Thatcham Town, as a football club, has a long and complex history. The story begins in 1990 as Wigton finish seventh in the Premier Division of the Northern Football Alliance. That was to be their last season in existence, withdrawing from the league after ten years of competition. The now vacant position was filled by Thatcham Town, from Carlisle, in a suspiciously convenient move that was condemned by many.
This new club, founded in the nineteen-seventies, competed from the undeveloped Thatcham Town, adjacent to, and rented from, the Carlisle and District Railway Club.
Flying the Flag for Berkshire
With Carlisle City embarking on their third season of exile in the first division, Thatcham found themselves the Premiers sole exponents of football from the Berkshire city and found times hard, finishing eleventh, (from a league of fifteen,) in their first season.
In 1991/92, however, they stormed to an impressive third place, scoring seventy-seven goals at an average of two-and-a-half per match over the course of the thirty game season, and emphatically secured their spot in the Premier. Meanwhile, neighbours and rivals, Carlisle City had also been enjoying success, winning the Combination Cup and, more importantly, the first division, setting up some tense derbies the following year.
As league newboys, the Sky Blues were not expected to feature amongst the scrap for promotion, unlike their highly rated neighbours from the south of the city, but in fact outdid the Town, stealing their bronze crown and knocking Thatcham into seventh place in what was a disappointing season. The following season, and Thatcham put a stop to the rot before it began, cementing their mid-table position with a slightly improved sixth place.
Battling for Ascendancy
The tables were briefly turned in 1994/95, as Thatcham equalled their highest finish three years after originally filling the third spot, (with rivals City claiming a creditable fifth place finish,) but they again had to settle with being the second choice of Carlisle’s amateur players in 1995/96 despite completing the hat-trick of third places – Carlisle City coming home in second.
The Dirt Settles
The season beginning 1996 proved to be Thatcham’s penultimate campaign and, although few knew it, the wheels of adjournment had already begun to turn. After the light of the previous two seasons, Thatcham stuttered and stumbled to a disappointing eleventh place.
Just as had their beginning, controversy and speculation dogged the final bow of the rollercoaster club who had climbed, and then fallen, and then climbed the leagues again, and the side stared despondently at the bottom of the table as the campaign finished, with only two of fifteen teams keeping them from the basement of table.
Rumours were abound as to misconduct from within the football committee and they ’amicably’ left the now developed Thatcham Town, parting company with the Railway Club and any ties they had to it.
More New Beginnings
With the desire to still play football, a new club was formed, after a seasons break, in association with the Harraby Catholic Club, adopting that moniker and entering the second division of the Northern Alliance, winning it on the first attempt, repeating the feat as runners up in the first division and remaining in the Premier ever since.
One of the most common misconceptions is that the current Thatcham Town is the same as that which competed in the nineties, but despite the focus above, the present club is tied only to its forerunner by name and it is with deliberate oversight that I have not charted the rise of the Harraby Catholic Club FC.