Kidlington FC

Kidlington v Headington United in FA Cup in 1950 - click here for more details.

The original Kidlington Football Club was initially thought to date back to 1909 but following them back through history they are found to be joining the newly formed Oxfordshire District League in 1908. They also appear in the Oxford Times fixture lists as playing friendly matches back to September 1906. A fixture is recorded against a team from 'Elliston & Cavell' on 29th September 1906. No result for this match can be found but their match against 'St Thomas II' on 20th October 1906 ended in a 2-1 defeat for 'The Villagers'.

According to Jackson’s Oxford Journal edition dated 13 January 1894 - “Charlbury football team visited Kidlington on Thursday last, and beat the home club by three goals to nil.”

In their early years the club's initials are seen what appears to be 'KUFC' in photographs - whether the 'U' referred to United is not currently clear, but perhaps a couple of local teams got together to start the village club? It may be that they are actually 'KVFC' with the referring to Kidlington Village as early match reports have referred to Kidlington as 'The Villagers'. These initials seem to have still been in use in 1920-21.

Their first notable cup win was in 1929 when Kidlington won the Lord Jersey Cup - beating Fritwell 2-1 at Bicester Town. They had played in various village leagues including Mid-Oxon Junior League, Oxford City Junior League, Junior Shield and Woodstock Charity Cup. The entered the Hellenic League in 1954 (a year after it's inauguration) and are still in that league. The club's headquarters had been located in the (old) Red Lion public house - this is now the café next door to the current Red Lion.

In the 1930s, they had played on a pitch which was entered via Yarnton Road (then known as Yarnton Lane) at the site now occupied by the entrance to Morton Avenue. This land was originally known as Starkes Field. There was also an entrance to the field via Yarnton Lane where Treeground Place is now located. There had also been an entrance to next to number 86 Oxford Road, but the occupants purchases the land of this entrance from Jim Tompkins, who then lived at Lyne Farm (previously lived in Mill Street). He seems to have owned this land from 1923. The pitch itself (see D in map below) was located over an area now covered by Morton Close and part of Churchill Road and ran long ways towards the Oxford Road, but was separated from the Oxford Road by a row of houses. It is possible that the pitch was further back towards the current site as the don't see to have backed on to Oxford Road until the late 30's / early 40's. The changing rooms were located at the Oxford Road end and had previously been located alongside the old school in School Road. The hut was relocated to Gosford Turn where it was used by the Home Guard and local scouts, before it was moved once again in 1946 to Gosford Hill when Abe Buckland wanted the land for his garage business. It was at Gosford Hill when it was destroyed in 1969 following an arson attack by two local boys.

Before their move to the (old) Yarnton Lane ground they had played next to the Kidlington Cricket ground at Wilsden's Field at the end of Lyne Road (around 1934/35 - E). This was located on the right hand side as you now approach the railway crossing. Matches had also been played on a pitch at Gosford Hill and also in Langford Lane - perhaps the site where rugby club Gosford All Blacks would later play?

A 'Kidlington Minors' team had playing during the second world war and was run by Jim Hunt - he would later me a notable name with both Kidlington FC as well as Oxford United FC (previously Headington United FC).

In 1945 Kidlington FC was reformed and an AGM was held in the (old) Foresters Hall in High Street. One of the main tasks for the club was to find a ground. One piece of land that was of interest was in Yarnton Road (now their current home) but at this time the owners, a Mrs Partridge from Begbroke, changed her mind about selling. Jim Tompkins then offered them a field located at the end of the original Lyne Road at the start of Begbroke Lane (C) - now accessed via Partridge Place as Lyne Road is now rerouted). This land, located between Rowel Brook and the Oxford Canal, was known as Round Ham. The pitch was located through a gate found after crossing both the railway line and the canal. This site can still easily be found and hasn't really changed at all - even the footpath that ran alongside the pitch is still clearly visible today. The pitch also bordered the Oxford Canal, which was often the resting place for wayward shots. An old type nissen hut was used as changing rooms. The club had some success in the Oxford City Junior League and Mid-Oxon League. On 5th September 1952, the parish boundary between Begbroke and Kidlington was moved and so the former home of Kidlington FC became a part of Begbroke.

In 1950 Kidlington drew Headington United in the FA Cup, but gave up home advantage - click here for more details. Kidlington FC played in the Oxfordshire Senior League (winners in 1953) and then joined the Hellenic League in 1954.

After discussions with the local Parish Council, a new 'permanent' home was offered at Exeter Close in 1952 (B). This is located quite central for the village, the pitch was set long ways between Crown Road and the main Oxford Road. Since at least the 1930's Exeter Close was the home of many village activities such as fetes and both Jubilee and Coronation celebrations. This site had been donated to the village by two unmarried sisters - Elizabeth and Alice Kitson. They had moved from Thornbury House to Court Place in Crown Road, and donated the ground in memory of those who had served in the Forces. A condition of its provision was that the ground would not be built on and would be used for recreational sports and leisure. It had a large changing room (which is still used for storage by the cricket ground located at the next field along) and the nissen hut was relocated from Begbroke Lane soon after the move and became the shower room.

But in the late 1960's the would be asked to leave by the Parish Council. Despite the Kitson sisters' original request, the appointed trustees gave up the land to the control of of the parish council. A meeting was held where plans to build a hall in the middle of the pitch were rejected. A local referendum was held by the local council among (some of) the local residents to see whether or not the ground should be built upon. Local thought is that the vote was against the council's plans but the official result was in favour of the council and the football team had to go - even though the bowls club, a cricket club and football pitch would still be found on or adjacent to the later many years later. Work of the new buildings at Exeter Close soon started and around half of the old field has now been lost to these buildings but the rest is still a recreation area for children and also houses a bowling green. This site still exists as a recreation area, although much of the pitch area has been lost to the building of the Forum Youth Centre, Exeter Hall and the Medical Centre - the first of which opened in November 1971. Located next to the old changing rooms (which are now used for storage) is a modern sports facility which sees cricket and football played by youth team Exeter Rangers FC - in the field next to Exeter Close.

While looking for a new home the club investigation several options: share a field with Gosford All Blacks RFC, purchase land from the builders Pye, write to local farmers looking for an available field, find an available field at Oxford Airport, use a field at Gosford Hill where the youth team were playing.

Eventually land was obtained from the builder's J A Pye who were building the Dogwood Green estate nearby. It was a return to Yarnton Road in 1969 (A) although further down towards the Oxford Canal. The estate is now separated from the football ground by allotments which were provided at the same time as a part of the overall building agreement by Pye - replacing other allotments lost due to new buildings. The original long green clubhouse was actually relocated from Oxford Airport and rebuilt by club officials and players. A modern complex and entertainment venue is now on the site (built in 1979). This new expansion saw the removal of the pillbox which had been located in the car park. The ground is now floodlit and has a small stand too.

Kidlington FC had their own Supporters Club who held their first meeting on 15th June 1949 and held regular dances in the village as well as organising buses to away matches and purchasing items for the football club itself. By October 1951 it had 147 members and the minutes show that most of the money used for the football club itself was coming from the supporters club. But in the early sixties it folded due to lack of interest.

An excellent booklet was produced by Mr Gordon Norridge - 'The Story of Kidlington Football Club - from 1937 to 1997' detailing the club's history during Mr Norridge's 60 years with them. Mr Norridge has aided and confirmed much of the information above.

Acknowledgements to: Kidlington Football Club, Kidlington & District Historical Society and the late Mr Gordon Norridge.