THE SUNDAY LEAGUE TEAM WHO ARE 'FAMOUS'
Edmonton Rovers Football Club was formed in July 1976 by David Ashton and Laurence Hughes, who at the time were pupils at Edmonton County School.
Although the club started off as an Under-17 team, it was a deliberate policy of Ashton’s to exclude any parents from the running of the club, so 17-year-old Hughes was appointed Club Secretary, a position he still holds today. 15-year-old Ashton then appointed himself as Manager with the intention of signing up the rest of his school team colleagues to play for Rovers in the Enfield & District Sunday Youth League for the 1976-1977 season, but most of them were not interested and a motley collection of ‘rejects’ turned out instead which subsequently saw Rovers finish bottom of the Under-17’s Division, conceding 163 goals in just 14 games and losing their first ever competitive match 29-0 !
Rovers then joined the mens’ Edmonton Sunday League for the following season (in Division 8 - the lowest Division), but they finished in the bottom three in their first two seasons and nearly folded up on several occasions due to a lack of players. However the 1979-1980 season turned out to be the club’s most successful season to date as an influx of good new players saw them win the Division 8 title and the Divisional Cup Final and finish Runners-Up in the League Junior Cup.
The club has been well-run ever since in terms of fielding teams and general organisation, although they have rarely been successful in terms of winning trophies. Ironically though, because the Edmonton Sunday League was not affiliated to the F.A. at the time, another team calling themselves Edmonton Rovers Youth started up during the early 1980’s and became highly successful in various F.A. affiliated competitions, much to the original Edmonton Rovers’ embarrassment.
However, Edmonton Rovers Youth eventually folded in the 1990’s while the original club continued their improvement when they joined the now-defunct Haringey, Tottenham & District Sunday League at the start of the 1984-1985 season after resigning from the Edmonton Sunday League in protest after having their Reserve Team harshly expelled. They stayed in this League for four seasons, with a Division 2 Title in 1987-1988 being their only success.
Rovers became disillusioned by the poor administration and general standard of sportsmanship in the Haringey League at the time though, and joined the much stronger Waltham Sunday League for the 1988-1989 season. Rovers were placed in Division 3 for their first season in this League, but they struggled badly in what was a much higher standard of football and by the end of the 1991-1992 season they had slumped down the Divisions and were heading towards Division 6 until a number of quality young players were persuaded to join the club. This saw Rovers gradually improve to the extent that their First Team finished in third place in the Premier Division in the 2002-2003 Season, although they only reached such heights after being promoted several times during the late 1990's as a result of teams dropping out of higher Divisions and only once as a result of finishing in the top two (in the 1994-1995 Season in which they finished Runners-Up in Division 5).
For the start of Season 2003-2004, the club re-formed a Reserve Team after an 18-year absence in order to bring through some younger players for an eventual progression into the First Team. The Reserve Team managed to reach the Waltham Sunday League Reserve Cup Final in it's first season, but both the First Team and Reserve Team lost several good players during Season 2004-2005, resulting in relegation to Division One and Division 5 respectively. That resulted in the Reserve Team being scrapped for Season 2005-2006 and the club has only run just the one team ever since.
The club’s First Team spent three seasons in the Waltham Sunday League’s Premier Division from Season 2002-2003, with that 2002-2003 Season undoubtedly featuring the strongest squad of players the club has ever fielded, but since being relegated they consistently struggled in the lower half of Division One for the next eleven seasons, invariably only avoiding relegation to Division Two because of other clubs withdrawing from the League. At the end of Season 2013-2014, Manager Trevor Hughes emigrated to Cyprus after 23 seasons in charge and the next two seasons saw Rovers have three different Managers in James Hatchett, Simon Jackson and Caretaker Terry Moore, none of whom lasted a whole season. Rovers did manage to reach their first First Team Cup Final since 1986 during that period though, but ultimately failed to win a trophy again.
The end of Season 2015-2016 was a real watershed in the club’s history as the Waltham Sunday League was forced to fold due to a lack of teams, while Rovers nearly folded themselves due to player disillusionment and retirements. A decision was made to join the Barnet Sunday League and start afresh in the bottom division with a new Manager in Tony McKay and a large group of new and younger players. Incredibly, Rovers won the Division Two title at their first attempt, going through the whole 2016-2017 Season unbeaten (apart from three penalty shoot-out defeats in Cup matches) and winning their first trophy at the 11-a-side game for 29 years !
The club first entered into London F.A. Sunday Cup competitions in 1988 on joining the Waltham Sunday League, but have never reached a London F.A. Sunday Cup Final. The First Team lost 7-0 in the London F.A. Sunday Junior Cup Semi-Final to the eventual winners back in the 1993-1994 Season, but that has been the club’s best run so far. The London F.A. Sunday Challenge Cup (the top London F.A. Sunday Cup competition) was entered two seasons running during the club’s Premier Division campaign, resulting in a 2-1 defeat in the First Round to the eventual winners St. Anselms at the first attempt and then a 5-1 First Round defeat to the eventual Runners-Up Dees the following season.
Rovers entry into the Waltham Sunday League in the late 1980’s also saw the start of their tradition of having every match recorded on video (by Club Secretary Laurence Hughes), something for which the club has become famous for in recent seasons, especially after their numerous appearances on Sky Sports cult ‘Soccer A.M.’ show in the late-1990's.
The club also prides itself on its strict internal disciplinary code which resulted in them having only been fined on a handful of occasions during it’s time in the Waltham Sunday League, a proud record which no other club in the League could match, and although Rovers policy of dropping players for a lack of discipline may have denied them success in winning trophies on the pitch, it has earnt them a great deal of respect off it for the way the club is run.
The majority of Edmonton Rovers players over the years have either been former pupils of Edmonton County School or members of Edmonton Cricket Club, so the club’s ‘base’ is very much on the Edmonton/Bush Hill Park border, although players living in Cheshunt, Enfield and even further afield have also joined on the recommendations of friends, relatives or work colleagues and this has helped to keep the club alive for the past 42 years.
The club started a new era in Season 2015-2016 by moving to the Edmonton Sports & Social Club, having played away from the area at Hazelwood Sports Ground in Palmers Green since 1984. This has brought us back to the area where the club was born and our new base has already helped in bringing us some success on the pitch at last.