About the club
The exact date of the formation of a football club in Thornbury is uncertain, but it is known that football was being played in the town in 1896 and that there was a Thornbury Town Club in 1898. In their early days only friendly matches were played but the club then joined the Dursley Wotton League.
During the years up until the First War World, football was played on a number of different pitches in the town, but after the War the club settled at the Blakes ground which is now the top part of the old Grammar School field. At this stage the club were competing in the Bristol and Suburban League.
In 1923 the Wesleyan and Free Church League was formed in Bristol, which led to a split in the Town club, with a Thornbury Wesleyan team being formed to play in the new league. In 1933 the two clubs amalgamated to form Thornbury Sports and this is the club which is now running, although the "Sports" was later dropped to become Thornbury AFC before "Town" was added to the title in the early 1970s.
During the Second World War, The Maritime Regiment was stationed in Thornbury and it was with their help that the club was re-formed when hostilities ended. Unfortunately club secretary Mervyn Burns was killed in the war and many of the club's records were lost with his passing. At this time the club started playing at it's present home at the Mundy Field, although in those days where was no changing facilities at the ground and players had to change at such places as the Exchange Hotel (now the Knot of Rope) and even at the Market.
The early years were a bit of a struggle but in 1949-50 the District League Division 3 title was won, and promotion to the top division followed two years later. 1956-57 saw the club achieve its first major honour winning the Premier Combination Championship. A dinner held in celebration was graced by the presence of Sir Stanley Rous who was the Chairman of the Football Association at the time.
Subsequent relegations left them rebuilding once again in the mid-1960s, but they won the Second Division championship in 1965-66 and in 1968-69 the club became founder members of the Gloucestershire County League. Whilst never actually winning the Championship the early years in the County League were relatively successful and crowds for the home fixtures in the Mundy's often topped 500.
In 1971 the club finished third in the league and were accepted into the Western League but because of difficulties in bringing the ground up to the required standard were unable to take the step up. Relegation followed in 1977 when the club rejoined the Bristol Premier Combination.
The next 20 or so years saw Town striving to regain their former status and until the late nineties they never really threatened to take the Premier Combination title and thus ensure promotion. The only success in that period was when they reached the final of the GFA Senior Amateur Cup on two occasions. In 1985-1986 they lost 3-2 to RWP in the last competitive game to be played at Eastville Stadium, and in 1989-90 they were losing finalists once more when Bristol Manor Farm Reserves won 1-0 at Yate Town.
The late nineties saw the Club maintain a strong focus on local talent and this eventually bore fruit. The appointment of former player John Hucker as 1st Team manager in 1999 saw a rise in fortunes and they reached the final of the Stroud Charity Cup at the end of that season, losing narrowly to Dursley Town. The following season saw the club finish 4th in the league, having topped the table for most of the campaign, only to fall away in the last month.
Dave Wiffle, who had given many years service to the Thorns as a player, following a professional career that included Bath City, Manchester City and Clevedon Town, then took up the reins, assisted by Steve Burbage, another former player with a long association with the club. In their first season in charge, Town took the Premier Combination title by 13 points after a highly successful campaign that included a run of 13 consecutive league wins and finally achieved that elusive County League spot once more. They also reached the final of the League Cup, losing to Sea Mills Park.
That summer saw a lot of hard work undertaken at the Mundys, with the building of dug-outs and £16000 spent on improved drainage and some revamping of the dressing rooms. All the work seemed well worth it with the first season back in the County League seeing the club at the top of the table for some three months until the turn of the year. Unfortunately a dip in form after the New Year saw us drop down the table but still finish in a creditable 7th position with 55 points.
The 2003-04 season again saw the team top the table briefly but a poor run of results led to us sliding down the table to again finish in 7th place. However some silverware came our way when we beat Taverners on penalties, after a 2-2 draw, to lift the Stroud Charity Cup at Shortwood United’s ground. This season also saw the formation of an Under-18 side under the stewardship of Terry Payton and they gained entry to the Gloucester County Youth League.
We again finished 7th the following season, but the next two seasons proved to be disappointing and having been relegation at the end of the 2006 – 07 season, a new committee and first team management were appointed. Dave Lippiatt took over as first team manager, coming to the club from Sea Mills Park. He had to bring in virtually a complete new team and the 2008-2009 season was one of consolidation for the club. With the addition of a few new players in 2009-2010, the club was once more looking to challenge in the top half of the table.
Adi Hawkins, a long time supporter of the Club, took over the role of chairman for the 2008-2009 season, after Paul Wisbey stepped down from the role after 18 years at the helm and has now become Club President. Meanwhile long serving secretary and treasurer Mike Wheatley continues in his roles whilst Terry Payton has taken the newly formed role of Commercial Manager. Other long standing committee members Ray Worsley and Malcolm Carr continue their association with the club going back over 25 years.
The junior section of the club began life as Thornbury Falcons Junior Football Club in the summer of 1990 as a single team of Under 9s. It was started by Tony Holliday at the request of his son Mark. Mark and two of his friends Nick Lee and Jason Smith had spent all of the summer holiday playing football in the garden in their own world of make believe as children do at that age. At the end of the summer Mark wanted a real team to play in and dad did the rest.
Tony's employers at the time, David Meek, were kind enough to sponsor the first kit and the Club was born. As soon as Mark returned to Manorbrook School after the summer holiday the word that Thornbury Falcons existed spread like wildfire. The first training session happened at Christ the King School with Tony and his brother in law Paul Turner in charge.
After a couple of training sessions the first match was away to Clevedon Town and was duly won 3-2. During this first season the club expanded to include Under 10s and Under 8s teams as more parents came along prepared to take on the organisation of these teams. In the second season the founding team, now Under 10s gained entry into the Hanham Minor League as this Bristol based league expanded from an Under 11 only league to include an Under 10 league as well.
As each year went by a new team was added at the younger end and steady expansion has occurred over the years such that each age group has enough players to field two teams each weekend. There are now more than 20 teams from Under 6s to Under 16s, including 3 girl teams and now involve nearly 350 families in the Thornbury area. The teams now play in the Mid Gloucester Mini Soccer, Hanham Minor, Bristol Saturday, Stroud & District Youth, Avon Youth, Bristol Girls Leagues.
The Under 6s and Under 7s concentrate on learning ball skills and the rules of the game. The Under 8s & Under 9s learn more skills and are introduced to seven-a-side friendly matches on small pitches. The Under 9s can play matches in the Hanham Minor or Mid Glos Leagues. The Under 10s and Under 11s perfect old skills, learn new more advanced skills and are introduced to tactics. They play 7-a-side competitive league matches in either the Hanham Minor League on Sunday mornings or in the Mid Glos League on Saturday mornings. All football up to the age of Under 11 is open to both boys and girls.
The Under 12s graduate to play 11 a-side competitive league matches in either Avon Youth League or in the Stroud & District League both on Sunday mornings or in the Bristol Saturday League. The Under 13s, 14s, 15s and 16s continue with training to improve skills, tactics and fitness playing in 11 a-side competitive league matches in either Avon Youth League or in the Stroud & District League.
The teams only exist if there is a parent who is willing to commit themselves to organising the coaching, the training, the selection of players for matches etc.
We currently play our 11 v 11 matches at the Mundy and Chantry Playing Fields, Castle School Sixth Form and Alveston. We also play 7 v 7 matches at Manorbrook and Castle Schools and at Alveston Jubilee Playing Field.
It is hoped that the future will bring our own pitches together with a Clubhouse, more teams, more parents taking an active role in running teams. This objective is proving to be extremely frustrating as numerous obstacles are put in front of us.
The Club has achieved Charter Standard status with the FA, is involved in the management of the Community use of the Castle School Sports facilities and is an integral part of Club Thornbury, an umbrella organisation of all sports clubs in Thornbury.
The Club also raises money from the parents, friends and families of the young players and an annual 6 a-side Tournament. We also run a "100" Club to raise further money for the Teams. Anybody interested in joining Thornbury Town in any capacity - player, referee or coach - please contact the Membership Secretary (see the Committee page for contact details).