Stanstead Abbotts Football Club was founded in 1894 and changed its name to St Margaretsbury F C when it moved to its present location at the Recreation Ground in 1962. Before this date games were played on the Mill Field in Cappel Lane. This ground was part of the Easenye Estate, owned by the Buxton family.

Taking their identity from the village “The Abbots” as they were known, also drew their membership and support from the neighbouring parishes of Great Amwell and Stanstead St Margarets.

Although not the oldest Club in Hertfordshire, the Club was formed just six years after the establishment of the first Football League. Hoddesdon Town (formed 1879), Ware(formed 1892), Harlow Town (1879) and Sawbridgeworth Town (1890) had all formed before Stanstead Abbotts F C so it is clear that there was a great deal of enthusiasm for the game in the area.

A strong family atmosphere has always existed at the Club. The Kitteringham family were involved for more than 60 years, and the Free family clocked up more than 70 years service.

The first recorded game took place in February 1894, The Abbotts losing 4-1 at Ware against that Clubs Reserves. A player called Bennett scored the first goal for the Club. All the early games were individual challenge matches.

The earliest recorded team was for December 1895. D Foxall (Goal); W Richardson and A Rivers (Backs); C Williams, H Richardson, F Logger (Half Backs); L Beall, B Stevens, S Sams, E Blackaby and J Hampden (Forwards).

In January 1896, a meeting of Clubs at the Crown Hotel, Broxbourne called by the Hertfordshire F A, “unanimously agreed to form a League for East Herts and West Essex the limits of the district to be Bishop’s Stortford, Waltham Cross and Hertford.”

Stanstead Abbotts F C were one of six founder members of the   East Herts League Second Division, the others being Hertford Reserves, Hertingfordbury, Horns Mill, Port Vale and Ware Excelsior.

A fixture list exists for October 1896 which confirms the existence of a 2nd XI.

The first identified Club Officer, Mr G Harper, appears in a team photograph from 1906. He was later to become Chairman.  Other early members included the Rev E L McLintock  as player, Bert Anderson (the village ironmonger) player and official and F Hurford (a farmer) Club Official.

The League grew in size and despite its local nature fulfilment of away matches was sometimes difficult. In 1912 the Club played out the last 20 minutes of an East Herts League match at Buntingford with just eight men, three of the team being obliged to catch an early train home!

In an exciting 1911-12 Junior Cup-tie the “Abbotts” lost the lead to Ware Reserves who then twice lost their lead before The Abbotts scored again to win 4-3.Coppen (2), E Smith and W Luff (Pen) scored the goals.

After the outbreak of the First World War a Herts F A meeting in October 1914 decided to suspend all competitions for the duration of the conflict.

Memorials in the three parishes of Stanstead Abbotts, Stanstead St Margarets and Great Amwell record that 63 men were killed in the Great War. Three of these, F Clarke, E Smith and A Saggers, had played for the Club.

Another pre-World War I player, E Blackaby, was awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous bravery and gallantry in action.

The junior side played three matches over the 1917 Christmas period. The team was recorded as A Andrews; P Brett, B Draper; J Flack, J Hustler, Bray; A Saggers, B Stockman, G Welch and brothers H and N Woodhead.

In 1919-20 The Abbotts finally won the Championship of the East Herts League Division II with a record of  Played 22, Won 20, drawn 1, Lost 1 Goals For 73 Goals Against 10. However, the season was marred by two serious injuries to players. In an early season Cup-tie “Wag” Frost suffered a ruptured spleen then, later in the season, the youngest first team player, A De-Voil, slipped after heading the ball and broke his knee-cap.  

Promoted for the following season, the Club were again Champions, this time of Division 1, and were also runners up in the Rolleston Cup. The League record read Played 18, Won 14, Drawn 3, Lost 1, 42 goals for, 12 against. Some notable sides were beaten on the way to this championship, with Ware, Cheshunt and Bishop’s Stortford all defeated and Alf Fee scoring some important goals.

This surge in their success prompted the Club to apply for membership of the stronger Herts County League and they were duly elected for the 1921-22 season, the opening match being at home to Hitchin St Saviours who were beaten 3-2, the goals coming from T Chopping, H Mead and the prolific Alf Free . The “A” team remained in the East Herts League with a junior side playing at Bessee Meads.

St Margaretsbury FC

A precis of the history of St Margaretsbury FC

By

Roger Reed