The long history of Old Finchleians FC
The First Fifty Years Although we celebrated our Centenary in the year 2001, it could be said that our history actually started with a bang on November 5th 1898. On that date, for the first time, the Old Boys’ played the School in a game of Association football. In the previous year the School had changed from Rugby. The captain of this first Old Finchleian soccer side was Sir Alan Gordon Smith. It was not until 1901 that the regular Old Finchleians’ Football Club started with a game on the College ground against a side called “the Foxes”. The first two or three years were modest enough with only one side, but nevertheless quite a strong successful one. An interesting domestic item of the time was that a football pitch was procured for the rental of two pounds two shillings for the season. Because of the political upheaval caused by the change from rugby to soccer at the School, the current Old Finchleians’ Club was not founded until 1904 and there was another Old Finchleians’ Club running in parallel until August 1946. The Football Club proved to be the bridge between the two Clubs and in April 1905, the two football clubs were merged into one. It is true to say that in the early days football put the Club on the map and although the early seasons were modest in terms of success, by 1907 we were able to field two sides at a time when the cricketers were finding it difficult to field one side or have a fixture list!! In 1909 we fielded three football sides for the first time and ground problems, which had been with us from the start, became even more difficult. Apart from the School ground, some dozen pitches around the borough had the honour of bespattering the maroon and white shirts with local mud. Then in 1910/11 came the big decision to enter league football – the 1st XI entered the Premier Division of the Middlesex County Amateur League and the 2nd XI joined Division 2 of the same league. The 3rd XI beset by ground problems, only managed half a dozen matches. For the last three or four years we had been using a ground at the Hale which had the distinct advantage of offering an excellent view of the Airships at Monsieur Bleriot’s school at Hendon if the football became too boring. The following season, we were on the move again and our ground was on a 30-acre field at East Finchley where as a remedy for the loss of Bleriot’s Airships, accommodation for changing was in the “Five Bells” pub. In 1913, yet another ground move, this time to The Avenue. An interesting note in the archives of that time was an appeal for more support for the 1st XI from the locals. “Why go to Tottenham and get shut out when you can see the O.F.’s?” was the message. We entered Cup competitions for the first time in this season namely the Middlesex, A.F.A. Senior and Charity Cups. The first hint of success came with our 2nd XI finishing second in the League and gaining promotion. Then World War I intervened and the Club was closed down for four years whilst many of their players were involved in more serious conflict. Resuming in 1919, the Club had a new home – Finchley Cricket Club – and some famous names appeared in our colours including the Rt. Hon. E. Leslie Burgin, P.C., M.P., who was later to become a Cabinet Minister and R.J.J. (Reg) Mander who afterwards joined the illustrious Corinthian Casuals for some years. Another familiar name of this era was Eric Martin who later also played for the Casuals and the full R.A.F. Representative team. He came near to being picked for the English amateur side but as an outside left was unfortunate to be contemporary with K.E. Hegen who not only held that position in the England amateur side but also was picked several times for the ‘full’ England team. 1920 saw the rebirth of the 3rd XI and for the first time the 2nd XI competed in the 2nd Division of the Old Boys’ League and finished runners-up. Lionel Hall and Eric Martin were selected to play at Queens Club for the Middlesex County League Representative side. Season 1921/2 saw the 1st XI also join the Old Boys’ League and then in 1923/4 we were invited to compete in the Old Boys’ Cup which was organised by the Arthur Dunn Cup Committee. Entry for this competition is by invitation only and it was a tribute to the Club for its standing both on and off the field. It was at this point that the 1st XI gave up league football (although no reason has been given for this change) but the 2nd XI continued in the Old Boys’ League with the 3rd XI. 1924/5 gave the first hint of success for the 1st XI when they reached the Final of the Old Boys’ Cup only to lose 0-1 to Old Derbeians at Crystal Palace. There were several well-known O.F.’s in our side including Reg Mander, John Codd, Vic Brown, Austin Coldicott and Lionel Hall. 1925/6 saw the birth of a 4th XI who promptly joined the 3rd XI in the Old Boys’ League whilst the 2nd XI followed the 1st XI and gave up league football. Obviously, the footballers were not of one mind on this particular subject!! Once again that perennial bugbear, grounds, led to the demise of the 4th XI. The 1st XI were soon competing in another Old Boys’ Cup Final at Crystal Palace but once again they lost by the odd goal this time to Old Stationers. League football was back when in 1929/30 we joined the Southern Olympian League (S.O.L) where we were to remain for almost 70 years. Having obtained a second ground at Barnet, the 4th XI was reborn. It is mentioned in records of this time that the Football section of the O.F.’s was able to challenge and often beat the Golf section at their own game....... In 1932 the 1st XI were champions of the Premier Division, winners of the League Cup and two of the stars of that team were Reg Mander and Frank Kittel whose names became so illustrious in O.F. history in later years. The goalkeeper was Eric Bussell whose celebrated leadership of lower XI’s some 30 years later inspired so many of us to a successful footballing career at Southover. Yet another pitch move took place. We had been using a ground in Briarfield Avenue and one at the foot of Barnet Hill. We decided to retain the latter and acquired in place of Briarfield a pitch adjacent to Finchley Football Club which one assumes was what is now known as Glebeland (where Albanian F.C. play). Soon after, the ground at Barnet disappeared under a pile of bricks and with four teams and one ground, we were to seek help from our opponents and as a result “home” matches were played at Watford, Ilford and Barnes. However, within a short space of time, we secured a pitch at Woodside Park Garden Suburb (presumably the ground opposite us in Southover?) and although the 1st XI were relegated to the 2nd Division of the Southern Olympian League, the ’A’ team won both its division of the League and the Cup. Members of that team included Ken Campbell, Gordon Goodwin and Ken Elbourne after whom the Southern Olympian League’s Sportsmanship trophy was named. The outstanding match of this period was in the A.F.A. Senior Cup against mighty St. Albans City of the Isthmian League. Finchleians played most of the game with 10 men (no subs then!!) losing the redoubtable Ken Ling early in the game and trailing their powerful opponents by a single goal until two minutes from the end when they popped in two more. By 1936, a 5th XI had materialised thanks to the efforts of Ken Elbourne and by the following year were entered in the Old Boys’ League. They mainly played against 3rd and 4th XI’s and occasionally 2nd XI’s and in the circumstances performed surprisingly well. Another ground change was a move to Lyttleton Playing Fields having forsaken Glebeland. The outstanding achievement in 1937/8 was the defeat of Ealing, one of the strongest and oldest A.F.A. clubs, by 4-3 in the first round of the A.F.A. Senior Cup. Another innovation was an Easter tour of the Isle of Wight. In 1938, Graham Lambert (father of the Club’s 1999/2000 President, Nigel Lambert) took over as 1st XI skipper and our numbers allowed a 6th XI to be fielded occasionally. The onset of the Second World War caused a virtual temporary end of football for the O.F.’s although we did manage a couple of games against the School. The School probably had their best team ever in 1942/3. They failed to lose a game in the season and several subsequently played for the O.F.’s with distinction. Pip Loffler narrowly failed to win his ‘blue’ at Oxford, Geoff Whitefield did win his at Cambridge and Baden Pearce played for Hendon F.C. Upon the resumption in 1945, the O.F.’s were immediately able to field two sides, although the Southern Olympian League had only one division in which our 1st XI finished second. Graham Lambert had continued as 1st XI skipper and whilst we retained our pitch at Lyttleton, plans were already in hand to get a permanent home. The most important change in the Club’s history occurred in 1946 when we took over our current ground at Southover. This had been bought for £3,000, largely due to the fund-raising efforts of Reg Mander who even managed to attract donations from some of the younger players. A sectionalised pavilion was erected later – all achieved by voluntary labour and funded by a sum of £4,650 raised in 3% debentures and donations by 278 people. Originally, changing accommodation was in the tool shed if you were lucky, but otherwise behind the hedge!! Later we had a pavilion but lacking a roof, we were very dependent on good weather. Tea was brought down by various members in thermos flasks and to combat the wintry weather, we provided extra hospitality for our guests by supplementing the tea with a rum ration. Although only in the Second Division of the Southern Olympian League, in season 1949/50 the 1st XI won the League Challenge Cup (only the third trophy won in the Club’s history) defeating the 1st Division champions, Old Esthameians, in the Final – such stalwarts as Jeff Hutchinson, Nicky Nye, Pip Loffler, Steve Smalley, Brian Cosgrove, John Friend and Don Fry were in the team. By the time of the Jubilee celebrations in 1951 we were running five sides and Brian Cosgrove had taken over as 1st XI skipper. A feature of this period of the Old Finchleians’ Football Club history was always the “Football Suppers” – the first one had been held back in December 1931 at the Inns of Court O.T.C Mess and then in later years we moved to the “Red Lion” in Barnet and then the “Prince Albert” in Golders Green. The atmosphere was always convivial and the company excellent.
1931-1932 Old Finchleians SOL Senior Division 1 1935-1936 Old Finchleians 3rd SOL Minor Division A 1949-1950 Old Finchleians SOL Senior Cup 1951-1952 Old Finchleians Res Old Boys Junior Cup 1951-1952 Old Finchleians 3rd SOL Junior Cup 1952-1953 Old Finchleians 3rd SOL Junior Cup 1954-1955 Old Finchleians SOL Senior Division 1 1955-1956 Old Finchleians SOL Senior Division 1 1956-1957 Old Finchleians Old Boys Senior Cup 1959-1960 Old Finchleians Res SOL Junior Division 1 1964-1965 Old Finchleians Res SOL Intermediate Cup 1981-1982 Old Finchleians 4th SOL Minor Division C 1982-1983 Old Finchleians 4th SOL Minor Division B 1983-1984 Old Finchleians 7th SOL Minor Division G 1984-1985 Old Finchleians Res SOL Intermediate Cup 1984-1985 Old Finchleians 3rd SOL Junior Division 3 1985-1986 Old Finchleians Old Boys Senior Cup 1986-1987 Old Finchleians SOL Senior Division 2 1987-1988 Old Finchleians Old Boys Senior Cup 1989-1990 Old Finchleians Res SOL Intermediate Division 2 1989-1990 Old Finchleians 5th Old Boys 5th XI Cup 1990-1991 Old Finchleians 4th SOL Junior Division 3 1990-1991 Old Finchleians 4th SOL Mander Cup 1990-1991 Old Finchleians 9th Old Boys 7th XI Cup 1991-1992 Old Finchleians 4th SOL Mander Cup 1991-1992 Old Finchleians 8th Old Boys 7th XI Cup 1991-1992 Old Finchleians 8th SOL Minor Division F 1993-1994 Old Finchleians 3rd SOL Junior Division 1 1993-1994 Old Finchleians 5th SOL Burntwood Trophy 1993-1994 Old Finchleians 8th SOL Minor Division E 1994-1995 Old Finchleians 5th Old Boys 5th XI Cup 1994-1995 Old Finchleians 5th SOL Junior Division 3 1995-1996 Old Finchleians SOL Senior Division 2 1995-1996 Old Finchleians 3rd SOL Junior Cup 1995-1996 Old Finchleians 3rd SOL Junior Division 1 1995-1996 Old Finchleians 5th Old Boys 5th XI Cup 1995-1996 Old Finchleians 6th SOL Thomas Parmiter Cup 1996-1997 Old Finchleians 3rd AFA Junior Cup 1996-1997 Old Finchleians 4th SOL Mander Cup 1996-1997 Old Finchleians 6th Old Boys 6th XI Cup 1996-1997 Old Finchleians 6th SOL Thomas Parmiter Cup 1997-1998 Old Finchleians SOL Senior Division 1 1997-1998 Old Finchleians Res SOL Intermediate Division 1 1997-1998 Old Finchleians 3rd Old Boys Minor Cup 1997-1998 Old Finchleians 3rd SOL Intermediate Division 3 1997-1998 Old Finchleians 3rd SOL Junior Cup 1997-1998 Old Finchleians 4th Old Boys 4th XI Cup 1997-1998 Old Finchleians 5th AFA Senior Novets Cup 1998-1999 Old Finchleians AFA Senior Cup 1998-1999 Old Finchleians Old Boys Senior Cup 1998-1999 Old Finchleians 3rd SAL 3rd Team Division 3 1998-1999 Old Finchleians 3rd Old Boys Minor Cup 1998-1999 Old Finchleians 4th SAL 4th Team Division 3 1998-1999 Old Finchleians 5th SAL 5th Team Division 3 1998-1999 Old Finchleians 6th SAL 6th Team Division 3 1998-1999 Old Finchleians 8th SAL Minor Teams Division 4 1999-2000 Old Finchleians Res Old Boys Junior Cup 1999-2000 Old Finchleians 4th SAL 4th Team Division 2 1999-2000 Old Finchleians 4th Old Boys 4th XI Cup 1999-2000 Old Finchleians 6th SAL 6th Team Division 2 1999-2000 Old Finchleians 6th Old Boys 6th XI Cup 1999-2000 Old Finchleians 7th SAL Minor Teams Division 2 1999-2000 Old Finchleians 7th Old Boys 7th XI Cup 2000-2001 Old Finchleians Res SAL Reserve Division 2 2001-2002 Old Finchleians Res Old Boys Junior Cup 2001-2002 Old Finchleians 3rd SAL 3rd Team Division 1 2001-2002 Old Finchleians 4th SAL 4th Team Division 1 2001-2002 Old Finchleians 4th Old Boys 4th XI Cup 2001-2002 Old Finchleians 5th SAL 5th Team Division 1 2001-2002 Old Finchleians 5th Old Boys 5th XI Cup 2001-2002 Old Finchleians 7th SAL Minor Teams Division 1 2002-2003 Old Finchleians 3rd Old Boys Minor Cup 2002-2003 Old Finchleians 4th Old Boys 4th XI Cup 2002-2003 Old Finchleians 8th SAL Minor Teams Division 2 2002-2003 Old Finchleians 9th SAL Minor Teams Division 3 2002-2003 Old Finchleians 9th SAL Junior Novets Cup 2003-2004 Old Finchleians 3rd Old Boys Minor Cup 2003-2004 Old Finchleians 4th Old Boys 4th XI Cup 2003-2004 Old Finchleians 6th SAL Intermediate Novets Cup 2003-2004 Old Finchleians 6th AFA Intermediate Novets Cup 2003-2004 Old Finchleians 7th SAL Minor Division 5 North 2003-2004 Old Finchleians 7th SAL Junior Novets Cup 2003-2004 Old Finchleians 7th Old Boys 7th XI Cup 2004-2005 Old Finchleians Res Old Boys Junior Cup 2004-2005 Old Finchleians 3rd AFA Junior Cup 2004-2005 Old Finchleians 8th Old Boys 7th XI Cup 2007-2008 Old Finchleians 3rd SAL Junior Cup 2007-2008 Old Finchleians 3rd AFA Junior Cup 2010-2011 Old Finchleians 5th SAL Minor Division 3 North 2010-2011 Old Finchleians 7th Old Boys 7th XI Cup 2010-2011 Old Finchleians 8th SAL Minor Division 5 North 2011-2012 Old Finchleians 6th SAL Minor Division 3 North 2011-2012 Old Finchleians 6th AFA Intermediate Novets Cup 2012-2013 Old Finchleians 7th SAL Minor Division 5 North 2013-2014 Old Finchleians 4th SAL Minor Division 2 North 2014-2015 Old Finchleians Res SAL Intermediate Division 3 2014-2015 Old Finchleians 4th SAL Junior Division 4 2014-2015 Old Finchleians 4th Old Boys 4th XI Cup 2014-2015 Old Finchleians 7th SAL Minor Division 4 North 2014-2015 Old Finchleians 7th SAL Junior Novets Cup 2017-2018 Old Finchleians 6th AFA Intermediate Novets Cup 2018-2019 Old Finchleians 5th Old Boys 5th XI Cup