Website last updated: 26 Feb, 2015 @ 08:02
Croydon Amateurs Football Club was founded on the 17th
April 1953 to provide senior amateur football in the then County Borough at the newly built Croydon Sports Arena, South Norwood. The Clubs Founder Chairman was Mr. Jack Milsted and he retained that position until retiring in 1990. At the time of its inception, the club had nothing but goodwill and its initial funding was by way of public donations.
The Surrey Senior League was specially extended to enable the fledgling club to have somewhere to compete and ten years were spent in that competition. The official ground opening was against Pegasus,The F. A. Amateur Cup Holders, and during that maiden season the club reached both the County League Cup, and Charity Cup Finals, playing against Dorking in both games.. Dorking won the League Cup but the Charity Cup was shared in front of a record 1,600 crowd at the Arena. During the next nine seasons the club won both League and Charity Cups, and also finishes runners-up in the League on a number of occasions, but they were unable to win the Championship.
1963-64 saw the club elected to the Spartan League where they were destined to spend just a single season. But what a season it turned out to be! they won their first League Championship, winning 29 of their 34 league fixtures, and scoring 134 goals in the process. The opportunity came for further advancement at the end of that campaign to the Athenian League. Within two seasons the Second Division Championship had been won and promotion gained to the First Division where four seasons were spent. Unfortunately, the momentum that had sustained the club since its formation was lost, and relegation back to Division Two came in 1969-70.
Summer 1970 saw the installation of floodlights and the arrival of South London Bookmaker Jimmy Rose as team manager, which proved to be a watershed in the clubs fortunes. Two successive promotions saw the Amateurs rise to the Athenian League Premier Division but at the end of 1971-72campaign, Rose announced that he would be taking over as manager of Dulwich Hamlet. Inevitably, a season of struggle ensued in the Premier Division, with the majority of the previous season's first team departing to Dulwich Hamlet or Tooting.
With the impending end of Amateur status, the club dropped its suffix during the summer of 1973. By the end of October 1973 and with the club in nether regions of the reorganised Athenian League First Division. Ted Sheppard took over as manager and introduced a much more professional attitude and thus began one of the most successful periods in the Clubs history.
1975-76 proved to be a history making season as the Club went the whole season undefeated in the league. Forty Two games and yet Tilbury pipped them for the Championship. It was only the second time in the Ishmian League history that this had happened.
Thirteen yearswere spent in the top flight of the Isthmian League - renamed the Premier Division after one season, and whilst not gaining any league honours,the Club competedin a number of County Cup Finals. The Club won the Surrey Senior Cup for the only time in their history in 1981-82 season beating Sutton United2-0 in the Final. Prior to that success, Croydon had lost to Tooting in the 1976-77 Surrey Senior Cup Final, and to Barking in the 1979-80 London Senior Cup Final.
The F. A. Cup runwhich Culminated in two second round matches against Millwall in 1979-80 brought the club national recognition, as did to a lesser extent, two appearancesin the second (last 32) of the F. A. Trophy in the early eighties. The profits from the F. A. Cup run were ploughed back into refurbishing the clubhouse, but this was raised to the groundin a fire believed to be arson for which the culprits were never caught.
The departure of Ted Shepherd came during a period when the team appeared to have lost its way and he was succeededby Barry Webb for the 1984-85 campaign
and then Adrian Hill 1985-87 who took the club ti its highest ever league position, fourthin the Premier Division,
in his first season in charge.
During this period, the local authority decided to redevelop the Arena, replacing the eight lane cinder track
with a larger tartan track, unfortunately, this meant that the pitch was furthur away from the stand thereby decreasing the the match day atmosphere. It also meant
a large number of home fixtures being played away from the Arena with the corresponding loss in revenue.
There was little stability either on or off the field. Five Chairmen and eleven team managers, mounting debts and threats of closure are ample evidence of that.
The nadir was in 1993-94 season.In stepped local Scottish Businessman, Ken Jarvie at the eleventh hour with the players from his Thornton Heath League Side, Phoenix Sun, who stepped up nine levels, to keep the Clubs name alive. Not surprisingly some very heavy results followed and another place was gained in the annals of the Isthmian League, this time for the most goals conceded. However, his arrival sparked one of the most successful periods in the club's history.
Together with joint-manager Dickson Gill, Jarvie led the club to promotion from division 2 in 1996, finishing runners up to Canvey Island. Jarvie took sole control of team affairs a few months later, and in the spring of 1999, a new club record was set of 883 minutes without conceding a goal. More importantly, the foundation had been set for what was to become a menorable Millennium season. A 19 match unbeaten run (another club record) at the beginningof 2000 saw Croydon storm to their first league title in 34 years, finishing 9 points ahead of Grays Athletic in 2nd place. In addition Croydon reached their first cup final since 1982. A narrow defeat against Conference side Woking in the Surrey Senior Cup Final was forgotton about the following night as Croydon beat Purflett 2-0 to win the Isthmian League Full Members Cup.
Unfortunately the platform of this success was built on sand. Although superp team spirit ensured Croydon's survival in their first back in the top flight of the Ryman League, and an appearance in the Ryman League Cup Final, before losing out to Heybridge, the following season was a bridge too far. Budget cuts and a loss of a number of high quality players proved crucial, and the club were relegated to Division 1 South. Some compensation was gained by winning the London Senior Cup, for the first time, defeating Dulwich Hamlet 2-1 in th final at Leyton Orient. The Club continued to struggle and was duly relegated to Division Two in April 2005. With finance still a problem, 2005-2006 saw a season of consolidation. Croydon finished 10th. in the last season of Division Two football, and after 32 seasons Croydon said farewell to the Isthmian League, to start life as a Kent League Club. The Clubs first season was its best since the early years of the Jarvie era. After a shaky start Croydon finished a very creditable third, only three points behind champions Whitstable Town. In addition Croydon had a long run in a F.A. competition, reaching the third round of the Vase, losing 0-1 to a very late Leamington goal at the Arena.
However this encouraging start was not maintained in Croydon's second season in the Kent League, 2007-2008
turned out to be a huge disappointment, for a dreadful run after Christmas saw Croydon finish a poor 12th. in the table.
2008-2009 saw a number of managerial changes at the Arena. The season started with Dickson Gill combining the Chairman and Manager roles. However the workload involved with these two jobs became overwhelming, and at the end of August Mark Tompkins was appointed Manager, with Gill continuing as Chairman. This arrangement did not work out and by the end of October Tompkins had left. With his departure the running of the team was in the hands of successful Youth Team Coach Marcus Alcindor assisted by Dave Dei. Ex-Banstead Athletic boss David Leworthy and his assistant Peter Thomas took charge in early November, but unfortunately Leworthy's work commitments forced him to resign in January 2009. The former Holmesdale manager Tony Beckingham arrived along with his Assistant Ken Thurgood along with goalkeeping coach Tony Prime.
Despite all these changes Croydon had success on the field. Wins over Haywards Heath Town, Horley Town, Mile Oak and Camberley Town saw Croydon reach the fourth round of the Vase, where they were somewhat unfortunate to go out 1-2 at Biggleswade Town. The highlight of the season was the club's victory in the Kent League Cup. This turned out to be Croydons last game as a Kent League Club, victory was secured over Erith Town in a penalty shoot-out, folowing a 1-1 draw, in the final played at Wellings United's Park View Road ground.
Life is never simple at the Arena, just when everybody is looking for stability, the manager and his team upped and left to take over the running of Lingfield in the Sussex County League. To complicate matters Croydon's request to move across the pyramid to the Combined Counties League was granted by the F.A.
Season 2009-2010 sees Croydon back to where they first started 50 plus years ago namely the Combined Counties League ( the successor to the old Surrey Senior League ) .
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26 - Ajimata Tubosun