Ilford were one of our founder members- one of the original ‘Super Six’ alongside The Casuals, Civil Service, Clapton, Ealing Association and London Caledonians who signed up in March 1905 and kicked off for the first time under an Isthmian banner on September 9th, taking on Civil Service on a miserable, wet day at Newbury Park. They lost that opener, but went on to have an illustrious Isthmian history with three league titles; and two FA Amateur Cup triumphs. A marvellous new book by Michael Foley recounts those triumphs, and tells the tale of one of the oldest football clubs in the world from their formation in 1881 up until the present day.
‘Resurgam- I Shall Rise Again’ is an obvious labour of love. Assisted by a cast of hundreds (actually, we’ve counted them, forty nine), Foley has produced a work which should be of interest to football supporters everywhere. Unlike many club histories, it isn’t packed with statistics and it doesn’t set out to be a record of every match the club has ever played, and every player who has ever pulled on that famous hooped shirt; instead, it sets out to tell a tale, and it does it with a mixture of humour, pathos, realism and a collection of superb colour and black and white photographs which chart the most momentous moments of the club’s history and delivers a few surprises. Who knew, for example, that the club had played a number of matches against Barcelona in the 1920’s, and that they’d travelled to the Netherlands to take on Dutch giants Ajax?
After a sepia-tinged perambulation through the club’s glory years, Foley doesn’t shy away from the decline of the club in the 1970’s and beyond. The merger with Leytonstone, and then further mergers with Walthamstow Avenue and then Dagenham are touched on only briefly, and described- with some degree of accuracy- as “a desperate and avoidable tragedy,” but the final section of the book goes into detail about the rebirth of the Ilford name in 1987 and- after a few false starts- the return of the club to the Essex Senior League in 1996, and then, following promotion, back to our own organisation in 2006. It tells a cautionary tale that many of those involved in non-league football should read, but ends with optimism, recounting the good being done with the fifty thousand pounds received from the National Lottery Heritage Fund a few years ago- which includes the funding of this fine book.
Ilford v Barcelona
Priced at £12.99, copies can be ordered via email@example.com.
We look forward to the day when this fine old club will join our ranks once more- and expect that it won’t be too long in coming.
FC Barcelona match poster courtesy of Redbridge Heritage Centre.
Amateur Cup Final cover, 1958