When it all began......
Chadlington has a long history of playing sport - particularly football and cricket. No one can uncover when the exact date that a football may have been kicked or the sound of leather despatched from a cricket bat into the near-by fields first happened, but it was a long time ago.
The first record of the club is from a photograph of the cricket team taken in 1912 and this is where the Sports Club has taken its established date from. Whether or not football was played from this date we do not know.
It is however likely that sport was being played at Chapel Road prior to 1912 and as early as 1899. From ordinance survey maps a small pavilion like structure can be seen on the boundary wall of the cricket field which was not there in 1885 (shown in the images below). The field that now forms the football pitch was a separate parcel of land and marked as allotments. This arrangement can be seen in survey maps through to 1923.
In the 1920's the football team played in the Chipping Norton & District League and first won a trophy in the 1921-22 season by winning Division One. A photograph of the team with the trophy is hanging in our clubhouse and it is the first known in existence of Chadlington Football Club. By this time the side had chosen colours of blue and white stripes, the reasons for this have been lost to history.
In 1925-26 Chadlington brought home the Chipping Norton Engineers Cup for the first time, a feat that would not be repeated until over 50 years later.
In 1927-28 the Division One title was once again secured and for the following season, Chadlington played in the Witney & District League for the first time joining sides such as Charlbury, Leafield and Ascott-under-Wychwood.
By the 1930's Chadlington had reached the top division in the Witney & District but no further titles or cups were won.
During this period all matches were played on the field closest to Chapel Road where just the cricket outfield is now.
In September 1939 War was declared and by Christmas of that year the league was suspended indefinitely with conscription being in place to the armed forces and many players working hard on the surrounding land.
Post war blues.... and whites!
Local football did not return to the village until September 1946. For the 1946-47 season Chadlington once again played in the Witney & District League which re-emerged with two Divisions. Chadlington resumed their place in the top league and it must have been a great relief to get village life back to normal.
Above - the football club photographed in 1948.
In 1949-50 silverware returned to Chadlington for the first time in 20 years when the team lifted the Fred Ford Memorial Cup for the very first time. The following season their first Senior Challenge cup followed and the team are photographed below with the trophy and winners medals.
The football team was strong throughout the 1950’s, winning for the first time the coveted Oxfordshire Football Association Junior Shield Competition in May 1957 against North Leigh in an all Witney & District final at Marriots Close, Witney. The crowd was said to be large with supporters standing 4 deep in some parts. Barry Norton, an OFA Councillor later recalled "North Leigh taking an early two goal lead only to be pegged back to 2-2 with only a few minutes remaining. The match went to extra time and Chadlington were awarded a controversial penalty which Terry Cox scored to take the lead. Almost immediately North Leigh equalised to tie the score at 3-3 at the end of extra time". With penalty shoot outs not part of the game until the 1970's, no time in the season left for a replay and Chadlington declining extra extra time it was decided that the Shield would be shared for only the second and the last time in the competitions illustrious history.
The following season in 1958 the team once again battled their way back to the Shield final yet again and this time Chadlington won it outright. They remain the only team to have defended the title in the competitions 125 year history. The team are seen below behind the far goal at Chadlington with the Shield and their medals, photographed in colour with some shirts having a club badge for the first time.
More cups followed thereafter with another Fred Ford Cup and the Senior Cup. In 1958-1959 Chadlington's first Premier Division title was clinched while Charlbury finished second and lifted the Junior Shield. Throughout the decade the village would always battle hard against rivals North Leigh and Charlbury.
The Oxfordshire Junior Shield Competition that had been in existence since 1896 would dominate the football season for decades after, with sons trying desperately to emulate their fathers' winning medals – or win one when the dad’s lost out. Some did and some did not.
Off the field too the landscape had started to evolve. By 1955 the field where the football pitch is today had been enclosed along with the 'spinney' behind the far goal. The wall between the football pitch and the cricket pitch remained and the pavilion still stood on the boundary wall. Soon this was all to change though. A replacement to the village hall was proposed and built in 1956 in the field adjacent with the Parish Council being granted a lease by the land owner, this became the Memorial Hall. The boundary wall to the north of the cricket pitch was removed to create one large sports pitch for football and cricket. A new changing room pavilion was then built in its current location although a much simpler layout that what we see today. Back when it was first built it consisted of just 1 room with wooden shutters for windows. Both teams changed in the same room and there were no toilets or washing facilities.
Local folk law goes that the local land owner who had gifted the use of the larger field had paid a group of local men a fixed sum of money to remove the dividing wall between the fields. However, the money had run out half way along and for for a while it remained partially removed. The end of this partially removed section is still visible in the unique dip on the football touchline that still causes unsuspecting players such issues to this day.
By the end of the 1950s the sports field had evolved into by and large what we see today with the next addition to the playing area some 60 years later. The survey map of 1975 shows the new layout in 1975.
The lean years - 1960s
As the side moved into the early 1960s the old guard of players that had achieved so much began to retire and move on in what would become a familiar story for the club. Steadily a new generation came through but it would take time. As a consequence in the 1961-62 season the side was relegated from the Witney & District Premier Division having chalked up just one win and won draw in the season. Additionally they were unable to field a Reserve Team for a season or two. As Chadlington began to decline a new side emerged down the road at Kingham as they won Division One, then the Premier along with 4 Junior Shields between 1962 and 1970.
The slide continued into the 1963-64 season as the first team were relegated to Division Two, their lowest league in the clubs history. Things started picking up in the 1966-67 season as the side finished runners up in Division Two behind Kingham Reserves and were therefore promoted to Division One where they would stay for 3 seasons until in 1969-70 they finished runners up to be promoted back to the Premier Division to round off the decade.
Success also came in the Chipping Norton Charity Cup as the side were runners up in 1964 and joint winners in 1966 and and in 1970.
Despite the 1960s being a lean period compared to the previous decade many great characters that would form the club over the coming decades were emerging whether in the First Team, Reserves or indeed in Youth Teams of the day.
Chadlington entered the 1970-71 season in the Witney & District Premier Division and stayed there for three seasons but were relegated at the end of the 1972-73 season. Their absence lasted just two seasons and for the 1975-76 season they were back in the Premier Division having won Division One the previous season. They would maintain their Premier Division status for the next 23 years.
The Reserves had also climbed a Division by winning Division Four in 1972 a feat that would not be repeated until 2019!
During the 1970's the changing rooms had been extended to mean that home and away sides now changed in separate rooms. The now blocked up door between the two can still be seen in the home dressing room as you go in on the right.
The goldern years
In the 1980’s the village team was at its peak. For several years Chadlington Football Club would dominate County Competitions and the more local Witney & District FA leagues and cups. There were more local derbies with North Leigh and Charlbury of course.
As well as the on the field improvements the facilities were also being modernised. New extensions to the changing rooms saw showers added to the end of the pavilion in what was previously a tractor shed. This replaced the small 'copper' that was situated in the corner of the changing room in which players could only usually wash their legs. As it operated on a first come, first served basis players recount how it quickly lost its appeal! By the early 1980's the club had also embarked on building a clubroom and bar facilities which would continually be improved over the following decades and would mean that the club was the envy of the surrounding teams.
Back on the field the run of cup winning sides actually started in 1978/79 when the First Team lifted the Fred Ford Cup. This was added to with the Chipping Norton Engineers Cup, the Chipping Norton Charity Cup, the Crosby Cup and the Burford Sports Cup. Although all these cups are now not played for and almost forgotten, in their day the challenge of lifting them was a prized feat and added to the shear number of games the players would play in the season.
The glory kept on returning to Chadlington and in the 10 years from 78/79 until 88/89 the side picked up a staggering 28 cups of various shapes and sizes.
The highlights of these triumphs were winning the Oxfordshire Junior Shield in 1983 when they deposed Charlbury as both Shield holders and Witney & District Prem holders. In the final of the 1983 Junior Shield in May, Chadlington beat 5 time winners Ruscote Sports at Banbury Stadium. The Shield was once again clinched in 1985 when they beat 1984 finalists Ardley United at Oxford City to take the title back from North Leigh.
These achievements were topped though by the team winning their highest ranked trophy to that date with the Oxfordshire Charity Cup in 1981. Chadlington were at the time just the second ever Witney & District Side to have achieved this after Napier Rovers in 1971.
The team of 1981 with the Charity Cup and the Moreton Floodlit Cup. T Catling, P Collier, G Harding, K Sherbourne, A England, D Souch, A Powell, T Powell, G Bridges, G Duester, P Duester, K Cooper, P Catling, D Catling.
The 1983 and 1985 Oxfordshire Junior Shield winning sides. 1983 - B/row A Powell, G Harding, T Catling, K Sherbourne, A England, P Souch, D Souch, P Catling, R Green. F/row A Powell, G Cooper, P Duester, D Souch, J Pearce. 1985 - B/row J Blake, J Pearce, K Sherbourne, T Catling, G Harding, T Powell, P Catling, G Cooper. F/row D Souch, A Perrie, P Duester, D Catling, D Souch, K Cooper.
Once again and just as in the great teams of the 1920's and 1950's virtually all the players came from or were associated with the village, many were brothers and cousins. Something unthinkable now in modern times. It simply wasn't a Chadlington side without a Souch, a Catling and a Duester in it. The Catlings themselves can claim 5 brothers playing in sides from the 1970s until the 2000's.
The stand out players of golden era to popular opinion were the 'three Pauls', Paul Catling, Paul Duester and Paul Souch. All of them contest that the other ones were the better.
What is also forgotten by the history books is the number of runners up medals too, the side often came close to adding to the trophy tally but with the shear volume of games being played in the season they sometimes came up just short. An example of this can be found in 1981/82 when they lost the Premier Division title to their great rivals Charlbury on goal difference alone. However, the title was regained the following year of course! In 1989 the side also lost a Junior Shield Final 3-2 to Milcombe Sports at Banbury United.
The success continues.....
In the early 1990s a new team emerged from the side that had dominated the decade before. Some players moved on and some players retired (many before their time). However, they quickly got back to winning ways and again lifted the Junior Shield in 1993. Dennis Souch, Tony Powell and Graham Harding collected their third shield medals for the club with a 1-0 win over Hanborough played at Press Steel under player/manager Paul Souch and assistant manager, Paul Duester. The trophy was presented by Geoff Wilson who had played for Bloxham Athletic when the competition had first been shared in 1950.
That year the team also went on to win the Premier League, Fred Ford Cup and the impressive Shipston Hospital Cup in an unprecedented haul. The Reserves also won the Junior Challenge Cup despite being in Division Two at the time.
The 1993 side with four trophies. B/row P Duester, D Souch, K Drinkwater, G Harding, M Ward, P Smith, A Eley, K Eley, T Powell. F/row A Watson, L Didcock, S Matthews, P Souch, L Flashman, R Dore
Of course, much of the clubs history is defined by the triumphs of the First Team but throughout this period the Reserves continued to benefit. Historically playing in the lower leagues of the Witney & District the Reserves improved steadily and played much of their football in Division Two and even had a brief stint in Division One in the 1990/91 season and won the Jack Busby Cup in 1992.
Success for the Reserves too in 1992. B/row S Young, S Davies, A Eley, C Goodgame, M Hanson, R Barnfield, I Barnfield, R Hinchcliffe. F/row S Taylor, C Pascoe, R Tyack, R Catling, J Ducker, D Hinchcliffe
In 1996 Chadlington again attempted to lift the Junior Shield in the competitions centenary year. This was their 7th final and would have been their 6th victory but they were beaten in the final on penalties by Spartan Rangers at Witney Town. Tired legs proved Chads undoing having already had a long season getting through to 3 finals.
The 1996 Shield Final programme with a candid assessment of the players on show!
Shield defeat though was avenged by success in the Senior Challenge Cup and the Oxfordshire Charity Cup. In winning the counties highest ranked trophy for a club at their level (the Charity Cup), Chadlington remain only one of eight Witney & District Clubs to do so and only one of three to win it twice along with Enstone and North Leigh.
Charity Cup success again at Carterton FC in 1996. B/row J Fitzgerald, S Catling, D Shadbolt, I Willoughby, S Souch, N Fudge, S Matthews, P Duester. F/row J Pearce, P Souch, S Peedell, N Shadbolt, L Didcock, R Wyatt, D Souch
At the end of that season and having won so much over the last 5 years, many players moved on. For the rest of the decade, Chadlington tried to re-build with a younger generation including many from their youth side between 1994 & 1996.
In the 1997-98 season the task was just too hard and relegation from the Premier Division was confirmed for the first time in 25 years.
It was an end of an era. Over the previous 20 years the trophy count was remarkable and with the departure of North Leigh into higher leagues the club had become the most successful current Witney & District Side of all time. It is an achievement that is likely never to be replicated and remains a daunting legacy for all future players and managers to live up to.
Ups and downs
Chadlington spent just two seasons in Division One of the Witney & District finishing runners up in the 1999-00 season and gaining promotion back to the Premier Division. A new side had emerged with young players mainly from Chipping Norton and in 2001-02 they lifted the Fred Ford cup at Witney Town for the 7th time in their history. The trophy drought had lasted just 6 years.
Pride restored in 2002 before leaving the Witney & District. B/row B Mulhearn, J Guy, R McCabe, A Shadbolt,A Robson, G Slatter, M Corbett, A Akers, G Smith, K Mulhearn. F/row S Jones, S Peedell, M Jeffrey, A Tinkham, M Plumbridge.
In the summer of 2002, the club decided at a players meeting to make the momentous decision to leave the Witney & District and enter the Oxfordshire Senior League. Success was quick in coming by securing promotion as champions from Division One in their first year under the management of Steve 'Mega' Jones. With this promotion the status of the club moved to be defined as ‘Senior’, a great achievement for a village of less than 1000 people.
The team also battled through to the Oxfordshire Intermediate Cup Final but were beaten by Thame United Reserves at Oxford City.
(Team: G Smith, A Akers, K Mulhearn, R McCabe, A Robson, A Tinkham, C Forde, W Beauchamp, M Corbett, A Shadbolt, J Guy, M Jeffrey, S Peedle, G Slatter).
For the next 7 years the side remained in the Senior League Premier Division and continued to attract new players from outside the area in the search for silverware. New sponsors were found and the club even produced home match programmes for the first time.
In the 2007-08 season now under the management of Robbie Wyatt and Nigel Cleevely , the team narrowly lost out on the Premier league title by 2 points having lost just twice in the league all year. This would have been a huge achievement for an ex Witney & District Side, a feat that has only ever been achieved by Eynsham Association and Freeland.
2008. B/row R McCabe, A Akers, W Beachamp, - , J Eley, - , A Holder. F/row G Wilson, S Gilbert, A Tinkham, J Wyatt, M Fitzgerald, W Tompkins, J Wyatt
With the disappointment of going so close and the effort it had taken this would be their best finish. From then on, the effort of sustaining Senior level football became ever harder in a time when the best players could act more like mercenaries than loyal club men.
However, with a re-grouped side the following season in May 2009 the football team put their league struggles behind them and went on a great cup run to win the Oxfordshire Senior League Presidents Cup in front of a large crowd at Kidlington. This was the clubs highest ranking competition in its history and was achieved with many local players who had been with the club throughout the Senior League years.
2009 Presidents Cup lifted by Captain Wayne Beauchamp and Tom Speers B/row T Speers, A Helby, A Holder, C Forde, M Corbett, J Eley, A Shadbolt, J Cleevely, B Mulhearn. F/row R Wyatt, S Chapman, M Fitzgerald, W Beachamp, D Cleevely, G Wilson, A Tinkham
It seemed as though this was as good as it was going to get and the cup victory was a sign for many players to move on knowing that they had achieved something in the Senior League era. The following season the side struggled and relegation back to Division One came quickly, they won just twice with the Reserves also not fairing much better in Division Three.
At the start of the 2010-11 season, things got worse when it soon became clear that there was not enough players to run the Reserve Team. Something that had not happened since shortly after WW2! If regrouping with just one side was the answer for stability, it didn't work and that season the side finished second from bottom having again just won two games all season.
Surely this was the low point? No, it would get worse, for in the summer of 2011 just weeks before the start of the new season it was clear that there may not be enough players for even one side to enter the league. After 90 years of continuous football (leaving aside a world war) Chadlington could be left without a football team.....
With the club stood on a precipice their position seemed hopeless. Their saving would come from a merger with Chad Park FC of the Witney & District League who were too struggling for players. Could the two sides combine to rescue adult football at Chadlington?
On September 17th 2011 without having played any friendlies and with only a couple of training sessions Chadlington faced Riverside in Division One with a combination of 9 Chad Park players and 5 remaining Chadlington players in the squad. The new side was headed by a management team of Barry Mulhearn and Greg Kemp. The prospect of the club having no side was averted and the season was completed with double the points from the season before.
Chadlington v Riverside. Sept 2011. Senior League Division 1. B/row M McWilliams, W Beachamp, J O'Brien, S Hunt, G Slatter, M Shepherd, M Duester, D Souch. F/row C Salmon, S Bennett, G Kemp, M Plumbridge, J Vaughan, M North.
The low point had been reached and climbed out of. There was renewed optimism that a new future could be forged and a more sustainable football club built.
Back to the future
In September 2012 Chadlington FC returned to the Witney & District after a 10 year absence. The players had voted to leave the Senior League and the prospect of once again playing more local football sent an air of optimism shooting around the club. This was boosted by the return of a Reserve Team under the management of Chris Kemp.
Oxford Mail feature on Chadlington
This was Chadlington Sports Clubs centenary year and the new start seemed fitting. Along with that the club had received a grant to renovate the changing rooms which was long overdue.
In their first season back in the Witney & District the club achieved promotion to the Premier League and lifted the Junior Challenge Cup for the third time in the clubs history. Despite relegation the following season back to Division One, the club has achieved a level of sustainability and continuity that has seen it re-build. Since 2012 the club has worked hard with its emerging junior football set up to bring players through into the adult teams with a careful balance between youth and experience.
Cup success again in the Witney & District. B/row M Shepherd, D Cleevely, G Slatter, M Plumbridge,J Betts, D Murphy, J O'Brien, S Hunt, F/row M Duester, J Catling, K Mulhearn, C Salmon, G Kemp, J Godfrey, C Jefferies
With facilities continually being improved and young players encouraged to play and thrive, perhaps this is the start of something great once more....
The original Chadlington Football Club badge
Chadlington FC's first colour photograph was taken in 1958.
Back Row; B Drinkwater, E Dix, T Bridges, B Souch, M Kitchen, D Cox.
Front Row; M Didcock, D Cox, W Timms, P Frame, G Souch.
Chadlington Boys 1966
Alan England, Nigel Radbone, Ian Cooper, Kevin Sherbourne, Phi Gibson, Gordon Benfield, front, Terry Morris, Paul Catling, Dennis Souch, David Catling, Colin Eley.