STAFFORD RANGERS F.C. - CLUB HISTORY
Stafford Rangers was formed around 1876. Early matches were cup games and friendlies with the team reaching the FA Cup First Round in both 1884/85 and 1885/86. Following spells in both the Shropshire League and Birmingham League, the club moved to their Marston Road home for the start of the 1896/97 season and commenced a four-season stint in the North Staffordshire League.
In 1900/01, Stafford rejoined the Birmingham League but administration problems meant they had to field another team of first-team strength for that season in the Cheshire League. Season 1904/05 was a memorable one as the team enjoyed an unexpected FA Cup run to the final Qualifying Round, bowing out in a replay at Second Division Blackpool. Rangers were demoted to the Birmingham Combination in 1912 but won the championship at the first attempt (1912/13) and then finished runners-up in two of the next four seasons either side of the First World War. Returning to the Birmingham League in 1921, Rangers won the title in 1926/27, twice finished runner-up (1928/29 and 1929/30) and were twice third in five memorable seasons. During this period a total of 542 league goals were scored with the prolific Eddie Cameron regularly finding the net. Due to financial troubles, the team spent the mid- to late thirties struggling to avoid re-election and in one game were so short of players that the Secretary R.P. Brown had to play and actually scored. During April 1935 a successful appeal for £100 to pay creditors enabled the club to survive. When War broke out in 1939, Rangers participated in an emergency Birmingham League during the 1939/40 season, finishing as runners-up, and then disbanded.
The club resumed action after the Second World War and played in the Birmingham Combination for six seasons, achieving a highest position of sixth in 1950/51. With a view to progress, Rangers joined the Cheshire County League in 1952 but many fans were upset about the loss of many long-standing fixtures. They finished third in 1954/55 season and Les Box made his way into the club records during September 1957 when he scored seven goals in history 5an 11-0 FA Cup victory over Dudley Town. However, Rangers’ spell in the Cheshire League was generally one of struggle and, in fact, during the early sixties financial difficulties again threatened the club’s existence. Rangers survived a re-election vote on two occasions and gates at times dipped below the 200 mark. In 1966, the appointment of Colin Hutchinson as manager started an upturn in fortunes. Rangers won the 1967/68 Cheshire League Cup and following season finished as Cheshire League runners-up to earn a place in the Northern Premier League.
The seventies proved to be the most successful era in the club’s history to date and put Stafford Rangers firmly on the map. With the late Roy Chapman as manager, the club recorded a Northern Premier League Championship, FA Trophy and Staffordshire Senior Cup treble in season 1971/72; Ray Williams scored a club record 48 goals. Three seasons later Rangers progressed to the FA Cup Fourth Round defeating Stockport County, Halifax Town and Rotherham United on the way to defeat against Peterborough United in front of a 31,160 gate at Stoke City’s Victoria Ground. The home Third Round tie with Rotherham attracted a record 8,536 to Marston Road. After Chapman had departed to manage League club Stockport County, Rangers were again at Wembley in 1975/76 for their second FA Trophy Final but they lost to Scarborough 3-2 after extra time. Roy Chapman returned as manager and success continued with a second FA Trophy Final success in 1979, this time against Kettering Town with Alf Wood scoring both goals in a 2-0 win.
Rangers became founder members of the Alliance Premier League but this coincided with a downturn in the fortunes and various managers found it difficult to follow the successful seventies. Former West Bromwich Albion stars, Len Cantello and Tony Brown, and ex-Coventry forward Don Nardiello all had short spells at the club as players.
After four problematic seasons, Rangers were relegated back to the Northern Premier League in 1983. Poor form continued but with the appointment of Ron Reid as manager during the 1983/84 season as manager, the club soon began to rebuild its reputation and was rewarded with the 1984/85 Northern Premier League title. Back in the Alliance, the Bob Lord Trophy, Jim Thompson Shield and Staffordshire Senior Cup were all won within two seasons.
During the late eighties and early nineties, Rangers found life difficult in the Conference, with six managers in seven seasons following Reid’s departure in May 1988. The sale of striker Stan Collymore to Crystal Palace in December 1990 for a substantial six-figure fee stands out in this period. Under the management of Dennis Booth, Rangers enjoyed a tremendous 1992/93 campaign. They finished sixth in the league and reached the FA Cup Second Round, defeating Lincoln City in a First Round replay at Marston Road. After Booth departed for Bristol Rovers, Rangers found success difficult to come by and were relegated from the Conference to the Beazer Homes (Southern) League Premier Division at the end of the 1994/95 season. The slide continued at the start of the 1995/96 campaign during Bob Horton’s short reign as manager and Rangers had not gained a point when Kevan Bowen took over in October 1995. Bowen made an immediate impact and achieved very good results in the second half of the season but the damage had been done at the start and the club was relegated for the second successive season. Former Manchester City and Norwich City defender Kevin Bond succeeded Bowen as manager towards the end of 1997 but he soon moved on to take up a role at Portsmouth.
Former Stoke City forward Ian Painter replaced Bond in the 1998 close season and in his first term Rangers finished fifth in the Dr Martens Midland Division with the distinction of being the equal highest scorers in the Pyramid with 92 goals. In 1999/00, following a slow start, a strengthened side achieved a club record unbeaten run of 23 league games. Rangers were once again equal highest scorers in the Pyramid with 107 goals and duly won the Dr Martens Western Division championship. After two good seasons in the Premier Division, finishing seventh and ninth respectively, Painter left the club in April 2002. During Painter’s final season, Rangers recorded a club-record 15-0 victory over Kidsgrove Athletic in a Staffordshire Senior Cup tie on Tuesday 20th November 2001.
Phil Robinson joined his hometown club as player-manager in the 2002 close season. By the end of the season Rangers had exceeded all expectations. They finished second in the Dr Martens League Premier Division, reached the FA Cup First Round for the first time in a decade and brought the Staffordshire Senior Cup back to Marston Road with a memorable 5-1 victory over Stoke City at Port Vale’s Vale Park. Robinson’s second season in charge, 2003/04, brought more success with Rangers, this time, finishing third in the league behind Crawley Town and Weymouth to earn a place amongst the Nationwide North founder members. Rangers reached the Staffordshire Senior Cup Final but lost 1-0 after to Kidsgrove Athletic in the Final. Last season, silverware returned to Marston Road as the team regained the Senior Cup, defeating Leek Town in the Final at Vale Park. As well as reaching the FA Cup First Round, the team finished the inaugural Nationwide North season in eighth position with the tightest defence that conceded just 44 goals.
The 2005/06 season was a memorable one as Stafford Rangers regained Nationwide Conference status. After topping the Nationwide North table for much of the season, the team eventually finished runners-up but gained promotion after a penalty shootout victory over Droylsden at Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium. Rangers also enjoyed their best FA Trophy run since 1990, progressing to the quarter finals before losing to Woking in a replay. New floodlights were installed towards the end of the season, replacing the only set that had shone down on Marston Road since 1969. All the seats in the main stand were replaced.
Stafford Rangers got off to a good start in 2006/07 back in non-league’s top flight and managed to stay out of the relegation zone throughout the campaign despite finishing in 20th position. The team reached the FA Cup Second Round for the first time since 1992/93. They defeated Maidenhead United in a First-Round replay to earn a trip to League One side Brighton and Hove Albion, losing 3-0 at the Withdean Stadium. The Marston Road stadium took on a new look in March 2007 with the erection of a large temporary seated stand on the old Shed end and a smaller covered terrace at the Astonfields end.
With many new faces in the side the 2007/8 campaign got underway. However, league points were difficult to come by and Phil Robinson left his position at the end of November 2007. Senior players, Neil Grayson and Kevin Street, were appointed joint caretaker-player-managers and took the team to the FA Carlsberg Trophy Third Round as well as gaining two back-to-back league victories at the end of their spell in charge.
Former Wolves star Steve Bull M.B.E. was appointed as Manager in February 2008. With time short, the Wolves legend was unable to prevent the club suffering relegation to the Blue Square North. His reign was short and he left in December 2008 to be succeeded by his assistant with Chris Brindley, a former Rangers player.
The club suffered severe financial problems in December 2009, but thanks to the input from the Board of Directors, local businesses and the loyalty of most of playing staff and the supporters, relegation was avoided. One bright spot for the club was an appearance in the Staffs Senior Cup Final at Vale Park, a match lost on penalties to Kidsgrove Athletic
Brindley used his wealth of experience in non-league football to ensure Rangers safety in the Blue Square North. He continued as Manager at the start of the 2010/11 season and there many changes both in the ground where the temporary stands erected in the 2006-2007 season to boost Rangers ground capacity to Conference Premier requirements had gone and in the playing staff.
However, in October 2010, after an early FA Cup exit Brindley resigned to be replaced by former Blackburn Rovers and England goalkeeper Tim Flowers and his Assistant former Leicester and Scotland centre half, Matt Elliott. Flowers reign was brief and in January 2011 Elliott took over in the hot seat. Rangers stay in Blue Square North was in the balance until the last match of the season but Elliott was unable to keep them up and shortly after the end of the season he became Rangers 3rd Manager to leave the club in just 7 months.
Rangers started the 2011-12 season playing in the Evo Stik Premier League for the first time since 1984/85, and with a new management team.
Greg Clowes and his assistant Dorrian Garner joined the club from neighbours Newcastle Town and began the task of re-building the side.
They made a number of new signings and the side eventually finished the season in 16th place although it appeared they may have finished much higher at one stage.
The same football management team are at the helm as Rangers look to improve their league position this season. Off the field many changes have taken place. There is a new look Board of Directors with Rod Woodward taking the Chair, and an expanded management set up.
An extended commercial and financial structure are in place and a new football secretary has taken over from former Chairman and secretary Mike Hughes who remains a Director.
Hopes are high, this season, for an all-round improvement at the club.
STAFFORD RANGERS F.C. - HONOURS
Birmingham Combination Champions: 1912/13
Birmingham League Champions: 1926/27
Northern Premier League Champions: 1971/72, 1984/85
Dr Martens Western Division Champions: 1999/2000
Birmingham League Runners-Up: 1928/29, 1929/30
Birmingham Wartime League Runners-Up: 1939/40
Cheshire County League Runners-Up: 1968/69
Northern Premier League Runners-Up: 1970/71, 1975/76
Dr Martens League Premier Division Runners-Up: 2002/03
Nationwide North Runners-Up: 2005/06
FA Trophy Winners:
1971/72 (3-0 v Barnet); 1978/79 (2-0 v Kettering)
Staffordshire Senior Cup Winners:
1954/55, 1956/57, 1962/63, 1971/72, 1977/78, 1986/87, 1991/92, 2002/03, 2004/05
Leek Cup Joint Winners: 1899/1900
Wednesbury Charity Cup Winners: 1920/21
Staffordshire Qualifying Cup Winners: 1928/29
Cheshire League Cup Winners: 1967/68
Midland Floodlight Cup Winners: 1969/70
Northern Premier League Shield Winners: 1985/86
Jim Thompson Shield Winners: 1986/87
FA Cup 4th Round: 1974/75
FA Cup 2nd Round: 1975/76, 1979/80, 1992/93, 2006/07
League clubs beaten in the FA Cup:
1974/75 1st Round v Stockport County
1974/75 2nd Round v Halifax Town
1974/75 3rd Round v Rotherham United
1992/93 1st Round v Lincoln City
All competitions: 15-0 v Kidsgrove Athletic 20/11/2001
FA Cup: 11-0 v Dudley Town 6/9/1958
All competitions - 0-12 v Burton Town, 13/12/1930
Most goals in a game: 7 by Les Box v Dudley Town, FA Cup 6/9/1958