Monday, September 8, 2008

Fens Football Focus - 1 Ely City

Ely City will soon be my local team and I hope to lend them my support when I can. Like most smaller clubs they suffer from the nations obsession with sky sports and the Premier League and also from the bigger clubs of Cambridge United and Peterborough United being not too far away. At the moment they play in the Eastern Counties League Premier Division, which is level 9 of the English League system and is contested between clubs from Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex for a place in the Isthmian League or the Southern League. They are the oldest football club in Cambridgeshire having been formed in 1885.

The club were originally known as Ely St.Etheldreda Football and Cricket Club, after the founder of the city and spent the first 90 years of their existence at the Paradise Ground before moving Unwin Ground, which is named after Doug Unwin who was involved in the club in different capacities from 1924 until his death in 1999, when he was still the president.

The club's first major success came in 1948 when they won the double of the 2 Cambridgeshire Senior Cup Competitions. In 1951 they left the Cambridgeshire League for the Peterborough League and in their first season were League Cup Runners Up. In 1956 they had a lot of success in the FA Cup, when they reached the first round where they lost to Torquay, but on their way to qualification they managed to beat 3 of their local rivals; Histon 5-2, Cambridge United 5-2 and Cambridge City 1-0 and then Sudbury 1-0.

In 1958 Ely changed leagues again, this time joining the Central Alliance and in 1970 they were finally elected to the Eastern Counties League after several failed attempts. They didn't really make an impact here though until 1969 when their player / manager and former Irish International, Hugh Barr led them to runners up spot in both the league and league cup. In the 1979-80 season Ely won their first piece of major silverware when they beat Lowestoft in the League Cup Final.

In 1994 the ground underwent major improvements and now has a stand for 200 people, which makes it one of the best grounds in the league and is one that I am looking forward to visiting. After a few barren years Ely managed to climb back into the Premier League of the Eastern Counties in 2007 after finishing runners up in the first division

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