For all you town planning fans out there, you could say that Boro’ are part of a unique group of English football teams. It’s not exactly the Bilderberg Group, let’s face it. Unlike many others we come up against, however, we do have the ‘distinction’ of representing a New Town. The first New Town, if you will. Who else is in this group? Well, there’s Crawley Posh, Northampton and *ahem* MK Dons. Oh, and Harlow Town too while we’re at it…
Harlow Town: Who Are They?
So, a little history lesson or an awkward segue into the life and times of Harlow Town? Like most of these New Towns, football didn’t suddenly spring up in these places after the Second World War Two. The game had been played in what was Stevenage as far back as 1894, and the same is true of Harlow. In fact, this particular tale is nearly 140 years in the making! And did you know that, until 1957, The Hawks’ team was picked by committee?
By the time team selection was put in the hands of a single manager, Harlow Town had moved into the London League from the Spartan League – and had held senior status for 20 years. The New Town arguably acted as a catalyst for the club’s growth; moving from the Old Town to the new Sportcentre ground in 1960. Then, after two seasons in the Delphian League, the Hawks took their place in the new Athenian League Division Two.
Harlow were promoted at the first attempt. And, in 1972, up they went again to the Premier Division; winning the Div One title. The Premier Division, however, was ‘abandoned‘ after the Hawks’ debut season. So, off they went into the Isthmian League’s new Division Two. It took four years to win promotion to Division One (1977), and two more into the Premier (1979) – seeing in their centenary season at the highest level they’d ever been.
And what better way to mark that centenary campaign than with a best-ever FA Cup run too?
Us And Them…
By the first time Boro’ took on Harlow Town for the first time, fortunes were fading. The Hawks had returned to the Premier Division after relegation in 1982. Us being in Div Two North, however, meant our first meeting came in cup competition; the Eastern Floodlit League to be exact. Both home and away legs finished as draws; somewhat better than the two defeats we recorded in the same competition the following season.
A quirk of fate saw us promoted to Div One for the 1986-7 campaign… just as Harlow Town were relegated to Div Two North. Two seasons later, we were following them down and setting up our first encounters as equals in the process. It was a bit ill-timed on our part too as the Hawks romped to the 1988-9 Div Two North title. In doing so, they made it two more wins against us; 1-3 at their gaff, and 2-3 at ours.
The next term, Harlow kept up their winning run against us at the Sportcentre in the Eastern Floodlit League. But hold up! Boro’s duck was broken in the return tie indoors; two own goals helping us to a 3-2 win. The tide had turned too. Two seasons on, we came together once more as equals in Diadora League Division One. And there was no stopping us; Cloughie’s side beating Harlow 2-0 away and 7-1 (seven) at home.
And Then What?
For us, it was all good. Up we went to the Premier Division after a second straight promotion. But for Harlow Town, it was less so good. We had actually been paired in the FA Trophy First Qualifying Round that very next season, but the game never happened. Why? Well, the Hawks’ plans for a new stadium had gone belly up. The Diadora League, meanwhile, said the Sportcentre was no longer up to scratch. So, they simply quit football.
It was only a one-season hiatus; Harlow Town returning to the fold in time for the 1993-4 campaign after the Sportcentre received much-needed improvements. They did so, however, starting again in Division Three. The route back was swift enough; two straight promotions saw them back in Division One in 1999. There was also a brief stay in the Southern League in the mid-2000s, as well as the move to a brand new home at Barrow’s Farm.
You’ll now find them in the Isthmian League Premier Division.
Harlow Town: Boro’s Record
P11 W3 D2 L6 F19 A17 – League Points: 6, Cup Meetings: 7, Win Rate: 27%
• BoroGuide’s Harlow Town club profile – for old time’s sake…