the previous season’s players, he set about rebuilding the team with
dramatic results. In his fairytail first season of management, he secured Town’s
fourth domestic treble. The Championship was won on the last day of the season
with a freak own goal in a 2-1 win against Bodmin. Surprise finalists Nanpean
Rovers were defeated 2-1 in a replay following a 1-1 draw in the Cornwall Senior
runners up in the league were beaten 3-2 after extra time in the League Cup
final at Newquay. Further success followed in 1998/99 when a first half Luke
Hodge hat trick saw in-form Porthleven beaten 3-0 in the SWL Cup final at Truro.
The following season saw Falmouth
win the first title of the new Millennium – a record fourteenth time. Town also
won the Durning Lawrence Cornwall Charity Cup for the first time since their
1959/60 victory over Launceston. This time, a late winner from Dominic Pullen
saw Porthleven beaten 1-0.
achieve another record. This time it was for the furthest distance travelled to
undertake an FA competition tie. This happened when Town had to travel some 500
miles to meet Bedlington Terriers in the fourth round of the FA Vase.
Unfortunately the result did not match the team’s efforts as Town succumbed 1-4
in extra time, the with home side’s equaliser coming four minutes from time.
Neil Phillips took over the reins at
Bickland just prior to the 2001/02 season gaining a very creditable 7th
placing on a very limited budget. The following season started promisingly but a
poor late season run aggravated by injuries produced a mid table final position.
The bright spot from the season was the winning of the Charity Cup for the third
time beating Truro
1-0 at Porthleven.
Following a poor start to the 2003/04
season and a humiliating 2-9 defeat at St Austell, a change in management saw
manager Steve Massey take over the reins. With Steve’s brother Stuart and Neil
Phillips in his managerial team, their first season saw a finish of 13th
The 2004/05 season, despite early
exits in the cup competitions the club finished in a very creditable 4th
position, the highest placing since 2000. The end of the season was blighted by
the defection of Massey to neighbours Truro City His assistants Stuart and Neil
took over the remaining games before also moving.
Former Plymouth Argyle goalkeeper Gary
Penhaligon did a fantastic job, leading Town to third position before opting to
leave. Ex boss Steve Massey returned, bringing his coaching team with him for
the final season of SWL football. A 10th
place finish was enough to see Cornwall’s most successful club reach the Premier
Division of the newly formed South West Peninsula League and begin life amongst
the top non-league clubs in Cornwall and Devon.