Some often forget that football clubs even exist outside of the world of the premiership and the other top divisions, but there are many teams slugging it out for glory in the lesser-known leagues so that they may one day grace the more famous leagues in football. Ilford Football Club have been going since 1987, or at least that is the date of “birth” for the current iteration of the club anyhow. If Ilford FC doesn’t ring a bell, you may have heard them being referred to by their nickname of ” The Foxes” or even “that talented team from East London way”. It’s ok if you haven’t heard of them however, the most important thing is that they exist and they are currently sitting in the Essex Senior League awaiting the upcoming season after a disappointing relegation from the Isthmian League First Division North resulting from one of the worst seasons the team has ever experienced.
It wasn’t always dire news for Ilford FC however. As mentioned above, the team once graced the Isthmian League First Division North. Though the team were in the relegation zone of the league after only being there as a result of the reshuffling of the local league structures, they stayed up as a result of Enfield’s resignation from the league. Unfortunately, 2007-08 saw Ilford yet again in the relegation zone of the league but given yet another lucky reprieve from relegation by the resignation of Edgware Town, a seemingly miraculous stroke of luck that mirrored the team’s previous saving from relegation in the previous season.
The “glory days” of the team could be argued as being in the 2008-09 season where the team managed to finished 17th under the management of Chris Wood. Chris Wood resigned in 2009 after a tragic home defeat against VCD Athletic, though succeeding manager Colin Walton stayed on at the club assisted by Bert Hoyte, and the team managed to stay above the relegation zone for the 2011-12 season, though the rest is history as the team fared much worse under Kevin Lucas.
The particulars of the team are usually what interest most fans, and Ilford’s particulars are as interesting as those of any team. The home colours consist of blue shorts and blue/white stripe on top; away kit is black/red stripe on top and black shorts. The team’s home ground is also a fairly recognisable structure, being the Cricklefield Stadium where all of the home matches are played. The stadium has an impressive capacity of around 3,500 persons, was built in 1923, and is a multi-use stadium that is shared with Waltham Forest FC and Ilford Athletic Club. The stadium has somewhat of a history, having been host to a number of the preliminaries for the football events of the 1948 Olympics.
Though the team haven’t really been involved in any impressive feats of performance or massively noteworthy achievements, they have a commendable list of honours behind them. Back when the team performed at its peak they were winners of the Isthmian Division Two league in 2004-2005 season, which is an achievement that most rival teams would desire greatly. The team also managed to battle their way to runner-up position in the Essex Senior Football League in the 2003-04 season before their success in the Isthmian League Division Two league. Ilford also have a few cups to their name, including the winning specimen from the Essex Senior Football League Cup in 2002-2003. The team were also runners up for the Essex Senior Football League Gorden Brasted Memorial Trophy.
As you can see from the brief history above, the team seems to have peaked in the past and gotten progressively less impressive from there, managing to hold on to their position in their highest league presence as a result of the resignation of two teams in different seasons. Still, the team has a few players to its name that went on to play in a fully professional sense, including Shaun Batt, Julian Charles, Troy Hewitt, and Clydie Roberts. The team’s glory days may be behind them, but who knows what lies in store for the 2014/2015 season? You can find out at the Essex Senior League page.