Club History

Many thanks to Wendy Snarey for the following history

October 8th 1881:

A Football Club for Tewkesbury

We are pleased to hear that, under the leadership of Mr T.F. Cottam and other gentlemen, a vigorous effort for the formation of a local football club for the winter season is being made, and a meeting in furtherance of the object was held at the Swan Hotel on Thursday evening last. There was a capital attendance, and the Rev. Thurston Rivington occupied the chair.

The formation of a Club, to be called “The Tewkesbury Football Club,” was decided upon, and the following were appointed as its officers: Mr Cottam, captain; Rev. G.D. Melhuish and Mr C.H. Tripp, hon secs; Rev. T. Rivington, treasurer; and Messrs. Field, Jordan, Heath, Brotheridge and E. Moore, committee.

The days appointed for practice are Thursday and Saturday, at 3 p.m., in the Swilgate Meadow, which has been kindly lent by Mr B.T. Moore.

Rugby Union Rules to be played.

Practise will commence this afternoon. Further particulars appear by advertisement.

November 5th 1881

Tewkesbury Football Club

The opening match of the season in connection with this Club was played in the Swilgate meadow on Saturday last, against the Evesham team, play commencing at 3 o’clock.

The afternoon being beautifully fine, there was a large concourse of spectators, who seemed to take great interest in the game. The match proved very evenly contested, both sides playing well, but, as the result proved, the home team (though yet in its infancy) secured a well deserved success.

By good play W.H. Archbutt obtained a “try” and G.D. Melhuish, after a splendid run, a “touch down in goal,” but the latter was disputed; Tewkesbury, at the call of time, remaining the winners by 1 try to nil. Where all played so well it would be somewhat invidious to make distinction, but we noticed beside those named that Messrs. Shepherd, Halsey, Tripp and Jordan did very good service for the home team, whilst Messrs. Garrard, Drew, Stephenson, and Williams played well for the visitors. The teams were made up as follows:


Back – F. Gardner; ¾ backs – C. Garrard and G.B. Drew; ½ backs – R.S. Stephenson (captain) and R.C. Makin; Forwards – E.B. Martin, E. Brown, G.F. Williams, C. Hill, H.C. Prance, — Park, H.J. Smith, W.G. Smith, H.H. Ward, and H.T. Saturley.


Backs – C. Boughton and T.F. Cottam (capt); ¾ back – J.W. Field; ½ backs – W.H. Archbutt and G.D. Melhuish; Forwards – T.A.M. Shepherd, A.T. Halsey, C.H. Tripp, W.H. Moore, T.W. Jordan, W. North, C. Brotheridge, W. Lane, J. Snowden, and W. Keane.

We are pleased to hear that several other matches have already been arranged for the present season, and we hope that the interest already exhibited in the game will tend to increase the number of members, and that in their future matches the Club may follow up its opening and well deserved success.

November 19th 1881

Tewkesbury Football Club

The second match was played on Saturday last, the “field of battle” being, as usual, the verdant mead on the banks of the “softly flowing” (if not always “sweetly savoured”) Swilgate. The challengers are a Cheltenham Club, who have adopted the distinctive title of “The Pilgrims.”

Three o’clock is the appointed time for beginning, but half an hour beforehand the “Pilgrims” have arrived, and are indulging themselves in a little kicking practice. One by one the members of the home team make their way on to the field, but it is uncomfortably close upon 3 o’clock before a dozen can be numbered in their muster, although fifteen are required to meet their opponents man for man. The captains adjourn to settle the preliminaries, and in a few moments it becomes known that Tewkesbury has the Town goal and the kick-off and the “Pilgrims” the Abbey goal.

The weather, as at the first match (Oct. 29th) is for the time being delightful, and this with the evident thorough enjoyment of a look-on at the game by the Townsfolk, sufficed to draw together a very large assemblage of spectators both on the field and along the Swilgate road.

Returning our observation to the field of play we find the opposing sides facing each other anxiously awaiting the kick-off. A feeling of disappointment was evidenced by many on noticing that the dress of a majority of the “Pilgrims” (who appeared to have no definite colour) so closely approached that of the Tewkesbury Club – black knick and white jersey – as it was feared, and not without reason, would destroy much of the enjoyment of watching the play.

Regret, however, is unavailing, for there goes the ball flying from a capital kick-off well into the “Pilgrims” backs, by whom it is driven into the crowd of forwards who are rushing after it. The ball is now for a time knocked to and fro, but the forwards of the home team are fighting famously, the backs draw up to help them, and at the end of the first ten minutes the start secured by the kick-off is well maintained. But in point of physique the “Pilgrims” are a strong and well placed team, and signs are not wanting to assure onlookers that no opportunity will be let slip. The ball having gone over on the Tewkesbury side is tossed on again in the usual way between opposing ranks of forwards; it is caught and a run attempted, but the fleet-footed “Pilgrim” an instant after kisses the grass undermost of a very animated cluster. The ball, however, is held and a scrimmage ensues. This appeared to afford a chance, for the struggling mass are got dangerously far towards the Town goal before opportunity offers for a back drive.

The advantage has encouraged the “Pilgrims” and they are determined to score if possible. But they are met with an equal determination and the battle is most exciting. Rush and scrimmage follow on rapidly, constant well-tried attempts to run the ball through are well stopped and tacklers and tackled go down.

Every noticeable bit of good play is enthusiastically applauded by the hundreds who are watching, and the whole thing is evidently enjoyed. Again and again has the ball traversed nearly every yard of ground in the Town ground, but here the “Pilgrims” have kept it since first brought in. With the usual breathing space at half time, change of goals etc., the play continues for three quarters of an hour without a single point being scored on either side.

Since the second kick-off the “Pilgrims” have again confined the fighting to their opponents territory and it is only by a concentration of the whole strength of the home team that they have been prevented twice or thrice from scoring a try.

But events now ensue which put a very different face on affairs. Mr Melhuish, whose admirable play was so important an item in the match against Evesham is watching the ball most intently. He suddenly secures it from the hands of an unwary “Pilgrim” and in an instant is clear of the forwards and forcing his way through the backs. He has cleared them, and the whole field has joined in the pursuit, but having escaped the backs the ball is touched down in grand style between the posts of the “Pilgrims” goal before any opponent comes nigh to obstruct. This brilliant run was for a distance of close on a hundred yards, and the applause by which the performance was greeted was tremendous on all sides. Tewkesbury was thus entitled to a place kick for a goal, from 25 yards inside the goal line, and this was kicked in fine style by Mr Field.

When “time” was called, about ten minutes later, no further score had been made by either side, the home team thus coming off victors by one goal to nil, although they were under the disadvantage of having to play one man short during the greater part of the game.

The Tewkesbury Team was composed as follows:

W.H. Moore and T. F. Cottam (capt.), backs;

J.W. Field – ¾ back;

G.D. Melhuish and W.H. Archbutt – ½ backs;

A. Halsey, T.A.M. Shepherd, C.H. Tripp, F. Lane, W. North, T.W. Jordan, C. Boughton, H. Keen, F. Smith and C. Brotheridge – forwards.

A trial match for the selection of sides to play against Cheltenham Training College on the 26th inst., will take place at 3 p.m. this day (Saturday), and it is hoped the members will assemble in full force.

December 3rd 1881

Tewkesbury Football Club

Tewkesbury v. Cheltenham Training College – In spite of the extremely wet weather, this match was played last Saturday, on the ground of the latter, and resulted in a win for the College. Owing to the thoroughly soaked state of the ground, the play behind the scrimmage was slow, a very great part of the work being done by the forwards. Tewkesbury winning the toss elected to play with the wind. Up to half time neither side claimed any decisive advantage, and indeed, it was not until the last quarter of an hour, the wind in the meantime having arisen considerably, that any point was scored. In the end, however, the College was victorious by two tries to nil.

The state of the elements rendered a correct criticism of the play impossible, but the brilliant all-round play of Barrett was (though all played well) especially noticeable for the Tewkesbury Team.

The Tewkesbury Team was composed of the following:-

Cottom (captain) and Lane – backs

Barrett and Boughton – ¾ backs

Melhuish and Archbutt – ½ backs

Shepherd, Jordan, Halsey, Keen, North, Tripp, Moore, Baker and Wood – forwards.

We unfortunately omitted to obtain the names of the Cheltenham team, but the drop-kicking of Bradshaw, and the clever passing of the ½ backs deserve a special mention.

Tewkesbury v. Pershore:-

On Thursday last our local club played a match with Pershore. In consequence of the recent flood having rendered the Swilgate Meadow unfit, the match came off in the Mitton Leys (by kind permission of Mr Pike). There was a large number of spectators, amongst whom the game appeared to create much interest. The match was a very one-sided affair, the home team winning easy, but it is only fair to add that the Pershore Team played three men short, and Tewkesbury one man short. We were pleased to see the Tewkesbury team was composed of a lot of new blood, and that these in their first match maintained the credit of the Club.

The result of the match was that Tewkesbury won by two tries, a touch in goal, and five touch downs, to one touch down. Mr Melhuish was as usual in the foremost, and to him is to be accredited the two tries.

The following was the local team:-

Cottam (captain) and North – backs

Boughton and Halsey – ¾ backs

Melhuish and Archbutt – ½ backs

Shepherd, Jordan, Roper, Osborne, Heath, Burroughs, Young, Hall (absent), Boddington, – forwards.

December 24th 1881

Football Match

The Tewkesbury Football Club will play a match against the Gloucester White Cross Club this (Saturday) afternoon, at 3 p.m. In consequence of the floods it will (by kind permission of Mr Bishop) come off in the Mytton Leys instead of the Swilgate Meadow. The local club will probably be forced to meet their opponents somewhat at a disadvantage, as several prominent players will have started their Christmas holidays, but the team announced to take part in the game under the captaincy of Mr Melhuish, should make a good stand, and the match will no doubt be full of “interesting” incidents.

December 31st 1881

The Mitton Leys

The many who have been attracted to watch the matches recently played by the football club, by the kind permission of Mr Bishop and Mr Pike, in the Mitton Leys, will regret to hear that a great deal of damage has resulted from a number of lads and young men in the Town taking upon themselves to go upon the ground, without any authority whatever, and that the occupiers have found it necessary to peremptorily refuse to allow further play there, and to give notice of their intention to prosecute offenders.

February 18th 1882

Football Match

The return match between Cheltenham Training College and Tewkesbury will take place this day (Saturday) at Tewkesbury, and in consequence of the sodden state of Swilgate Meadow from recent floods, Mr Henry Bishop has kindly consented to allow it to be played in Mitton Leys. It must not be taken from this concession made (under very pressing circumstances) by Mr Bishop, that the determination to prosecute others who may trespass on the ground for football is in any way relaxed. Although admirably situate for lookers on Swilgate Meadow is unfortunately from its low level and proximity to the Swilgate scarcely to be depended upon as a football practice ground; it is now very wet and miry, and but for Mr Bishop’s kindness this afternoon’s match would probably have had to be abandoned. Play commences at 3 p.m.

March 25th 1882

Tewkesbury Football Club

Tewkesbury v. Cheltenham Training College

In splendid weather the return match between the above teams was played on the Swilgate Meadow (by kind permission of B.T. Moore esq.) on Saturday last. Cheltenham kicked-off, Tewkesbury taking the Abbey goal. Soon after commencement of play, one of the Cheltenham halfs passed to Bradshaw, who after a brilliant effort nearly succeeded in scoring a point for the visitors, this, however put the home team on its mettle, and now the ball was taken into the Cheltenham 25, where it remained for a considerable time, the game being very well contested at this period. After the half time, however, the visitors had considerably the best of the play throughout, and succeeded in obtaining a goal by a brilliant drop from the centre of the ground. No other point was scored, and the match resulted in a victory for the College by a goal to nothing.

This result was mainly owing to the brilliant dropping of the Cheltenham backs, while the Tewkesbury men are certainly deficient in this respect; they also, though doubtless from lack of opportunity for practise, do not play together and support each other as they should do, and might well take a lesson from their opponents, who throughout the game played most unselfishly. Curtler, Jordan, Boddington and Heath, were among the most energetic of the home forwards, while the backs did their utmost to avert defeat.

The last match of the season, viz.: against Gloucester Artillery, has been arranged to take place on the Swilgate Meadow, this (Saturday) afternoon, at 3 o’clock

April 1st 1882


Tewkesbury v. Gloucester Artillery

The Tewkesbury Football Club played their last match for this season on Saturday, March 25th against Gloucester Artillery, on Swilgate Meadow. The hour fixed for kick-off was 3 p.m., but owing to some mistake the Gloucester Team did not turn up until an hour after the time appointed.

The Artillery won the toss and elected to play from the Abbey goal, with the wind, leaving the home XV, the Town goal and kick-off. The ball was started by Cottam, and the return by one of the Gloucester backs was followed by some tight scrimmaging in the middle of the ground. Both teams worked hard, and for nearly a quarter-of-an-hour no great advantage was gained by either side, until the superior weight of the Tewkesbury forwards, who were playing well together, worked the ball towards the Gloucester twenty five. A short rally on the part of the latter followed, which brought the ball down to the Town goal, and, but for a good piece of play by a Tewkesbury back, must have resulted in a try for them.

After half time the home team compelled the visitors to touch down in self defence, and in spite of the drop-out again penned them until Melhuish secured the ball from a scrimmage about the visitors twenty-five and carried well into goal. Unfortunately he was collared before touching down by one of the Gloucester men, and a maul in goal – in which another of the visitors unfairly took part – prevented the try. The umpires could not agree as to whether the try should be allowed or not.

After the kick-out the forward play became very hot. The Tewkesbury team had here a decided advantage, keeping well on the ball. Conspicuous in the loose scrimmaging were Halsey and Heath. A quick pick up by Boughton gained another try for Tewkesbury, but owing to some misunderstanding the kick was not allowed, as “no side” was called directly after the try. Thus the home team were left victorious by one try and one disputed try to a touch down. Besides those above mentioned, Jordan, Shepherd, and Boddington played hard throughout. The forward play in this match showed great improvement.

This season’s play has been most successful in every way. The Club has won five matches and lost four. The home team on Saturday consisted of:

Cottam (capt.) and Moore – backs

Lane and Archbutt – ¾ backs

Melhuish and Boughton – ½ backs

Shepherd, Jordan, Halsey, Boddington, Heath, North, Hayward, Snowden and Burroughs – forwards

Seven or Eight Hundred spectators were present, and the frequent cheering evidenced that the game was watched with great interest.

May 13th 1882

Football Club

A general meeting to wind up the affairs of the past season of this Club, was held at the Swan Hotel, on Saturday last, The Rev. T. Rivington presided.

A letter was read from the Captain regretting his unavoidable absence.

The Treasurer’s report showed a balance of 19s-9d, which was considered very satisfactory. The list of the doings of the Club during its first season was then given by the Secretary, showing that 9 matches were played, 5 of which were in their favour, 4 against. 53 members’ names were on the books, and they had great reason for thinking the establishment of the Football Club in Tewkesbury had been a great success.

The members of the Club then voted for 3 presentation caps, which were announced at the commencement of the season to be given to the three most efficient players, regularity at practice being considered. The recipients were Messrs. Archbutt; Halsey and Kean, and on the proposition of Mr Halsey an extra one was given to Mr C. Boughton.

At the last general committee meeting, held on Jan 26th it was decided to give some small presentation to Mr B.T. Moore for his kindness in giving them the use of the Swilgate Meadow; the meeting was informed that this had been successfully carried out, and that a handsome auctioneer’s hammer had been privately presented to him. Votes of thanks to the various officers concluded the proceedings.


Report on Rugby Game 1884

From Tewkesbury Register – 19th January 1884 – page 1 column 5:-

Those of our readers who were "in the know" and made their way to the back of Swilgate on Saturday afternoon last, had a someshat extraordinary hour's diversion afforded to them in football playing.

A few weeks since an announcement appeared in our columns of the formation of a second football club, which had taken the name of "The Wanderers" and had its Headquarters at Mr Greball's Coffee Tavern.

Under the captainacy of Mr James Wood, the members appear to have diligently followed up their practices, and on Saturday last they arrayed themselves for their opening match against the Town Club.

Play began at 3.15 pm and a few minutes sufficed to show that however they might in the "ins" and "outs" of the Rugby Game, The Wanderers were a powerful 15, whose rough and ready style was not to be ignored.

It would be tedious to follow this peculiar game which was played, into the details, suffice it to say that in the first half The Wanderers worked the ball beyond the posts (where it was touched down several times) and secured 1 try, but the kick by Wood failed.

In the second half the Town Club scored a few touch downs and Mr Robson cleverly ran the ball through and scored a Try, but with this also the kick failed.


With the knowledge that a good season's practice will afford them, The Wanderers, should prove a useful team, the one evident great want with them at present is to studiously avoid rough play, and get a well-founded knowledge of the laws of the Rugby Game.