Redhill football club is steeped in a rich history and prides itself on tradition.
It all started for the club back in 1894, after a meeting between prominent local businessmen in the Warwick Hotel and shortly after, a friendly match was arranged against a Dorking side. That game ended in a two all draw and was played at the clubs original home at Wiggie. A ground lent to the club by their goalkeeper, Mr. H Trower.
Two years later, the club moved into its stadium of 88 years at Memorial Park in the centre of Redhill. At the time, the ground was an open swamp, until proper drainage was installed, which was accomplished under the auspices of a Sports Ground Association, an organisation that lasted until 1919.
For the first few years, the club only competed in friendly matches but that all changed in 1898, when Redhill Football Club entered the South Suburban League, followed by various other leagues, that, unfortunately, have since folded.
It didn’t take long for the Red’s to make an impact; The club were Champions of the East & West Surrey league in 1902/03, and two years later, lost in the Surrey Senior Cup final.
THE ‘GLORY’ YEARS
In 1922, the club gained acceptance to join the prestigious London League, which acted as a stepping stone for the club, when they became members of the well respected Athenian League.
Success came early in the Athenian League, finishing runners up in their first season, and becoming champions in 1924/25.
The following year, the club enjoyed what was possibly it’s best season ever, reaching two cup finals and the semi-final of the FA Amateur Cup, losing 7-1 to Northern Nomads at Highbury in front of 17,000 people. A possible contribution to the final result of that game was the fact that Redhill lost their goalkeeper very early on with a severe jaw injury.
CRIES OF ‘REDHILL’
IN FACT that game sparked off an unusual football tradition that can still be heard today. Without a ‘keeper and down to 10 men, Redhill were reduced to kicking the ball out the ground everytime the Nomads attacked and each time, a cry of “Redhill!” was screamed by the supporters of both sides.
Over the years this spread around the entire country as both Redhill and the Nomads travelled the land, and when war broke out in 1939, the troops took it abroad.
Next time you’re at a game, anywhere in the world and the ball is booted out of the stadium, you might just hear someone shout “Redhill!”
In 1928/29, Redhill won the Surrey Senior Cup with a 3-2 over Epson town (who later became Epsom & Ewell). The match was played at Josephs Road, Guildford in front of four and a half thousand people.
Redhill, despite being a non-league side, were once one of the most feared teams in the south of England. Non-league football was a completely different game in years gone by, and gap between the amateurs and the professionals was much smaller than it is today.
In April 1948, Redhill faced Chelsea in a friendly match at the memorial sports ground and the Reds came away as 4-2 winners. Of course, Chelsea weren’t the force that they are now, but they did field an English International by the name of Len Goulden. When this match took place, Redhill were bottom of the Athenian League.
A year later, Redhill lost 1-0 against Arsenal. The match was friendly offered by the London side in return for Redhill providing the Gunners with two of their most talented players at the time; Colin Grimshaw and Bernard Sexton.
THE END OF AN ERA
As the Athenian League drew to a close in the early 80’s, so too did Redhill football clubs home. The 1983/84 season saw Redhill win the last ever Athenian League title, but the club were unable to take their place in the higher league, Redhill were asked to move out of the Memorial ground and move to a site two miles south, to Kiln Brow, where facilities were nonexistent.
The area once known as the Memorial sports ground is no more than a picnic area for the local employees of business, and on occasion a local event will take place there.
Redhill were moved on two miles south to the site that they now play their games, Kiln Brow.
The club took their place in the London Sparten league, but times at Kiln Brow were tough. Samples taken at the time have shown that the soil on the pitch was made up of more clay than actual soil. So much so, that even worms couldn’t live in it.
But the club battled on with ups and downs and over the years, the hard work of many individuals has kept the club alive.
Today, the club competes in the Sussex County League, where it has been since the 1988/89 season.
UPS AND DOWNS…BUT MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
In July 2007, non-league legend Tommy Sampson (who won the last old Wembley FA Vase final with Deal Town) was appointed manager with former Kingstonian and Bromley Manager Stuart McIntyre becoming 1st Team coach. Half way through the season, Tommy unfortunately suffered a stroke and Stuart McIntyre took over first team affairs with the help of Jeremy Jones. Despite an uncertain period early in 2008. The management turned the team around and finished the season with a strong 8th place in the league. The team also reached the semi finals of the Sussex RUR Cup and the Surrey Senior Cup. In August 2008, Tommy Sampson announced his retirement from Football and Stuart McIntyre was confirmed as the new Redhill Manager on a permanent basis, however, in October 2008, McIntyre decided to step down and take on a less demanding role due to personal and work commitments. The club appointed former Brighton & Hove Albion player, John Crumplin as manager and McIntyre stayed on as his assistant.
A new 162 “Alan Thurlbeck” stand, with facilities for disabled fans was built in the summer of 2008 and work continues on the developemnt of the ground with new turnstiles due to begin operating for the 2009/10 season and a new outside toilet block.
The club is fianlly moving in the right direction, both on and off the pitch with current manager Marcus Alcindor leading the club to it’s equal highest position of 5th in the Sussex League for the 2009/10 season.
Another change in management the following season saw Steve Johnson take over half way through, but with a handful of games left to play, he too parted company with the club paving the way for another man to take over the reigns.
Simon Colbran’s time as Redhill manager was short lived, and Michael Maher, Redhill’s youngest ever manager, moved up the ranks from Youth Team manager to First Team manager in early 2012.