Leigh Football Club Centenary

Leigh Football Club Centenary

The Football Club is about to celebrate its Centenary, having played on the Green for the opening match in the new Tonbridge League on 1 October 1898 against Tonbridge.  Although for a short time matches were played off Penshurst Road, the Club returned to the Green where its two teams play today, and uses the Cricket Pavilion.  Players of fifty years ago may remember changing in the stables behind the “Fleur de Lys” or washing from a bucket on the Green.

Early photographs in the Pavilion show teams of 1904 and 1906, with Faircloth, Whibley, Draper and Brooker families well represented and a young Jack Stolton, great grandfather of Shaun, who plays in the team now.  Another photograph in 1920 shows the team that won Division One, including the renowned Bill Hayter, who also played for Tunbridge Wells Rangers.  Harry Passingham, Doreen Brooker’s father, was an excellent goalkeeper.

Players in the 1930s included George and Ray Faircloth, Don Thorogood, Archie Denton, Ernie Stolton, Ken Brooker and Jim Fitzjohn and after the Second World War a strong team included Snowy Baker, Albert Hewitt, Sid Lucas, George Healy, Eric Batchelor, Roy Brooker in goal, and Harry Lewis, dazing and fazing the opposition in midfield.  Alter Brian Springett took over in goal, Ray Chadwick scored braved goals, Russell and Bernard Thompsett a fine centre half both played and Vic Clark started his still continuing forty year career.  Graham Nichols’ power of shot netted fifty goals in a season, Ted Houghton played on the left wing, and Clive Harding, Richard “Pencil” Jolley and Don Fuller shared goalkeeping duties.  John and Barry Holden played, with father Fred first-aid man.  John’s sons Steve and David have also played for the Club.

Leigh has appeared in a number of Cup finals, most recently winning the Chairman’s Cup in 1996, with Mike Elliott captain.  Colin Fray “the old doyen”, approaching his 30th season, still pops in goal, Darren Flint and Steve Hawkins are “midfield dynamos” and besides Shaun Stolton, Shane Thompsett, Marc Wood, Lee and Ben Harding follow in their fathers’ footsteps.  Darren Kelly has pace and the younger players, Darren Reeves, Stephen Munday, Luke Grayland, Sean Willis and Nick Boyd all show skill and promise.

To celebrate our Centenary, Colin Fry, aided by John Batchelor, and with enthusiastic support from members, is planning a week’s tour in Southern Spain.  Departing 29 November, playing four matches, including Gibraltar, Estepona, and hopefully two Spanish village sides.  It is hoped to take a party of 28.

Two forthcoming events will be taking place in August which it is hoped will raise funds for Club funds and tour.  On Sunday 3 August Andy Everett and Dave Maslin have arranged a barbecue at the Bat and Ball from 3.30pm and on Friday 22 August, Paul Brooker has arranged a Club Disco in the Chiddingstone Causeway Village Hall starting at 8pm.  All support will be welcome.

(Parish Magazine: August 1997 – no author named)

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