Who are Barking?
Who doesn’t like a bit of intrigue? With the first knockings of the original Barking Football Club, that’s what we have. The official line is that the ancient abbey town and fishing port got its first club in 1880 (Rovers). But it gets a bit muddy after that. The current club says on its website: “One authority states that the Rovers club was the precursor to the present club; the local Church Institute being involved in running it, with the name being changed to Barking Institute.”
After reading the story three or four times, we’re still struggling with it. We can tell you for sure, however, that ‘Institute’ was binned from the name in 1902. Not that the Blues were completely done with add-ons; Town being stuck at the end of the Barking name between 1902 and 1932. By this time, the Blues had graduated to the Athenian League – but only managed to reach the summit during their 1934-5 title-winning campaign.
In 1952, the Blues joined the Isthmian League and can boast (what they claim to be) a bit of competition history. In 1958, their Vicarage Field home had floodlights installed and this enabled the club to become the first in the league’s history to play a game under their own lights. Is this true? Who knows? Do we have reason to not believe it? Not really. So, we’re happy to say “fair play” and leave it at that.
In 1973, however, the Blues were on the move after the local council asked them to leave Vicarage Fields; instead, offering the lease to Mayesbrook Park as a new home for them.
Why do we know Barking?
It didn’t take too long for the Blues to establish themselves in the Isthmian League – even if there were a few dud seasons along the way. But, over time, they could begin to look up in the table instead of down. That said, their 1978-9 title-winning campaign was a little out of step with things. It earned them the accolade of FA Non-League Team of the Year. But not, it seems, a place in the inaugural 1979-80 Alliance Premier League line-up.
The pre-cursor to the Conference had been formed by teams from both the Northern and Southern Leagues – with Isthmian clubs missing out. So, the Blues had nowhere to go…
After that title success, the Blues started to struggle in the Premier Division as the 1980s took shape. But they saw out the decade; a time at which Boro’ were starting to make the slow rise up the Isthmian League ourselves. And, while our league status wouldn’t match theirs until the new decade had dawned, our first encounter came in October 1985. Why? The AC Delco Cup. Duh. Who doesn’t remember that tournament, eh?