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History

Saffron Walden Town FC was formed in 1872, and are the oldest club in Essex still in existence, and the 19th oldest in the world. Arthur Smith negotiated the use of the present field in Catons Lane which became known as “The Meadow”, The “Bloods” as they are known, because of the red in the club colours were founder members of the Essex County Football Association in 1882.

The clubs first ever league match was at Halsted Town in 1899 in the Haverhill & District League. They won this league title in the 1908-09 season for the first time. It was not their first championship, for in 1907-08 Walden entered the Stansted & District League for the first time and won without losing a game, they won the league six more times before 1924.

Just before the First World War Saffron Walden took part in the Cambs, Senior League, and after the war, between 1922-25 they took part in the Cambridge Football League. The thirties were a ‘golden era’ for the bloods.

The Second World War saw a dip in the clubs fortunes; they had no success until finishing runners up in the premier Division of the Herts County League in 1969.

In 1971 with nine other clubs Saffron Walden Town FC became founder members of The Essex Senior League. As champions they moved into the Eastern Counties League in 1974-75 season.
In October 1979 they were able to pay for a set of floodlights. Norwich City were the visitors for the first match played under the new lights.

In 1982-83 local manager John Ryan embarked on a run of 29 unbeaten games. Walden was elected into a new division of the Isthmian League at the start of the new football ‘pyramid’ system in 1984.

After several strong pushes for promotion into division one of the Isthmian League, a bombshell was delivered in 1996 when the Isthmian League introduced a rule change regarding the sloping pitch at Catons Lane, deeming it to have “excessive undulations”.

After twelve years in the competition, Walden had to resign from the League or face massive fines and were effectively demoted two divisions in the ‘pyramid’ when accepted into the Essex Senior League.

With the loss of the manager and almost the entire playing squad it took the return of local player Stuart Wardley from Bishops Stortford FC in 1998 to help turn things around, that season they came third in the league and won the Harry Fisher Trophy and Uttlesford Charity Cup.

Stuart Wardley was sold to QPR at the end of the season where he went on to become their top scorer and ‘Supporters Player' of the year in his first season.

The “Bloods” had their best season ever in 1999-2000, winning five trophies.

Despite the great success, the club was unable to progress in the ‘pyramid’ because of the sloping pitch. In August 2000 work began on reducing the slope.

The club finished second in the league even with playing away from home the whole season and although qualifying for promotion were unable to do so as ground work was incomplete.
In 2001 the loss of income and massive debts meant the club were in financial trouble and tough measures were needed to the club back on a sound footing.

The next season saw no competitive league football for the “Bloods” as they had to “sit out” a year before being allowed to transfer from the Essex Senior League to the Ridgeons (Eastern Counties) League

The 2004–05 season saw SWTFC back in the Ridgeons competition after an absence of 20 years, and after a slow start, the club finished in 15th place.

The 2005–6 season saw the Bloods finish twelfth in the League while winning the Saffron Walden Cup. 2006-2007 saw success in the South Midlands Floodlight Cup as well as reaching the Final of the Ridgeons League Division One Cup as the Club continued to develop.

In 2006-2007 Walden were the best supported club in the Ridgeons League First Division and also the third best supported club within Step Six of the football pyramid in the entire Country.

2012 was an eventful year for Saffron Walden Town FC. Following a decision to withdraw from the Eastern Counties League for financial reasons, footballing activities at Saffron Walden Town in 2011-12 focused on the SWTFC Youth Teams.

Youth activities are central to the future of the Football Club and every Saturday the regular Soccer School provides coaching for around 150 children with a dozen or so SWT Youth Teams playing League football aged from Under 9s through to Under 16s.

In March 2012 a Public Meeting in the Town - which saw around a hundred people attend - agreed to form a new Committee and set forward a huge amount of activity to bring Senior Football back to Saffron Walden.

The new committee was chaired by Cliff Treadwell with Paul Daw appointed as Club President.

With advice and support from the Essex FA, representatives from the new SWTFC Committee delivered a solid case for a return to senior football at a meeting with the Football Association at their Wembley headquarters.

This culminated in a return to the Eastern Counties League in 2012-2013 where both the first and reserve teams had solid seasons and were in promotion contention for much of the season.

The return of some familiar faces strengthened the squad for 2014-15 and with the Club now established as a Community Benefit Society and with Stuart Wardley in the manager’s seat the club won promotion for both its First and Reserves teams.
A difficult first half to the season which saw the Bloods fail to win at home in the League before Christmas was transformed in the New Year with the First Team climbing the table to finish comfortably in the top half ahead of both Swaffham Town and Long Melford who were both promoted with the Bloods the previous season.

Despite the poor start to the season, 2015-16 saw the Bloods fine support out in force: being the best supported club in the TN Premier Division, Reserves League and Youth League. Solid results in the latter part of the Season saw Saffron Walden town FC finish in the top half of the table.

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