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Henley Town win title decider

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

Match report by Adam Essam

In a close title decider, Henley Town FC became the Thames Valley Premier League Division Two champions on Saturday at the Invesco Triangle Ground when we they drew against Goring United 1-1. The match was also a special one as it marked and celebrated the 150th anniversary of the football club.

Henley Town F.C. was founded in November 1871 and is the oldest club recognised by the Oxfordshire Football Association. Henley Town played in the early days of the FA Cup and were full members of the Football Association for several seasons. In the early years of the twentieth century up to the First World War, Henley Town won the Oxfordshire Senior Cup five times and the Oxfordshire Charity Cup twice. In 1912/13, they won the Reading Temperance League’s top division and were runners-up the following season.

Before kick-off on Saturday both teams took part in a minute silence for Stan Wilcox who was a great friend of the club and absolutely loved his local football. On an overcast afternoon, this was always going to be a closely fought encounter, as expected, with Henley shading possession both sides had decent chances to open the scoring, but thanks to some multiple good saves from Henley goalkeeper George Allen the score was kept at 0-0 after 20 minutes.

Henley took the lead in slightly fortunate circumstances on 23 minutes, when an attempted clearance ricocheted off the boot of Jack Woodley and the ball sailed over the stranded keeper and into the net. On 37 minutes Goring equalised with a low shot just outside the 6 yard box. Henley came agonizingly close to regaining their lead on 39 minutes, when a Alberto Gingell shot looped past the keeper, bounced off the inside post and rolled along the line, before the ball was scrambled clear.

In the second half, Henley started well were on top creating multiple chances. Some good saves from the Goring keeper kept them in the game. On the 60th minute Henley’s best chance came when Fred Kirby’s curling long range shot rattled the crossbar. After the spell of pressure from Henley, Goring started to have more of the ball, but thanks to Henley’s solid defensive line, Goring failed to create any real big chances in the second half.

Henley were crowned champions with the 1-1 draw and can now start to look forward to Division One.

With a last minute dash to produce a special 150th anniversary match day programme which proved very successful along with a social media push that saw groups of avid football enthusiasts called ‘Ground Hoppers’ travelling from afar, along with our loyal supporters, resulted in 170+ spectators. Henley Town FC would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who supported them on Saturday.

The match was proudly watched over by Club President, Mr John Bailey from his regular seat up in the stands, along with his guests. Match day programmes are still available (after a second re-run of printing) at only £1 each, with all monies raised going to Thames Valley Air Ambulance (available at the Clubhouse or £1.50 including P&P). The club has also produced a 150th anniversary pin badge which are available from the clubhouse at £5, a little piece of Henley Town memorabilia and all proceeds from the sales will go towards to the ongoing upkeep of the club.

Volunteers have been working hard to give the Clubhouse a much needed facelift throughout lockdown. Chairman Michael Keane said “The club has been through some very hard times in its 150 years, myself and our amazing group of volunteers feel very proud of how the club is today, and we are all looking forward to next season.”

Sunday saw action on the pitch again, with Henley Town FC hosting a charity match for Thames Valley Air Ambulance vs Exile Vets. With all monies donated from the ‘Match day programme’ sales the day before. It was a very successful afternoon with a whopping £950 (and still counting) being raised.

This really is a fantastic club on our doorstep. Full of history, which can be seen on the clubhouse walls with vintage Henley Town FC team photographs dating right back to before the 1920’s.

Match report by Adam Essam

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