Football in Bracknell
History & Nostalgia

1896 isn’t the definitive date in Bracknell’s footballing history you thought it was

Steve Gabb investigates the history of when football really started in the town

1896 isn’t the definitive date in Bracknell’s footballing history you thought it was

A quick glance at wikipedia will tell you that Bracknell Town were founded in 1896 as Old Bracknell Wanderers. However, they weren’t the first football club in Bracknell, Berkshire, another club was set up a decade previous. At the time Bracknell wasn’t as large as it is today, and was considered more of a village than a town.

On Wednesday 14th September 1887 a large group of people gathered in the Bracknell Reading Rooms with the purpose of setting up a football club. There was previously a club in the town who played under the moniker “Bracknell Wanderers”, though this was still ten years before the formation of Old Bracknell Wanderers who would become the “Bracknell Town” we know today.

This attempt at the formation of a football team appears to be the first attempt at setting up a constituted club in Bracknell. It was decided at the meeting that the football club should be called “Bracknell Football Club” and that they should wear black and white during matches.

Newspaper report from the Reading Mercury 24/9/1887

Newspaper report from the Reading Mercury 24/9/1887

The chairman was Reverend Herbert Barnett, a distinguished man of Bracknell who was the son of a Conservative MP from Woodstock in Oxfordshire. Barnett was the driving force behind many improvements in the Holy Trinity Church in Bracknell and clearly also had a keen interest in the sporting endeavours of the people of the village.

Read more: The amazing history of Bracknell Town’s old turnstile

The links with football in Bracknell don’t end there for Reverend Herbert Barnett. He lived in the Vicarage which is situated on Larges Lane (often known at the time colloquially as Vicarage Lane). Barnett Court, a residential home which is just off Larges Lane, is almost certainly named after this famous Bracknell vicar.

On the formation of the club Ernest Caldecott, a merchant from Easthampstead, was named as the club’s first captain. He was a brilliant sportsman who also played cricket for Bracknell CC. He scored many goals for the Bracknell football club in the late 19th Century and played mostly as a forward.

The club’s secretary (perhaps quite aptly) was a printer compositor and half-back called Jon W. Roe. The job of a printer compositor was to set up typefaces for newspapers and it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he set up the typefaces ready to print out reports of matches in which he played.

Both Caldecott and Roe would play for the club for many years. Both were keen sportsmen, who also turned out for Bracknell Cricket Club during the summer months and these two men would become stalwarts for the club over the next decade.

Information from the Reading Observer, Reading Mercury and Berkshire Chronicle. All from British Newspaper Archive.

Main image: Larges Land under a rainbow by Richard Claypole.

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