Formed on 23rd June 2001, Enfield Town was the first wholly supporter owned and run club in the country. Assisted by Supporters Direct, the club have laid a lot of the groundwork for clubs like AFC Wimbledon and FC United as well as advising those setting up Supporters Trusts at other non league clubs.
The original Enfield FC were one of the most feared Non League teams around. They won the Conference in 1983 and 1986 as well as the Trophy in 1982 and 1988. Today they would be promoted into the Football League (in fact in 1987 they would have been promoted if the system we have today was brought in), but back in the 1980′s it was up to the League clubs to determine if a non league club could and would be voted in. Consequently, teams like Enfield, Altrincham and Wealdstone never got the chance. The story then turn an all too predictable turn. The club was sold, ambitions were unrealistic, financial meltdown ensued. In Enfield’s case they actually split into two, with Enfield 1893 and Enfield Town going their separate ways.
The Supporters Trust tried to assist the then Board in securing a return of Enfield FC to the Borough of Enfield. After failing to achieve that, the Trust voted to set up a new club within their home borough. A place was secured in the Essex Senior League for the fledgling club, and a groundshare agreement was made with Brimsdown Rovers for the use of their Goldsdown Road ground. Following a good deal of work, the ground met the standard for the Ryman League and this led to the successful promotion, at that time into the Southern League.
The 2011/12 season proved to be an important one for the club. Having celebrated it’s 10th birthday over the summer, Enfield Town completed the move to its new home at the Queen Elizabeth II Stadium in Enfield. A long held dream, the club worked closely with Enfield Council to see the old athletics stadium restored and upgraded to be able to host Ryman League football. This has finally provided the club with a home of its own a short distance from the former stadium in Southbury Road, and also achieving promotion to the Ryman Premier League. Promotion was via the Play-offs, beating Grays Athletic in the Semi and Needham Market in the final.
In 2012-13, the club was promoted again, to play in the Blue Square South for the 2013/14 season. But despite this success, manager Steve Newing decided to quit while he was ahead, believing that the successive promotions left the club with insufficient ability and structure to stay up, let alone be competitive.
And that’s where I come in.
The Non-League Years
Two seasons were spent in the BSS, reaching the playoff semi-final in 2013/14, losing 4-0 on aggregate to Salisbury, but winning promotion as winners in the following season, thanks to the £500 signing of Alex Sheriff from Bromley, who finished top scorer in the league. The Blue Square Premier didn’t provide much challenge, promotion as winners again, with Sheriff again our key player. We flopped in the cups, as they were considered an inconvenience in our promotion aspirations, and players were rested in those games.
The Football League Years
2016/17 – npower League Two – 3rd (FA Cup: 3rd rd, Capital One Cup: 2nd rd, JPT: 2nd rd)
The gulf between Non-League and the Football League is supposed to be huge. As a club that had been newly promoted into the npower League Two in 2016/17, and expected to finish rock bottom, nobody took us seriously. And we used that to our advantage! A top-drawer (for our level) regen DM, Jack Sauntson, joined us from Hereford on a free, and Anchored the 4-5-1 formation, and with Sheriff again the spearhead, we finished third for automatic promotion to League One! At the end of the season, a new stadium was granted – with a capacity of 8579 – to be completed in time for the start of the 2018/19 season.
2017/18 – npower League One – 2nd (FA Cup: 1st rd, Capital One Cup: 1st rd, JPT: 1st rd)
The back-to-back promotions from the BSS to League One had a bad effect on us. Our reputation hadn’t caught up, and was similar to the top BSP clubs. Attracting players was difficult, but we muddled through, holding first position for much of the season. The lack of depth in the squad told at the end, and we dropped down into second, needing a win on the last day against Charlton to overtake them into first for the title. We choked, and we had to settle for second. Still an amazing achievement, but I was disappointed to lose the title on the last game. This was the first season that we’d spent any money on players, with young centreback Paul Coyle the pick of them at £150k from Shelbourne.
2018/19 – npower Championship – 5th, Playoff: Winner (FA Cup: 4th rd, Capital One Cup: 2nd rd)
So… Back to back into the Championship! I was genuinely as surprised as anyone else. And what’s more, we continued our charge! A rough first half to the season, which included a run of nine games without a win, was followed by a much stronger second half, which ended with us making the playoffs! We dispatched Leeds in the semi-final, winning 5-2 on aggregate to face Brighton in the final. 90 minutes, and four goals to two later… WE WERE IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE!
To be continued in Part Two!