When football spread to Worcestershire in the 1870’s the growing number of clubs and the strength of the game in the County resulted, in 1879, in the formation of the Worcestershire Association Committee which was affiliated and responsible to Birmingham County.
The Worcestershire Football Association was founded on the 17th June 1893 (still under the jurisdiction of Birmingham). When the Association affiliated as a separate Association to The Football Association in 1908 it did not carry with it a seat on The FA Council and Worcestershire continued to be represented by a Birmingham County delegate. This remained so until Worcestershire were allowed to take a seat on The FA Council in December 1912.
The Association through its Honorary Officers and many volunteers continued to oversee football in Worcestershire as an unincorporated body until in 1999 when the Association took the step to incorporate as a Company Limited by Guarantee (as did many other County FAs).
On 1st January 2001 the Association appointed its first Full Time employee (the current Company Secretary). The Association now has 11 full and part time staff dealing with Governance, Discipline, Facilities and Football Development.
In August 2001 the Association purchased its current headquarters in Droitwich thus consolidating all of the work previously carried out in individuals’ own homes.
The Association has over 300 Clubs (with over 900 teams), 7 adult leagues (including 1 Women’s’ League), 3 youth leagues, 10 Charity Competitions and numerous Small Sided Competitions in affiliation, and over 400 registered Referees.
One Hundred Years of Football (1893 to 1993)- Written and Compiled by Richard Bannister
There is no doubt that football has been played in one form and another since the invention of the ball and according to Collins Encyclopaedia the origin of the ball is lost in history. It goes on to say that ‘the origin of ball games is believed to be in the fertility rites of Ancient Egypt’. Furthermore, "The Ancient Greeks and Romans also had some kind of football and their words for it were, respectively, Episcuro and Harpastrum.
Further reference to the MacMillan Dictionary of Sport and Games is rather more specific in dates and states: "The Greeks and Romans had a ball for a variety of games and for football used a ball made of the bladder of a pig or ox. Football can be traced back to 206 A.D. during the period of the Han Dynasty in China and is described as an 11-a-side field game with 2 goals, each goal consisting of 2 bamboo poles 30 feet high placed 3 feet apart with silken nets. The game was called Tsu Chu (the Tsu meaning ‘to kick’ and Chu denotes a ball of stuffed leather). No reference has been found of the Ancient Britons playing the game although no doubt they had a ball of some design – maybe some unfortunate’s skull!
To come to more modern times there does not appear to have been much activity in the game in Worcestershire before the 1870s and wider interest in the game was cultivated by the formation of The Football Association in 1863. Following the introduction of the ruling body, the game, which previously had mainly been confined to London and it environs, the North Midlands, Manchester and Sheffield, began to spread. This growth led to the establishment of County, Charity and District Associations, and in 1875 the Birmingham District and Counties Football Association was inaugurated; this body finally becoming the present Birmingham County Football Association. The boundaries within which this organisation operated extended from Stoke on Trent in the North to Worcestershire in the South and from Bridgnorth in the West to Rugby in the East. Football in Worcestershire therefore came under the authority of Birmingham, and from the records available it appears that a happy relationship was formed that has remained to this day.
It is not possible to state when the game started to be played in Worcestershire, but in the north west of the county it appears it was brought into the Kidderminster area by Black Country workers crossing the South Staffordshire border in search of work in the new foundries and forges on the banks of the River Stour. The first recorded game played in the area was on the 16th February, 1878, between Cookley and a team from Birmingham. It was played at Lea Castle Park and resulted in a win for the visitors by 6 goals to 2. There is no doubt that similar stirrings were experienced throughout the County as, like their counterparts in other parts of the country, the sportsmen of Worcestershire welcomed the appearance of an organised game that could be played in the Winter. In the south of the county, clubs such as Badsey Rangers were being formed. There are many clubs that were formed in the years following the inauguration of Birmingham County and Cookley and Badsey are mentioned as they were, and are, village clubs where the incentive to fill Saturday afternoons was very strong. The activity in the game was not confined to village and town clubs, but also to Public and Grammar Schools.
The growing number of clubs and the strength of the game in the County resulted, in 1879, in the formation of the Worcestershire Association Committee which was affiliated and responsible to Birmingham County, and it was one of the many Charity and District Associations in counties around Birmingham that were formulated about that time and who were all functioning under the jurisdiction of Birmingham County.
The leading officers of the new Worcestershire Association were the Earl of Dudley, President; Joseph Pritchard (Kidderminster), Chairman; and John Lewis (Feckenham), Secretary. Beyond these gentlemen there is no available information as to the strength and names, or clubs, of the original committee. Joseph Pritchard (1856-1929) who, as you see, was elected Chairman at the tender age of 23, was obviously a sportsman of high repute in the Kidderminster area, particularly with the Harriers Athletic and Rugby Club
for whom he was playing at the time as it appears that rugby was probably the only available game to play. He was, however, a far sighted man who appreciated the growing popularity of the round ball game to the extent that in 1878 he, in the name of Kidderminster Harriers, bought a one shilling share in The Football Association. With regard to John Lewis he was a referee of some repute as he officiated in International and Football League matches.
It would appear that the Worcestershire Association were responsible only for the general administration of the game and were not allowed to discipline players charged with field offences against the Laws as such authority was not given by Birmingham County until 1900. During the period 1879-1893 the game grew considerably with more and more clubs forming and whilst Worcestershire clubs were not allowed to compete in the Birmingham Senior Cup which was founded in 1875, they were allowed in the Birmingham Junior Cup when it came into being in 1887. In the first competition for this trophy the following clubs who compete in the Worcestershire Cup Competitions at the present day were in the First Round draw: Sutton Coldfield, Redditch, Stourbridge and Kidderminster Harriers.
During these early days the majority of games were played as friendlies but some Charity Cup competitions came into being to provide a variation and a greater incentive. The formation of the town Junior Leagues was still in the future but in 1889 the Birmingham League was inaugurated and Kidderminster Harriers and Kidderminster Olympic were founder members. Worcester Rovers also made application to join but as there were 13 applications and it had been decided to restrict the membership of the League to 12 clubs, a vote was taken and Rovers were eliminated.
Whilst details are sketchy it seems that during the early part of 1893 the number of clubs taking up membership encouraged the Worcestershire Association Committee to spread its wings as it had then been administering the game in the county for 14 years.
At the time an increasing number of Charity Cup competitions had become available and, not to be outdone, the Association President, the Earl of Dudley who must have been a keen supporter of the game, announced his intention of giving a Challenger Cup to the Association for competition between member clubs. The additional incentive of a cup competition bearing its name spurred the Association to apply for direct affiliation to The Football Association. Their request was granted but they continued to be responsible and affiliated to Birmingham. Worcestershire was admitted to direct membership of The Football Association in 1908. A Minute of the Worcestershire Football Association Council Meeting of the 25th April, 1914, in the only early Minute Book in existence states: "The Secretary brought to the notice of the Council that the Association has been in existence 21 years on the 17th June next …", so therefore it must be accepted that the founding date of the County Association is the 17th June, 1893. Presumably the Hon. Secretary in 1912, Albert Hope, had the original Minute Book, but it has not survived.
With regard to the inaugural meeting of the Association the Kidderminster Times of the 24th June 1893 has a report of a meeting held at Droitwich for the purpose of making the draw for the Worcestershire Challenge Cup. It has to be assumed that the Association Committee was present but were not named, but it does say delegates from the following clubs attended: Redditch Town, Kidderminster Harriers, Stourbridge, Worcester Rovers, Berwick Rangers, Oldbury Town, Harrisons Stourport, Kidderminster Town, Redditch Excelsior, Harts Hill unity and Dudley Town. It was decided when the rounds should be played; that the Emergency Committee should be J. Pritchard (Chairman), W.W. Alexander (Redditch), Hon. Treasurer, and J. Lewis Hon. Secretary; that the competition would be affiliated to the Birmingham and District Football Association; should be played under Birmingham Senior Cup rules; and the cup committee should consist of one delegate from each club. As no other record of a meeting around the date of the newspaper article has been found it can fairly be assumed that this meeting coincided with, or was, "the Founding Meeting" of the Worcestershire County Football Association. The cup is the present Worcestershire Senior Cup and according to the Press was made by Elkingtons of Birmingham and cost £50. The winners of the first
competition were Redditch who beat Oldbury 3-1. Of the clubs that took part in the first competition Redditch, Kidderminster Harriers, Stourbridge and Dudley, together with Worcester City who were formed in 1902 to take over the fixtures of Berwick Rangers, still take part in the competition.
The affiliation to, and members of, The Football Association in 1908 did not carry with it a seat on The FA Council and Worcestershire continued to be represented by a Birmingham County delegate. This remained so until Worcestershire were allowed to take a seat on The FA Council in December 1912. At one stage from 1896 to 1909 the representative was William McGregor, the "Father of the Football League".
In October 1893 there was an encouraging mention in the newspapers stating that the fledgling Association was "bidding fair to become very strong and useful". It had been in touch with all the leading clubs in the county, and was now calling on all junior clubs to become members. It was said that the English Association in its new rules, required all clubs to be affiliated to an Association in order to bring them under control.
The Officers of the new Association were those that had served since 1879, plus W.W. Alexander of Redditch as Hon. Treasurer. The Earl of Dudley was not the only influential person to be interested in the Association as the four Vice-Presidents who were elected were: Sir Edmund Lechmere and Messrs. A.F. Godson, M.P., Alfred Baldwin, M.P., and Moore Brown. Mr. Fred Tandy of Kidderminster was elected as representative on the Birmingham Association. No record has been found of the names of the Council Members of the Worcestershire Association at the time of inauguration. During the early days meetings of the Association were held at the Raven Hotel, Droitwich, but the venue was changed to the Riflemans Arms, Droitwich in the mid 1890s and that, with a few exceptions, has remained so until the present day.
It was stated in the autumn of 1893, that a gentleman in Worcestershire would be donating a Junior Cup to the Association for the competition commencing in the season 1894/5.
There were complaints during this period of misconduct by affiliated Junior Clubs and "strong measures were ordered to keep the Juniors in order". It should be pointed out that the address of the secretary, John Lewis, was Feckenham Schools, Droitwich! Following the formation of the North Cotswold and Vale of Evesham League in 1891/2 more and more clubs were being formed and the 1893/4 season saw the founding of the Worcester League. This was followed in 1894/95 by the Kidderminster and the Worcestershire Leagues. The Worcestershire League and the North Cotswold and Vale of Evesham League are now defunct.
The summer of 1894 saw the resignation of the Chairman, Joseph Pritchard. He was a well known Kidderminster architect and felt that he must give more time to his business.
In August 1894 the Association called for entries for the Senior and Junior Cup competitions and announced that only county clubs would be allowed to compete. It was also announced that the Association suspended the players of five clubs for the month of September for playing in the closed season.
As no record has been found of the Annual Meeting of 1894 it cannot be ascertained who took over the chairmanship and newspaper reports of subsequent meetings in the 1894/5 season show the following members taking the Chair: Mr. Priestley (Wribbenhall Victoria), Councillor G.W. Hobson (Droitwich) and Mr. F. Tandy who was the Association Treasurer.
The Annual Meeting of 1895 was held at the Raven Hotel, Droitwich, on the 27th September and gives a glimpse into how the Association was organised. In attendance were: Alderman G.W. Hobson, C.C., who was voted to the chair, and Messrs. John Lewis, Hon. Secretary; F. Tandy, Hon. Treasurer; R. Morgan (Worcester), Lyons (Olympic), G. Saunders (Worcester Artillery), Mr. Priestley (Bewdley Victoria), J. Glazzard (St Johns Waverley), Mr. Harris (Harrisons Stourport), Bowning (St. Marys Albion), A.C. Hope (St. Johns Bible Class,
Kidderminster), Evans (Droitwich), G. Sealey (Redditch Town), W. Miller (Worcester Rovers), J. Ray (Redditch Excelsiors), Standford (Berwick Rangers) and A.W. Essex (Evesham Wanderers). In his report the Secretary said that the number of clubs had increased from 33 in 1893/4 to 81 in 1894/5; seven clubs had competed for the Senior Cup and 22 for the Junior Cup. The Treasurer reported on the accounts and said that the Association made a loss of £15 19s during the preceding season. The elections resulted as follows: President – Earl of Dudley; Vice-Presidents – Colonel Long, M.P., and Messrs. A.F. Godson, M.P., Alfred Baldwin, M.P., and Moore Brown. The Chairman, Hon. Secretary and Hon. Treasurer were re-elected as were Messrs. R. Morgan (Worcester) and Dutfield (Kidderminster) as Hon. Auditors. Mr. Fred Tandy (Kidderminster) was re-appointed as representative to the Birmingham County Association. There was a vote for the four representatives of the Junior clubs to the Council which resulted in the election of Messrs. Lyons, Glazzard, Priestley and Hill, although the latter was not present. Quartermaster Coles and Albert Hope (St. Johns Bible Class) were also recommended to the members as they had the next highest votes. There is no mention of Senior Club or Charity Cup Competition representatives to the Council or of Senior Members as there seems to be little doubt that Messrs. Morgan and Dutfield would be in this category.
As the end of the century approached it is apparent from newspaper cuttings that the Association was gathering strength and it was a great benefit to the member clubs.
During the 1890s and the early 1900s, the Charity Associations were still going strong and competitions affiliated to Birmingham County, with the year of joining, were: Kidderminster Weavers Charity (1894); Worcester and District Charity (1894); Kidderminster and District Charity (1895); Kidderminster Infirmary Charity (1905) and Redditch Charity Cup (1906).
After 21 years service including years before 1893 the Honorary Secretary relinquished the position in 1899 and was replaced by Albert Hope of Kidderminster who was to serve for 25 years. No record has been found for the reason for the departure of John Lewis.
In February 1900, Mr. John Campbell Orr, the Secretary of Birmingham and District Football Association, circularised all affiliated Associations and clubs to the effect that it had been brought to the notice of the Birmingham Association that local Charity and District Associations had, contrary to their powers, been suspending players for misconduct on the field of play and it was pointed out that the authority of the Birmingham Association was needed to deal with players. However, the Birmingham Association realised that delegation was called for and local player misconduct was best dealt with locally. Authorisation was therefore given to 12 Charity and District Associations, which included Kidderminster and District Charity, and the Worcestershire Association, to deal with their own cases. All cases dealt with had to be reported to Birmingham and, similarly, appeals were dealt with by Birmingham.
At the turn of the century a local Worcestershire bred player, R.E. Foster, who was a member of a celebrated sporting family, and was educated at Malvern College and Oxford University, played International football for England against Wales. He was a double international as he also played cricket for England. This history would not be complete without reference to another personality who helped and guided the Association in the early days. Charles Crump of Wolverhampton was elected President of Birmingham County on its inception in 1875 and it should be stated that this was not a "figurehead" position as at that time the Birmingham Association did not have a Chairman and operated through the President. It is obvious from the records we have that Mr. Crump had a great affinity with Worcestershire and attended the Annual Summer Meetings that were held at the Hadley Bowling Green Hotel near Droitwich. It is recorded that the Association used to hire horse drawn brakes to convey members and guests to Hadley from Droitwich Station. Charles Crump was also a referee of quality as in 1883 he was appointed to referee the Cup Final between Blackburn Olympic and Old Etonians. He was elected to The Football Association in 1882 and eventually became the Senior Vice-President of the Association. He also attained a similar position with the Football League when it was formed in 1886. He was instrumental in obtaining a seat on The Football
Association Council for Worcestershire and it is recorded in Football Association Minutes as follows: "Minute 24 of 26th July, 1912. Worcestershire FA Application for leave to send a representative to the Council. Referred to Messrs. C. Crump and D.B. Woodfull to enquire and Report". "Council Minute 15 of the 14th October, 1912. Worcestershire FA The report of the Commission that the Association was entitled to send a representative to the Council was seconded and adopted". The County Secretary, Albert Hope, was elected as representative and took his seat on The FA Council and attended his first Meeting on the 16th December 1912. Charles Crump was elected a Vice-President of the Worcestershire Football Association at the 20th Annual General Meeting on the 20th August 1913 on the proposition of Albert Hope.
In 1911 it seems to have been felt that the Trophy presented in 1894 for the Junior Cup Competition was not up to scratch because a new Cup was presented by the seven Unionist Members of Parliament for the County: Stanley Baldwin (later Prime Minister and Earl Baldwin of Bewdley), Colonel Sir Griffith Boscowen, Rt. Hon. J. Austen Chamberlain, A.E. Goulding, Esq., Major Eric A. Knight, the Hon. John C. Lyttleton (later Viscount Cobham) and Lieut. B. Eynes-Monsell, R.N.
The granting of a seat on The Football Association Council in 1912 was a just reward for the 19 years of hard work for those who founded the Association, and it no doubt signalled a new era in the life of the Association.
At the 20th Annual Meeting of the Association in 1913 the Secretary in his Annual Report concentrated on impressing the Clubs to do their utmost to discourage the Football Betting Coupon as its prevalence among the Junior Clubs especially was highly injurious to the game. He stated his willingness to attend meetings of footballers to stress the "evils" likely to occur from the Football Betting Coupon. At the elections the following were elected: Chairman – Mr. R. Morgan (Worcester); Vice-Chairman – H.L. Rolfe (Worcester); Hon. Secretary – Albert Hope (Kidderminster); Hon. Treasurer – Harry Harper (Stourbridge); Senior Club Representatives: A. Danby (Kidderminster Harriers); W.P. Harper (Stourbridge); W.H. Langford (Worcester City); P. Rose (Halesowen Town); A. Shaw (Cradley Heath St. Lukes); W. Thompson (Brierley Hill); Junior Club Representatives: W. Elvins (Droitwich); C. Austin (Stourport), J. Powell (Bromsgrove Rovers), H. Gittins (Franche), G. Bell (Evesham), C Rowberry (St. Stephens, Worcester), C. Knights-Coutts (Evesham Grammar School), A.T. Fordy (Cookley Works), C.C. Freeman (Wolverley), W. Reeves (St. Clements). This list of members of Council is recorded in the earliest Minute Book we have which begins in 1912. Unfortunately the Cup competitions representatives who made up the remainder of the Council are not recorded.
Owing to the situation caused by the Great War (1914-1918) all operations of the Association were suspended and in 1915 a resolution was passed empowering the Officers to carry on the business of the Association. (No further Meeting took place until the Annual Meeting held on the 10th August 1919. The resolution was rescinded at a Council Meeting of the 3rd September, 1919, which was 20 years to the day before the start of the next War!).
The increase in the number of Clubs being formed following the war was illustrated when the Malvern League and the Martley and District Leagues were sanctioned at the Council Meeting of the 7th July, 1920. Whilst the Malvern League still exists the Martley League is defunct.
At a Council Meeting on 19th June, 1923, the Secretary, Albert Hope, stated that it had been reported to him that amateur football was not being played as it should. He was not referring to the game on the field but to the "tremendous expenses" that were being shown on the balance sheets of the Clubs. Whilst he did not make the accusation it appears that he was referring to the "boot money" or other means of paying players.
In the financial year 1922/23 the Hon. Treasurer, Mr. Harry Harper, was able to report that the Association had achieved his ambition in that he was able to report a balance in hand of £100.
At the same Annual Meeting held on 3rd of October 1923 the elections show that in addition to the President, Vice-President, Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer there were 8 Senior Club, 12 Cup Competition, 10 Junior Clubs and 9 Junior League representatives on the Council, a total of 43 members. There is not record of the number of clubs in membership.
In view of the fact that Sunday Football was not authorised the Council at their meeting on the 21st of November 1923 decided to play the Senior Cup match, Redditch versus Bromsgrove Rovers on Christmas Day!
At the annual meeting held on 5th of November 1924 there were four nominations for the position of Hon. Secretary, and although one was the "sitting" Secretary, Albert Hope, W.P. Harper (Stourbridge) was elected. It was found necessary for this meeting to be held at the Raven Hotel, Droitwich, as it was attended by 120 delegates. Mr Albert Hope was rewarded for his long service as Hon. Secretary by being made a Life Member.
At a Council Meeting on the 17th December 1924 it was announced that the Earl of Dudley had declined to accept the Presidency and Earl Beauchamp, K.G,. was elected. It became evident at the Annual Meeting of the 2nd September 1925 that the Council had decided that the Vice-Presidents should consist of deserving members of Council and not of people outside the administration game. Mr. Fred Simpson of Stourbridge was elected Vice-Chairman. The Council attendance record for 1924/25 showed that Council had 55 members as the number of Cup Competition representatives increased by 10.
The Accounts for 1925/26 show that the membership consisted of 6 Senior, 137 Junior and Minor Clubs. There were 9 Leagues and 16 Cup Competitions affiliated. It will be noted that there is a variance on the number of Cup Competitions when compared with previous figures but that shown is clearly stated in the Accounts.
In 1927 Mr. Frank Bullock of Worcester was elected Vice-Chairman at the Annual Meeting and for the first time an Executive Committee was elected.
The Council Meeting of the 24th August 1927 sanctioned the Worcestershire Combination (now the Midland Combination).
In December 1928 the Secretary, Percy Harper, had an interview with Viscount Cobham of Hagley Hall who was President of a high powered committee administering an organisation called the Worcestershire Sports Fellowship who seemingly had a close relationship with the Worcester County Sportsmanship Brotherhood of Massachusetts, U.S.A. The purpose of the interview was for Lord Cobham to ask if the Worcestershire Football Association would provide teams in the autumn of 1929 to play a team from Worcester County, Massachusetts. It should be stated here that the words "high powered" in referring to the Worcestershire England committee, are used advisedly as the 30 members included such Worcestershire mean as Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, Earl Beauchamp, K.G., President of the W.FA, the Earl of Coventry, the Earl of Plymouth and other figures of note in the County. The request by Lord Cobham was put to the Council and according to the Minutes they were very happy to "give every assistance in the matter" and resolved to obtain "the necessary information from The Football Association". Percy Harper and Frank Bullock of Worcester were appointed to the Fellowship Organising Committee. When arrangements had been made it was announced that matches would be played at Stourbridge, Evesham, Worcester and Kidderminster and teams were chosen from each of these areas. There is no record of all the results or of the hospitality accorded to the visitors, the latter presumably being the responsibility of the Sports Fellowship but there is a record of the final match at Kidderminster at the end of October 1929 which records a result of 5-1 of the home side and states the game was played in an excellent spirit, whilst the Americans had their chances, the English side were the winners. The visitors were entertained to a meal after the game and were the guests
of Sir Arthur Carlton, CBE, the Vice-Chairman of the Worcestershire Sports Fellowship, at a performance of "The Three Musketeers" at the Opera House, Kidderminster. They left Worcestershire the following week and before sailing for home they were entertained by the Olympic Games Association in London. Apparently, the visitors issued an invitation for a visit to be made to them and a party of 20 left Liverpool in the White Star Liner "Celtic" on the 10th September 1930 and they were away for five weeks. The return fare has been stated to be £35. During the three weeks they were in Worcester County, Massachusetts, five matches were played with the visitors winning two, losing one and drawing two. At the end of the tour a Diary of Events was produced and it is evident that the welcome and hospitality were of the highest order. Newspaper cuttings carried numerous photographs of the tourists and their hosts, and the cuttings pasted in the Diary total over 300 column inches of news items and match reports. There were numerous banquets and luncheons which were hosted by, among other, Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, and the international English Speaking Union of the United States in New York City. Undoubtedly, the tours both in England and the United Stated were outstanding successes both culturally and sporting and did much to bind relationships between Worcester County, Mass., and Worcestershire. No mention is made in W.FA Minutes of who was paying for the cost of the tours but there are some entries in the Minutes in the following years which indicate that the Worcestershire Sports Fellowship were financially embarrassed and sought help from the Worcestershire Football Association.
The Bromsgrove League was sanctioned at a Council Meeting on the 5th June, 1929.
The Secretary, Percy Harper, received the congratulations of the Chairman and members at the Council of 1st June 1932 on his appointment to referee The Football Association Challenge Cup Final between Arsenal and Newcastle United. Mr. Harper was also appointed to the Welsh FA Cup Final in the same year.
In the years following the Great War there was a considerable increase in the number of Leagues and Cup Competitions and by the 1934/35 Season the number of clubs had grown to 14 Senior and 163 Junior. The County was divided into 7 Districts – (Bromsgrove, Evesham, Kidderminster, Malvern and Upton on Severn, Worcester and Tenbury). The Junior clubs were represented in each District by one Council member for each 10 or part of 10 clubs. This was a variance from the former Rule of 10 members to represent all the Junior Clubs in membership and also there was no restriction on the number of Vice-Presidents. The result of this was that in 1934/35 Season in addition to the Officers, there were 15 Vice-Presidents, 4 Life Members, 9 League, 21 Cup Competitions, 12 Senior Club and 14 Junior Club representatives, a total of 79 members to service 177 clubs. The number of Council members had increased to 89 in 1938/39 when the membership was 12 Senior and 174 Juniors Clubs. It is correct to record that a reference to the Minutes and Attendance Record between the Wars reveals that of the 70 or so members, rarely were there more than 35 members in attendance at a Council Meeting.
During the 1939/45 War whilst sitting members retained their positions on Council a War Committee of 9 members was formed and they administered the Association. Most decisions were made by the Officers, and the Council, with only a few exceptions, met only at Annual Meetings. Unlike the 1914/18 War some Leagues and Cup Competitions were active and in 1943 49 clubs in 4 leagues were affiliated and 10 Charity Cup Competitions were decided. There were no County Cup Competitions played.
A re-start was made in the 1946/47 Season with 10 Senior and 123 Junior Clubs together with 70 Council members. During this Season the Council appointed a sub-committee to consider ways of reducing the number of Council members. At the 1947/48 Annual Meeting the recommendations of the sub-committee were considered and accepted. The result was that the number of Vice-Presidents were reduced to 12 and Junior club members reduced to one for each of five districts (Worcester, Malvern, Evesham, Kidderminster and North of County). The standing representation of one member for each League and Cup Competition was maintained. These decisions resulted, after a ballot, in five Vice-Presidents losing their seats together with four Junior Club representatives.
A measure for further reduction in the Council was accepted in 1956/57 when it was decided that the Charity Cup Competitions would no longer have representation on Council on the basis of one for each competition as it was considered that clubs competing in the Competitions were already represented by League and Junior club members. The membership of the sitting members of Cup Competitions was maintained until the sitting member left Council. The full effect of the Rule did not come about until the 1975/76 Season when the last Cup Competition member vacated his seat. In 1976/77 a new Rule came into effect whereby Charity Cup Competitions as a whole were allowed to elect one representative to Council.
The 1959/60 Season heralded a decision that was to have a far reaching effect on the number of clubs and players in the game. The Football Association at its m=Meeting of the 22nd February 1960 agreed to the principle of the playing of affiliated Sunday football. Unaffiliated Sunday football had been played for many years and there were many Leagues, teams and players who were brought under the mantle of the County Associations. Over the course of a few years after the decision was made, the number of clubs more than doubled and the comparative figures for Worcestershire tell their own tale. In 1960/61 Season there were a total of 169 clubs in membership; in 1970/71 there were 284; 1980/81 – 343. The number has fluctuated around that figure ever since. The Council of The Football Association thought long and hard over many years before sanctioning Sunday football. To some, the objections were on religious grounds and to others that Sunday was traditional day of rest and should remain so. However, pressure to play was very strong and the success of the Continental Sunday where all sport was being played on Sunday was outlined and the majority in favour prevailed. In fact, Sunday football is an apparently never ending success and the local Leagues who cater for Saturday and Sunday football have twice the number of games on Sunday than on Saturday.
The mid-1960s heralded the arrival of an unwanted phenomenon in the increase of indiscipline on the field of play, and in larger areas than ours, on the terraces and in the stands. In Worcestershire, before 1970, discipline was dealt with by the five Area Committees but in that year, following a report by the writer of this history, an Honorary Discipline Secretary was appointed. This was followed in 1974/75 by the formation of two Discipline Committees, one for the North and one for the South of the County. The severity of the situation is shown by the number of cases. In 1967/68 there were around 100 cases and year by year the number increased to such an extent that in 1992/93 the cases dealt with up to the 1st April, 1993 amounted to 429 Misconduct, and 1936 Cautions with no doubt more to come before the end of the season. The Discipline Committees and the Discipline Secretary are continually busy and the Association is fortunate in the quality and calibre of the Members who perform what, basically, is a depressing and should be unnecessary task.
In February 1971 the death occurred of the Association’s longest serving member, Mr. C. Knight-Coutts, who had been elected a Life Member in 1950. He joined the Council in 1906 as a Junior Club representative from Evesham and his club is shown as Prince Henrys Grammar School, Evesham. From the records we have it is obvious he took an influential part in the development of the Association and combined this with active participation as a referee. He had a distinguished career in the Army in the 1914.18 war, reaching the rank of Captain, and was awarded the Military Cross. At the Annual Meeting on the 13th August 1919, he stated that the Association should be reorganised administratively and as a start proposed that an Executive Committee should be elected. At the Council Meeting of 17th August 1966 he was congratulated on the 60th Anniversary of his membership of the Council and at a later meeting he was presented with a Medallion which had been specially struck by The Football Association. He had served for sixty five and a half years when he died and to date hi is the longest serving member of the Association.
In the years since its formation the Association has been fortunate in attracting men who have been dedicated to the game. The many changes that have occurred both on and off the field have been
accommodated, sometimes with some reluctance, but however reluctant with the knowledge that it was the wish of the majority.
The finances of the County Associations took a turn for the better following England’s success in the 1966 World Cup as The Football Association commenced the distribution of a portion of the profits in grants to help with administration costs. These grants, now from Football Association sources, have continued to the present day and are greatly appreciated. These welcome funds, together with our share of the gate money from pre-season matches, which are also distributed by The Football Association and with the addition of mounting fines from disciplinary cases are the basis of ever increasing revenue. Over the last decade the Association has helped its member clubs with donations of footballs and the expenditure has been well in excess of £10,000. The Association in Co-operation with The FA Coaching Scheme have also taken a large interest in the Fun Weeks for children in the school holidays. The encouragement of young people to take an interest in the game forms an important part of the duties of the Association.
In 1990 the Association representative on The Football Association, long serving Honorary Secretary Percy Rushton, was honoured by being elected a Vice-President of The Football Association.
In our Centenary Year a new era is dawning as the Women’s Football Association is to be integrated into The Football Association and the County Associations. As happened when the lady referees joined our Association, we shall welcome the teams and their players who become affiliated to us and as with everyone else we hope their stay will be a happy one. It is envisaged that women’s football will grow to a great degree in the next few years and we will do our share in helping and encouraging them. Those that join us will enjoy the comradeship that has been prevalent in the County for the last hundred years.
We look forward to the next hundred years of our Association with a fond remembrance of founders of our Association and of those that followed them. We hope that our successors will support and amplify the traditions that we have endeavoured to follow.