You can believe it or not, but there was a time when taking on Rothwell Town for the first time was a step up in class for us...
"File:Turnstiles at Cecil Street - geograph.org.uk - 926868.jpg" by Stuart Shepherd is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

You can believe it or not, but there was a time when taking on Rothwell Town for the first time was a step up in class for us. It sounds like a pretty big statement to make, doesn’t it. After all, we won’t blame (most of) you for not knowing who they are. We’re not even sure you’d be able to pick Rothwell out on a map. But every single team we’ve ever played has shaped our story somehow. And now we have the bones of this particular chapter in more ways than one. The Bones being their nickname, yeah…?

Who are Rothwell Town?

From the info we have to go on, there’s not much to report. Now, that’s a bit unfair on the Bones; their story does way back to the 1895 when they formed as Rothwell Town Swifts – which is longer than most. What comes next, however, ain’t the most spectacular. After helping to create the Northants League, they switched between senior and junior football; leaving the competition on a number of occasions until doing so for good in 1933.

At this point, the Bones spent a few years in the Kettering League. It wasn’t until after the Second World War that senior football came back to Cecil Street. At first, the club were a member of the Leicestershire Senior League. Two years later, however, they’d been one of the United Counties League founder members. Mind you, the competition is an evolution; the former Northants League rebranded. So, did they join the league – or rejoin it?

We’ll let you decide…

Why do we know Rothwell Town?

To start, the Bones were a success as a United Counties League team; winning back-to-back Division Two titles in 1953 and 1954. For some reason, however, you’ll see a six-year gap in their UCL membership between 1956 and 1961. We couldn’t find out what caused that. But the important thing for the rest of this piece is that they returned. In the time between 1964 and 1981, they climbed as high as second on three occasions.

So, what makes 1981 special? Did they finally end their long wait for another UCL title? No. It’d be the next best thing in our view. We joined them in the Premier Division after running away with the 1980-1 Division One title. The Bones, along with the 16 other sides up in the Premier Division, would be the next challenge for a young Boro’ side to overcome…

What is our record against the Bones?

We didn’t have to wait long to test ourselves against them. The Bones were our first-ever opponents in the Premier Division. And it seems we weren’t quite ready for the challenge; going down 2-1 at home. We’d get another shot at ’em six weeks later in the return game. But, again, the scoreline was 2-1 to them. We’d have to see if the benefit of a full season in the Premier Division would stand us in good stead the next time we met the Bones.

To an extent, it did.

The 1982-3 campaign saw us pick up two points from six against the Bones. It wasn’t that spectacular. But it was surely a step for us in the right direction. So, let’s speed forward to the 1983-4 season and the hope we could – at last – get the better of them.

In December 1983, we drew the Northants club in the FA Vase Second Round. Our poor record against them came back to haunt us, however. We tumbled out of the competition; losing 1-0 in front of 103 people. Our two league meetings that season, meanwhile, came one month apart in early 1984. After a 1-1 draw at their place in mid-February, we finally cracked it in mid-March; goals from Wes Atwell and Paddy Butcher winning it for us.

Rothwell Town: Boro’s Record

Our head-to-head: P 7 — W 1 — D 3 — L 3 — F 6 — A 8 — Pts 6 — WR 14%
Our last tango: Stevenage Borough 2-1 Rothwell Town, 17 March 1984

What happened to them?

As you know, there’s a saying in football that you’re only as good as your last game. If that’s true, we’re better than the Bones; that 2-1 win being the last time we’d meet ’em. You can also point towards us moving up the divisions as proof of that too. But why get in the way of a good theory? What is certain, however, is that Boro’ decided they were done with the UCL in 1984. The Isthmian League was our next port of call. The Bones, meanwhile, stayed put.

After finishing in second place (again) on three occasions towards the end of the 1980s, the Bones finally made it to the summit at the end of the 1992-3 season. The feeling must have been so good – because they repeated the feat the following campaign. With it, the club left the UCL behind themselves; joining the Southern League. Three campaigns in the Midland Division is all it took before they gained promotion to the Premier Division too.

You could say this was perhaps the Bones’ golden age. But it’d last just three seasons. At the end of the 1999-00 season, relegation saw them back in the Eastern Division. For the next 10 seasons, they played in the Southern League’s regional feeder divisions; the most recent of which was Division One Midlands. Losing their social club as an integral source of revenue in the 2009-10 season, however, was a big blow.

In summer 2010, the Bones quit the Southern League and returned to the UCL. Two years later, the club folded. Too often, Cecil Street was a magnet for vandals and the club simply didn’t have the money to keep themselves going. It’s a sad end to any club’s long – and no doubt – proud history. And it’s just one more example of a team who are no longer with us after playing a part in shaping the early history of our football club.

• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Rothwell Town club profile

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Pete H is the head of the BoroGuide team; helping to keep the show on the road for the best part of two decades – all because of his love of Boro'. He was relatively late to the scene; first rocking up at Broadhall Way during the 1995-6 season. But that's mainly because he was too young to pledge allegiance before then. There have been more than enough highs (Easter Monday '96) and lows (Kettering '02) since then, however, to keep him occupied. Yes, and the 2010 title win...

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