AFC Hornchurch - Club History
The club's history dates back to 1923 when the team were formed as ‘Upminster Wanderers’. The home ground was the local recreation park in Upminster. The club were quickly elected to the Romford League and won the Second Division Championship in their first season.
After the Second World War the club joined the Spartan League and played in Division One East for several years before being promoted to the Premier Division. In 1953 they moved to the Delphian League and also took up residence at ‘The Stadium’ in Bridge Avenue, Upminster - which is still their home today. The club changed its name in that same year to Hornchurch and Upminster FC and this was changed again in 1961 to Hornchurch Football Club. The club were runners up for the Championship that same year, a performance which was good enough to see them gain election to the Athenian League. The club won the Division One Championship in 1967, were relegated in 1969 and promoted back again in 1971.
1974/5 saw the club reach the fifth round of the very first FA Vase Competition where they lost to eventual finalists Epsom & Ewell by one goal. That performance helped the club gain election to the Isthmian League. In 1978, the club once again suffered relegation but three years later they were back after achieving the runners up slot behind Feltham. Disaster struck in 1989 when a fire destroyed the clubhouse and that single event led to years of struggle. Eventually, after the regionalised Isthmian Divisions were in place the club were relegated to Division 3. Manager Mick Marsden was appointed in February 1998 and in his second season in charge of the club took them to fourth place.
2000/1 was disappointing as far as League performances were concerned, but the team had an excellent run in the FA Vase before being knocked out by eventual finalists Berkhamsted after an exciting replay.
2002/3 saw the club promoted as runners up from Division 3 into the Ryman Division One North. That promotion saw the whole club restructured. The old members club was disbanded and a new Limited Company was formed. The club's shareholders, a European Investment Company provided funds for the redevelopment of the ground, the clubhouse and also the building of a team capable of gaining Conference status. Indeed, the ground dramatically change from the old derelict stadium to a well seated and covered ground (3,500 capacity) with all amenities including a new restaurant, bar, changing rooms and gymnasium. The team played well all season and were never out of the top five, going into the last game against Great Wakering Rovers with promotion to the Ryman Premier already secured. The team needed the away win to ‘pinch’ the Championship from Northwood. It wasn’t to be however and a 3-3 draw sent the title to Chestnut Avenue with the Urchins one point adrift.
2003/2004 season saw the squad strengthened further with the arrival of five new signings to add to the previous campaign's impressive line up. The club had 12 full time professional players with a total squad of 30 playing in both the Ryman Premier Division and the Capital League. The second Round proper of the FA Cup was achieved with Darlington disposed of in the 1st Round. Tranmere were the controversial winners of a memorable televised 2nd round tie at Bridge Avenue in front of a capacity crowd. Promotion to the new Conference South was achieved at the season's end.
2004/05 saw the appointment of Garry Hill as manager and the squad strengthened still further, taking the playing budget to its highest level. This ultimately proved unsustainable and in January 2005 the club shareholders removed the old Board of Directors and installed Jon Smith as Managing Director with Jenny Cliff as co-Director. Tony Choules was immediately appointed as Manager and all contract players were duly released. A good end to the season on the pitch saw Choules' budget side finish in a most creditable position, but the off pitch affairs could not be resolved and the club re-formed under the name AFC Hornchurch and were duly placed by the FA in the Essex Senior League. Ex Urchins Youth Manager John Lawrence was appointed by The Board to first team duties in May 2005.
2005/06 saw a treble winning campaign for the team, with an almost brand new Urchins squad becoming the first club in England that season to win their championship and in doing so setting a new points record for the Essex Senior League.. This was closely followed with the winning of the Gordon Brasted Cup and the League Cup. As the close season began John Lawrence resigned his manager's position and Colin McBride (previously with Thurrock in the Conference South) was appointed to lead a further strengthened team for a campaign in the newly formed Ryman Division 1 North.
2006/07 saw the Urchins have another memorable season when they took the Ryman North League by storm finishing Champions with 103 points, 21 points clear of second placed Harlow Town. In the process the team lost only three league matches and finished the season by setting a new club record of 35 games undefeated - a record which they take with them for their coming campaign in the Ryman Premier League. In addition to the League Championship additional silverware was earned when the team won the Essex Senior Cup for the first time in the club's history. A memorable Final was played against a hard working Great Wakering Rovers team at Roots Hall, home of Southend United FC, infront of an estimated crowd of 2500. The Urchins were victorious by two goals to one.