Football: Tonbridge Angels are rolling back the years

Football: Tonbridge Angels are rolling back the years

TONBRIDGE ANGELS are getting ready to celebrate their platinum anniversary over the forthcoming season.

To mark the occasion, many of those closely connected with the club will be sporting a replica of the original strip worn by the players 70 years ago.

Neil Durling, Minister at Tonbridge Baptist Church on Darenth Avenue near Longmead and the club’s Chaplain, was among the first to don the old kit.

The club, which was known simply as Tonbridge at first, was the brainchild of local businessman and founder chairman Herbert Portch, and was formed in October 1947.

They took to the field competitively when they were elected to the Southern Football League for the 1948-49 season with former Chelsea player Jock Dunoon as their manager.

The club took out a lease on the Angel Ground, formerly a venue of Kent County Cricket Club, on the site of the Sainsbury’s superstore. It was named after The Angel Hotel at the junction of the High Street and Vale Road.

Thereafter Tonbridge FC became known as the Angels, though the nickname was not formally incorporated into the club’s name until many years later.

A crowd of around 5,000 turned up for the club’s opening league fixture against fellow newcomers Hastings United. Tonbridge lost 2-1, with Albert Robson scoring the club’s first ever goal.

By Christmas the club was at the bottom of the Southern League. Harold Hobbis took over as manager from Dunoon and Marshall Raybould and they ended up third from last.

The second season would prove much more successful as the Angels finished in 11th place.

PICTURE: OLD FASHIONED Neil Durling wears the replica 1948 strip PHOTO: David Couldridge

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