In a new regular Enfield Town FC column, Andrew Warshaw looks back at how it all began
In an age when professional football is becoming synonymous with big business and many fans are losing touch with the game’s roots, Enfield Town, the borough’s highest ranked non-league team, are striving to create a community hub of which local residents can be proud.
For those unfamiliar with the ‘Towners’, as they are known, Enfield play in the Bostik Premier League – the seventh tier of English football’s pyramid – just below the National League (formerly Conference) North/South divisions.
As far as community football clubs are concerned, you can’t get much more iconic. Based at Queen Elizabeth II Stadium in Donkey Lane, Enfield Town were the country’s first ever fully supporter-owned club, creating the template upon which the likes of AFC Wimbledon and FC United of Manchester were later modelled.
With a thriving membership scheme that grows year on year, it is no exaggeration to say the club has come a long way in a relatively short space of time since the Enfield Town Supporters’ Society formed Enfield Town FC from the embers of the old Enfield FC in the summer of 2001. Starting off in the Essex Senior League, the club have climbed their way through the non-league divisions to finally land where they are now and where they have been since the start of the 2014/15 season.
At first, the “new” club led a nomadic existence outside the borough, but ever since moving into the QEII Stadium they have gone from strength to strength, in large part because of a highly motivated and hard-working board led by chairman Paul Reed, but also thanks to a committed group of staff and hardcore supporters who give their time freely to help run the club, as well as before, during and after matches.
It is precisely this passionate collective spirit and supporter-owned inclusive ethos which makes the club so unique in terms of the community it serves. Having struggled somewhat in manager Andy Leese’s first season in charge, the club is well-placed to challenge for the play-offs in 2019, with average crowds of around 400.
While joining the ranks of the Conference South is the ultimate goal for the rest of the current campaign, it would constitute a massive achievement given that when Leese arrived he had to rebuild the entire squad. As Paul says: “There’s never been a more exciting time to be an Enfield Town fan.”
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