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Bedford Town FC - Eagles



Website last updated: 17 Sep, 2013 @ 05:24


History of Bedford Town FC


Bedford Town, nickname "The Eagles" was founded in 1908 and in the early years they played in the United Counties and its predecessors The Northampton League and Northampton Alliance. The original colours were black and amber with a change to blue and white at the start of the 1950-51 season.
In 1945, the eagles moved to the Southern League but they achieved little during the first seasons. The club received a much-needed boost when in February 1951 Ronnie Rooke was signed as Player/Manager. This signing captured the imagination of the public for "Rookie" was a well-known footballer, having played for Arsenal, Fulham, Crystal Palace and England. For the first match under his control, there was an attendance of 4,790 and his first appearance for the reserves when he scored a hat-trick 3,000 turned up.


However, it was not until season 1955-56 that the EAGLES started on the first of their great cup runs which would see them achieve national fame as "Giant Killers" with a number of fine wins over league opposition including WATFORD 3-2 NORWICH 2-4 NEWCASTLE 1-2 EXETER 1-2 BRIGHTON 2-1 and OXFORD 1-0 But possibly their greatest achievement was to draw 2-2 with ARSENAL at Highbury watched by a crowd of over 55,000 in season 1955-56. The Eagles nearly caused a major shock in the replay leading 1-0 until 4 minutes from time before going down 1-2 after extra time, having had 2 goals disallowed for offside.
During the 60s the managers lasted for about two years Reg. Smith took over from Ronnie Rook followed by Basil Hayward in 1963, Ron Burgess 1965, Ron Heckman 1967, Alan Wright 1969 Reg. Smith again in 1971. Followed by Brian Garvey, Jim Walker and Barry Fry in 1977 the last manager was Trevor Gould.
The last game was away to Nuneaton Borough on the 4th May 1982 with the EAGLES loosing 1-0. So after 74 years the end came when the owners of the football ground terminated the lease. Plans for a new ground in the Bedford area failed and the club was wound up in 1982.

Seven years later

On the 5th May 1989 a group of Eagles supporters met to start a campaign to re-form Bedford Town FC. Which was so successful that they obtained Council permission to play their home games on a public pitch in Queens Park not a stones throw from the old ground in Ford End Road.
With Tony Sullivan as team manager, they were elected to the South Midlands League and finished fourth. Terry King was tempted out of retirement to team up with Tony Sullivan for the 1992-93 season and a good start saw them top the league never to be caught on the way to the championship.

The New Eyrie

In order to be promoted the club had to find a ground of its own. With help from the Council a site in Meadow Lane, Cardington a former tree nursery would be our new home, with financial support from the council and much hard work from supporters and committee members, the New Eyrie was ready for the opening game against PETERBOROUGH UNITED watched by a crowd of over 3000.So the Eagles went into the SML Premier Division, won their first game and remained top of the league all season.
Another race against time saw the ground upgraded and a rollercoaster campaign saw Bedford claim 3rd promotion spot in the final week of the season. The Eagles started season 1995-96 with high hopes of a 4th successive promotion. But the team who gained promotion from Division Three never settled to life at the higher level and with Terry King undergoing lengthy hospital treatment a string of bad results meant that relegation was a distinct possibility. The committee acted quickly to bring in Mick Foster from Beazer Homes Buckingham Town who brought several players with him which resulted in the Club finishing in 8th place.
Season 1996-97 was one of inconsistency, which cost the Eagles any chance of promotion. However we finished in 7th place the highest position since the club was reformed with good runs in Guardian Insurance Cup and the Associate Members Cup.
The season 1997-98 saw an exciting finale when a late run by the Eagles saw them just fail to pip Wealdstone to the third promotion spot and have to settle for fourth position. During this season we won 2 cups The Beds Premier Cup defeating Barton Rovers and the Vandanel Cup by defeating Epson & Ewell 2-0 in the final. This was the Eagles first senior cup trophy since the old club won the Southern League Cup way back in season 1980-81.

Season 1998-99

With just a few days to go before the start of the season the Club parted company with the manager and Tony Luff and Jason Reed were appointed joint managers, both being local lads with long associations with the Eagles. Tony Luff played in goal for the original club, re-joining in 1992-93 and when his carer ended, he became goalkeeping coach. Jason Reed signed from Harlow Town in March 1992 our first season back in football. Scoring well over 200 goals making him the highest goal scorer in the history of Bedford Town.
The first game was a 2-1 home win over Marlow followed by draws against Barking and Hemel Hempstead. A great 2-3 F A Cup win away to Wisbech Town was the prelude to the start of a 14 match unbeaten run, with 13 wins and a draw which saw the Eagles go top of the league on the 20th October. A position maintained for the rest of the seasons finally clinching the championship with a 2-0 win at home against Hungerford on 24th April in front of a crowd of 645.
The Town enjoyed an excellent F A Vase run getting to the 5th Round when they drawn at home to the holders Tiverton Town. The Eagles lost 1-2 in front of a crowd of 1,566 with Tiverton going onto the twin towers to retain the cup.

Season 1999-2000

The Eagles had a great start to there first ever season in Division 1. An unbeaten run of 9 league and cup games saw then move into second place. However, the next 11 games produced only 1 win and by mid November the Eagles were in 13th spot. It was at this stage that the club parted company with the managers. The club acted swiftly and Roger Ashby (who has enjoyed tremendous success at the highest level of non-league football, both as player and manager) was appointed. Under Roger they started with a wining run with promotion a possibility. In late February it was decided to raise funds to carry out work for an A grade. Thanks to the Committees hard work and that of the Clubs loyal band of supporters the money was raised and works completed. Unfortunately, only 1 win in 8 games meant the Eagles finished in 8th spot. In the F A Trophy the Eagles celebrated their first appearance since 1981-82 by winning through to the 4th round. In the 3rd round the Eagles where drawn at home to Newport County drawing 0-0 at home but wining 1-0 away to set up the plumb home game against Conference side Yeovil. The Eagles lost 0-4, which rather flattered the visitors before a crowd of 2,010, the highest attendance for a competitive game since the club was reformed.

Season 2000-2001

Pre-season at the AGM it was proposed that the football club be made into a PLC the members passed this at a later EGM. DAVID HOWELL being the largest shareholder became the chairman, a new 99 year lease was secured on the NEW EYRIE and plans for re-development of the ground where put in place. Roger Ashby strengthened the playing side for an assault on promotion to the RYMAN PREMIER LEAGUE.
In late November we rose to a promotion position and stayed there for the rest of the season gaining promotion at the last home game of the season with a 1-0 win over Worthing. Plans and models of the development with 2 new cantilever all seater stands on the North and East side of the ground incorporating a new club house, shop, fitness centre, retail outlets and 2 five a side football pitches.

Season 2001-2002

The League campaign got off to a disastrous start, losing the first seven matches before taking three points on the 8th attempt at Hendon with a 2-1 victory. The league campaign would always be difficult after that, and it was not until mid February that the club finally pulled away from the bottom two when the team put together a tremendous nine game unbeaten run.
The FA Cup campaign was a memorable one reaching the 1st round proper after victories over Leyton, Hednesford and Harlow Town. In front of the Match of the Day cameras the Eagles drew 0-0 at home to 2nd Division Peterborough United and took the Posh to a deserved replay at London Road in front of 5,500 people. The Eagles eventually went down 2-1 and were unfortunate not to have won the game. The FA Trophy however was a disappointment. Victory over Worthing in the 1st round was followed by defeat to Eastbourne Borough in the replay at home.
Plans have been submitted to the Council to develop the existing site to Conference standard. The capacity will be 4,000 with a 2,000 seater stand. The stand will house new facilities which will include a Health Club, Gym and corporate facilities.

Season 2002-2003

After another disappointing start to the season Roger Ashby was sacked and former Northampton Town boss Kevin Wilson was appointed as Manager on the 2nd October. Kevin played at the highest level for Chelsea and was capped by Northern Ireland 42 times.
Dave Randall who took temporary charge was appointed as Kevins assistant with Ady Hall taking over as Reserve team manager. Cup form was again disappointing going out of the FA Cup to Wisbech Town in the 3rd Qualifying round and a 1st round defeat in a replay to Marlow in the FA Trophy. However since the arrival of Kevin Wilson league form improved dramatically and we finished 9th our highest league position since reformation.

Season 2003-2004

In October Manager Kevin Wilson and his assistant Lee Howey resigned from the club to join Aylesbury United. Reserve and PASE Coach Dave Randall took charge but agreed to stand down in January 2004 after a poor run of league results and was replaced by by Nick Platnnauer with Kim Davis as 1st team coach, Dave Randall took the role of assistant manager.
This season was important as the pyramid was to be restructured with the to 13 teams going to form 2 new leagues Conference North/South. The EAGLES finished in 15th place which meant a playoff place was secured, the first game was at home against local rivals Hitchin Town which was won 3-1 to go into the play off final. At home to St. Albans City in front a good crowd of 1087 which we lost after extra time 4 goal to 5.

Season 2004-2005

After the restructuring the Town found themselves back in the Southern League. Nick had to virtually build a new side from scratch. The season started poorly and by mid October the team was second from bottom of the league. However an up turn in form saw the EAGLES win 12 league games on the trot to reach 2nd place. Unfortunately injuries took their toll and eventually slipped to 5th by the end of the season.
Bedford reached the play off but lost to Chippenham Town on penalties. The team reached the final of the Southern League Cup losing 3-2 over the 2 legs silverware did come our way in the form of the Bedfordshire Senior Cup beating Barton Rovers in the final 2-1.

Season 2005-2006

The club moved into its new facilities at the beginning of the season with a new function rooms and football facilities up to National Conference standards.
The football team was consistent throughout the season remaining in the top 5 from September till the end of the season. Finishing in 5th position meant away trips in the play offs. A hard fought 1-0 win at Bath City saw the EAGLES facing  Chippenham in the play offs for the 2nd year running. The Eagles had their day with a magnificent 3-2 win the winning goal coming from a wonder strike by Tom Bonner two minutes from time to secure a promotion to the Nationwide Conference South the highest the club has played since reformation.

Season 2006-2007

Nick Platannauer started the season with a rebuilt team following a number players leaving the club in the close season. A reasonable start was achieved but the standard was a lot higher than anticipated losing games became a habit the management team where unable to stop.
In February Nick resigned with the team in the relegation zone Stuart Bimson was appointed manager until the end of the season, although he got the team playing some good football taking 8 point from the last 4 games the task was to much and Bedford Town were relegated back to the Southern League. The board acknowledged the efforts put in by Stuart Bimson and appointed him as manager for season 2007-2008.

Season 2007/08

The Eagles started the season with a poor 4-0 defeat at home to Bromsgrove but results improved and by early November were up to 7th in the league.  However with a run of Saturday away games over a two and a half month period affected the teams form which they never really recovered from and Bedford were relegated in the penultimate league game of the season in a 2-1 defeat against Corby Town.
The Eagles went out of the FA Cup in a 2nd Qualifying Round Replay against Boreham Wood and were knocked out of the FA Trophy in the 1st Qualifying Round at Chesham United. Due to financial problems with other clubs Bedford escaped relegation and will continue in the Premier Division for 2008/09. In the middle of our preparations for 2008/09 Manager Stuart Bimson left the club to take a position at Cambridge United has Assistant Manager.  Former Club Captain and Assistant Manager Lee Howarth has now been appointed 1st Team Manager.

Season 2008/09

Former captain Lee Howarth started his first season as manager, with former reserve manager Ady Hall coming in as assistant.  Their aim, to halt the slide of the last couple of seasons. This was achieved with a 15th place in the league which could have been much better if the teams away form had been up to scratch. The team only picked up 5 results on their travels with 4 wins and 1 draw. The Eagles went out of the FA Cup in the 2nd Qualifying round after a replay with now Conference national side AFC Wimbledon. The club went out on their first attempt in the FA Trophy, losing at home to Corby Town.

Season 2009/10

The season proved to be another struggle for the Eagles. Conceding 88 goals in the league made life difficult to pick up regular points. After the departure of Manager Lee Howarth in March after a 6-1 defeat at Farnborough, former Reading Captain and Welsh International Ady Williams took over the reigns with the club looking at the distinct possibility of relegation. The fight came down to the last game of the season when we ran out 2-0 winners and escaped relegation by a point. The club reached the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup before going out after a replay to Southern League Midlands Champions Bury Town.  The FA Trophy was another disappointment losing at Yate Town 2-1 at the first hurdle.