July Local History: Football in Mangotsfield – a history

June 28 2021

As football's megastars battle it out in the European Championships, Mangotsfield Residents Association member David Blackmore looks at the history of local side Mangotsfield United

IT was more than 130 years ago that Mangotsfield FC, the first football club in the village, was formed at a meeting in the Crown Hotel, St James Place.
On that day in August 1888 – years before many present day Premier League giants such as Liverpool, Chelsea and Leeds United were founded – 19-year-old Edward Alway Young of Rodway Hill Farm was made club captain and Jonathon Pendock of Dibden Farm (now the Langley Arms, Emersons Green) was made secretary.
The club played its games on land behind the Red Lion pub in St James Street, which was shared with the village cricket team.
In 1892 Mangotsfield FC were founder members of the Bristol & District League, which became the Western Football League in 1895.
That year saw the advent of professionalism in the sport, although Mangotsfield remained an amateur club and struggled over their first ten years, resigning from the Western League (Amateur) Division 1 in season 1897-98, after finishing bottom.
The club had been disciplined on a number of occasions due to the 'ungentlemanly' behaviour of supporters, who earned a reputation for “underhanded tactics”, hacking at the shins of any visiting player who strayed too close to the touchline or chasing after the referee if the team lost.
A move to a ground low on Pomphrey Hill earned them the nickname the Railway Men, due to the proximity of their ground to the Midland Railway line at Mangotsfield North Junction.
When the Cave family left Mangotsfield in 1922, they auctioned off their estates and farms in the area but left a field off Cossham Street, known as the Hut Field, to the village – and it has been the football club's home ever since.
Mangotsfield FC would reform and disband on several occasions before eventually folding in 1952.
The previous year, players left without a team after the reserve XI was wound up had formed a new club – Mangotsfield United.
At the start of the 1951-52 season, United entered the Bristol & District League, Division Vll.
Season 1952-53 was notable not just for them winning Bristol & District League Division VI but for two records that still stand to this day: the biggest home win, 17-0 over Hanham Sports, and the most goals scored in a season – 172 goals in 30 matches, an average of almost six a game.
Five successive promotions saw the club enter the Bristol & District Premier Combination in 1957.
This coincided with their first change of colours, from all-black with amber sleeves and hooped socks, to white shirts with black shorts and black and white socks.
The club's current colours – maroon shirts, sky blue shorts and white socks – came in the mid-1960s.
The club achieved a notable 'double' of the Premier Combination League title and the Gloucestershire FA (South) Senior Amateur Cup in March 1969, defeating the much-fancied Hanham Athletic of the Gloucestershire County League 4-1 in the final at Eastville Stadium.
In 1972-73, the club was accepted into the expanding Western League, managed by former Bristol Rovers full back Doug Hillard, and established itself there during the 1970’s.
During the 70s and 80s the successful youth team won 13 league titles and 10 knock-out competitions. Players who went on to professional careers, with clubs from Rovers and City to Liverpool, Everton and Aston Villa, included Gary Penrice, Nicky Tanner, Phil Purnell, Steve Talboys, Mike Hooper, Gary Megson, Steve White and Gary Warren – a tradition continued this year, when Louis Britton was signed by Bristol City.
Former Rovers and City players have come the other way and played for Mangotsfield, including Ray Mabbutt, Harold Jarman, Michael Meaker and David Seal, a former Australian U-23 international who made 246 appearances and scored 170 goals.
In 1991 the club, managed by former player Harold Jarman, won the Great Mills League Premier Division title but were denied promotion to the Southern League as the Cossham Street ground failed to meet the necessary requirements. Most of the title-winning team departed but the team generally managed to maintain top-six finishes and in 1992-93 recorded its biggest ever away victory, 14-0 over Dawlish Town.
The club's ambitions of promotion were thwarted by the continued success of Taunton Town and Tiverton Town, both of whom did not wish to be promoted and so halted the progression of other clubs.
Former player Andy Black returned to the club as manager in 1999, guiding them to promotion to the Dr Martens Southern League and in 2004/05, under Martyn Grimshaw, the club took the Division One West title on a 21-match unbeaten run, reaching the Premier Division, where the club would spend four seasons.
The 2020/21 season would have been Mangotsfield United's 21st campaign as a Southern League club, but like the 2019/20 season it was declared null and void, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Often now known as the Mangos, the forthcoming campaign will be the 12th in the Southern Football League Division One South.