After the difficult period of decline in the early ‘naughties’, Reigatians turned the corner and for the past decade have been on an upward curve once again. The past few seasons have been very successful. In the 2009/10 season the first team were languishing in 8th position in Division 2 South. Five promotions (four of them as champions) has seen them progress through Division 1 South, Intermediate South and Senior Division 3 South and Senior Division 2. The 2017/18 season saw the team reach its highest ever position and miss promotion to the Premier division by just one point. The team also reached the first ever Senior cup final losing narrowly to local rivals Dorkinians.
This success was started when Tim Carr took over the running of the side in 2010/11.Having not played regularly for a few seasons, Tim was fortunate that there were some new players in the club, but he quickly identified the best players and built a strong squad. Promotion followed in 2010/11 but the team reached a different level the following year, winning 13 consecutive games to win Division 1 south. Tim stepped down at the end of the 2011/12 season to run the reserves, with Marc Ashdown taking over the reins. 2 more successive championships followed with some of the most exciting football played by a Reigatians team along with a win in the Keith Hinckley cup. After a couple of years of consolidation with the team changing a number of personnel Justin David took over the running of the side. This saw further success with the Senior 2 South championship being won in 2017/18. The following season saw the team looking set for promotion the whole year, leading the way for most of the season only for cruel fortune to deny the team promotion having achieved 41 points and a 3 rd place finish. A brilliant run to the final of the AFA Surrey/Kent senior final saw the game postponed due to a snowstorm and in the eventual final early nerves saw us fall behind to an early Dorkinians goal. The rest of the game was very tight and close with a last minute Dorking goal giving the score line a flattering look. A 5-1 hammering of Dorking Wanderers in the Dorking charity cup final was a small consolation.
This success has not only been achieved by the first team. The reserves are now playing in a Intermediate South 4 divisions higher than five years ago after a series of promotions. The reserves have also reached the semi finals of four cup semi finals without being able to quite get to the major final. The 3 rd team now play in Division 2 South. They won Division 7 south under the joint stewardship of a Joel Davis and Nico Barclay in 2013/14 having won Division 8 South with the 4ths the previous year. 2017-18 saw the 6 th team win Division 8 south under Max Coopers captaincy. Off the field Tim Carr stepped aside as chairman in 2014, followed by Mark Allen and latterly Gordon Walker.
But this historic club itself began many many years ago…..
1923 – 1950 – A Stuttering Start
The end of each of the two great wars of this century heralded a period when, not surprisingly,
the nation as a whole became obsessed with leisure activities. Freed at last from the physical
and emotional shackles of war, people began to play and to watch others play. The fierce, yet
friendly, conflict of the sports field was gratefully seized upon by the public at large as a welcome
contrast to the deathly conflict that had gone before. Attendancies at all sporting fixtures rocketed
and participation in sport reached record levels.
It was against this background of national enthusiasm that the Old Reigatian Association Football
Club was formed, back in 1923. The ‘association’ football being different to the ‘rugby’ football
that some strange people still play. The name ‘soccer’ is a derivation of ‘association, which came
about in the 1880’s when, in reply to being asked if he was coming to play ‘Rugger’, Charles
Wexford-Brown replied “No, I’d rather play soccer”.
The Old Reigatian Association in general was enjoying something of a revival – in 1922 the ORA
tie was prepared and woven and in 1923 over 150 attended the annual dinner.. A good number
of ORA members played in local football and the idea of forming an Association Football Club
probably spawned in several dressing room throughout the Borough as Old Reigatians in
opposing teams got together over a few post-match jars.
Ideas and talks, however, are no substitute for action and this was provided by one enthusiastic
member. E.C.Hallyer. In the early spring of 1923, together with H.S.E. Smith, W.R.J.Hodge and
E.W. Farrington formed a provisional committee with Mike Meeten (the O.R.A. Chairman) as
Chairman. They resolved that an Old Reigatian Association Football Club should be formed and
that the first meeting of that club should take place 8th May 1923 at Reigate Grammar School.
Although only 10 people attended this meeting (that’s more than we get for the A.G.M. now
though!!!), the new Club was well received by O.R.A. members and twenty signed up to form the
Club’s initial playing strength. The Club was entered for the 2nd Division of the Old Boys’ League
for the 1923-1924 season with home games being played at The Ring at Earlswood. The Elm
Shades (now the Earlswood Arms) provided changing facilities at a cost of 2/6d per match and
18 blue and green halved shirts were bought at 6/6d apiece and Old Reigatians Association
Football Club was born.
The first season saw 12 wins, 3 draws and 10 losses, finishing 4th in the league with 27 points
from 16 games. A year later, the same points tally saw the Club finish one position higher and 50
goals made them the top scorers in the league.
A Second Team Added
For the 1925/26 season, the Club’s playing strength had increased to such an extent that a
reserve team was entered in the 4th Divisionof the same Old Boys’ League. They played at ‘The
Clears’ in Reigate, the property of Mr West, who let the team use it for £4/-/- per season
(including nets, posts, line marking and use of the pavilion for changing) and just avoided
finishing last. The 1st XI continued to play at The Ring, using the awful pitch (no change there,
then) to their advantage and securing a 100% home record and the Division Two Championship
into the bargain – not bad for just their third season.
The Old Boys’ League was growing stronger and the following season it was increased to six
divisions with OR’s being in Divisions 1A and 4. Great seasons from both sides saw them win
their respected Division Championships, with the 1st XI only losing one game and the Reserves
only two. To date, this achievement has not been matched within the Club. Indeed, the 1st XI
had to wait 43 years for another championship.
Such great success was to be a death knell for the Club. The Grammar School has decided to
make rugby the winter sport (heathens!), which meant that the pool of players for soccer dried up
and the Club ceased to exist without a ball being kicked the following season. Even the minutes
of the Committee meeting remained unfinished.
A New Start
As the saying goes, ‘You can’t keep a good man down’ and this proved to be the case for
ORAFC. Players still played the wonderful game in other local sides and in 1937 a provisional
committee was formed to get things underway again and on 2nd April 1937 a General Meeting,
Chaired by once more by E.C. Hallyer, was held for which 18 players attended.
The new club was entered into the 3rd Division and friendlies were arranged for the Reserves.
The location of home games proved once again to be a problem. This time, use of the St
Matthews United pitch on Redhill Sports Ground was obtained at a cost of £5/-/-. per season.
This first season back saw the team take 28 points from 20 games, finishing 3rd. Although the
team’s defence had a poor record (averaging three goals a game conceded), the forwards more
than made up for this. One man in particular, Club Captain Les Peters, a strapping 18 year-old
notched an incredibly 90 goals in this season and was picked to play in a Surrey County
representative match. The following year he notched 50 goals despite being on duty for a lot of
the season for Redhill Reserves – a season that saw OR’s obtain their first cup success.
We Won the Cup!
The competition was the Old Boys’ Minor Cup (just known as the LOB Cup nowadays) and OR’s
faced the old enemy, Sinjuns on a windy day at the London University ground in Motspur Park.
OR’s were 3-0 up at half-time through goals from Peters and Hemsley (2). Sinjuns got one back
from the spot after the break, but Peters scored again to restore the three-goal cushion.
However, Sinjuns were a determined side and laid siege to the Reigatian goal, pulling the score
back to 4-3 with 8 minutes remaining, but OR’s held on for a fantastic victory.
Line-up: E.Reeves, A.G.Smith, F.W.Brown, J.Wallace, F.Goodenough, T.Back, D.A.Cook,
B.Reeves, L.T.Peters, K.P.T.Daniels, D.W.G.Hemsley.
War Clouds Gather
The cup was due to be presented at the League Supper in November of that year 1939, but
sadly, the outbreak of another terrible war was to dictate that this ceremony should never take
place. One of the least noted (and least important) effects of the Second World War was to
prevent ORAFC from actually receiving its first piece of silverware.
Third Time Lucky
Old Boys football restarted very soon after the War had finished and OR’s were involved from the
start, thanks to the efforts of F.T.Lucas. The War did not diminish his enthusiasm for Old
Reigatians and he entered the Club in Division South A of the Old Boys’ League. This was by no
means an easy task to accomplish; having entered the Club in the League, they now had to find
a ground, a football, a set of shirts and, above all, players.
They ended up at a monstrosity of a pitch on Wray Common with changing facilities consisting of
the stables at one of the local houses, water for washing was scrounged from neighbours and
frequently the horse trough had to double-up as a team bath! (Never moan about the awful
showers at the Priory again!)
It was difficult to get a team together after the war. Of the 1939 cup winning side, only Wallace,
Cook, Daniels and Hemsley were able to line up for the first post-war match. One of the biggest
losses as far as the playing strength of the Club was concerned was that of Peters who had,
sadly, lost his life in the conflict. Those first years after the war were a battle for survival. A grant
of £10 from the O.R.A. helped to tide things over, but times were hard and this was reflected in
the results on the pitch. A 12-1 defeat in their first fixture was followed by a string of losses and at
one stage the Club offered to pull out of the League. The league, although understanding of the
problems, would nor hear of OR’s withdrawing and bid them to ‘soldier on and good luck to them,
Soldier on they did, braving appalling pitches, bad weather and unable to field a strong side. It is
probably here that the never-say-die spirit that still pervades the Club originated. Things started
to improve as the 1940’s were drawing to a close when the Club left Wray Common for Reigate
Priory – a ground that the Club still uses to this day.
1950 – Looking Up
It was in 1950 that things started looking up for the Club. C.B.J. Hart started a 20 year run as
Chairman of the Club taking over from E.C.Hallyer who had retired after serving in the role since
1925. F.T. Lucas became Vice-Chairman and a certain Claude Larkin became Secretary and
they provided the Club with a strong and loyal leadership.
The playing strength increased to 36 and a Reserve team was entered into the newly formed
Division Three South, whilst the 1st XI had gained promotion to Division 1A. Perhaps the most
important developments of all in the 50’s was the extensive modernisation to the changing rooms
at Reigate Priory, which meant, to the delight of the players, the installation of hot showers!
1950 – 1983 – Strength to Strength
The 1950’s were a period of tremendous growth for the ORAFC. They began with just a single
team and ended up with a 4th XI being entered for the first time. Throughout the decade,
National Service made the team Secretary’s role an extremely difficult one, but that OR spirit
meant that it always fulfilled its league and cup commitments. In 1953-54, three sides completed
full league programmes, despite the fact that there were only around 40 members who were
available to play on a regular basis. By the turn of the decade, however, the playing strength had
risen to well over fifty and the Club was in a strong position.
This strength did not overly manifest itself on the pitch, although there were some memorable
moments; the Reserves clinched promotion in the 52/53 season, the 1st XI reached the semi-
final of the Surrey AFA Junior Cup and T.A. (Alf) Howe became the first Old Reigatian to be
awarded a league badge after playing in three representative matches – a great individual feat.
Off the field, however, things really began to take off. The social side of the Club was developed
with great enthusiasm with theatre trips, dances, concerts, tennis and table-tennis tournaments
being regular features of the Club calendar. The annual dinner became firmly established as a
major social occasion and was frequently attended by prominent speakers.
The prime movers behind this social development were J. Peters and Claude Larkin, two of the
Club’s keenest workers and most loyal servants. Peters took the Social Sub-Committee by the
scruff of the neck and injected a host of new ideas and a considerable degree of organisational
skill. Larkin was the Club’s most regular representative at League meetings and in 1956 became
the first Club member to be elected to the League Council and it was he who was largely
responsible for the development of the Club’s annual dinner.
‘The Reigatian’ is born
In 1957 Larkin and Peters combined to produce the first issue of the Club’s news-sheet; The
Reigatian. Edited by Larkin and produced by Peters, it was designed to stimulate interest and
keep members informed of the Club and League news. The newsletter continued through until
the late 1990,s when a club website was established to fulfil the same function.
A Fourth Team
The 4th XI had its first season of League football in the 1960/61 season and it very nearly proved
to be its last. The problem, as always, was a lack of players and the Club was censured by the
League twice for failing to turn out a side. The position had improved a little by 1962, when Roger
Craddock became team secretary, a job that he held for three consecutive years.
In 1963/64 the number of players in the Club had actually decreased to a pool of just 50, from
which four teams had to be selected and the Club was suffering again. One stab of light was
provided by J.W.S. Connelly who, in 1962, became only the third Club member to be selected for
a league representative team. The storm was weathered, however, and after the great social
successes of the 50’s, there was some return on the field. Neil Farrar put the 1st XI into the final
of the Surrey AFA Junior Cup, which they battled well in, but lost 3-2 to Carshalton with a last-
gasp goal. A month later the 1’s were in another cup final, the East Surrey Charity Cup, but again
were defeated, this time 5-2.
The Glory Days
Finally, the cup success came. It was two seasons later in the final of the Surrey AFA Junior Cup
and the opponents were once again Carshalton Reserves. This time, however, the boot was on
the other foot and Carshalton had to taste the bitter pill of defeat. The match was played at the
Temple Bar ground in Kingswood. R. Pearson opened the scoring for OR’s after 10 minutes and
D. Parsons soon added a second. The third and decisive goal was scored by F. Harrington – a
schoolboy who had been plucked from 3rd team obscurity to play in this game. Carshalton
scored a late consolation goal, but the cup belonged to Reigate at last and Roger Craddock
became the first Club member to hold a trophy won by an Old Reigatian XI !!!
Two weeks later the seal was set on a marvellous season when the Reserves, captained by M.
Showell, clinched the Division 3 South championship. It was the Club’s first league championship
since 1926/27 and heralded a prolonged period on on-the-field success.
The following season saw a double promotion with both the 3’s and 4’s stepping up a division
(Mick Cooke and Peter Carr being the respective captains). In the 1969/70 season, the 1st XI
became Division 1 south champions for the first time, losing only once in the process – a great
achievement. The successful captain was D. Fenton and the team’s main offensive weapon was
Dave Billing, who with 51 goals, was the top scorer in the entire Old Boys’ League. The Reserves
also managed some glory, becoming runners-up in the Charlwood Cup. The successes kept
coming and in amongst this and thanks to the efforts of members like Pete Carr, peter Millican
and Bob Emery that in 1969, to maintain its links with the school, a Minors XI was formed.
At the end of the 70’s, and after much debate and discussion, the Club (together with the rest of
the Old Boys’ League) went ‘open’ and allowed non old school boys to help the Club prosper
through increased potential for new players.
1984 and that green juggernaut
The increased potential for new players was quickly realised and in 1984 the Club was able to
field a 5th XI for the first time and confidence was high. Success arrived in no uncertain fashion
on 1st and 2nd May 1987. The Club, which had only won three cup trophies in its previous 64
year history, suddenly found itself with two trophies to put into its (unbuilt) trophy cabinet in its
(unbuilt Club House) at its (unbuilt) ground. The pots in question were the Dorking Junior Charity
Cup (the 1st XI, captained by Dave Setters, beating arch-rivals Old Dorkinians) followed by the
Reserves, captained by Dave Smith, beating Brockham to win the Charlwood Cup. Coupled with
this was the fact that the 3’s and 4’s both won promotion in the same season. As Mr Setters said;
“The green juggernaut is on the move!”
The following season saw the arrival of a 6th XI and Roger Craddock’s 30th consecutive season
with the Club. At the celebratory ‘bash’ Uncle Roger admitted to being almost 39 years old. The
juggernaut was going up and down gears and there was mixed considerable success on the
John Ryder had joined the club in the mid 1980’s and after Dave Setters term as captain took
over the running of the first team. John increased the fitness and on field organisation of the
teams and built a framework of a way of playing that allowed us to be successful over a 15 year
period. Numerous promotions were won (although with an annoying tendency to take runner up
positions), we were very competitive in AFA and LOB cup competitions, and Spring regularly saw
Reigatians sides in the finals of the local charities cups, Dorking, Charlwood and Keith Hinckley
Memorial often with large vociferous support from the sidelines.A particular highlight was the 3 rd
and 4 th team playing each in the final of the Charlwood cup. Details in the awards section.
As we approached the millennium the 1 st team under the captaincy of Mark Dickins had achieved
its highest ever league position (at that time)in Senior Division 1. In 1998/99 the 3 rd team
skippered by Roger Dixon reached the LOB Junior Cup final losing to goals in the last minute of
each half to a very strong Phoenix OB 3 rd .
In 1996/97 the club entered a7th team in the league and even won a division in the late 1990’s
under Nick’s leadership.
During this period Steve Craddock and Hamish Mansbridge both regularly played in the league
representative team outlining the strength of the club at this time.
Throughout this period until the early 2000’s Terry Harvey oversaw the club as chairman,
providing inspirational leadership, despite prolonged spells of ill health.I
In addition to the many awards received for on-the-pitch successes, OR’s also won the Fred
Atkins Sportsmanship Trophy in 1984, 1987 and then in 1990. This proved that there was then,
or will never be, a ‘win at all costs’ mentality to the Club. In 2004/05 the club was awarded the
AFA Wilkinson Sword for sportsmanship.
A new millennium and difficult times
As the new millennium arrived, what had been a seemingly one way journey to more success
saw a very difficult time in the modern history of the club. As most of our sides reached the
highest levels in our history, our playing base became somewhat older, and a very difficult few
years arrived on the pitch. Teams would regularly only win a couple of games in a season and
over the decade there were a number of relegations.
Two important steps were taken by the club through this difficult period. The first step was to
change the name of the club. Over recent years the connection between Reigate Grammar
school and the club had become much looser, with many in the club feeling there was no
connection at all. A proposal was made that the club should change its name to try and
encourage players to join who may otherwise consider us a veterans or closed club.
Unfortunately the debate stirred strong emotions on all sides ( a Reigatians Brexit!!), and there
were people on both sides of the debate who fell out and it caused some ill feeling.
From the 2004/05 season onwards, ‘Old’ was dropped from the club name which from then
onwards has been Reigatians AFC.
The second step was to have 2 junior sides locally, move to the Reigatians name and although
this was a long term strategy, many of the players in the two former Perrywood sides have been
stalwarts of Successful Reigatians teams in the last ten years.
Whilst this was undoubtedly a difficult period in the clubs history, the spirit in the club remained
intact. At the end of the decade we were still running six sides and on the field things were about
The Club is much more than 90 minutes on a Saturday. There is a tremendous spirit that exists
in the Club; a spirit that makes the Club a delight to play for – win, lose or draw. The Club is well
organised with a hard-working and conscientious committee and has many skilled and committed
And so the green juggernaut continues on its way. It may not be fast, but it gets there and it’s
bloody hard to knock off the road.