No. 13 in an occasional series of Club Focused FA Cup specials.
Enfield Town proudly claim that the club was the first ever supporter-owned club, established in 2001 on the back of dissatisfaction of the established Enfield FC moving away from the borough, and forming the template for all future fan-owned clubs such as AFC Wimbledon to follow.
The fledgling club competed in the Essex Senior League and in their third season also competed in the FA Cup for the first ever time. The club’s debut FA Cup opponents were Eastern Counties League Premier outfit Clacton Town, competing in the FA Cup for the 64th time. An own goal as your very first FA Cup goal isn’t something to shout about from the rooftops, but not every club wins their first ever match in the competition, and the 2-1 victory set up a trip to Isthmian league Division Two side Edgware Town, another seasoned FA Cup club.
This time the Town beat their higher league opponents 1-0 to make it two wins out of two FA Cup matches, definitely worth shouting that from the rooftops, but the visit of even higher, more seasoned FA Cup campaigners, Carshalton Athletic, proved a step too far, although the Town were not too disgraced going down by just the one goal to nil.
The Second Qualifying Round was to prove a hurdle the club seemed to struggle to get over, being knocked out at that stage four more times over the next six seasons, at the end of which period the club were now at the level in the pyramid as the Carshalton Athletic club that defeated them in their first campaign had been, the 1st Division North of the Isthmian League.
The following season, 2010/11, the 2nd Qualifying Round hoodoo was broken. After straightforward victories over Waltham Forest and Arlesey Town they were drawn to face Worthing in that season’s 2nd Qualifying Round. A tight game was settled by a solitary goal for Enfield Town to set a new best ever FA Cup run for the club. Their reward was a trip to Conference South side Boreham Wood, a club in the midst of an upward trajectory. A spirited display by the Town ended in a 3-1 defeat, but Enfield Town club history was made.
The Town had to wait five more years, though, before their fans and players could seriously dream about the possibility of competing in the so-called ‘Proper’ Rounds of the competition. By the 2015/16 season, the year of their best ever FA Cup run so far, the club were established members of the Isthmian League Premier Division and a fellow member, Billericay Town, were successfully despatched after a replay in their 1st Qualifying Round tie, thanks to goals from Tyler Campbell and George Brislen-Hall.
Eastern Counties Premier League side Ipswich Wanderers were defeated in the 2nd Qualifying Round courtesy of a Bobby Devyne strike to take the club into the 3rd Qualifying Round for only the second time. A goalless draw with Hitchin Town from the Southern League Premier Division was followed up by a 2-1 win in the replay with Harry Ottaway and Claudiu Vilcu on the scoresheet. The Town were now just one game away from the prospect of potentially facing a League club for the first time.
Southern League Premier Division side Chesham United, though, stood in their way, with the game to be played at their opponent’s The Meadow ground. Two goals down by half-time, The Town rallied in the rain in the second half, but only made the breakthrough in the very last minute of the match thanks to a Harry Ottaway strike. A frenetic end failed to add to the scoreline and the club were out and their dream of meeting a League club was shattered, for now!
The club are currently competing at their highest ever level, and although this latest season didn’t produce the same FA Cup heroics as the one before, it may only be a matter of time before the club put Enfield back on the FA Cup map.