Saturday, 7 August 2010

Chipping Norton Town FC (England)

Chipping Norton Town come from the picture book Oxfordshire town of Chipping Norton, and have a long and successful history in the lower leagues in the South of England. Established in 1893, they were founder members of the Hellenic League in 1953 after winning the Oxfordshire Senior League for two season before that. They went on to win the Division One title of the league in 1961 and 1971.

But it was the late 1970s that saw their really glory days. They won the Helenic Premier in 1978, taking a couple of Oxfordshire Cups around the same time, before working their way up to the Midland Combination. A couple of seasons later in 1981 they won that title, proving to be like a non-league Spurs in winning a title in a year ending in a one. Sadly though this terrific run saw them reach too deeply into their pockets and financial difficulties forced them to drop back into the Oxfordshire leagues rather than go out of business.

However, recent years have seen them drag their way back up to the Helenic Premier, and were well on their way to a dream of reaching an even higher level of football when things took a curious turn of events. Chairman Sean Robson announced that because of a lack of interest by the local residents, it wouldn't be commercially viable to continue at their current high level, and promptly resigned the club from the league, and continue at a lower level. This time it wasn't for financial reasons, but what the club called a 'lack of physical resources'. Whatever the reality of the reason, we hope that they soon wake up the good citizens of Chipping Norton into realising that they've got a passionate and very watchable football team on their doorstep and go an help them out. After all, how could you not love a team whose nickname is The Chippy!

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  1. Hi Roy,

    Saw your blog on Chippy Town and I couldn't resist a comment and explaining a bit about the reasons for Chippy resigning from the Hellenic League.

    As Chairman at the time, I'd had to move away from Chipping Norton to London for work and was commuting a 200-mile round trip from my home in London to keep the club going. I had a committee of 3 people, but only 2 of us were able to offer any assistance in the actual running of the club.

    When you find yourself on matchdays having as teamaker, kitman and kit washer, treasurer, writing the match programme, printing the match programme, staple the pages of the match programme, match secretary, general secretary, even put nets up on matchdays at times, it is just not possible to do any of those roles with any quality, and I was being run ragged.

    The club had lost some wonderful people, Nigel Harrison, Terry & Pete Maycock and Phill Heath had all left over the previous couple of years, and although Nigel, Pete & Terry still offered generous help at times, as did David Smart but it wasn't anywhere near enough to run the football club.

    As I am sure you are aware, running a semi-professional non league football club requires a great deal of time sacrifice, and we were struggling off the field to run the football club efficiently. We were picking up silly fines for administration oversights (my fault, i was a rubbish secretary!), and other problems were cropping up which I, living 100-miles away, were unable to deal with.

    I called two EGM meetings calling for help, but no assistance was secured despite some good-willed people offering fund raising help.

    I was happy to keep it going until the end of the season and then step down, but on Boxing Day things got too much and I decided I couldn't continue any more.

    Only 4 people from the whole of Chipping Norton attended the big derby match of the season against our neighbours Witney United, what would normally have been a crowd of 150 or so, was actually 70 and of those just 4 were Chippy fans. I left that Boxing Day feeling very disillusioned. Several players dropped out of the game 2-days later at Hounslow Borough as we were unable to pay their travel expenses, this made me think.....just who am I doing this for? The people of Chipping Norton just were not prepared to support a semi-professional football club, they wanted a team of youngsters playing in Junior leagues, and that is what they have now, and are doing very successfully.

    We had very little money due to poor crowds, losing money every home game, and despite the superb sponsorship of one local company MKT Computers and me dipping into my pocket on many occasions, ultimately the funds were not there to continue paying players expenses, and the manager resigned because of this. We did not owe any money, but it's fair to say that we didn't have very much! So I felt I had no choice but to withdraw from the Hellenic League, as our tenure had become unsustainable. I had conversations with a couple of people to see if the club could run until the end of the season, but ultimately nobody wanted to take on the mantle as Chairman, Manager or any level of responsibility or offer anywhere near the level of support needed to run a club at that level.

    It was a sad, sad day, and a day I look back on with regret as a lot of people put a tremendous amount of effort into getting the club back to the Hellenic Premier League and being competitive in that league, but ultimately there was so little support from the people of Chipping Norton that it all petered out to nothing. We shared and created some great memories and those will remain forever, it was a very proud time to be involved with the club from 2003-2007, we achieved a great deal.

    Hopefully the people of Chippy will support the club and it can scale those heights again one day.

  2. I have plenty of affection for Chippy- I played for them from under 14 through to senior level. Soon after reaching senior though I moved north to Staffordshire (ironically I'm a Stoke City fan so you can imagine my joy at being coached by Phil Heath) and lost touch with the club.

    I keep in contact with Phil and even mention him in my latest blog (shameless plug:

    Now living in Australia, it's nice to read an old article on Chippy and good to see them progressing again.

  3. Sean!

    Thanks for your honest and detailed reply. (And sorry it's taken me so long to thank you, too!)

    As a fan on a non-league club myself I've seen how hard it can be just to get the gates open on matchday, so it must have been such a difficult decision for you. Clubs get under your skin, after all!

    I still, to this day, keep an eye out for the results of Chippy when I can. Let's hope the locals start to get a bit more behind them!