Hastings United: Remember Them?


By Pete H

You’d think that Hastings United must be more than used to puns or jokes that involve them and “battle” thanks to an obvious event in history. But they don’t do themselves too many favours in that sense either; their nickname ‘The Arrows’ is clearly leaning on the demise of ol’ King Harold. But the more important matter is what that has to do with us? Will it be one in the eye for us. Or were we the conquering invaders?

And when will all these 1066 puns stop already?

Let’s go find out…

Who are Hastings United?

Here we have a team that have gone through many name changes over the years. And they aren’t even the first ‘Hastings United’ either. Between 1948 and 1985, another club went under that name; ultimately going under due to huge financial problems. Now, with current United, the story isn’t the clearest. Its origins lie in a side with the beautiful name, Rock-a-Nore FC.

According to the Arrows, this lot came to life in 1893, went bust, and then returned again in 1901. And that’s where the pin marks the start of their story in their opinion. World War One causes a bit of confusion. But let’s just run with 1901 as the starting point. The Rock-a-Nore name was replaced, however, by the more austere Hastings & St Leonards FC in 1921. The reason, it seems, is because the team were now the town’s most prominent.

To add more confusion into the mix, FCHD suggests the club’s name change occurred much sooner. You can make up your own mind about that.

For much of the next 60-odd years, the Arrows competed in the Sussex County League. But now come two important milestones. In 1976, the club changed its name again; this time to Hastings Town. And, in 1985, they left county competition behind and became a member of the Southern League. Their application to join came after the previous United team folded – and was ultimately accepted.

They also moved into the old United’s ground at the Pilot Field too!

Why do we know the Arrows?

Now, the Southern League isn’t something that we’ve ever bothered ourselves with. Boro’ are very much “Isthmian 4 Eva”. So, we had no cause to meet Hastings Town as we rose up the pyramid during the 1980s and 1990s. In 1999, the Arrows came fifth in the Premier Division; their highest league finish up to that point. But they didn’t build on it.

Instead, the Arrows quit the Southern League, changed their mind, and ended up coming back in the Eastern Division. It was all a bit of a mess, to be fair. The Arrows had called in the administrators and applied to the Isthmian League. But they changed their mind. Then, the Southern League said they couldn’t withdraw their resignation. After a local lottery winner rescued them, however, the Southern League then did a U-turn and let them back in.

What is our record against Hastings United?

It took three years for the Arrows to get back up to the Southern League Premier Division; winning the 2001-2 Eastern Division championship. It was a summer of yet another name change too; Hastings Town taking on the old United name. In United’s ‘first’ campaign, FA Cup Round One led to a first-ever encounter between us two. We’d seen off Grays Athletic in the previous round, while they’d walloped Kettering Town after a replay.

At the time, we were separated by one division. But we were both struggling at the wrong ends of our respective tables. It wasn’t a game that’ll be remembered as a classic; Wayne Turner’s side making hard work of things as the Arrows battled hard. In the end, a Richard Howell goal after five minutes was enough to send us through. It was only our third home win of the season. And it had taken until mid-November for us to reach that point.

Hastings United: Boro’s Record

Our head-to-head: P 1 — W 1 — D 0 — L 0 — F 1 — A— Pts 0 — WR 100%
Our last tango: Stevenage Borough 1-0 Hastings United, 16 November 2002

What happened to them?

Unlike us, the 2002-3 season saw the Arrows relegated; returning to the Southern League Eastern Division after one season in the Premier Division. Just one year later, the club did finally quit the Southern League and did finally join the Isthmian League. And you’ll still be able to find them in that competition too. It hasn’t been without its ups and downs, though.

The Arrows won promotion to the Premier Division in 2007. But the 2012-3 campaign saw them returned to Division One South. In the years that followed, the club secured a place in the playoffs on three occasions. And, on each occasion, they came up short in the semi-finals. The 2019-20 season did appear to promise so much more, however; the Arrows at the front of the pack coming into the home straight.

Then Covid-19 hit. And the shutters came down on the league. The season was made null and void; the Arrows’ efforts erased from the records. Believe it or not, they were top of the pile as the 2020-1 campaign came to a similar end too. No PPG, no promotion, no reward! Now the Arrows need to get themselves back up – and see if they can pick up from where they left off as soon as the Isthmian League can get back into action.

• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Hastings United club profile

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