It has sometimes felt as if Boro's name is on the cup – only for a team to come and nip that in the bud. A team like Southall...
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Over the years, it has sometimes felt as if Boro’s name is on the cup – only for a side to come from nowhere and nip that in the bud. It happened with Hyde United back in our 1995-6 FA Trophy quarter final; The Tigers denying us a famous non-league double in doing so. And this particular bolt of lightning would strike a second time; Barrow stunning us in the 2010 FA Trophy Final. Long before either of these examples, however, was a 1985-6 FA Vase run that felt good. Then along came Southall…

Who are Southall?

There aren’t that many other still around who can are as old as the Tigers. Formed in 1871, the first few years saw them play friendlies and cup competitions. Their first season in a league competition was 1892 as a founder member of the West London League. Not long after, they joined the Southern League; a move that’d see them go pro (or least try to go pro) in 1904. It was a decision that cost them big time. After the 1904-5 campaign, the club dropped out of the league – and then out of all competitions.

After reverting to life as an amateur side, a merger with Southall Athletic brought a new lease of life for the Tigers. Between 1907 and the First World War, they took part in the Great Western Suburban League. After the War, the Athenian League became their home. And it stayed that way for many, many years to come; competition members right up until 1973. In that time, there was just one league crown (1926-7) and a FA Cup run that took them as far as Round Three (1935-6).

Why do we know them?

In 1973, the Isthmian League created a new Second Division and the Tigers were one of its founder members. In their second season, they came second; securing promotion to Division One. It was a time for new names. First, the club changed name to Southall & Ealing Borough. Then, Division One was rebranded the Premier Division. It didn’t matter though. They lasted one season in the ‘new’ Premier Division.

Two straight relegations saw them nosedive into the ‘new’ Second Division for the 1979-80 season. And while we’re at it, summer 1980 saw them drop the Ealing Borough stuff; going back to the traditional, plain old Southall. So, being in Division Two of the Isthmian League? That’s how we first came to know them, right?

Nope.

As the Isthmian League expanded again in summer 1984 with the addition of teams such as our good selves, the Tigers were placed in Division Two South. We were Division Two North. And they stayed at this level for the duration; our league paths kept firmly apart; mainly due to geography. But we would have cause to meet for the first time in the 1985-6 campaign as a result of our respective FA Vase runs. And all paths led to their Western Road ground.

What is our record against Southall?

In the six previous rounds leading up to the quarter final, we’d scored a total of 21 goals at a big average of 3.5 per game and putting in some big wins along the way. The Tigers had also scored a decent number during their FA Vase campaign. Mind you, they also had to deal with two replays along the way. Hopes at Broadhall Way were high of securing a spot in the semi-final. It wasn’t arrogant thinking. More the belief that we were highly capable.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be. The Tigers ran out 2-0 winners and crushed our hopes of glory. To be fair, they had a young forward by the name of Les Ferdinand in their ranks. But just one man shouldn’t make a team unbeatable and we were left to rue a big chance to move a step closer towards a Wembley final. It was our best-ever FA Vase run; a tournament we never won and haven’t had a chance to lately. Unlike the Conference, which we’ve won (twice).

In the short term, the Tigers got past Wisbech Town over two legs in the semi-final and lined up at Wembley with Halesowen Town in the final. But the Yeltz proved too strong for them; easing to a 3-0 win and going back to the Midlands with the silverware.

In the long term, meanwhile, the Tigers carried on as things were; only leaving Division Two South when a restructure put them in the non-regionalised Division Two in summer 1991. Before we get to that point, however, there was another meeting between us and them. This time, it was the Loctite Trophy. And, this time, we claimed the honours. But it didn’t quite have the same gravitas as the FA Vase. So, we’d happily swap…

Southall: Boro’s Record

Our head-to-head: P 2 — W 1 — D 0 — L 1 — F 4 — A 4 — Pts 0 — WR 50%
Our last tango: Stevenage Borough 4-2 Southall, 14 January 1991

What happened to them?

After two further seasons, the Tigers dropped into Division Three; playing out seven more campaigns before leaving the Isthmian League. And the final season in Division Three was a stinker; propping up the table and conceding a mammoth 120 goals in 40 matches.

Next up? The Combined Counties League. But matters off the pitch would become too much for them before the 2005-6 campaign was completed; expelled and expunged in March 2006 due to financial issues. It wasn’t the end of the story, thankfully; the Tigers getting things sorted in order to restart the following campaign in the Middlesex County Football League.

In 2012, promotion put them in Spartan South Midlands League Division One; a league title they added to their honours list in 2018. The season before that (2016-7), they had enjoyed another run to the FA Vase quarter final for the first time since our encounter in 1986. Obviously, it didn’t set up a rematch. We haven’t played in the FA Vase for a good few years now. And we won’t be doing so again any time soon.

As the club celebrates its 150th anniversary this year (2021), they find themselves back in with the Combined Counties League crew. But, for obvious reasons, 2020-1 has now become a second straight season in which they haven’t been able to complete their games.

• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Southall club profile

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