A Brief History of Newport Isle of Wight Football Club PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 05 September 2006

ImageThe modern Newport IOW Football Club, with it’s well appointed St George’s Park facilities, presents a different picture from that conjured up by the club’s origins on January 27th 1888. The actual date of formation can be established from the original minute book, which is still in the club's possession.

At that time, well over 100 years ago, Newport played on a piece of land known as Well’s Field, which later became known as Church Litten. Those early days meant a walk from the local public house, where the players changed, to a field, in order to clear the cows before play could commence.

Newport became founder members of the Isle Of Wight League in 1898 and were League Champions of that competition on four occasions, they were champions for the first time in 1908, adding further championships in 1909, 1910 and 1924. In 1927 the club became members of the Hampshire League, taking over the fixtures of the defunct Gosport Albion Club in mid season. Within three seasons Newport had won the County League championship for the first time. Those glory days of the 1930’s saw further success when the title was won again in 1933 and 1939 with the Hampshire Senior Cup being won in 1932 and successfully defended the following season.

The 1935/36 season saw Newport reach the 2nd Round of the FA Cup for the first time, bowing out at Southall. Newport once again reached the 2nd Round of the FA Cup in 1946 when they defeated Clapton Orient in the 1st Round, before losing at Aldershot. The Church Litten success story continued throughout the next decade with the club winning the Hampshire League Championship on five further occasions, 1948, 1950, 1953, 1954 and 1957, as well as winning the Hampshire Senior Cup again in 1955. This was a golden era for the club, with Newport appearing in the 1st Round of the FA Cup on a regular basis. League clubs faced were Swindon Town in 1952/53 and again the following season, Watford in 1956/57 and Shrewsbury Town in 1958/59. Newport gained a scoreless draw against Shrewsbury in front of 5,000 people at Church Litten before bowing out in a replay at Gay Meadow. Newport also appeared in the 1st Round against Hinckley Town in an all non league tie in 1954/55.

As the story moves into the 1960’s, the heady days of the post War days became just a memory, despite further Hampshire Senior Cup wins in 1961 and 1966. The club struggled both on and off the pitch and in 1969, the club was relegated from Division One of the Hampshire League for the only time in its history. After regaining its Premier Division place with an "all Wight" policy, the club began a period of greater financial stability and before the 1970’s were out, success began to flow back to Church Litten. A hat-trick of Hampshire League titles in 1979, 1989 and 1981, two Hampshire Senior Cup successes in 1980 and 1981 and a three Russell-Cotes Cup successes at the end of the 1970’s all marked a purple patch for the club.

In 1986, Newport became founder members of the Wessex League, finishing a creditable fourth place in that debut season. Third place was achieved in that competition at the end of the 1988/89 season. The following campaign was to be the club’s last in the Wessex League when, despite finishing as runners up in the league, they were promoted to the Southern League. In 1988 Newport sold it’s Church Litten headquarters to developers and moved to the present St George’s Park ground in September, to coincide with the club’s centenary, beginning what is hoped will be another 100 years of success. The facilities at the new ground are much admired by visitors and it is hoped that, as time progresses, so will the club, bringing to the Isle Of Wight an even higher grade of football.

Locally, on the Isle Of Wight, the club has had great success in it’s "Gold Cup". This senior trophy has been won by the club on no fewer than 34 occasions since it’s first success in 1930. The Gold Cup appeared on national TV a few seasons ago during the club’s featured FA Cup campaign. Sky TV, BBC and ITV have all followed the club over the last few season in their FA Cup exploits. The Islanders have reached the 1st Round Proper of the FA Cup twice in the last few seasons.

The 2000/01 season was a highly successful one for the club with the Islanders winning the Dr Martens League Eastern Division Championship, and winning it in style, ending up four points clear of runners up Chelmsford. Just four matches out of 42 were lost with the Island proving to be a real fortress with nobody coming away from St Georges Park with all three points all season. The Islanders total of 30 goals conceded all season was the best in the division with a remarkable ten goals being conceded in 21 home league matches That season saw a massive 22 clean sheets kept, seven more than the next best in the division, and an unbeaten run of 24 matches to end the season saw them to the title in some style.

Promotion to the top flight of the Dr Martens League proved to be a major hurdle with the Islanders in the unaccustomed position of struggling on the field in what was to be their only season in the Premier Division. Despite managing to secure 48 league points, the Islanders ended up in the fourth and final relegation spot, making an immediate return to the Eastern Division. In the end, the Islanders were just two points clear of safety with just eight league points separating Newport from a comfortable mid table position.

The 2003/04 season was to see the 'port take a leading role within the league but by the beginning of December the club was in administration and the fight to keep the club alive was taken up by the supporters. The Save Newport (FC) Action Group fought tooth and nail and were rewarded with a new Board with some directors coming from the Supporters Trust.  The 2004-05 Season saw Newport make its debut in the Isthmian League, the first season was a struggle but through the legendary 'port passion, the Islanders came good and succured their league status with a couple of games to go.  The club were also proud to play host to the ESFA's England U19's side versus Finland, the 2-0 home win saw a crowd of 2986 at St George's Park.

2007/08 saw the Port struggle the Port struggle on and off the pitch as directors Pete Fry and Ian Brown resigned shortly followed by manager Hughie Lewis. The reigns were picked up by members of the Supporters Trust who engaged manager Derek Ohren but with little funds for players, relegation was to follow at the end of the season. Better use of the clubs facilities have improved finances, this has led to the signing of a completely new side and raised the prospects of a more competitive and interesting season ahead.

A few club records to end with. Club record win was a 14-1 thumping of Thornycroft Athletic in the Hampshire League from December 1945. The club will have less fond memories of a 1-11 defeat at Emsworth from the same competition in 1926/27, this being the Islanders record defeat.

Record attendance was for a friendly against Portsmouth in July 2001, no fewer than 2,270 watching the match. An FA Cup First Round tie against Aylesbury in 1994 attracted a very healthy 2,217.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 20 July 2008 )
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