The story of Telford United began in late 1872, when the Wellington Parish Church Institute was formed. By March of 1873, the Institute was running its own football team, but in 1879, the ‘PCI’ team changed its name to Wellington Town.
The club’s first competitive honour was gained in 1881, when the Town won the Shropshire Senior Cup. The following season saw the club enter, in addition, the Wednesbury Football Association Cup, while in 1882/83 it also competed in the Birmingham Association Cup and the Wrekin Challenge Cup.
By 1887 Wellington had competed in the Welsh Cup. At about this time the club joined the Shropshire League, and in the early 1900’s was admitted to the Birmingham & District League. In 1902 Wellington Town won the Welsh Cup, a feat repeated four years later.
The early 1920’s witnessed the “Lillywhite” era, a period of some success. They won the Championship of the Birmingham League for the first time in 1921 and on several occasions reached second place. The Championship success was repeated in 1935 and 1936, while 1938 marked the club’s entry into the Cheshire County League and the end of that season one of its most notable successes, when Swansea Town, then in the Second Division, were defeated 4-1 in the final of the Welsh Cup.
After the Second World War, Wellington won the Cheshire League in 1946, but the following season the club had even greater success with the winning of the Cheshire League Championship, the Birmingham Senior Cup and the Walsall Senior Cup. In the succeeding years, the club was one of the most consistently successful in the Cheshire League, with one further championship, two second places and two third places.Wellington joined the Southern League (North-Western Section) in 1958 and in that season qualified for founder membership of the Premier Division.
The Club changed its name to Telford United in 1969, when the New Town of Telford was designated. That season also marked the inauguration of the FA Challenge Trophy competition, (the first time non-professional footballers could play at Wembley) and Telford reached the first final, losing 0-2 to Macclesfield Town after beating Worcester City in the Semi-final. A year later they were back for a second final at Wembley, after defeating Yeovil in the Semi-final at WBA’s, Hawthorns ground, this time as 3-2 victors over Hillingdon Borough, following a remarkable second half comeback, and also won the Southern League and Midland Floodlit League. An outstanding record in the FA Trophy continued in 1971/72 as Telford again reached the Semi-final, only to lose to Barnet.
In 1976 Telford hosted the full 1966 world cup squad for a “Centenary Match” at the Bucks Head and when the Premier Division of the Southern League was (temporarily) disbanded in 1978, the club was one of only three which had retained continuous membership. That saw the club gain its best position (third) in competition and qualify for membership of the Alliance Premier Football League.
In 1982/83, on top of a competent sixth position in the Alliance, Telford defeated Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup before losing to Tranmere Rovers, after a replay in the Second Round. The high spot of the season, however, was undoubtedly in the FA Trophy, where following an incredible 5-1 victory in the second leg of the Semi-final, Telford appeared in their third Final at Wembley and gained a 2-1 victory over Northwich Victoria.
Then followed some of the club’s finest moments thanks to excellent FA Cup runs – 1983/84 saw Stockport County, Northampton and Rochdale eliminated before a one goal defeat at Derby County.
1984/85 was even more remarkable. Victories over Lincoln City, Preston North End, Bradford City and Darlington resulting in a visit to Goodison Park in the Fifth Round, where champions Everton gained a 3-0 success in front of over 47,000 spectators the highest gate of the season for the home team.
1985/86 was less spectacular, but even so there was more success at Stockport preceding another, but this time more convincing defeat at Derby, while the Third Round was reached in 1986/87, victories over Burnley and Altrincham earned the infamous tie with Leeds United. This game was switched to a frost covered WBA’s Hawthorns Park on a cold Sunday morning (at the Police’s request).
Season 1987/88 and 1988/89 saw Telford reaching successive Trophy Finals, losing to Enfield after a replay again at the Hawthorns and gaining a single-goal victory over Macclesfield to gain revenge for defeat in the first final.
Performances were less spectacular in the nineties, but season 1991/92 did see victory over Stoke City in the FA Cup coupled with a solid performance in the Conference.
2000 saw large scale changes at the Bucks Head. The team became full-time and the construction of a brand-new stadium began.
The 2003/2004 season saw contrasting fortunes on and off the pitch. The team produced some of the best results the club had seen for many years, reaching the semi-finals of the FA Trophy, beating Brentford and Crewe in the FA Cup before being put out by eventual finalists Millwall.
Off the pitch, it was a different matter altogether. Late into the season, the chairman’s business empire collapsed and all financial support for the club disappeared. The supporters rallied around, formed a supporters trust and ultimately raised over £50,000 in the space of a couple of months. Sadly, even this would not have been enough to sustain the club through to the end of the following season and the club was forced into liquidation.
On the same day that the proposed liquidation was announced, the supporters trust (Telford United Supporters Ltd) created and became the sole owners of a new football club – AFC Telford United. In the close season, manager Bernard McNally was appointed and a new squad assembled, the ground lease and assets were secured and the new club was placed in the Unibond Northern Premier Division 1 by the FA.
In their first season, the new club finished third in the Unibond Northern Premier League Division 1 and beat Kendal Town in the play-off final to gain promotion.
Two seasons later, AFC Telford United again finished third, but this time in the Unibond Northern Premier League Premier Division, and went on to gain promotion to the Blue Square North League by beating Witton Albion 3-1 in the play-off final.
FA Trophy winners:
(most successful club in the history of the competition)
FA Trophy finalists:
2nd Round proper: 1982/83 1985/86 1991/92
3rd Round proper: 1986/87
4th Round proper: 1983/84
5th Round proper: 1984/85
UniBond Northern Premier League Premier Division Play-off Winners:
UniBond Northern Premier League Division 1 Play-off Winners:
Welsh Cup winners:
Southern League champions:
Cheshire League champions:
Birmingham League champions:
Birmingham senior cup winners:
Walsall senior cup winners:
Birmingham League challenge cup winners:
Shropshire senior cup winners:
Southern League cup winners:
Midland floodlit cup winners:
Official Telford United Site