Local Football History

The town of Hemel Hempstead has produced many football teams over the years; some even before Hemel Hempstead Town FC were formed as Apsley End FC in 1885. Many of the clubs originated from works teams, with local companies entering teams in to local league and cup competitions. Hemel Hempstead Town FC and Leverstock Green FC are currently the only football clubs in this town still competing at Senior Level (Hemel Hempstead Rovers FC have been around since the 1930’s and have previous competed at Senior Level, but more recently have played in the West Herts League). At one time the West Herts League was one of the most Senior competitions available to local clubs, however more recently only County League and above is considered “Senior”.

Hemel Hempstead FC

Despite the name, this particular Hemel based club have no part in the history of the current Hemel Hempstead Town FC – “The Tudors” – who play at Vauxhall Road. Hemel Hempstead formed in the early 1880’s and were based at Heath Lane, Boxmoor playing friendly matches in the West Herts area. Hemel were founding members of the Herts FA and entered the Herts Senior Cup for the first time in 1886/87. The club entered the West Herts League as Hemel Hempstead Town FC in 1894/95, West Herts League clubs rose this season from eight to twelve and Hemel competed in the newly formed Division Two.

By the 1896/97 season the club had dropped the “Town” from their name and were in Division One of the West Herts League as well as having a reserve team in Division Three. In 1899/00, Hemel also entered a team in the Herts County League; they won the St Mary’s Cup this season and also reached the final of the Herts Senior Cup. 1,200 supporters saw Hemel lose the final 1-5 to Hitchin, this was the only occasion a local side other than Apsley reached this final. By now, the club was based at Gadebridge Meadow, likely to be what we now know as Gadebridge Park. Hemel Hempstead finished one place behind Apsley in the 1900/01 season, Apsley claimed the league runners up spot from third place Hemel on goal difference! Like Apsley and many other local clubs, Hemel often entered teams in both the West Herts League and Herts County League simultaneously.

In 1901/02, when the Herts County League was split in to regions, Hemel finished one place behind Apsley again and over the next few years Hemel managed to finish above their local rivals on just two occasions, in 1905 and 1909. Hemel competed in both the Herts County League and the West Herts League for the last time in the 1911/12 season; however the clubs demise coincided with the formation of Hemel Hempstead Rovers who competed for just one season in the West Herts League prior to the suspension of competitive football following the outbreak of War. The last silverware the club picked up was a second St Mary’s Cup victory in 1908/09. Once football resumed after the War, Hemel Hempstead Town FC entered the West Herts League in the 1919/20 season, they also competed in the Herts County League in 1921/22, before solely entering a team in the West Herts League for the 1922/23 season. In the 1920’s, Hemel winger George Stone signed for Chelsea, where he made 25 appearances before signing for Watford.

Support for the club was not forthcoming, this time period coincides with Apsley FC’s progression to the Spartan League so it may have been the case that there was not enough eager supporters and a possible lack of quality players for the area to have two clubs. Hemel Hempstead did not enter either the West Herts League or Herts County League again; however a Hemel Hempstead team did continue to compete in the West Herts Midweek League until 1927/28 and again for a short spell during the 1930’s. The club was at this time based at Great Hart Meadow (most likely to be Randall’s Park in Highfield) and used the White Hart Hotel in the old High Street as their clubhouse.

Boxmoor FC

Boxmoor were formed in 1901 as a West Herts League club. The following year they joined the Herts County League and competed at that level on six occasions between 1902 and 1922. Their home ground was known as “The Moor, Boxmoor” and they used the Heath Park Hotel as their changing rooms and clubhouse. The Heath Park Hotel went on to become The Projectionist pub and has since been demolished for flats, located opposite Hemel Hempstead Cricket Club – so it may be the case that football used to be played at the cricket ground. The ground was used by the West Herts League to host St Mary’s Cup finals which suggests that the ground was a proper enclosure. Boxmoor had mixed fortunes, winning West Herts Leagues titles but often finishing at the bottom of the Herts County League, they also failed to assemble a team for one County League season and withdrew.

Boxmoor won the St Mary’s Cup in 1922/23, the Watford Peace Memorial Shield in 1924/25 and in 1925/26 Boxmoor entered the FA Cup, but didn’t make it past the Extra Preliminary Round after losing 2-4 at home to Leavesden Mental Hospital. Boxmoor spent their latter years in the shadow of local rivals Boxmoor St John’s before the folded in 1931, by then they’d stopped used the Heath Park Hotel and based themselves at another local pub that no longer exists – the Bricklayers Arms, Puller Road.

Boxmoor St Johns FC

St John’s formed at the start of the 1912/13 season and immediately won the West Herts League Division Three championship. The followed this by finishing runners up in Division Two. Post WW1 the club rejoined the West Herts League but were not as successful, In 1920 local press reported that St John’s lost 24-0 to Leverstock Green, though “they played pluckily and were triers”. St John’s left eh WHL to join the Berkhamsted & District League where they went on to become champions in 1925/26 before returning to the West Herts League. In 1931/32 St John’s won the West Herts League Division One championship, following up 3rd and 2nd place finished during the two previous seasons. St John’s won the Apsley Senior Cup in 1930 and 1933 and the St Mary’s Cup in 1932. In 1933/34, Boxmoor St John’s entered the FA Cup for the only time in their history, making it through the Extra Preliminary Round (winning 1-3 away to Ware) and Preliminary Round (walkover against Hendon Town) before losing 1-10 at home to Tufnell Park in a First Qualifying Round replay, having held the Isthmian League club to a 3-3 draw away from home.

St John’s stepped up to the Herts County League in 1935/36, where they stayed for three seasons as a mainly mid-table team. St John’s returned again to the West Herts League for the 1938/39 season where they again won the Division One championship, they then won the Watford Peace Memorial Shield in 1939. There are no further reports of St John’s following WW2 although it was reported that they lost many leading players to Hemel Hempstead Town at the outbreak of the war.

Like Boxmoor FC, Boxmoor St John’s ground was also listed as The Moor, Boxmoor. Their changing rooms and clubhouse was St John’s Parish Rooms, Horsecroft Road – owned by the Church. This building still exists today as Boxmoor Social Club, who purchased the building from the church in 1930. The Social club may not have been football fans… as at the same time they took over building, St John’s FC relocated to The Steamcoach and used a new pitch off Anchor Lane.

England International Frank Broome started his playing career at Boxmoor St John’s, before joining Berkhamsted Town then signing for Aston Villa in 1934.. Reg Dudley, who went on to play for Millwall, QPR and Watford before ending up at Hemel Hempstead, also started his playing career with Boxmoor St John’s.

Greenacres

Greenacres were tenants of the Tudors, playing their home games at Vauxhall Road from 1997 to 2004 whilst competing in the Spartan South Midlands League. Greenacres had originally competed in the West Herts League; they won the Sir Stanley Rous Challenge Cup in 1996 and the Watford Peace Hospital Memorial Shield in 1997. In 1997, Greenacres reserve team won the Division Three championship, the Apsley Junior Charity Cup and the Holloway Trophy.

Upon joining the Spartan South Midlands League in 1997, Greenacres were Herts Intermediate Cup winners in 1998 and reached the first round of the FA Vase in 2003. Greenacres were considered by some to be an unofficial reserve side of Hemel Hempstead Town FC; however this didn’t prevent a determined Greenacres side beat Hemel 3-2 at Vauxhall Road in the semi-final of the St Mary’s Cup in 2003/04. Greenacres folded in the summer of 2004 following the reformation of Hemel Hempstead Town’s reserve team.

Dickinsons (Apsley) FC

Not to be confused with Dickinsons (Croxley) FC, this club joined the Herts County league in 1937 and competed either side of the Second World War. The club won the County League Division One championship in 1948/49, scoring an incredible 105 goals in the process, before leaving to join the Metropolitan & District League the following season. They competed in that league for just two seasons, finishing second from bottom in 1950/51 after conceding 136 goals in 30 league games before returning to the Herts County League for just one season in 1951/52. Dickinsons had a reserve team who also competed at Senior level, in the Herts County League from 1947 to 1951.

Dickinsons competed in the FA Cup in 1949/50, losing an Extra Preliminary Round tie 3-0 away to Chesham United.

In 1945, former Huddersfield, Watford, Exeter and Darlington defender Bill Brown signed for Dickinsons. Brown was 38 years old when he signed for Dickinsons, his professional career ended when his first season with Darlington in 1939 was interrupted by the war.

Kodak FC

Kodak, a major local employer, had a sports & social club based at the corner of Wood Lane End and Buncefield Lane, opposite Woodwells Cemetery. Although the sports & social club moved out in the late 1990’s, the land still stands empty today and planning permission has recently been applied to develop the land for housing. Kodak had a West Herts League side that progressed to the Herts Senior County League in 1987, where they remained for ten seasons. As a West Herts League side, Kodak won the Webster Cup in 1978, 1979 and 1982, the Division One championship in 1984 and the Premier Division championship in 1986. In their first County League season, Kodak were Division Two champions, they made one appearance in the Premier Division but were relegated in 1993. The club folded in 1997. Kodak’s reserve side won the Apsley Junior Charity Cup in 1993

Lucas Sports FC

The football club was formed as Rotax, a local company with a large factory at the end of Maylands Avenue – the large empty plot of land next to the Esporta/Virgin gym is the former site of the factory and there was a sports & social club at the rear. The fence enclosing the main football pitch is still visible from Breakspear Way as the land has not been developed since the company moved out of town in 2003. Rotax entered the South Midlands League in 1964, changing their name to Lucas in line with the companies name change in 1975. Lucas were Herts Intermediate Cup runners up in 1969 and left the South Midlands League in 1976. After a brief stint in the West Herts League, during which the reserve side won the Apsley Junior Charity Cup in 1980, Lucas joined the Herts Senior County League in 1983, where they remained for 10 seasons. In 1989 Lucas were Herts Intermediate Cup runners up again and won the Aplsey Senior Charity Cup. The same cup was brought home in 1992 and in 1993 the clubs ‘A’ team won the West Herts League Division Three championship.

After a break from local football, Lucas rejoined the West Herts League and had a successful return for the 1999/2000 season: the team won the Division Two championship, the Apsley Junior Charity Cup, the Webster Cup and the Sir Stanley Rous Cup. The reserve team won the Division Four championship in 2001/02. When the company moved out of town the football team lost their home ground, the team stayed together and changed their name to Jomarth Construction and used council owned pitches. Jomarth won the Apsley Junior Charity Cup in 2007/08 and folded shortly after.

Addmult FC

Addressograph Multigraph, based at Wood Lane End on Hemel’s industrial estate, entered their Addmult team in to the West Herts League in 1951; they won the Webster up in 1953. The club joined the South Midlands League in 1962, progressing to the Premier Division for the 1963/64 season. Halfway through the 1963/64 season, 21 year old Addmult defender Dick Edwards was signed by Luton Town. Edwards made 15 appearances for the Hatters over two seasons before signing for non-league Kettering.

Addmult spent seven seasons in the Premier Division, winning the championship in 1969, before being relegated to Division One in 1969/70 after finishing second from bottom – a mass exodus saw the clubs successful manager George Powell and his best players head to Crabtree Lane and join Hemel Hempstead Town FC. Addmult left the South Midlands League in 1978, and enjoyed brief success in the West Herts League, winning the Division Two championship and the Sir Stanley Rous Challenge Cup in 1980. The club folded in the early 1980’s.

R.E.M.E

In 1945/46, a team made up of members of the local Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers based at Cupid Green entered their R.E.M.E. team in to the newly reformed Herts County League, winning the championship at their first and only attempt in the league. They scored 106 goals in 20 games that season, losing only one game in the process. R.E.M.E also reached the final of the Herts Senior Cup that season, losing 0-6 against Barnet. Prior to this season, R.E.M.E won the Herts Junior Cup for two consecutive seasons in 1944 and 1945.

Hemel Hempstead United FC

Well technically United still exist today, as they merged with the current Hemel Hempstead Town in 1972, However, while the history of the Tudors goes back to 1885 when they were formed as Apsley End, the history of United is often overlooked.

Hemel Hempstead United had been competing in the South Midlands League, only the previous season they had been promoted to the Premier Division. United were the fourth club to have been based at Vauxhall Road, following Brocks, Greenhills, and then Adeyfield Athletic. Records show Greenhills replaced the Brocks team then ceased to be when Adeyfield Athletic formed, and in turn United formed when Athletic ceased, so it would be safe to assume that it was the same club which changed its name over the years. Former player John Bagley corroborated this, stating that he joined the club when it was called Adeyfield Athletic, went on to play for them as Hemel Hempstead United, John also confirmed the clubs roots were as the Brocks team.

The first record of a club based at Vauxhall Road was Brocks Pyrotechnics. In the early 1930’s the land was purchased by Arthur Brock, the firework manufacturer.  He was moving his firework factory to Hemel Hempstead and purchased Cox Pond Farm in order to build houses for his workers and to establish a sports club for them. The football pitch and clubhouse started out as Brocks Social and Sports Club and the football team competed in Division Two of the West Herts League in 1934/35. They finished ninth in a division of 10 clubs, losing twelve of their 18 games and conceding 61 goals in the process. The following season they finished bottom, conceding an unimpressive 104 goals on 18 games and were relegated to Division Three for the following season, where they finished fifth. Brocks did not enter a team in the West Herts League for the final two seasons leading up to the War. In 1947, by now known as Brocks Sports, the club applied to join the Herts County League, however the application was denied.

In March 1948 the Hemel Hempstead Development Corporation compulsorily purchased land in the Adeyfield area for the site of its labour camp, the arrangement included the clubhouse and playing field of the Brocks Social and Sports Club.  The first ‘community association’ of the New Town of Hemel Hempstead named themselves Greenhills, and Brocks Social and Sports Club was handed over to them as their base. The next record of the club competing at senior level was in 1953/54 when Greenhills entered the Herts County League and finished third in Division Two, scoring 154 goals in 28 games with a goal difference of 116! The following year, the club had changed its name to Adeyfield Athletic and finished seventh in Division One, whilst also fielding a Reserve team in the second division.

Athletic were unsuccessful, finishing second from bottom of Division One and subsequently relegated. 1956/57 saw the introduction of the Herts County League Premier Division, restructuring meant Athletic competed in the new Division One while Athletics’ reserve team competed in the new Reserves Division. Athletic finished second from bottom, followed by a Division One mid-table finish in 1957/58; this was to be the last season in the County League as despite some fairly mediocre league positions, the club made a step up to the South Midlands League Premier Division for the 1958/59 season.

Athletic finished their first South Midlands League season second from bottom, but avoided relegation and went on to finish 10th the following season, 1959/60. It was around this time Frank Jackett signed for the club, Jackett was a former Swansea, Watford and Leyton Orient player who moved to the area in the 1940’s. Jacket was a hard tackling midfielder who was in his 30’s by the time he signed for Athletic, having just been released by Margate. His son, Kenny, played for Watford and Wales in the 1980’s.

The clubs name changed to Hemel Hempstead United prior to the start of the 1960/61 season, the new name bought success as United won the Premier Division championship, losing only three games on the way. The championship was followed by fourth, seventh and fifth place finishes over the next three seasons, United also reached the final of the St Mary’s Cup in 1964, losing 1-0 to Berkhamsted Town of the Athenian League. In 1964/65 United finished second from bottom with an unlucky 13 points, United were subsequently relegated to Division One. Mediocre finishes beckoned over the next few seasons with the club not threatening for a promotion spot until 1970/71, when the club went back up to the Premier Division thanks to a third place finish.

United played in a blue and white strip, the clubs local rivals in the South Midlands League were Rotax, a company team based just around the corner at Maylands Avenue who later changed their name to Lucas Sports, and Addmult who played at Wood Lane End. Another company team based at Wood Lane End was Kodak; they spent three seasons in the South Midlands League during the 1960’s but were never in the same division as United.

Following promotion to the Premier Division, United competed only once more; after finishing second from bottom in the 1971/72 season they merged with Hemel Hempstead Town to form Hemel Hempstead FC, who added the “Town” back to their name in the late 1990’s and still play at Vauxhall Road today.

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