The History of St Martins Football Club
The name of St. Martins Football Club has been respected throughout Shropshire and the borders of Wales for many years but more recently throughout the West Midland as the club enjoys their position playing at the highest level of the club’s long illustrious history. Before the 1914-18 war specific details about the club are vague but as early as 1897 the village had a team competing in the Oswestry & District League and local competitions.
After the 1914-18 war the club was reformed under the chairmanship of the late Mr. James Lowe, secretary Mr ErnEvison and treasurer Mr. Joe Lindup and won the Oswestry & District League in 1919-1920.
In 1930-31 one of the best teams ever to represent the village captined by Tom Vaughan won the Village Cup beating Traflach in the final which was graced by the skills of Don Hopley, who later played for Shrewsbury Town and Wellington.
In the early 30’s the name of the club was changed to St Martins United, and then in 1935-36 to the Greyhound Rangers, with matches being played on the field adjacent to the Greyhound Inn.
In 1936-37 the club made a successful impact across the border in Wales winning the Cefn & District League Cup but interest declined after this brief spell playing in Wales and there was no organised football in the village from 1937 to 1939.
Between the years of 1939-45, that included the bleak years of the last World War, the villagers were treated to some top-class football for under the auspices of the local Home-Guard, the club entered a team in a local league comprising of various forces units stationed in the area. These services teams had several Football League players in their ranks so a very high standard of soccer was enjoyed.
At the end of the war the club was reformed and entered the North Shropshire League, later to be known as the Oswestry& District League when Mr Eddie Lindup was secretary of the unbeaten League Champions in 1945-46.
St Martins won the Oswestry League again in 1953 and 1955 and in the years t0 1966 won the Village Cup 10 times enjoying an unbeaten run in the competition of 25 consecutive matches during this period.
In 1955-56 the club enjoyed a fair share of success in the very competitive Whitchurch League, winning the championship on two occasions, gaining second place twice and third position six times. They also won the Whitchurch League Cup, the Consolation Cup and reached the final of the Ethelstone Cup Final four times in five seasons winning at the forth attempt in 1962 and once more in 1969.
The Championship wins were gained in consecutive seasons and they only lost two games during those successful campaigns.
The Whitchurch League folded in 1972 so the Saints as they are popularly known locally decided to enter the West Shropshire League in 1973-74 and in their first season won the 3rd Division without losing League match and trashed Hanwood F.C. then a Premier League side in the League Cup Final by 5-1. Their prolific marksman, Michael Smout scored a phenomenal 45 goals that season. From that 3rd Division Championship the club won successive promotions entering the Premiership in 1976.
The club then joined the Shropshire County League winning the Challenge Cup in 1993-94 and promotion into the West Midland League Division 2 in 2010/11. In its first season in this West Midland League St. Martins won the 2nd Division and promotion into the West Midland League Division One in 2011/12. They have subsequently finished in the top half ofthe WML 1st Division One every year, coming close to promotion to the Premier League on several occasions.
Various local competitions have been and gone over the years but what has remained is the name of St. Martin’s FC that has graced each one of these competitions as winners and runners up. In 1971 the Tyre Cup tournament was started and the Saints figured proximately in the early years, winning the cup in 1971, 72-73, 74-75 and losing in the final to Weston Rhynin 73-74 and 78-79 and to Morda in 79-80 after a replay. The Saints lifted the Sid Roberts Memorial Cup in 1988 beating Gobowen Celtic 3 – 1. The club has been a stalwart of the Graham Edwards Memorial Completion making their contribution towards the thousands of pounds raised by the competition over the years since its inception in 1975. The club won this coveted Competition in 2015 beating OswestryOak 2 – 1 in an exciting final with Shaun Millusi scoring the winning goal in the last minute of the game.
Over the years the club has been blessed with some dedicated servants. Cecil Rogers was secretary and the treasurer was Douglas Leach who both worked tirelessly for the club. Stan Faulks was president or vice president for 30 years. His generous contributions to the club were typified when he purchased the land behind his supermarket and placed a covenant stating that the land can only be used for recreation purposes that will always include football. Sadly Stan passed away in 1988 but his legacy will always live on in St. Martins and within the broader football fraternity in Shropshire. Stan’s Grandson Andrew has enjoyed periods as President and has been the most consistent Sponsor for the club.
The ultimate saltwort and longest serving member of the club is Derek Stokes, who played for the Saints at the tender age of 14, won over a 100 trophiesmaintaining a healthy appetite for football playing his final game for the Saints as a 60 year. Derek’s dedication to the club included every possible role, fromplayer, manager, treasurer, secretary to marking the pitch out and washing the kit. Derek played a significant role in negotiating the transfer of accommodation for the club to the Venue that enabled the club to function within the expectations of the West Midland League. Sadly Derek passed away on Sunday 22nd January 2017 but has set a firm foundation for the Club and he will be sadly missed by the football fraternity of the West Midlands, and his beloved St. Martins.
At the beginning of last season St. Martins FC struggled in the West Midland League as the loss of the Club Manager and several key players to Oswestry Town disrupted the team but new Manager Dan Stevens transformed the clubs fortunes in the latter half of the season leading the team to a commendable mid-table finish in the league. Supported by an active and vibrant management committee Dan is looking forward to the new season in which he intends to gain promotion for the club into the Premier League of the West Midland League for the first time in their long and fascinating history.
Written by Les Williams