Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Club Focus -- Friar Lane and Epworth

This weekend it looks like I'll be having a break from the usual thrills and spills of the Eastern Counties League, however I won't be going up the leagues but a sideways move into another Step 5 league, the Midlands Alliance when Rocester take on Friar Lane and Epworth.

Friar Lane and Epworth were formed in 2004 when Friar Lane Old Boys joined with their neighbours and fellow members of the Leicestershire Senior League, Epworth.

Epworth are perhaps the junior members of the pact, as the team play at Friar Lane's Knighton Lane East Ground. The original idea that had been mooted in 2001/2 was that Epworth would ground share with Friar Lane, but the idea was given short shrift by the Leicestershire FA. In 2003/4 a number of the Epworth personell moved over to Friar Lane and the club finished third in the Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division. Epworth carried on in the division below and also finished 3rd. It was to be the last season that the teams existed as separate entities and the season after the merger went ahead.

In their inaugral season the club finished 9th in the Leicestershire Senior League and won the L&RCFA Senior Cup. In 2006 they won the league and were promoted to the Midlands Football Alliance where they have played since and have generally finished in the lower half of the table.

The original Friar Lane club can trace their history back to Friar Lane Baptist Church Football Club which was formed in 1911. They have also gone under the name Friar Lane Old Boys and spent most of their history in local Leicester leagues. Highlights of their history included winning the Leicestershire Senior League in 1970 and reaching the Semi Final of the FA Vase in 1975 along with some good performances in the strangely named Battle of Britain Cup (I think it's some cup for East Midlands teams).

Epworth can also trace their history back to a Methodist church. They were originally called Epworth Hall and were formed in 1931 playing like Friar Lane in the Leicester and District Mutual Football League. In 1970 they changed their name to Epworth Methodists. They also had a short period in the 1970s where they were named after their sponsor, Manny Bernstein going under the name Manny Bernstein FC (what an ego!)It also appears that finding a place to play has plagued them throughout their history as they almost went bankrupt in 1991 as they couldn't find anywhere to play, although they finally found a ground at King Drive Leicester Forest East. In their last full season as an independent entity they won Division 1 of the Leicestershire Senior League only dropping 16 points and scoring a massive 140 goals.

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