Faraday Road, Newbury
Association Football Club Newbury
A.F.C. Newbury were a football club based in Newbury, Berkshire, in England. At their peak they were a strong force in the Wessex League and had over 30 teams from seven years old through to veterans including junior teams, a senior squad, a ladies and several girls teams competing in national, regional and local football leagues and competitions throughout the year. However, it all came to an abrupt end in 2006 when the club lost their ground and financial backing.
They were famous for producing Arsenal winger Theo Walcott.
AFC Newbury were formed in 1996 to replace the now defunct Newbury Town and bring senior football back to Faraday Road.
The new club was formed from the resources of three local clubs – Ecchinswell (founded 1906) (link to the village rather than the football team), Shaw Boys & Belles Juniors (established in 1972) and Wickham U17 Youth Team.
Prior to this, Ecchinswell had a long history playing in the North Hants League and Basingstoke League. In 1991 they were elected to the reformed Division 3 of the Hampshire League and after a slow start their fortunes dramatically took off when they won the Division 2 and Division 1 titles in 1993–94 and 1994–95 seasons. However they were unable to progress further due to the lack of facilities at their ground so upon formation of AFC Newbury they became the new club's First Team.
The 1st Team quickly achieved Wessex League status after finishing runners-up in 1996–97 and winning the League Cup – defeating run-away league champions Moneyfields 2–0 in the final.
Upon joining the Wessex League the club soon became a strong force, twice finishing 3rd and regularly found towards the top of the table in what was a tough league. After finishing 3rd in 1998–99 the club applied for promotion to the Southern League but were unsuccessful.
The club continued to thrive with a Reserve team competing in the Combination of the Wessex League, winning the Combination Cup in 2002–03. The U18's Youth Team played in the Allied Counties Youth League with the extensive range of Junior boys and girls teams played in the Peter Houseman League, the South Chiltern Minor League, the Bracknell League and the Vale and District League.
AFC Newbury also enjoyed numerous cup runs in the national competitions, especially in the 2004–05 season. Firstly they reached the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup (equaling the record set by the original club) where, after famously beating Conference South neighbours Basingstoke Town they lost 0–2 away to another Conference South side Bognor Regis Town. Later that same season the club reached the Quarter Finals of the FA Vase (again equalling the record set by the original club) but here they went down 1–2 away to Bedlington Terriers.
Sadly, the bubble seemed to burst in 2005 when after the loss of their main financial backer the club lost many key personnel, and like their predecessors Newbury Town endured numerous problems with their home ground.
After a tough season in 2005–06 which saw relegation narrowly avoided and the Reserve side disbanded, disaster struck the club when they lost the lease on the Faraday Road ground and as a result were demoted to the Wessex League's bottom division. Now playing at St. Bartholomew's School, the penniless club struggled to attract good quality players and after a slow start they withdrew from the competition in October 2006.
The actual club itself did not fold however, as their numerous Youth sides continued to operate in their respective competitions.
Fortunately, football still continues at Faraday Road today as upon taking up residence in 2006, Reading League side Old London Apprentice changed their name to Newbury. In 2007–08 they won promotion to Division 1 East of the Hellenic League. They have since taken the previous club's Youth sides under their umbrella and are ambitious to progress further.