Football club celebrates its 150th birthday

PUBLISHED: 17:12 12 May 2010 | UPDATED: 09:49 12 August 2010

A HISTORIC team that claims to be the second oldest football club in the world is celebrating its 150th Birthday.

A HISTORIC team that claims to be the second oldest football club in the world is celebrating its 150th Birthday.

Cray Wanderers FC, founded in 1860, is holding an exhibition at Bromley Museum, Priory Hill, Orpington, until June 26 to coincide with the anniversary.

The semi-professional side, which plays in the Ryman Premier League, will also play in a commemorative retro kit for next season.

Club chairman Gary Hillman said: "This is a massive milestone for the club and the area, especially as many non-league clubs have folded recently. I'm looking forward to the exhibition, it makes you realise how proud the whole area is and how important it is to the community."

He will be hosting a private view and official launch at the museum on Friday, May 21, although the exhibition started last Monday.

Cray Wanderers began life in Star Lane, St Mary Cray, when railway workers constructing the London, Chatham and Dover railway began kicking a ball around in their breaks.

The team entered the first ever FA Amateur Cup competition in 1893 and shortly afterwards began a spell as a professional side until 1907.

Up until the '50s the club relied on the heavy industry based around St Mary Cray for support.

Although the club stalled during the two World Wars, they enjoyed a renaissance after local businessman Mick Slater took charge in 1951.

Cray Wanderers moved to a new ground at Grassmeade in 1954 and promoted to the London League, where they went from strength to strength. After the current chairman Gary Hillman arrived in 1994, the team has continued to prosper and reached the fourth qualifying round for the FA cup in the 2004/05 season.

Hard work, grit and determination paid off for the Wands when they were finally promoted to the Ryman Premier League in 2008/09.

The club now aim to build on their success and return to their spiritual home in the Cray Valley by building a new 5,000 seat stadium in Sandy Lane in St Paul's Cray.

The exhibition at Bromley Museum is open Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm and from 1 until 5pm on Sundays.

Admission is free. For more details telephone 01689 873826.

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