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History

In our first season back at Step 4 after an absence of 19 years it was hard to know what to expect and how we would perform. Most of our supporters felt a mid-table position would be an acceptable target for the season, but we quickly found ourselves exceeding all expectations as our performances propelled us towards the top of the table. Four straight wins in the first four games set the tone and a run of nine wins with just one defeat between October and December saw us maintain a play-off position. However, our immediate competition was very fierce and we struggled to get the better of the likes of Godalming, Slough, Rugby, Burnham and Biggleswade Town. By the very last game of the season a play-off was still a possibility and having gone 2-1 up away at AFC Hayes with just a few minutes of the game left it looked a near certainty. But it was not to be as Hayes scored an 87th minute equaliser and our play-off place was lost. We eventually finished seventh and in spite of the disappointment of not making the play-offs, most supporters agreed that it had been a great first season at this level and our performances had exceeded all expectations.

When it came to the cup competitions there was a lot less to cheer about. After 1-1 draw in the FA Cup against Wingate and Finchley we lost the replay 3-2 and the pattern was repeated in our first venture in the FA Trophy going out 3-1 to Uxbridge after we had drawn 2-2 at their place. We didn’t get past the first round of the Red Insure Cup losing to Biggleswade Town 1-0 but our performances in the Herts Senior Cup were much better with victories over Stevenage 2-0 and Colney Heath by the same score to secure a place in the semi-final. However in an abject performance against Potters Bar we suffered a 3-2 defeat. There was further disappointment in the South Midlands Floodlit Cup, which we had won for four successive seasons when we lost to St Margaretsbury in the second round. Our best chance of success was in the Hinchingbrooke Cup when we secured a place in the final against Yaxley. After a very mediocre first half and trailing 1-0, Ryan Locket levelled the scores within a couple of minutes of the restart. However, in an unfortunate accident shortly afterwards one of the Yaxley players broke his leg and the game was eventually abandoned. After discussion between the two clubs and the competition committee it was agreed not to replay the final and to share the trophy.

Our Reserves also began a new adventure when they were elected to the Suburban League North Division which offered the players a more competitive arena in which to test their skills. Kevin Wilson’s management team of John Biting and Adam Smith certainly stepped up to the challenge as they masterminded their way into three cup semi finals and became league champions by winning their last three games to snatch the title from Ashford Town by a single point.

The ‘A’ side also performed well as a newly promoted team to the Kershaw ‘B’ League and in the last game of the season secured a victory which they thought had given them promotion. However in a rather cruel twist of fate they were denied promotion after a game between two of their rivals was ordered to be replayed and they finished third.

Over the summer Paul has been busy strengthening his first team squad with a raft of signings of more experienced players and so the scene is now set for us to push hard for promotion to Step 3.

So when did it all begin – it’s a good question, and one which has been the subject of extensive local research. There are numerous references in the Club’s documents and literature e.g. programmes, letters etc which give the date as 1872 – but there are also references to the year 1875.

However, in the 8 December 1876 edition of the Royston Crow newspaper reference is made to the Club’s AGM being held on 12 December. This clearly indicates that the Club had been in existence since at least 1875 and this is now accepted as the historically correct date of our foundation making Royston the third oldest club in Hertfordshire after Hitchin and Bishop Stortford.

The Club’s very first honour came in 1911/12 when they won the Creake Charity Shield beating Wisbech 1-0 in extra time.

During the period up until the early 1930’s the Club played at grounds on Royston Heath, Mackerell Hall and Newmarket Road before acquiring our current home Garden Walk in June 1931.

The Club’s first major honour in more recent times came in the guise of promotion to the Herts County Premier League in 1969/70 and they went on to be champions in 1972/73 and 1976/77. In 1978 we rejoined the South Midlands League and won the Division One title at the first time of asking. Success continued with a final appearance in the Herts Charity Shield for the first time in 1979 and runners up spot in the South Midlands League Premier Division in 1980. The Herts Charity Shield was won in 1981/82 and two years later the Club joined the Isthmian League Division Two North where we remained for 10 seasons before returning to the South Midlands League in 1994.

After a period in the doldrums which culminated in relegation from the South Midlands League Premier Division at the end of 2006/07, Paul Attfield was appointed manager with Tony Galvin returning to Garden Walk as 1st Team Coach in November 2007. Paul immediately set about building a new 1st Team squad and a run of 17 games undefeated saw the Club move from bottom of the table to finish in 5th place in the League.

The foundations had been laid for the 2008/09 season and the first team took the South Midlands Division One League title with one of the best set of stats for any Step 6 Club in the country W33, D4, L3, GF138, GA30, GD+108, PTS 103.

They followed this up by winning the League Cup 2-0 against Ampthill and the season ended on a high when they came from 1-0 down to win the South Midlands Floodlit Cup 2-1 against Oxhey Jets.

The Reserves nearly matched these performances by winning SSFML Division II East with only one defeat all season and in what turned out to be one of the most exciting finals of the season came back from 2-0 down to beat St Margaretsbury 3-2 to take the South Midlands Reserve Section Floodlit Cup.

Having made it back to the South Midlands Premier League the Club set its stall out for a top six finish. The team eventually finished 4th in the league just 8 points adrift of the winners Aylesbury and successfully defended the South Midlands Floodlit Cup with a great victory against Broxbourne 2-1.

However, there is no doubt that for many of our supporters the highlight of the season was the fantastic run in the FA Vase. History was made when in a pulsating game against Aspire Alliance side Tipton Town the Crows came from behind with a last minute goal to run out winners 2-1 and moved into the last 16 for the very first time. A home draw against Wroxham was our reward and a bumper crowd of 650 turned out to see if the dream of a Wembley final could be realised.

Alas it was not to be. The Town were 1-0 down in the first three minutes and never really recovered to play as we know they can do. Inspite of the defeat it was some consolation to know that we had gone out to a very good Wroxham side who eventually became one of the Wembley finalists.

The 2010/11 season is difficult to sum-up and was one which brought elation and disappointment in almost equal measures. On the plus side we went one better than the previous season finishing in 3rd place in the SSMFL Premier Division, behind Tring and the League Champions Chalfont St Peter. For the third season in a row the 1st Team won the South Midlands Floodlit Cup 2-0 with a storming performance against Tring and the Reserves were unlucky to lose out in their final being narrowly beaten by St Margaretsbury 1-0.

On the other side of the coin there is no doubt that the 1st Team’s mid-season inconsistent form made any real chance of challenging for promotion very unlikely. In the last quarter of the season Paul made a conscious effort to strengthen the team both defensively and in midfield – a move which certainly addressed some of the inconsistency issues.

Perhaps most disappointing were our performances in cup competitions. Out of the eight we entered we failed to progress beyond the first round ties in six although they were unlucky in the FA Vase eventually going out in a replay to Leiston after a 2-2 draw at Garden Walk.

The 2011/12 season will be seen as a watershed in our history with the winning of the South Midlands Premier Division title and promotion to Step 4 in the shape of the Evo-Stick Southern League Division One Central. From the very start we headed the table and stayed there throughout apart from a 10 day period whilst some of our closest rivals played catch-up. It was in the first half of the season that we played some of our best and most fluent football. However, the run in could not have been more nerve racking as our closest rivals Dunstable Town and AFC Dunstable piled on the pressure with a string of fine results. They say that not playing well and yet still getting results is the hallmark of champions and it proved very true as we dug out 1-0’s and 2-1’s to nick victories in a sequence of very difficult games.

The point when we actually won the title came almost completely unexpectedly when we dug out other victory at Oxhey Jets 1-0 and then heard that Dunstable Town had lost to Hillingdon 1-0 and we were champions.

In addition, we completed the double by beating St Margaretsbury 2-0 in the League Cup final after we had beaten Broxbourne to win the South Midlands Floodlit Cup for the fourth season in a row.

Cup-wise our biggest disappointment came in the FA Vase when a place in the last 32 was up for grabs if we could beat Bournemouth Poppies. Over 100 Royston supporters made the trip to the South Coast only to witness a 2-1 defeat with one of our poorest performances of the season. In retrospect this was probably not a bad thing as it left us free to concentrate on winning the League Championship.

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