JUST 25 years ago Street Football Club had reached Division Three of the Somerset Senior League and in senior circles there was nowhere else to go.
Junior football beckoned for the club which has a rich pedigree but had been divorced from the Western League for more than 30 years, having been forced back in to the county league when the Western League Division Two was disbanded in 1960.
Since then there has been a steady climb back through the bounds of respectability into title-chasing territory and now to within touching distance of Southern League football.
Back in 1992 the Cobblers were playing the likes of Keynsham Cricketers, Glastonbury Reserves, Worle and Banwell, but, if all goes to plan, this August the club will be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Salisbury, Winchester City, Evesham United and Bideford as well as saying hello to old friends at Paulton, Mangotsfield, Yate, Larkhall and Bristol Manor Farm.
The 2018 version of the club is in fine fettle on and off the field and with the ground having been brought up to Southern League grading, and with a battle with Willand Rovers which has brewed all season showing no signs of abating, there are exciting times at the Tannery.
It has been home to the club since 1966 and just four years before that Street came within minutes of folding up when their traditional home, Victoria Ground, became unavailable.
The club had co-existed with the cricket club and had built three grandstands with dressing rooms on the ground which was run by the trustees and owned by Street Urban District Council but the Council had agreed to wide ranging improvements which would mean no football and that Street FC were homeless unless something happened very quickly.
The club were in limbo during that summer until the dinner at the George and Pilgrim in Glastonbury where chairman ‘A G’ Winter had been preparing to tell the assembled that the old club had ceased to exist until news had been received of an eleventh hour reprieve as Clark’s had offered the club use of the Turnpike Field on Glastonbury Road.
Four years later the relief road roundabout sliced through the middle of that pitch and the club relocated out of town to the former works ground of the Co-op where they are now.
Chairman James Court is overseeing the transition of the club into Southern League status and said: “We are in a strong position and the prospect of promotion is all of a sudden very real. Clubs have until the end of next season to get their grounds ready but we started the process two years ago and we are confident that our sponsors are ready to back us and if we can keep our management team, we will be ready.”
In charge of the playing side is former Bitton, Bridgwater Town and Paulton Rovers boss Richard Fey alongside his long time number two Nathan Rudge. The pair have fashioned a squad which went close last year, losing out to champions Bristol Manor Farm, but with that side now out of the equation, Street have forged on with Willand Rovers, Bradford Town and Melksham Town the only clubs with any realistic hope of stopping them.
Court added: “Richard and Nathan are well respected in Western League circles and they have the pulling power to attract players here. We have arguably the best striker in the League in Steve Murray and plenty of experience with the likes of Craig Herrod, Dave O’Hare, Ben Amghar, Lewis Hogg and Ross McErlain.”
Off the field the club is fortunate to have a number of clubmen and women all pulling in the same direction and Court was keen to credit them.
“Mike Lewis is an all-rounder who does all manner of work behind the scenes while Clive Kemmish organises the troops on match-days and will always be found dishing out refreshments in the clubhouse when not doing any number of other tasks,” he said. “Another who came to us from Bridgwater Town is Roger Palmer whose immaculate match-day programmes and posters have attracted comments from all parts.”
Below the senior side there is a very young and talented reserve side under the guidance of Bryan Ashton which is being fed into by the impressive under-18 team which is attracting crowds to its games in the county floodlit league.
The campaign so far has been excellent but in recent weeks the momentum has been lost by a raft of postponements which Court likened to a mid-winter break.
The top-of-the-table clash with Willand Rovers on Boxing Day was lost to the rain but the new date in mid March is bound to see a big crowd at the Tannery.
“We have a lot of home games to come and the committee are looking at possibly staging some Friday night games if we can get the opposition on board,” added Court, whose only other Friday game this year, in the Les Phillips Cup against Bradford Town, was a success with more than 200 in attendance.
By Kerry Miller.
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