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. The one encounter between us and Halstead Town took place when we came to write this; one we’re happy to forget.
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.
How to get to Halstead Town – Travel Information – Distance: 49 miles
To get to Halstead from Stevenage, take the A602 to Ware and A10 to Standon. Here, you need to take the A120 towards Stansted Airport you want; continuing all the way across to Braintree. At Braintree, follow the A131 for six miles. Turn left into Butler Road as soon as you get to Halstead, before turning right into Chapel Street.
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