We have now seen the draw for the second round of the FA Carlsberg Trophy competition; Lincoln City is to play Carshalton in the second round at home, or to give our opponents their correct name, Carshalton Athletic FC.
Who are our adversaries?
Carshalton Athletic traces its roots to two separate teams playing in the area of Wrythe Green in Carshalton, a leafy suburban area of Sutton in south London, in 1905. The club played in various competitions up to the Second World War and after the war, in 1945, preparations for the resumption in football at Colston Avenue began with applications made to join the London League and to enter the London Senior and Surrey Senior cups.
Facilities at the club at that time were poor and as a result the club did not apply to enter the FA Challenge Cup or FA Amateur Cup and the club made it a priority to improve the standard of the ground and facilities to make them suitable for the higher reaches of the amateur game. All this work was funded and carried out by volunteers. The work on the ground proved to be successful and Carshalton Athletic were elected into the Corinthian League for the 1946/47 season.
Carshalton Athletic's success was reflected in the size of the supporters club, with over 2000 members.
The club's were then elected to the Athenian League in 1956.
For the next 17 years the club competed in the Athenian League with very little success, never really threatening to win the league, and finishing at the bottom of the table twice (1959/60 and 1960/61 seasons). Floodlights were finally erected on six pylons in 1967.
In the summer of 1973 Carshalton Athletic finally achieved a promotion of sorts when they were elected as founder members of the newly created Isthmian League Division 2. The first two seasons proved to be a struggle but in their third they just missed out on promotion finishing third in the league. Three years of struggle paid off in the 1976/77 season when promotion to the Isthmian Premier Division after finishing as runners up in the league in a year in which they also won the Surrey Senior Shield.
The next few years up to the millenium proved to be a maelstrom of differing fortunes, initially struggling in the league, years of upheaval in the organisation of the ownership and running of the club both and just one high point of a solitary cup run as the club reached the second round proper of the FA Challenge Cup for the first time before losing 4-1 to Fourth Division Torquay United. However, with the appointment of Billy Smith in August 1986 as manager the club’s fortunes began to turn. During the next 9 years it was the most successful period in the club's history. The club twice reaching the 1st Round Proper of the FA Challenge Cup, winning the Surrey Senior Cup three times in four years and reaching the final 5 times in 7 years, recording its highest ever placing in the league at the end of the 1988/89 season and winning the London Challenge Cup in 1991.
In summer of 2000 club life was hectic and confusing. The club experienced the sale of the club twice in a matter of weeks in conjunction with the destruction of the club house in an arson attack. The eventual new owners, Steve Friend & Barry Gartell, brought in a new manager and, although briefly threatened by eviction from the ground, began to reorganise the club's finances.
With the failure of a £12 million rebuilding project, which was withdrawn from the planning permission process due to local residents' objections, Steve Friend resigned from the chairmanship of the club and passed the club into the ownership of the Board of Directors who jointly took on the responsibility of reducing the clubs debts, whilst maintaining football at Colston Avenue.
The season 2008/09 was the first full season under new ownership. The reserves and junior sections were axed in favour of a new academy and junior section, buildings and facilities were upgraded, staff and personnel were changed and at the end of this season the club modernised its badge and changed its playing colours (from Maroon) back to the Robin's original colours of red.
In 2008 the club was purchased by Paul Dipre who injected sufficient funds to strengthen the squad and avoid relegation. That was achieved and over the next three years Paul Dipre renewed every area of the club and its infrastructure.
Unlike those before him his investments were not solely targeted at the first team budget, he considered the community side of the club to be its lifeblood and so his efforts was also directed at the juniors, youth, community and academy. He assembled a strong management team but things were not going well on the field with the first team and in March 2010 the owner Paul Dipre took on the first-team manager's job (This reminds one of Imp’s experiences when the late chairman, John Reames, took on the managers role at Sincil Bank from November 1998 to March 2000).
By mid 2011, the club's development program had seen it grow to become one of the biggest community clubs in the UK with 34 teams and 2000 members. The club could boast three academy venues, 4 girls’ teams, 29 junior teams, a senior ladies team, the biggest soccer school in the UK and a thriving social side.
There is surely something to be commended in the way the Robins have developed and their achievements mirror some aspects of what the Supporters Trust has tried to achieve at the Bank. We can only hope to emulate their success.
We should surely give the Robins a warm welcome on January 14th (but send them away empty-handed)