Retro: Wellingborough Saxon FC celebrate 40 years

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A football club is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Members of Wellingborough Saxon Football Club claim the club is a “life choice”, with members going along for training and staying for 30 years.

During its 40 years the club has played 1,734 games, winning 963 and scoring 3,381 goals. They have played in 12 different countries and also represented England in amateur international games against Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Lithuania.

The club started out as an idea banded about by a few friends at a church youth club back in 1974. Club member Jeff Underdown said: “It was pure days of yore stuff when a group of lads from All Hallows Youth Club got together in Croyland Park in 1974 and put down jumpers forgoalposts and started to worry about the wind resistance of their flares and whether or not it was time to retire to The Hind.

“These lads managed to arrange a few friendly games of football against the likes of Riseley, Weekly Glebe and appropriately enough, The Saxon Hotel. Little did theyknow or expect that the team they thought about calling The Graveyard Wanderers or Church Street Cloggers and eventually decided to call Wellingborough Saxon FC was going to grow from such humble beginnings.”

A couple of years later the club borrowed £25, which was half the cost of a full kit, from local teacher Phil Ramsey, and decided to enter the Rushden & District Football League. Their first matches in the league were in the 1977-78 season.

For the past 20 years the club has been arranging football tours on the European circuit. Most players past and present have enjoyed the experience of playing for Saxons in another country.

Over the years Saxon players and supporters have travelled to places like Holland, France, Belgium, Torquay and, in more recent years, to Eastern Europe, including places such as Krakow, Wroclaw and Prague.

The past five years have also seen them travelling to Slovenia, Hungary, Lithuania and the excellent Estonia, which they have visited twice.

The football match performances and results have been positive and the team is unbeaten in Estonia, Czechoslovakia, Krakow and Lithuania, and they even won a game on penalties last year in Estonia.

In 2012 the team won a competition organised by Marks & Spencer to play a young Belgium team at London Soccerdome the night before the full England team played the Belgian national team at Wembley.

The veteran Saxon team, made up of players mostly aged between 35 and 45, were beaten 3-0 but Saxon chairman Adam Gaggini told The Sun newspaper: “We might have lost our match to the Belgians but we played in good spirits and played some good fooball despite the age difference.”

To mark Wellingborough Saxon FC’s 40th anniversary the club organised a football tournament and celebration dinner at MK Dons stadium on May 24.

The guest speaker was former Liverpool and West Ham player Neil “Razor” Ruddock, who followed in the footsteps of former guest speakers at the club’s dinners to mark their 25th, 30th, and 35th anniversaries, Jimmy Greaves, Frank Worthington and Paul Merson.

The event involved 200 people, a football tournament for all players and ex-players during the day, followed by an evening black tie event in the evening and took the organising committee 18 months to plan.

The club co-marshalled the Wellingborough Carnival last year and hopes to do the same this year and its charity football tournament raised £400 last year which was split between a prostate cancer charity and Football for Charity.

To mark the 40th anniversary, the club has launched a new badge and will be unveiling its new kit on Sunday, June 1. The three new kits have been sponsored by Avant Garde Hairdressing and Mark Lovesey; Citrus Training and Wayne Taylor; and Venutti and Chris Dagless.