Fenmen fans reflect on a rollercoaster history as Wisbech Town celebrates centenary year

PUBLISHED: 15:42 17 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:42 17 June 2020

Players, coaches and supporters alike have been celebrating 100 years since the formation of Wisbech Town FC. Pictures: ARCHANT/SPENCER LARHAM

Players, coaches and supporters alike have been celebrating 100 years since the formation of Wisbech Town FC. Pictures: ARCHANT/SPENCER LARHAM

Archant

It’s been somewhat a rollercoaster of emotions for Wisbech Town Football Club fans over the past 100 years.

The winning Wisbech Town squad of the 1925-26 Hinchingbrooke Cup. Back (from left): N. Emsden, D, Poynter, J. Brown, D, Heil and H. Barker. Front (from left): J. Friend, H. Hemy. N. Wadsley, H. Leggett and S. Sisman. Picture: ARCHANTThe winning Wisbech Town squad of the 1925-26 Hinchingbrooke Cup. Back (from left): N. Emsden, D, Poynter, J. Brown, D, Heil and H. Barker. Front (from left): J. Friend, H. Hemy. N. Wadsley, H. Leggett and S. Sisman. Picture: ARCHANT

The club celebrated its centenary on Monday, June 15, which has been touted as #FENtenary on social media, where plans to mark the occasion have been spoilt due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Friendlies with the likes of professional sides, Peterborough United and Norwich City, were on the agenda, as well as a friendly match organised by Fenmen legend Jackie Gallagher featuring players past and present.

But club officials have assured players, coaches and supporters alike that, when it is safe to do so, a party like no other will be arranged in due course.

Spencer Larham, secretary at Wisbech Town FC, has been following the Fenmen for 25 years and has witnessed the club develop on and off the pitch.

The Wisbech Town FC squad before the 1930-31 Clegg Cup Final, where Wisbech won 5-2 against Spalding United. Back (from left): Syd Hull, Nick Ward, Bob Harriman, George Holmes and Fred Jackson. Front (from left): Steamer’ Burgess, Wilf Barker, Bert Titmarsh and Jim Youles. Picture: ARCHANTThe Wisbech Town FC squad before the 1930-31 Clegg Cup Final, where Wisbech won 5-2 against Spalding United. Back (from left): Syd Hull, Nick Ward, Bob Harriman, George Holmes and Fred Jackson. Front (from left): Steamer’ Burgess, Wilf Barker, Bert Titmarsh and Jim Youles. Picture: ARCHANT

“My first game was an FA Cup replay between Wisbech and Billericay,” he said.

“A lot of people who started watching Wisbech moved to the area, some far from their original club.

“It’s weird how people get involved who don’t come from the area but start to get involved with the club.”

After the merger of Wisbech Working Men’s Conservative Club, Park Works and St Joseph’s, Wisbech Town did not play their first game until September 1920, a 1-1 draw with Yaxley in a Peterborough League contest in front of around 1,500 fans at Fenland Park.

Wisbech Town FC in the 1947-48 season, their first campaign at Fenland Park when they retained the United Counties League title. From back (left): Don Coulston, Len Thursting, Cyril Wells, Fred Goodenough, Jack Cole, Ken Melton and Syd Hull. Front (from left): Paddy Barlow, Terry Robinson, Fred Bates, Bert Blackshaw (player/manager). Picture: ARCHANTWisbech Town FC in the 1947-48 season, their first campaign at Fenland Park when they retained the United Counties League title. From back (left): Don Coulston, Len Thursting, Cyril Wells, Fred Goodenough, Jack Cole, Ken Melton and Syd Hull. Front (from left): Paddy Barlow, Terry Robinson, Fred Bates, Bert Blackshaw (player/manager). Picture: ARCHANT

It’s believed over 5,000 players have worn Fenmen red during the club’s amateur and semi-professional history, enjoying the highs of finishing Midlands Division runners-up in the 1950s, to the lows of flirting with relegation in the Eastern Counties League.

June 15 also marked 10 years since Wisbech moved to the Elgoods Fenland Stadium, and from arriving at their new ground to suffering the wrath of Storm Ciara, Larham hopes to reflect on even more memorable moments.

“We lined up a friendly with Posh, but the problem there was we do not know even if we can have a friendly if anyone can watch it because that can attract a large crowd,” he said.

“I think we had quite a good reaction from what we tried to organise on Twitter in getting people to put their memories across.

The Lerowe Road End at Fenland Park, the former home of Wisbech Town FC. Picture: SPENCER LARHAMThe Lerowe Road End at Fenland Park, the former home of Wisbech Town FC. Picture: SPENCER LARHAM

“There may be supporters who probably went to every single game at Fenland Park as small children.

“Wisbech need to be like the Iceland of the Northern Premier League. We don’t have the best players, but we do have a good team.”

*Wisbech Town are planning to return to full training next month and are looking to play pre-season friendlies in August.

The Wisbech Town squad that finished runners-up in the Eastern Counties League and crowned League Cup winners for the 1970-71 season. Picture: ARCHANTThe Wisbech Town squad that finished runners-up in the Eastern Counties League and crowned League Cup winners for the 1970-71 season. Picture: ARCHANT

The 1985-86 Wisbech Town squad. Back (from left): Wayne Garner, Martyn Wiles, John Waddicor, Kevin Hudson and Gary Rider. Front (from left): Billy Tyler, Mel Mattless, John Scase, Willie Rider and Jamie Brighty. Picture: ARCHANTThe 1985-86 Wisbech Town squad. Back (from left): Wayne Garner, Martyn Wiles, John Waddicor, Kevin Hudson and Gary Rider. Front (from left): Billy Tyler, Mel Mattless, John Scase, Willie Rider and Jamie Brighty. Picture: ARCHANT

The front page of the Wisbech Standard from May 24, 1985 saw the story that Wisbech Town FC bought back their Fenland Park ground from a business consortium. Picture: ARCHANTThe front page of the Wisbech Standard from May 24, 1985 saw the story that Wisbech Town FC bought back their Fenland Park ground from a business consortium. Picture: ARCHANT

Wisbech Town receive their team of the month award during the 1993-94 campaign. Picture: ARCHANTWisbech Town receive their team of the month award during the 1993-94 campaign. Picture: ARCHANT

Wisbech Town player Liam Harrold (centre) receives the golden boot for the 2005-06 season. Picture: SPENCER LARHAMWisbech Town player Liam Harrold (centre) receives the golden boot for the 2005-06 season. Picture: SPENCER LARHAM

Former Wisbech Town player and manager Steve Appleby. Picture: SPENCER LARHAMFormer Wisbech Town player and manager Steve Appleby. Picture: SPENCER LARHAM

Wisbech players clap supporters as they make their way off the Fenland Park pitch. Picture: ARCHANTWisbech players clap supporters as they make their way off the Fenland Park pitch. Picture: ARCHANT

Wisbech Town FC chairman Paul Brenchley outside the Elgoods Fenland Stadium. Picture: ARCHANTWisbech Town FC chairman Paul Brenchley outside the Elgoods Fenland Stadium. Picture: ARCHANT

Supporters flocked to the Elgoods Fenland Stadium, which opened in 2010. Picture: ARCHANTSupporters flocked to the Elgoods Fenland Stadium, which opened in 2010. Picture: ARCHANT

The Wisbech Town squad before their first game at the Elgoods Fenland Stadium during the 2010-11 season. Picture: SPENCER LARHAMThe Wisbech Town squad before their first game at the Elgoods Fenland Stadium during the 2010-11 season. Picture: SPENCER LARHAM

Former Wisbech Town player Jon Fairweather is one of the club's leading appearance makers. Picture: SPENCER LARHAMFormer Wisbech Town player Jon Fairweather is one of the club's leading appearance makers. Picture: SPENCER LARHAM

The Wisbech Town FC squad ahead of the 2016-17 season. Picture: ARCHANTThe Wisbech Town FC squad ahead of the 2016-17 season. Picture: ARCHANT

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