East Sussex News 6th December 1889

By Reg Towner

Newhaven FC may not be among the current elite Premiership superclubs but they can claim to have been in existence for a lot longer than some of them!

This is because of the enthusiasm of an energetic group of young men from the town led by my ancestor Ernest (Ernie) Towner.   The young men were already friends and colleagues from cricket, cycling and other sports and family activities.  In fact, some of them were already playing football for other teams.

Ernie, who was about twenty years old at the time, was the son of town brewer Robert Towner and used his father's influence and resources to establish a permanent team for the town.  He and his friends got themselves organised and, with the direct support of some of the other parents and town patriarchs, held a meeting in a room above the Bridge Inn in December 1889 for the specific purpose of constituting a Club for Newhaven.  It must have been a brisk piece a business because the following roles and rules were agreed, as reported by the East Sussex News of 6th December that year.

Name of new club : "The Newhaven Football Club"

President : Lord Sheffield (subject to acceptance)

Vice Presidents : Robert Towner, W. Hobbs, J. Bannister and S. Lower

Secretary : Walter (W. G.) Quaife senior

Club Captain : Ernest Towner

Club Vice Captain : H. Bannister

Committee : J. A. Gray (chair), G. Marsland, Arthur Towner, Sergt. Wallace, E. Baldwin, Walter Quaife junior, and T. Mayes

It was confirmed that the games were to be played on Saturdays on the "ground used by the soldiers . . kindly lent by Mr. S. Lower" and  subscriptions were set at 2s 6d per year.  Training was to be held on Wednesdays.

Records show that the team got off to a flying start, playing a number of games in the winter of 1889/90, and winning most of them.  They played matches against Brighton Rovers, Newick, Ringmer, Seaford, Seaford College, Southwick and Shearley Rovers. Their biggest victory was over Newick whom they managed to beat by seventeen goals to nil.  Undoubtedly, Newhaven's star players were the Quaife brothers of Chapel Street, one of whom W. G. (Willie) went on to a glittering career in professional cricket with Warwickshire and England - a true unsung local hero.   But that's another story.

I have included one of the Club's earliest East Sussex News match reports.  This was a game played in February 1890 against Seaford which Newhaven won by nine goals to nil.  To avoid confusion, please note that match reports gave the away team's name first in those days.  Games were played with wingers and a centre forward and there were usually plenty of goals.  The final image of a game being played at the Recreation Ground is possibly from a later period but serves to illustrate the story quite well.

Ernie Towner eventually married Chrissie Bannister and they had three daughters.  The family later emigrated from Newhaven to Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'FORMATION OF NEWHAVEN FOOTBALL CLUB' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'FORMATION OF NEWHAVEN FOOTBALL CLUB' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'FORMATION OF NEWHAVEN FOOTBALL CLUB' page
This page was added by Reg Towner on 22/05/2010.
Comments about this page

Hopefully someone out there can help me sort out a mystery.  On the site there is a photograph of Newhaven football club in the 30's with my grandad standing with them in a suit. Was he the manager? I didn't know he had anything to do with the club, and my father never mentioned it. Can anyone help?

By Terry Howard
On 23/05/2010

Very interested in contacting any relatives (Towner family still living in area) associated with Newhaven FC

By Graeme McKenzie
On 16/08/2010

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