The Early Days
Southall Football Club was founded in 1871, the first recorded game being a 1-0 defeat against local neighbours Uxbridge played at Southall Park on October 21st 1871.The F.A Cup was first entered in the third year of the competition in the 1873-74 season. It was not a debut to treasure as Southall were drawn away to the mighty Wanderers who had won the competition in the first two years. The reason is not known but Southall scratched from the competition. The first victory in the F.A. Cup came the following season when they beat Leyton 5-0 after a 0-0 draw at Southall Park.The next 20 years were spent playing friendly matches against teams in London and the Home Counties together with one season in the West London League in 1892-1893. The first piece of silverware was won in1887 when Southall won the West Middlesex Cup overcoming Uxbridge Crescents 1-0 in the final.
Life in the Southern League
Southall were accepted into the Southern League for the 1896-97 season and remained there for nine seasons.The club achieved little success but at this time competed on equal terms with the likes of Watford, Fulham,Brighton and Thames Ironworks, now known as West Ham, as well as local rivals Brentford, who they defeated in the West Middlesex Cup Final of 1896.In 1904 the club turned professional for what transpired to be their final Southern League season (1904-05) and this venture cost the club dear. Faced with mounting debts Southall withdrew from all competition for the following season. The club was re-organised on an amateur basis then merged with Southall Athletic and moved into a new ground at Western Road.The Great Western Suburban League was entered in September 1907 and the Club remained there until the outbreak of the First World War. During this period the league title was won in the 1912-13 season and both the Middlesex Senior and Charity Cups were won for the first time.
The Athenian Years and Cup Exploits
When hostilities ceased the club spent a season in the United Senior League. Southall were then elected into theAthenian League in September 1919 and the next ten years was the most successful period in the history of theClub. The Athenian League championship was won in the 1926-27 season, the Middlesex Senior Cup was won four times and the Middlesex Charity Cup three times. On a national level Southall reached the final of theAmateur Cup in the 1924-25 season only to be defeated 2-1 by Clapton in front of 25230 spectators at the ground of Millwall FC. Two seasons later Southall reached the semi final of the same competition but were beaten in a replay by Leyton. The first round proper of the F.A. Cup was reached three times with no success.
The 1935-36 season was an extraordinary one in the history of the Club. Progress in cup matches was soextensive that by the end of February Southall had played 22 consecutive cup-ties. Southall became the firstamateur side to battle all the away from the extra preliminary round of the F.A. Cup and reach the third roundproper. It was a superb run that saw them defeat Division Three South side Swindon Town 3-1 in the firstround and then trounce fellow non leaguers Newport (IOW) by 8-0 to earn a third round game against Watford.This time in front of a record home crowd of 19094 Southall were defeated 4-1. Southall actually won nothingthat season and as a result of their cup exploits they played 23 matches in 32 days to complete the AthenianLeague commitments including two matches on the same day on two occasions.It was not until the 1952-53 season that Southall again hit the headlines. The team battled past Saltash, BishopAuckland, Wealdstone and Romford to reach the semi final of the Amateur Cup. Here Southall met the renownUniversities side Pegasus. The game took place at Highbury and the game ended in a hard fought 1-1 draw infront of 29982 spectators. Southall lost the replay 2-1 the following week at Craven Cottage.
The Isthmian League and Wembley Stadium
The 1960’s was a quiet period in the history of the Club and in 1973 Southall were elected into the newlyformed second division of the Isthmian League. In their second season in their new league Southall achievedpromotion for the first time in their history when they finished as runners up to Staines Town.Three seasons in the top flight followed, the highest position achieved being 14th in 1976-77. It was this sameseason that future England midfielder Alan Devonshire joined West Ham United for £5000 then a record for aplayer leaving an Isthmian League club.Consecutive relegations followed into the bottom tier of the Isthmian League and in the 1985-86 seasonSouthall again gained national recognition when they reached the FA Vase Final. Southall, with future Englandinternational Les Ferdinand in the side, lost 3-0 to Halesowen Town. Unfortunately, following the visit toWembley, a change of manager meant the side was broken up and further success eluded the club. But worsenews was waiting around the corner.
A Club in Decline
Southall suffered a major body blow in 1992 when they were forced to vacate their Western Road ground andsince that time Southall FC has ground shared at a multitude of venues, sometimes many miles from the town.At the end of the 1999-2000 season the Club was relegated to the Combined Counties League and spent fivefull seasons in that competition with a fourth placed finish being the highest achieved. Financial problemsresulted eventually in expulsion from that league and a new life began in the Middlesex County FootballLeague for the season 2006-2007. The first season in that competition the Club finished in a mid-table positionin the premier division but problems off the field resulted in the Club being demoted yet again to Division One(Central & East).
Oddly, with the club now effectively a ‘park’ team’ for the first time over100 years, the next season heralded a return to Southall as the club rented a pitch at Dormers Wells LeisureCentre from Ealing Council. The Runners Up spot was achieved, heralding promotion back to the PremierDivision and another move, this time to Thames Valley University’s ground in North Ealing.At this time the club was really struggling financially and regular discussions were held as to the merits ofkeeping the club going. However, Player Manager Ryan DeCosta was determined that the club should notdie and somehow managed to put a competitive team out with very little in the way of funds available. Newowners appeared on the scene for the 2010-11 season with club now ground sharing at NortholtRugby Club. For the 2011-12 season ‘home’ was now Hanwell Town FC and the club was dealt a further majorblow with the unexpected passing of Club Secretary Geoff Harrison, a true club stalwart and without whom theclub would surely have ceased to exist. Despite this setback a 3rd place finish finally meant stepping up to theSpartan South Midland League Division 1.
A Change of Fortune
Regular managerial changes meant that Southall, while now showing occasional signs of promise, stutteredsomewhat until the appointment of Paul Palmer midway through the 2015-16 season. The following seasonsaw Southall achieve national recognition for the first time in many a year with a remarkable run to the FAVase quarter finals, including being drawn away from home to higher level opponents for 5 consecutiverounds and putting 18 goals past them in the process, before losing out to eventual runners up CleethorpesTown.2017-18 started in typically chaotic fashion with the proposed ground share with Hayes and Yeading Unitedfalling through after the season had actually started! Having been initially helped out by North GreenfordUnited and Hillingdon Borough, Southall finally landed up at Burnham FC for “home” games. Despite thisnomadic existence the players defied the odds and produced a remarkable season’s football by going unbeaten in the league until 21st March. Despite the attentions of Baldock Town, Southall finally finished Division1Champions – the club’s first Championship since the 1926-27 season!
A Phoenix Rising?
Now promoted back to the Combined Counties Premier Division and hosted by Ashford Town, Southall hadfurther reorganising to do before the start of the season as Paul Palmer left for North Greenford United, taking afair chunk of the first team squad along with him. The club then appointed ex-player and latterly club coachMax Howell as manager, with Warren Goodhind as his assistant. With such a major upheaval at such a criticaltime many wondered whether the newly assembled squad would be competitive at the higher level. All suchconcerns were soon allayed as Max and Warren proved to be more than up to the task, achieving a more thancreditable 4th place finish with an entertaining brand of attacking football. Southall were again in the promotionmix for most of the 2019-20 season and were in 5th place with games in hand when the season was abruptlyended due to the Corona virus outbreak. With a settled management team, things are looking positive aheadof the 2019-20 season and onwards towards to the club’s 150th anniversary in 2021. It looks like Southall Football Club may finally be out of the doldrums and may soon back competing at the higher end of thenon-league football pyramid.