Halstead Town: Remember Them?

By Pete H

Yet another team from our ‘once-and-never-again’ ledger, us and Halstead Town have always been poles apart in footballing terms. If you had us down as two circles on a Venn diagram, it seems hard to imagine how they’d ever overlap. And yet the very fact that we’ve turned up to write something about them would suggest that – actually – it did happen. Even if that was a genuine Special Edition fixture; a Collector’s Item if you will. But we’ll get to all that.

To be fair, we also love the fact that their nickname is the Humbugs. Don’t ask us why, obvs…

Who are Halstead Town Football Club?

Formed in 1879, the word ‘Town’ wasn’t part of the club’s name to start with. It sounds like the newly-formed outfit didn’t have a lot going on around it during its early years, so they only got friendlies to keep them occupied. That changed in 1895, however, with the North Essex League letting them in. And this started a long-running association between the Humbugs and district or county competitions.

This sort of changed after World War Two. First, they added ‘Town’ to their name. Next came a move into the Essex & Suffolk League. Not exactly big-time, but bigger time than past seasons. Over the following years, they won their fair share of silverware; not least a league and League Cup double in 1958. The years that led up to 1980 were dotted with titles. But we mention this year as a milestone because it’s when they upped sticks for the Essex Senior League.

Why do we know the Humbugs?

It was in 1980 that Boro’ joined the United Counties League, which we think is on the same level of the non-league ladder. So, no chance of meeting each other that way. We then stepped up to the Isthmian League (one above the Essex Senior League). For the Humbugs, their next step ‘up’ was in 1988 when they joined the Eastern Counties League. This, however, was still a step under the Isthmian. So, the league path really didn’t seem like the most obvious path for us to meet.

And we’ve applied our best understanding of the non-league pyramid. If we’re wrong, meh.

The 1990-1 season is when it all came together, however. Both of us were having a right ol’ time  of things in our respective divisions. We ended up scoring 122 goals in Vauxhall Football League Division Two North. The Humbugs, meanwhile, racked up 105 on their Eastern Counties League Premier Division adventure that term (and still only finished third). Yet, it was a backwater of a competition in which we met – the knockout stages of the Knights Floodlit League.

What is our record against them?

For all the world, you’d bet on Boro’ to bring home the bacon. We came into the match on a six-game winning streak; scoring 22 goals and clocking up three straight clean sheets too. We don’t know the Humbugs’ record at that point, but they wouldn’t have been the fancied favourites. In an upset to the system, however, we went down 3-0 on home turf to end any hopes we had of a cup-winning run. Our pride was somewhat dented – but not permanently.

Two days later, we turned up in the league and routed Hornchurch by seven goals to nil!

Halstead Town: Boro’s Record

Our head-to-head: P 1 — W — D 0 — L 1 — F 0 — A 3 — Pts 0 — WR 0%
Our last tango: Stevenage Borough 0-3 Halstead Town, 18 April 1991

What happened to them?

The Humbugs remain in the Eastern Counties League. Two successive titles in 1995 and 1996 is the high point without doubt; both seasons ending with almost identical records of 31 victories, eight draws, and three defeats – leading to 101 points. The only difference was in the goals they scored. In 1994-5, it was 129. In 1995-6, it was a mere 110. Paltry by comparison, eh? Anyway, it was a period of dominance that was brief in its length.

In 2001, they tumbled down into Division One of the Eastern Counties League. Their return into the Premier Division two years later was as short-lived as their time at the top of the ECL tree. In 2007, relegation sent them back down to Division One. Sadly, they’ve not (yet) recovered any of that lost ground. The 2018-9 season saw them finish third in Division One South – eight points adrift of Hashtag United and the sole promotion spot.

The 2021-2 campaign will (hopefully) be the first they’ve completed since then.

• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Halstead Town club profile

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