- Stafford Rangers F.C.
Infobox Football club
clubname = Stafford Rangers
fullname = Stafford Rangers Football Club
nickname = Boro'
ground = Marston Road
capacity = 4,150 (2250 seated)
owntitle = Patron
owner = Roly Tonge
chrtitle = Chairman
chairman = flagicon|England Jon Downing
mgrtitle = Manager
manager = flagicon|England Steve Bull MBE
season = 2007–08
Conference National, 23rd
Stafford Rangers Football Club are a semi-professional English football team from
Staffordwho play in the Conference North.
Despite extensive research, no-one has ever been able to prove conclusively when Stafford Rangers was actually formed, as early minute books were destroyed during the First World War. Rangers' formation year is recognised as 1876 because of articles in the local Advertiser newspaper, but an alternative theory on Rangers' formation date, printed in the Sentinel newspaper during 1891, suggests not and that the club was founded by a Bible class in 1877.
Rangers' early matches were cup games and friendlies, with the club reaching the
FA CupFirst Round in both 1884/85 and 1885/86. The club then had spells in the Shropshire League, Birmingham League and North Staffordshire League up to the turn of the century, and moved to their present Marston Road home in 1896. In 1900/01 Stafford rejoined the Birmingham League and in 1904/05 enjoyed a memorable FA Cup run to the last Qualifying Round bowing out in a replay at Second Division Blackpool. They were demoted to the Birmingham Combination in 1912 but won the championship at the first attempt (1912/13) and then finished runners-up in two of the next four seasons either side of the First World War. Rangers won the Birmingham League title in 1926/27, twice finished runners-up (1928/29 and 1929/30) and were twice third in five memorable seasons. During this period a total of 542 league goals were scored with the prolific Eddie Cameron regularly finding the net. Due to financial troubles the team spent the mid to late 1930s struggling to avoid re-election and in one game were so short of players that the club secretary R.P. Brown had to play and actually scored a goal. During April 1935 a successful appeal for £100 to pay creditors enabled the club to survive. When war broke out in 1939, Rangers participated in an emergency Birmingham League during the 1939/40 season, finishing as runners-up, and then disbanded.
After the Second World War the club reformed and played in the
Birmingham Combinationfor six seasons, achieving a highest position of 6th in 1950/51. With a view to progress, Rangers joined the Cheshire County Football League in 1952 and finished 3rd in the 1954/55 season. However, Rangers' spell in the Cheshire Football League was generally one of struggle and in fact during the early sixties financial difficulties again threatened the club's existence. There was, however, the odd highlight, including the seven goals scored by Les Box in an 11-0 FA Cupvictory over Dudley Town during September 1957.
In 1965, the appointment of Colin Hutchinson as manager started an upturn in fortunes. Rangers won the 1967/68 Cheshire League Cup and following season finished as Cheshire League runners-up to earn a place in the
Northern Premier League. The seventies were perhaps the most successful era in the club's history to date and put Stafford Rangers firmly on the map. With Roy Chapman as manager, the club recorded a Northern Premier LeagueChampionship, FA Trophyand Staffordshire Senior Cup treble in season 1971/72; Ray Williams scored a club record 48 goals.
Three seasons later Rangers progressed to the
FA CupFourth Round defeating Stockport County, Halifax Town and Rotherham United on the way to defeat against Peterborough United in front of a 31,160 gate at Stoke City's Victoria Ground. The home Third Round tie with Rotherham attracted a record 8,536 to Marston Road. After Chapman had departed to manage League club Stockport County, Rangers were again at Wembley Stadiumin 1975/76 for their second FA Trophy Final but they lost to Scarborough 3-2 after extra time. Roy Chapman returned as manager and success continued with a second FA Trophy Final success in 1979, this time against Kettering Town.
Rangers became founder members of the Alliance Premier League but this coincided with a downturn in fortunes as various managers found it difficult to follow the successful seventies. After four difficult seasons Rangers were relegated to the Northern Premier League. Poor form continued, but with the appointment of Ron Reid as manager during the 1983/84 season as manager the club soon began to rebuild its reputation and was rewarded with the 1984/85 League title. Back in the Alliance, the Bob Lord Trophy, Jim Thompson Shield and Staffordshire Senior Cup were all won within two seasons. During the late eighties and early nineties, Rangers found life difficult in the Conference, with six managers in seven seasons following Reid's departure in May 1988. The sale of striker
Stan Collymoreto Crystal Palace in December 1990 for a substantial six-figure fee stands out in this period. Under the management of Dennis Booth, Rangers enjoyed a tremendous 1992/93 campaign. In the league they finished 6th and reached the FA Cup Second Round, defeating Lincoln City in a First Round replay at Marston Road.
After Booth departed for Bristol Rovers, Rangers found success difficult to come by and were relegated from the Conference to the Southern League Premier Division at the end of the 1994/95 season. The slide continued at the start of the 1995/96 campaign and when Kevan Bowen took over in October 1995 Rangers had not gained a point. Bowen made an immediate impact and achieved good results in the second half of the season but the damage had been done at the start and the club was relegated for the second successive season. With an ambition to take Stafford Rangers back to their former heights in non-league football, the Board appointed
Kevin Bondas manager towards the end of 1997. Despite some good performances Rangers ended the season in a disappointing mid-table position and Bond moved on to Portsmouth.
Ian Painter succeeded Bond in the 1998 close season and in his first term Rangers finished 5th in the Southern League Midland Division with the distinction of being the equal highest scorers in the pyramid with 92 goals. In 1999/00, following a slow start, a strengthened side achieved a club record unbeaten run of 23 league games. Rangers were once again equal highest scorers in the pyramid with 107 goals and duly won the Southern League Western Division championship.
After two good seasons in the Premier Division, finishing 7th and 9th respectively, Painter left the club in April 2002. During Painter's final season, Rangers recorded a club-record 15-0 victory over Kidsgrove Athletic in a Staffordshire Senior Cup tie on Tuesday 20 November 2001.
Phil Robinson, whose playing career took him to several top Football League clubs around the East and West Midlands, joined his hometown club as player-manager in the 2002 close season and immediately set about creating a structure to develop young local talent with the introduction of Reserve and Youth teams. He retained only a few of Painter's squad and soon the spirit in the club and the interest around the town was revitalised with exciting football on the field and increased support on the terraces. By the end of the season Rangers had exceeded all expectations. They finished second in the Southern League Premier Division, reached the FA Cup First Round for the first time in a decade and brought the Staffordshire Senior Cup back to Marston Road with a memorable 5-1 victory over Stoke City at Port Vale's Vale Park. Robinson’s second season in charge, 2003/04, brought more success with Rangers this time finishing 3rd in the league behind Crawley Town and Weymouth to earn a place amongst the Nationwide Conference Northfounder members. Rangers reached the Staffordshire Senior Cup Final but lost 1-0 to Kidsgrove Athletic. At the end of the 2004/05 season, silverware returned to Marston Road as the team regained the Senior Cup, defeating Leek Town in the Final at Vale Park. As well as reaching the FA Cup First Round, where they lost to Chester City, Rangers finished the inaugural Conference North season in 8th position with the tightest defence in the division, conceding just 44 goals.
Stafford Rangers achieved promotion back to the fifth tier of English football after a play-off win on penalties over Droylsden in May 2006 at rivals Burton Albion's new Pirelli Stadium. This came at the end of a successful 2005/06 league campaign which resulted in a second place finish. Rangers celebrated their promotion with a tour of Stafford on an open-top bus, thousands gathered in the Market Square and players signed for the fans. This attracted the attention of local newspapers and the BBC who featured the honorary lap later that night on Midlands Today.
In the 2006-07 season the club reached the second round of the
FA Cupwhere they lost to Brighton. A match against Dagenham & Redbridge was featured live on Sky Sports.Goalkeeper Danny Alcock was selected for the England Non League Squad in January 2007 and a month later Cameroonian Guy Madjo was selected by his nation for international duty. The club managed to avoid relegation on the final day of the season, and finished 20th in the Conference.
2007 has seen Stafford struggle to compete in an increasingly difficult league with many exleague and professional sides. Phil Robinson left the club after 5 and a half years in charge and many Stafford fans were unhappy to see him leave. Robinson managed to sign some of Staffords' best players in the 07-08 season including Djimi Sangare, Marco Adaggio and Ross Draper. Neil Grayson (striker) and Kevin Street (midfielder) were placed in temporary charge of the county town club as joint care taker managers. On
February 21 2008, Steve Bull, former Wolverhampton Wanderers legend and England striker, was appointed as Head Coach. Unfortunately, Bull was unable to save the club and on the 7th April 2008, Rangers were relegated to the Conference North following a 4-0 defeat at home to York City. The relegation left Bull downcast who during an interview, said "We knew all along it was a hard task. I'm not a miracle worker, I don't think anyone could have kept Stafford up".
9 October 2008."cite web
title = Stafford Rangers
url = http://www.footballsquads.co.uk/eng/2007-2008/confprem/stafford.htm
publisher = Stafford Rangers FC
accessdate = 2007-10-22]
Stuart Pierpoint Nick Amos Bobby Wilson Jonathan Loukes Tom Thorley Andre Francis Alex Morris Christian Dacres Nick Wellecomme Lindon Dovey Paul McMahon
Out on loan
Stafford Rangers Independent Supporters Trust (STRIPES) was formed in 2005 as an independent voice for fans and local companies. 235 members joined in the first year.
*Birmingham League 1926/27
Northern Premier League1971/72, 1984/85
*Southern League Western Division 1999/2000
*Birmingham League 1928/29, 1929/30
*Birmingham Wartime League 1939/40
Cheshire County League1968/69
Northern Premier League1970/71, 1975/76
*Southern League Premier Division 2002/03
*Leek Cup Joint Winners 1899/1900
*Wednesbury Charity Cup Winners 1920/21
*Staffordshire Qualifying Cup Winners 1928/29
Staffordshire Senior CupWinners 1954/55, 1956/57, 1962/63, 1971/72, 1977/78, 1986/87, 1991/92, 2002/03, 2004/05
*Cheshire League Cup Winners 1967/68
*Midland Floodlight Cup Winners 1969/70
FA TrophyWinners 1971/72, 1978/79
*Northern Premier League Shield Winners 1985/86
*Jim Thompson Shield Winners 1986/87
Record Win 15-0 v Kidsgrove Athletic 20/11/2001 Record Defeat 0-12 v Burton Town, 13/12/1930 Most goals in a game 7 - Les Box v Dudley Town, FA Cup 6/9/1958 Best FA Cuprun 4th Round 1974/75 Record FA CupWin 11-0 v Dudley Town 6/9/1958
Marston Road Stadium
In the 2006-07 season Rangers have had average attendances over 1000. The stadium has recently had an increased stand capacity and new floodlights. There were rumours in local newspapers at the beginning of the season reporting that the club may move, but the club has never confirmed these reports.
Further speculation of a ground move was recently fuelled when it was revealed that Stafford Rangers had reportedly bought some land by the common in Stafford. But the mystery buyer of the land does not look like it is Boro' because chairman, John Downing promised that if Rangers stay in the Conference National the Stadiums seated capacity will rise to over 2500, with a 2000 seater stand being constructed in the Shed End. Also the Marston Roads Social Club End will have a roof built over it to meet health and safety regulations set by the league.
Recent improvements have been to install a new stand at the shed end and cover at the social end, improving the appearance of the ground.
* [http://www.staffordrangersfc.co.uk Official site]
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