No team has come up against us in cup competitions as often as Saffron Walden Town; a fact that will stand for at least 30 years. How can we say that with confidence? Well, as of 2023, we’d played the Bloods 20 times in a cup competition since 1980. And, at that time, the next highest was 13. So, it puts things into perspective when you’re moaning about drawing Reading or Ipswich Townagain. Of course, there is the question of competitions and their importance. After all, 17 out of 30 total meetings against them were in the Eastern Floodlit League.
It won’t escape your attention that we also met the Bloods in league circles too. It’s just that cup competition is the bigger chunk. And we’ll need a weird run of cup draws over the coming few years for another club to come anywhere near the pacesetters that are the Bloods.
Saffron Walden Town: The Facts
Catons Lane, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB10 2DU
The Wardens are a pretty ancient club in footballing terms all told; forming in 1872. They’d been going more than 100 years by the time we first met. And it makes them the oldest senior club in Essex. Yet, this didn’t at all count for anything as the new upstarts from Stevenage won a 1981-2 East Anglian Cup tie at home. In the beginning, the club didn’t have ‘Town’ in their name and entered the FA Cup for the first time in 1876. Alas, it didn’t go to plan as they had to withdraw when drawn away to Wanderers. They couldn’t afford to travel.
From the late 19th century through into the 20th, the Bloods competed in local and district leagues. There’d be success during that time too; some league titles and some respectable local cup runs. But we’d probably point to 1933 as the year that horizons started to broaden. The club joined the Spartan League and won the Division Two title in 1937.
World War Two came and went and the Bloods would move on to the Parthenon League in 1954. But it didn’t work out and they left after a season; joining – somehow being from Essex – the Herts County League. They got their county affiliations back in line in 1971 as founder members of the Essex Senior League; winning that title in 1974 and then switching again to the Eastern Counties League. To be fair, success followed there too; the Bloods crowned champions of the ECL in 1983.
Oh, and the ‘Town’ name? That got added in 1967. Almost forgot that…
Why do we know the Bloods?
Having won the ECL, the Bloods fell back to sixth at the end of the following season. Even so, they still took the decision to join the Isthmian League; the competition expanding and welcoming a raft of new sides. Not only did they benefit, but so too did Stevenage Borough! The geographical nature of both ensured we were put into Division Two North. And they would remain part of that picture for as long as we were on the scene; only dropping out and back into the Essex Senior League in 1996.
Part of the reason for that ‘demotion’ was an update to the rules that now meant Catons Lane – their home ground – was no longer up to scratch. That was all down to their sloping pitch. And it’d stop them going up when they won the title in 2000 and finished runners-up a year later. In 2003, the Bloods were then denied the chance to transfer to the Eastern Counties League by the Essex Senior League. It meant a season spent outside the league structure playing friendlies.
They got their wish of Eastern Counties League action in 2004. But, seven years later, they pulled out citing financial difficulties that’d prevent them completing the 2011-2 season. Not that it stopped them from going back to that same competition in 2012. Who knows. And there was yet more upheaval in 2017 when the club transferred back to the Essex Senior League; notably sitting top of the table in 2019-20 when everything got shutdown because of Covid-19. No shortage of drama, then…
How to get to Saffron Walden Town – Travel Information – Distance: 34 miles
Going to Saffron Walden? Take the A505 for 21 miles until you have got to the other side of the M11. Then, at Whittlesford Service Station, take the third exit at the roundabout for the A1301 and continue for 2.2 miles for the junction with the A11.
At the A11, go across the two roundabouts to continue onto the B184 for 4.2 miles. Turn left into Castle Street, before a left onto Little Walden Road and left again for Catons Lane.
There is a short cut from the A505 through country lanes that you can take; available before you reach the M11. We’d recommend that you check that one out with your satnav.
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