Thursday, 29 July 2010

Tooting and Mitcham FC (England)

One of the most famous names in non-league football, London's Tooting and Mitcham United may be playing at the seventh level of the English football pyramid in the Isthmian League Premier Division, but it's in the FA Cup where they have shone the brightest.

Formed in 1932 after a long- touted merger between Tooting Town (1887) and Mitcham Wanderers (1912), The Half-and-Halfs as they became known have reached the first round proper of the FA Cup ten times - most recently in 2009. But it was in 1959 that they had their greatest run. After beating league clubs Bournemouth and Northampton Town along the way, they drew Nottingham Forest at home in the third round. After going 2-0 up on the difficult frozen pitch, Forest managed to scrape a draw with the traditional scrambled own-goal and penalty. The Nottingham club took them 3-0 in the return in front of an enormous gate of 42,362.

But they went one better in the 1975/76 season, when after carving a slightly easier path through Romford and Leatherhead in rounds one and two, they came up against Swindon in the third. Despite finding themselves 2-0, a heroic fighback saw them grab two goals in the last four minutes to force a draw, and bring the Wiltshire team back to Sandy Lane in Tooting, where they won the replay 2-1. The fourth round saw them easily beaten in an away game at Bradford, but their teriffic run marked them down in FA Cup history as one of the great giantkillers of the seventies.

They've had a fair few familiar names on their books over the years, and famous old boys include the perpetual Crewe Alexandra manager Dario Gradi, journeyman Premiership striker Nathan Ellington, legendary Man Utd keeper Alex Stepney and former Charlton manager Steve Gritt. Then moved to their new 3500 capacity Imperial Fields ground in nearby Morden in 2002, although the position of the ground costs them a fortune in lost balls, as many that get kicked over the boundry fence are carried away by the fast moving river that runs alongside it. They ought to do what Shrewsbury used to do and have a little man in a boat poised and ready to hook them out!

All photos © lays with the owners
Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the mention, but the balls disappear into the undergrowth. Even our players could't hoof the ball as far as the river, don't trust Wikepedia.