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Romford FC historians uncover the untold story of ‘the Chelsea of non-league football’

PUBLISHED: 14:55 30 November 2017

Romford FC in 1977

Romford FC in 1977

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The long and turbulent history of Romford Football Club has finally been documented in full by two determined local historians.

Co-authors Terry Felton and John Haley (seated) at the book signing with Romford fans Co-authors Terry Felton and John Haley (seated) at the book signing with Romford fans

The fifth and final volume of John Haley and Terry Felton’s history of Romford Football Club, 1967-1981 From Brooklands to the Final Whistle, was published last week.

Romford FC, known as the Boro to their fans, were founded in 1876 at a public meeting at the White Hart Pub.

Over the course of more than a century, the club carved itself out an iconic reputation as “the Chelsea of non-league football”, and played host to visitors from Bobby Moore’s West Ham to the exotic Germans of Borussia Dortmund.

But sadly, a failure to get elected to the Football League hampered the Boro’s ambitions, and finally in 1981 the club folded entirely.

Sadly, Mr Haley – who had followed the club religiously since 1945 – passed away earlier this year.

So great is the interest in this sensational new book that, a launch event at Havering Musuem last weekend completely sold out.

Now, co-author Terry Felton and publisher Linda Rhodes, have managed to arrange an additional signing session to cope with demand.

This will take place at Romford Central Library, St Edward’s Way tomorrow (Sat), where admission is free and fans can chat to Terry and buy a copy at the special launch price of £15.

Brooklands Ground in Romford Brooklands Ground in Romford

The regular cover price is £20 and previous volumes will also be available at discounted prices.

Publisher Linda Rhodes said: “Although John Haley passed away in May this year, he did complete his work on volume five – mainly the statistics and season summaries – before his death.

“It is such a shame John isn’t here to celebrate the completion of his and Terry’s project. They’ve made Romford FC one of the best-documented clubs around.”

Terry Felton began following the fortunes of Romford FC back in 1968, when his grandfather got him interested in supporting the club.

He soon felt an affinity with the club’s home ground of Brooklands, and quickly began researching the club’s history.

He said: “In 1974 I started researching the clubs history travelling to libraries all over the south of England to pick up missing information not available at Romford Library.

“I compiled a book entitled Brooklands From Rise To Demise but before I had enquired about getting it published my path crossed with John Haley, who invited me to his house to look through the treasure trove he called his collection.”

It soon became apparent that between them the pair had more than enough knowledge on the subject for not just one book, but five.

The fifth and final volume of the history of Romford Football Club is published next week The fifth and final volume of the history of Romford Football Club is published next week

And now, finally, the fruits of their labours can be enjoyed in full.

Terry added: “With John’s 72 years of research and my 43 years of research this is probably one of the best documented clubs in the UK.

“The highs and lows are followed every step of the way.

“If you played for Romford your name is in our book.”

The pair’s fifth and final volume looks at the club’s demise in 1981 – although their last game was in 1978 – and looks in fine detail at what caused a proposed new stadium at Oldchurch Park to fail.

The book even allows fans to relive Romford’s final game at Brooklands on April 19 1977, a 2-0 victory over Salisbury City.

Back in May this year, Terry organised a reunion night for Boro legends past and present to mark the launch of the fourth volume of his history of the club.

Those attending the event were lucky enough to meet five footballers from the club’s history, Barry Cappi, Bill Brown, John Suters, Roy Saunders and Tom Barnett, who shared their wonderful stories with a packed audience.

Romford FC badge Romford FC badge

Speaking at the event, Mr Barnett said: “My time with Romford Football Club was one of the best times of my life.”

Meet author Terry Felton at the book signing event at Romford Central Library, St Edward’s Way, on Saturday from 11am-2pm.

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