Bedford Town


Bedford Town

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Founded: 1908 (Reformed:1990)
Ground: The New Eyrie
Capacity: 3000 (300 seats)
Admission: Adults: £9, Concession: £6, Under 13’s: £2 (if with a paying adult), £1 extra for seat.
Programme: £1.50

How to get to the ground.

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DIRECTIONS TO THE EYRIE FROM THE A1 SOUTH

Come off the A1 at Sandy roundabout take the A603 through Moggerhanger and Willington. The ground is situated just before the Bedford Bypass on the right hand side. Signposted Meadow Lane

FROM THE A1 NORTH

Come off the A1 at the Black Cat roundabout Tempsford onto the A421sign posted M1, A421 Bedford, you will see the ground on the left take the next slip road A603 the ground is 200 yards on the left.

FROM THE M1

Come off the M1 at Junction 13 onto the A421, continue on the A421 Bedford bypass, take the 3rd slip road for the A603 Sandy, the ground is 200 yards on the left. Signposted Meadow Lane

BY TRAIN

From Bedford main line station there is a short walk to the bus terminal which is sign posted. Services M3 leaves at 15 and 45 min past the hour from bay 7 this bus stops outside the ground. Ask for Cardington Cross when purchasing a ticket.

HISTORY OF BEDFORD TOWN F.C.

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.

“GIANT KILLERS”

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.

Sponsored by ALLEN STURGES TRAVEL with Allen Sturges as Club President and 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.

A succession of promotions over the last 10 years, culminating in the dramatic play-off final against Chippenham Town in 2005/06. The 2006/07 season saw the Eagles competing in the Nationwide South, but unfortunately the club was relegated after only one season. Ambitions remain high for further progress up the football pyramid but for the time being everyone at the Club is looking forward to the challenge ahead in the British Gas Business Southern League Premier.

The official site has further quick reviews of each season since 1998/99.

Rivalries

Bedford Town’s traditional rivals are Kettering Town. However, since the reformation of the club, they have rarely competed in the same division as the Northamptonshire club. More recent local rivals include Hitchin Town and St Albans City. In the 1990s and early 21st Century, Bedford Town built up a rivalry with Essex based Canvey Island. This was due to the competition between the two clubs as they climbed the Ryman League together. This rivalry died away, however, when Canvey Island dropped from the Conference National below Bedford Town in the football pyramid.

Honours

* 1991-92 – Joined South Midlands League Division One
* 1992-93 – South Midlands League Division One Champions; promoted to Premier Division
* 1993-94 – South Midlands League Champions;
* 1994-95 – Joined Isthmian League Division Three; promoted to Division Two
* 1998-99 – Isthmian League Division Two Champions; promoted to Division One
* 2000-01 – Isthmian League Division One runner-up; promoted to Premier Division
* 2004-05 – Joined Southern League Premier Division
* 2005-06 – Finished 5th and won the playoffs gaining entry to Conference South

* Best FA Cup performance: 1st round replay, 2001-02
* Best FA Trophy performance: 4th round, 1999-00
* Best FA Vase performance: 5th round, 1998-99.

Sources used:
Official Site
Wikipedia.

Entry author: Ben O’Bagels