Up The Vickers

Formed in 1916 by workers employed at the Vickers armaments factory in Crayford, VCD Athletic is one of only a handful of teams to have originated during the time of the Great War. There were no official competitions during the war years so the clubs early days saw only friendly games being played by the club at their Oakwood home.

Records show that a non-league football team named Vickers (Erith) entered the recently re-formed Kent Football League as far back as 1919, a year later their name was changed to Vickers (Crayford). They visited Maidstone United on Boxing Day in their very first season within the Kent League, a game played in before 13,500 crowd. The Vickers team on that day contained no less than seven players from Arsenal all of whom were finishing off their war service time.

The Vickers moved within the non league pyramid, playing in the Dartford & District League just two seasons later, and in 1923 entry into Division One of the Kent Amateur League followed. The clubs first trophies were won in 1927 after they picked up both the Kent Benevolent Cup and Kent FA Junior Cup.

It would be a wait of 25 years before more silverware was won, this time wining the Kent Division One title in 1953. The Kent Amateur Football Cup was won in 1962 and again in 1964. The following season was a spectacular one but for all the wrong reasons, the club finished the season with record of P24 W0 D2 L22, scoring only 25 goals and conceding 199, resulting in relegation.

In 1969 promotion was gained by the club, but they were relegated back to Division Two in 1980, after a mediocre period during the 1970s. However, only one season later they were back in Division One and in 1985 they went on to win the championship, this time gaining promotion to the Premier Division. By this time the Kent Amateur League had a new name and become known as the Kent County League.

Further success was enjoyed by players and fans in 1988, with the team winning the Kent FA Intermediate Shield. The club were apart of the last ever match played at Maidstone United’s London Road ground in the same season when they won the West Kent Challenge Cup.

Martin Ford joined in 1993 as the clubs new manager and, success followed in the 1994/95 season with a unique cup treble being achieved, thanks to wins in the Kent County League Cup, Kent Intermediate Shield and the Erith Hospitals Cup. The 1996/97 season saw the club win the Kent County Premier Division title for the first time in their history by a record 15 points. Senior status was awarded to the club that same year and a successful application to join the Winstonlead Kent League followed. In their first season VCD Athletic finished in a creditable ninth place.

The following season saw the club ground-share with Thamesmead Town Football Club, they finished up in seventh place in the league but also reached the final of the Kent League Cup, where they played Deal Town in a closely fought match that they lost 1-0.

The following season the club went one better, bring home their first senior trophy after beating Faversham Town 4-0 in the final. The following season the club again made it to a cup final, a third consecutive appearance in a cup final, when they reached the Kent Senior Trophy final. However, they missed out this time when they went down narrowly 10-9 on penalties against Whitstable Town Football Club.

The club would eventually spent five seasons as tenants of Thamesmead Town before Lordswood Football Club kindly took their place allowing VCD to use their ground. Two seasons were spent there, but it was hard for the club to attract players willing to travel such a distance, so the club then embark on a one year ground-share at neighbours Greenwich Borough.

The club reached the League Cup final in the 2002/03 season, however VCD were comfortably beaten 2-0 by Cray Wanderers on that day. The following season a creditable third place in the league was achieved. Further cup success followed in the 2005/06 season when for the second time the club reached the Kent Senior Trophy final, the final with Tunbridge Wells ended 1-1, and was won in a 3-1 penalty shoot-out.

The club were able to return to Oakwood for the 2006–07 season, after planning permission for new floodlights and the development of the ground was granted in 2005 by Bexley Council.

Head coach Dean Frost took over as caretaker manager after Martin Ford resigned as manager at the end of the 2006/07 season, and under his guidance the team obtained second place in the league, narrowly missing out on the top spot during the last week of the season to Whitstable Town.

Club captain Paul Foley was appointed manager at the start of the 2007/08 season, with Dean Frost moving back to his roll as the teams head coach. The pair lead the club superbly and the team again narrowly missed out on winning the championship, finishing second once agian.

A year later VCD then had one of the most successful seasons in the clubs history, winning both the Kent League Premier Division title and the Kent Senior Trophy, accomplishing the clubs long awaited promotion to the Isthmian Football League.

An 8th place finish made the first season a success, but the Isthmian League stunned the club when they deemed ground issues warranted demotion. The club appealed to the Football Association, but the decision was upheld and the club were placed back in the Kent League.

Manager Paul Foley resigned and later joined Ryman Division 1 South side Chatham Town FC, taking his backroom staff and almost the whole team along with him. The club then appointed Ricky Bennett the former reserve team manager his replacement. Under his leadership VCD achieved back-to-back third place finishes, winning the Kent League Cup in his second season, with a 2-0 final win over Corinthian. A second trophy came after in the form of the Kent League Challenge Shield with a 3-2 victory over Herne Bay, the league champions.

Midway through the 2012/13 season Manager Ricky Bennett left the club, and Tony Russell took his place along side his assistant Ray Powell. The club was in disarray with a number of the players leaving along with the previous management team, but the new management quickly formed a new look team. The last 19 league fixtures saw the team go on a record breaking run of 17 victories and 2 draws, this once again enabled the club to gain promotion to the Isthmian Football League.

Starting the season as odds on favourites for relegation in the non league football betting markets, the club put together a unbelievable 15 game unbeaten run at the start of the season, leading the table for all but a couple of weeks throughout the season, leaving the club sitting in second spot going into the last day of the season. League leaders Witham Town could only manage a 1-1 draw against Cheshunt in their last game, meaning a win for VCD Athletic would see them win the title only one point.

A 6-0 win over Romford at Oakwood saw the Vickers claim the Division One North title in emphatic fashion, Michael Power, scored a hat-trick to take his tally for the season to 19 goals in only 22 appearances. With the game won, all eyes were waiting for the final whistle at Cheshunt, Witham hit the post with three minutes of their game remaining, and the tension inside Oakwood hit fever-pitch. However, Cheshunt held on, much to Vickers’ delight who secured back-to-back promotions. Promotion took the club to its highest ever level on the pyramid in their 98 year history.

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