Merton FC, the oldest amateur soccer club in the Borough was established in 1910 and the club has grown steadily and is now firmly established with 6 regular senior teams playing on Saturdays. We now have a thriving youth section with teams from u8s upwards. It is notably a lot of people having a great deal of fun and making lots of friends.
Merton FC joined the Southern Amateur League straight after the First World War in the 1919/20 season and won the top division. For the first 30 years of its life, the club shared a pitch with Merton Hockey Club on the John Innes Recreation Ground in Merton Park. A first and reserve team were fielded along with a third side known as the “Strollers” who played friendly games away from home. The “Strollers” were older, senior players who needed to be as good at drinking and socialising as they were at football to qualify for the team. This was, so as to enable them to obtain and keep the best available fixtures.
During the Second World War, Merton managed to field one regular home side. Any member who was in the services was always offered a game to make his stay at home more enjoyable. The club played some memorable games at this time, often against professional clubs. One of the regular fixtures was against the Scots Guards from Pirbright Barracks. On one special occasion, they turned up with their band, bagpipes, kilts and all, providing Merton with its biggest crowd for years.
The Southern Amateur League boasted some good teams until the 1940’s with the likes of Cambridge Town and Ipswich. Merton always used to play these clubs away because they had enclosed ground and could charge admission fees. Merton could not afford to bring these clubs to London and pay their fares out of a crowd collection at half time, which would typically raise 50 bob (£2.50). On one visit we beat Ipswich 4-0 just before they turned professional.
In the 1946/7 season, again immediately after a world war, the first team were Division 1 Champions, clinching the title over Easter with two crucial games, beating Hastings 3-2 and Eastbourne 5-1, the resulting celebrations caused the coach journey back to London to take more than eight hours. The Amateur Football Alliance has provided some memorable games for Merton, among them an away game against Old Chesterfieldians, which we lost 5-4, the same Merton player scored all four goals but still got some stick on the way home for not scoring more.
Merton Council helped the club improve their ground and at the end of the 70’s the club itself spent £3,500 on improvements with the labour provided by the players in their spare time. Merton’s other claim to fame is that Efan Ekoku once of Wimbledon FC played for the club in the season 1987/88, also representing the league and AFA side. Alan Pardew, who is a local lad, trained us for a couple of seasons before he became famous.
In the 1988/89 season, the 1st team won the division three title and the Surrey AFA Senior Cup. 1989 was a sad year as the club lost its President Bill Cox who died suddenly in December he had been with the club since 1932.
In 1990 the clubhouse at our spiritual home John Innes Recreation Ground was set ablaze by vandals, and was rebuilt in 1992 and opened by the Mayor of Merton. In 1999 the club moved to its present home at Joseph Hood Recreation Ground, Martin Way, Morden where we can accommodate 3 home teams each week and provide better facilities.
Since 2000 the teams have enjoyed a little more success on the field than previously. The First team have after an absence of 60 years returned to the First Division. After a winning the third division title in 2005/6 and following relegation and another promotion secured promotion from Division 2 in the 2013/4 season. The reserves are currently in intermediate Division 2 having been relegated in 2013.14. In 2012 /3 they won the last game of the season to clinch the division 2 title. Team Handsome as they called themselves were also runners up in the AFA Surrey Kent Intermediate Cup in a memorable season. In 2005/6 the 5th team won their league and 6th team gained promotion. In 2006/07 the 4th team gained promotion and in 2007/08 the 3rd team gained promotion.
In 2010 the club celebrated its centenary in grand style with a dinner and a club day when the first team played and beat the SAL representative side. Since then we have been trying to keep some of our older retired members involved with the club and we have a thriving if embryonic Vice Presidents Group, that meets to support the teams the bar and then the local economy.
One of the provisions of the SAL is that all players are to be provided with a hot meal and socialise after every game irrespective of which team they play in. On a Saturday afternoon at 5pm the Merton bar is a very good place to be and enjoy the friendly atmosphere.
Merton FC is a self funded amateur club run by hard working volunteers and are always looking for sponsors and new club members from the local community.