With the football season well underway, there may be no better time than the present to look at Harrow’s premier football team – a long-standing staple in the local community, and the source of, perhaps surprisingly, a number of successes over the years.
Founded in 1933, initially under the name Roxonian F.C., the club quickly bore the coat of arms of the Harrow borough. This emblem has a history of its own – one worth quickly recounting. Its shield depicts various parts of Harrow; the shield’s green, horizontal bar the representing the presence of the green belt in the borough. Also on the shield is a flaming torch – symbolising knowledge for Harrow School – a quill pen – representing Pinner and the famous authors to have lived there – and a small cluster of trees – reflecting Harrow Weald and the mound on Harrow-on-the-Hill. On the club’s badge alone, then, there is much of the borough’s history to be found.
Playing their first season in the Harrow and District League, Roxonian F.C. found considerable success – finishing as the runners up and moving up a new league and to a new ground: Earlsmead Stadium, where they have been ever since. Much like their badge, the club’s home also has its own history, with the land being known before as Dabbs Field. This is believed to have been the site of a medieval battle – making it somewhat appropriate that, in the present, battles of another kind continue to be waged here.
From their new home, the club continued to find success in the years following, finishing second in the Spartan League Division Two West in 1938. A year later, the club’s name changed to Harrow Town F.C. – bringing it closer to the club we know today.
The eruption of war in the 1940s saw Harrow Town’s ascent cut short, however, relegating the team to Middlesex Leagues until the war was ended halfway through the decade. At this point, the club finally made its rightful position at the top level of the Spartan League – as they had been promoted to six years earlier. In the years and decades following, Harrow Town continued to compete, yet with the 1960s the club began to run into financial trouble. Coming close to self-destruction, Harrow Town was forced to sell their second pitch at Earlsmead to the council in an effort to ensure their survival. Earlsmead Primary School was later built on this land.
Now confined to the one pitch, the club – now also named Harrow Borough F.C., earning them the nickname ‘Boro’ – managed to make some gains, being elected to the Isthmian League in Division Two in 1975. Later, in 1979, they were again promoted, having finished second the previous season, and here gained entry into the league that they are currently in – now called the Premier Division. The years that followed saw club travel hills and valleys of successes and failures – making its furthest run at the FA Trophy in reaching the semi-finals in the 1980s, then seeing a steady decline of results in the latter years of the decade before a resurgence in the 1990s under manager Harry Manoe.
Recently this story has seen a reversal again – as is the way of these things – in 2000 the club earning the unfortunate nickname ‘Houdini Boro’ for its near-miss of relegation that season. Boro’s recent loss to Northampton has in some ways only continued this trend. Yet if the club’s past is of any indication, it will only be a matter of time before this is reversed again – and with their historic grounds so local, what’s to stop you from waiting for this moment yourself? Of course, Harrow F.C. is not the only club to be found locally – indeed, the team who are considered by many to be their biggest rivals can be found in the local area too. But this club, and their story, will have to wait for another week.
Playing from all the way back in the 1930s, against titans of the sport like Chelsea (whom they managed to beat in early 1990s), Harrow F.C. has had a long and consistent presence in the local community. Whilst we watch the heavy-weights battle it out on the screens, why not give our local team a little bit of your time and support in between?
Have any personal stories or memories about Harrow F.C.? Be sure to share them in the comments below!
Written by Harry Turner.
Image Credit: tigerroar.co.uk