Wanderers FC, the first winners of the FA Cup in 1872, have agreed a three-year partnership with Virgo Fidelis Convent School in Upper Norwood to allow the club’s two men’s teams and women’s XI to host home matches there.
However, the scheme can only go ahead if funds are raised to pay for pitch repairs and for equipment. To enable that to happen, the club has launched a crowdfunding campaign and is looking for backing from locals.
Wanderers have claims to being London’s oldest football club. They were originally formed as Forest Football Club in 1859, before changing to Wanderers in 1864. Its players in those pioneering days tended to be former pupils of the public schools where the game’s rules were shaped, and the club was a founder member of the Football Association, winning the first FA Cup final at The Oval in March 1872, beating Royal Engineers 1-0.
They played their home games at Kennington Oval, Vincent Square (where Westminster School today plays its football), Harrow School and Clapham Common. Wanderers would retain the FA Cup the following year, and win it in total five times, including three years on the trot between 1876 and 1878. But the club was dissolved in
But that original, amateur club began to struggle to raise a team for games, and was reduced to playing just one fixture per year, at Harrow School at Christmas time, until the club was dissolved around 1887.
In 2009, more than 120 years after the last known Wanderers match, the club was reformed in London, reportedly with the approval of descendants of those involved with the original club, and in 2012 they staged a rematch of the first FA Cup final at The Oval, 140 years after the original event, though the result was somewhat different (Royal Engineers won 7-1).
The club is now seeking to raise nearly £7,000 to pay for pitch repairs, netting, goals, corner flags, and pitch markings. “If we surpass our fundraising goal,” according to the club’s Mark Wilson, “we can add junior goals, dug outs and additional equipment to the venue, providing even further opportunities for the 1,400 pupils at Virgo Fidelis and the Norwood School to play football, get fit, stay healthy, and develop key skills for the future.”
Wilson says that the club intends to organise youth coaching sessions during the school holidays. “Facilities such as this will go some way to alleviating the chronic under-investment in the local leisure infrastructure,” Wilson said.
The fund-raising campaign has a deadline of November 23. To find out more, click here.
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