Definitions

Telford_United_F.C

Telford United F.C.

Telford United F.C. were an English football team based in Telford, Shropshire.

The club was first formed in 1872 as Parish Church Institute. They later changed their name and were known as Wellington Town F.C. until 1969. The club born from the ashes of the old Telford United now play in the Conference North as A.F.C. Telford United. They played at Bucks Head, which has since been redeveloped as New Bucks Head.

Club history

The story of Telford United began in late 1872, when the Wellington Parish Church Institute was formed. By March 1873, the Institute was running its own football team, but in 1879, the 'PCI' team changed its name to Wellington Town.

The club's first competitive honour was gained in 1881, when the Town won the Shropshire Senior Cup. The following season saw the club enter, in addition, the Wednesbury Football Association Cup, while in 1882-83 it also competed in the Birmingham Association Cup and the Wrekin Challenge Cup.

By 1887 Wellington had competed in the Welsh Cup. At about this time the club joined the Shropshire League, and in the early 1900s was admitted to the Birmingham & District League. In 1902 Wellington Town won the Welsh Cup, a feat repeated four years later.

The early 1920s witnessed the "Lillywhite" era, a period of some success. They won the Championship of the Birmingham League for the first time in 1921 and on several occasions reached second place. The Championship success was repeated in 1935 and 1936, while 1938 marked the club's entry into the Cheshire County League and the end of that season one of its most notable successes, when Swansea Town, then in the Second Division, were defeated 4-1 in the final of the Welsh Cup.

After the Second World War, Wellington won the Cheshire League in 1946, but the following season the club had even greater success with the winning of the Cheshire League Championship, the Birmingham Senior Cup and the Walsall Senior Cup. In the succeeding years, the club was one of the most consistently successful in the Cheshire League, with one further championship, two second places and two third places. Wellington joined the Southern League (North-Western Section) in 1958 and in that season qualified for founder membership of the Premier Division.

The club changed its name to Telford United in 1969, when the New Town of Telford was designated. That season also marked the inauguration of the FA Trophy competition, and Telford reached the first final, losing 0-2 to Macclesfield Town after beating Worcester City in the Semi-final. A year later they were back for a second final at Wembley, after defeating Yeovil in the Semi-final at West Bromwich Albion's The Hawthorns ground, this time as 3-2 victors over Hillingdon Borough, following a remarkable second half comeback, and also won the Southern League and Midland Floodlit League.

An outstanding record in the FA Trophy continued in 1971-72 as Telford again reached the Semi-final, only to lose to Barnet. In 1976 Telford hosted the full 1966 World Cup squad for a "Centenary Match" at the Bucks Head and when the Premier Division of the Southern League was (temporarily) disbanded in 1978, the club was one of only three which had retained continuous membership. That saw the club gain its best position (third) in competition and qualify for membership of the Alliance Premier League.

In 1982-83, on top of a competent sixth position in the Alliance, Telford defeated Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup before losing to Tranmere Rovers, after a replay in the Second Round. The high spot of the season, however, was undoubtedly in the FA Trophy, where following an incredible 5-1 victory in the second leg of the Semi-final, Telford appeared in their third Final at Wembley and gained a 2-1 victory over Northwich Victoria.

Then followed some of the club's finest moments thanks to excellent FA Cup runs - 1983-84 saw Stockport County, Northampton Town and Rochdale eliminated before a one goal defeat at Derby County.

1984-85 was even more remarkable. Victories over Lincoln City, Preston North End, Bradford City and Darlington resulting in a visit to Goodison Park in the Fifth Round, where champions Everton gained a 3-0 success in front of over 47,000 spectators the highest gate of the season for the home team.

1985-86 was less spectacular, but even so there was more success at Stockport preceding another, but this time more convincing defeat at Derby, while the Third Round was reached in 1986-87, victories over Burnley and Altrincham earned the infamous tie with Leeds United. This game was switched to a frost covered WBA's The Hawthorns on a cold Sunday morning (at the Police's request).

Season 1987-88 and 1988-89 saw Telford reaching successive Trophy Finals; after losing to Enfield after another replay at the Hawthorns, Ian Crawley's extra-time winner gave Telford a single-goal victory over Macclesfield.

Performances were less spectacular in the nineties, but season 1991-92 did see victory over Stoke City in the FA Cup coupled with a solid performance in the Conference.

2000 saw large scale changes at the Bucks Head. The team became full-time and the construction of a brand-new stadium began.

The 2003-2004 season saw contrasting fortunes on and off the pitch. The team produced some of the best results the club had seen for many years, reaching the semi-finals of the FA Trophy, beating Brentford and Crewe in the FA Cup before being put out by eventual finalists Millwall.

Off the pitch, it was a different matter altogether. Late into the season, the chairman's business empire collapsed and all financial support for the club disappeared. The supporters rallied around, formed a supporters trust and ultimately raised over £50,000 in the space of a couple of months. Sadly, even this would not have been enough to sustain the club through to the end of the following season and the club was forced into liquidation.

On the same day that the proposed liquidation was announced, the supporters trust (Telford United Supporters Ltd) created and became the sole owners of a new football club - AFC Telford United. In the close season, manager Bernard McNally was appointed and a new squad assembled, the ground lease and assets were secured and the new club was placed in the Unibond Northern Premier League Division 1 by the FA.

FA Cup Giant Killers

The club are most notable for their FA Cup tradition, defeating football league counterparts Wigan Athletic (1982-83), Stockport County, Northampton, Rochdale (all 1983-84), Lincoln City, Preston N.E., Bradford City (all 1984-85), Burnley (1986-87), Stoke City (1991-92).

1984-85 was undoubtedly the club's peak as far as the FA Cup was concerned, the aforementioned victories over Lincoln, Preston and Bradford preceding a tie against Everton at Goodison Park in the fifth round. Telford eventually lost 3-0 after going in 0-0 with the then English champions at half time, but the crowd of 47,000 (swelled by a travelling contingent of around 13,000 from Telford) has not since been bettered at Goodison and the club's achievement of reaching round five has not since been surpassed by any non-league club to this day.

Further cup victories in 2003-4 against Brentford and Crewe before eventually losing at home to eventual finalists Millwall were a fitting FA Cup send off for the old Telford United, as this was to be the club's final season. A complete record of the club's FA Cup exploits can be found on the TUST website

FA Trophy Record Holders

Telford United have a formidable record in the FA Trophy. Their record 5 appearances in the final has never been equalled and their tally of 3 final wins has also never been beaten. The club appeared in the first ever FA Trophy final at Wembley in 1970, losing 2-0 to Macclesfield, but returned the following year to bring the trophy back to the Bucks Head.

League Record

The team were members of the Football Conference from its foundation in 1979 until 2004. The club's league form was largely unremarkable, achieving a best finish of third place and flirting with relegation on several occasions during that period. However, during the 2003-04 season they found themselves facing a financial crisis and on 27 May 2004 Telford went into liquidation after efforts to bring in new investment failed.

Club Records

  • Record crowd: 13,000 vs Shrewsbury Town, Shropshire Senior Cup Final.
  • Record win: 7-1 v Frickley Athletic, 1983-84.
  • Best FA Cup Performance: 5th Round Proper v Everton, 1984-85.
  • Best FA Trophy Performance: Winners 1970-71, 1982-83, 1988-89.

Honours

The fans' club, AFC Telford United

Following the liquidation of Telford United FC, on May 28, 2004, A.F.C. Telford United was launched by the Telford United Supporters Trust, and were entered into the Northern Premier League Division 1 for the 2004/05 season. The club managed to draw record support in its first season, being promoted to the Northern Premier League Premier Division in a playoff final against Kendal Town, after narrowly missing out on automatic promotion on the final day of the season in front of a crowd of over 4,200.

External links

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