Club History- Origin of club colours?

Non-Hampton & Richmond Borough related posts.
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Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2021 8:57 pm

Hampton & Richmond Borough F.C. Centenary: have we got the wrong date and the wrong team?

Don’t worry no need to halt the centenary celebrations. The current incarnation of Hampton & Richmond Borough was formed in 1921 but digging into past copies of the Surrey Comet newspaper shows that we were not the first Hampton Football Club to be founded and the story throws up some interesting local rivalries between two ends of the town, the old parish of Hampton and the new parish of Hampton Hill.

The first Hampton F.C. was, horror to behold, founded to play under Rugby Union rules in 1873. In the early years of the organised game, teams were usually referred to as “football clubs” with no distinction between Rugby and Association versions. Undoubtedly some clubs switched between versions until they settled on one set of rules or another. The first purely association team that I can detect was Grasshoppers Football Club founded in 1884 and this morphed a couple of years later into a side called Hampton Utd which continued to play for a few seasons before fading into obscurity.

As people’s leisure time began to increase and the popularity of organised sport in schools produced a steady flow of players who wanted to continue playing their favourite pastimes, the late Victorian and Edwardian periods experienced a boom in the founding of new clubs and societies. Many came and went fairly quickly but in the local area the main association side to establish itself was Hampton Hill F.C. founded around 1893. Hampton Hill were by no means the best side even at local level but they had managed to secure themselves a self-contained ground at Wellington Road, near the old Wellington public house (now converted to houses but sited on the corner of Burton’s Road). The ground was rented from a local dairy farmer (yes, Hampton Hill still was very rural in those days) and was protected by hedging paid for by the club. They erected a shed to store equipment and used the Wellington pub to change and serve as an HQ. Having their own ground allowed the club to take a gate for matches whereas other local teams were playing mainly in Bushy Park on cricket club pitches.

Hampton Hill enjoyed a period of some success in the early 1900s starting to play higher up in the local leagues. The even played a team known as Queens Park Rangers ( quite possibly the same club as today) and beat them 3-1! However, in 1902 a local controversy broke out when one of their Vice Presidents, Dr Howard, a local G.P. made remarks at the club AGM to the effect that he hoped that Hampton Hill would remain a club distinct from the mother parish of Hampton. In so doing he started the Edwardian version of a Twitter storm with various Hampton dignitaries taking umbrage with his comments, suggesting that Hampton was just as supportive of Hampton Hill as the new parish. Clearly a few local noses were put out of joint and this prompted a meeting at the White Hart pub in Hampton (also now converted to housing) with the aim of forming a new Hampton based football club for the 1902-03 season. Players were invited to put their names down to play and a committee elected.

This new team emerged as Old Hamptonians F.C. although does not appear to have had any direct affiliation with the grammar school. Quite possibly many players had previously played football at the school and also the “English” school in Hampton but this does not appear to have been a requirement. Within a year the Old Hamptonians were fielding a First XI, Second XI and a Wednesday XI. At their first AGM in 1903, local dignitary Thomas Foster-Knowles was elected President of the club. As some of you may be aware from the recent Hampton Heroes series of articles, Foster-Knowles was also the first President of Hampton F.C. when formed in 1921. To be fair he was a serial supporter of most local sports clubs and societies and seemed happy to lend his patronage to whatever was the latest thing going. He had been involved with Hampton Hill F.C. as well helping them out financially.

A few seasons later in 1908, Old Hamptonians changed their name to Hampton Utd. United was a throwback to the side that evolved out of Grasshoppers F.C. in the 1880s but there was no obvious reason why the name was changed. Perhaps it better reflected the make-up of the side or perhaps to avoid confusion with the School.

Although there were other teams playing in Hampton such as Hampton St Mary’s, Hampton Utd can lay claim to being one of the first truly Hampton based sides in the “old” parish of Hampton. Many of their players and committee were to get involved with the present Hampton club founded in 1921 but perhaps their legacy is that their club colours in 1903 were changed from black and white to red and blue halves!
Posts: 266
Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2021 3:59 pm

Great stuff, Tony.
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Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2021 11:51 am

Another great read, thanks for posting.
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