Fordingbridge Turks FC: England’s 12th oldest Association football club 150 years old this weekend

Fordingbridge Turks FC England’s 12th oldest Association football club (and Hampshire’s oldest surviving Football Club) celebrate their 150th birthday this Saturday 19th May.

Present day games are played on the Recreation Ground as well as at Burgate School and Fordingbridge Junior School but the club would love to have a home of its own. Melanie Gill, who is a welfare officer at the club, said: “We are the one of the oldest clubs in the world without a pitch of our own which is something we would like to change.” A Festival of Football is being held on Saturday, May 19, at the Recreation Ground from 10am when they welcome Oxford United FC.

According to the book “Association Football and the men who made It” Published by Caxton in 1904 Fordingbridge Turks was formed in 1868.Among its pioneers were Charlie Neave, a grand right-wing forward; Nim Marsh of Blackmore Vale, a famous runner; an athletic curate the Rev. Edwards; and Mr Turner Jones, then a clerk at the bank. The ‘Turks’ part of their name is believed to have been added around 1877 when the British newspapers were reporting on the outstanding Turkish bravery, during a five-month siege of Plevna during the Russian-Turkish War.

John May started  the Basingstoke Association Challenge Cup in 1879,which has become known as the Hampshire Challenge Cup. The Turks won for the first two consecutive competitions and kept the trophy, curtailing the tournament and the cup is on permanent display at Hampshire FA at their headquarters in Basingstoke , the Fordingbridge  museum has a display on the football club and holds several historic items, including a replica of the 1879 cup.  As you can see from the following that features in my book A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom the Basingstoke Association Challenge Cup is England’s =7th oldest trophy.

1. Youdan Cup (Sheffield) 1867

2. Cromwell Cup (Sheffield) 1868

3. Football Association Cup 1871/72

=4. Sheffield Association Challenge Cup 1876/77

=4. Birmingham and District Association Challenge Cup 1876/77

=5. Sheffield New Association Challenge Cup 1877/78

=5. North Staffordshire Football Association Challenge Cup 1877/78

=5. Shropshire Association Challenge Cup 1877/78

=6 Wharncliffe Charity Challenge Cup (Sheffield) 1878/79 – England’s first Charity Association Cup (Glasgow Cup started 1877)

=6. Berks and Bucks Association Challenge Cup 1878/79

=6. Cheshire Association Challenge Cup 1878/79

=6. Blackburn Football Association Challenge Cup 1878/79

=7. Basingstoke Association Challenge Cup 1879/80

=7. Lancashire Football Association Challenge Cup 1879/80

=7. Walsall and District Football Association (Licensed Victuallers) Cup 1879/80

(Outside of England we have the Scottish Cup (1873) which is the oldest cup still being presented as of course we are on F.A. Cup number three in England, in terms of Rugby then we also have the United Hospitals Challenge Cup of 1877.)

With thanks to Melanie Gill here is a photograph of the original Basingstoke Association Challenge Cup

The earliest match report for the club I have been able to find is from 1876:

FOOTBALL. – Fordingbridge v. Lymington. – A match was played on Wednesday afternoon, between these clubs, and, it being the first time the game has been publicly contested here, within memory, a considerable number of spectators were present. The sport lasted one hour and a half, when the Fordingbridge team, having obtained a goal, one. Mr. Marsh was captain of the last-named club, and Mr. C. St. Barbe performed the same duties for the home party, Mr. Murdoch being umpire. It may be added that Messrs, Spackman, Moore, and W. Gatrell made several splendid rushes for their comrades; and that Messrs, Gatrell and Cull, on the opposite side, won applause for similar performances. Hampshire Advertiser – Saturday 25 November 1876

Celebrate the phenomenal achievement of a football club surviving for 150 years this Saturday , which will also feature a street party to celebrate the Royal Wedding and the FA Cup final on in the club house from 5 pm. I’m going to be there – why dont you?

Is there a better day out in Hampshire on Saturday?