FORMER players and officials of Uttoxeter FC will take a trip down memory lane when they hold a reunion this weekend.
The gathering at Bradley House Sports and Social Club will give former members the chance to recall the town’s last Saturday football side which folded in 1997.
Uttoxeter were formed in 1990 after previously operating as Adams Athletic and Elkes (Saturday) FC, who had been playing at the company football pitch at the rear of the factory since 1969.
Former team boss Tim Leech recalled: “When I decided to take over as manager, the team were Elkes in name only.
“They no longer received any funding and they had to pay to use the pitch and changing rooms that were in a terrible state.
“With no money in the bank, I took over as manager and set about getting a squad together to stay in the Mid- Staffs League, but more importantly, to raise muchneeded funds.” Adams and Elkes had previously played in the Staffs County and Mid-Staffs leagues, winning both the second and first division championships but, like the changing rooms, the club was on the verge of going under.
Leech had a great committee made up of Clive Leech (president), Fred Kirk (chairman) Dave Kirk (secretary), Glenn Benzies (assistant manager and fundraiser) and Charlie Mundean (treasurer).
The club quickly blossomed and raised a substantial amount of money to enable them to play in the Mid-Staffs League in the 1990/91 season.
The club relocated to the pitch and changing rooms at the council-run Pennycroft Lane site and also the lido pitch, with the club having its base at the White Horse public house before moving to Bradley House Sports and Social Club.
Tim Leech said: “Bradley House was managed by Norman Whittingham, who was very pro football and had helped to run the successful Bamfords side of the 1960s and 1970s.
“Norman promptly got a new kit out of Marston’s and opened the clubhouse after every game, laying on a great spread of food.
“Bradley House was also the British Legion and the team adopted this into their nickname, becoming the Legionnaires.” They finished their first season in a comfortable midtable position and also lost to Stafford Hospital in the League Cup final.
Cups proved to be something of a forte for Uttoxeter as they rose to the occasion in both the Staffs Borough and Pageant competitions, beating some really strong sides.
In the Borough Cup, they beat several strong sides on the way to the final against County League side Weston United at Rowley Park, Stafford.
The crowd saw the Legionnaires give a magnificent performance to run out convincing 3-1 victors with goals from Martin Buckingham, Jim Hulme and John McLaughlin.
The following week at the same venue, Uttoxeter were pipped 3-2 by Highfields in the Pageant Cup final.
An excellent first season was clouded when the Mid-Staffs League folded and Uttoxeter found themselves in Division Two of the Burton and District FA.
They romped to the Double Diamond League and Cup double, with McLaughlin scoring an incredible 68 goals.
Until the demise of the club in 1997, they won the Uttoxeter Challenge Cup, beating Florence Colliery in two successive finals.
They also lost in the final of the Staffs President’s Cup at Newcastle Town’s ground, but made amends the following season with a 1-0 victory over Royal Tuscan, with skipper Paul Croft heading the winning goal.
Uttoxeter also finally got their hands on the Pageant Cup at Rowley Park, with Keith Brassington scoring both goals in a 2-0 win against Rugeley Athletic.
The club continued to collect trophies in the Burton and District League, winning the Pedigree League Cup, the Norah Mary Francis Memorial Cup and the Bass Trophy.
But it all came to a halt in 1996 when Leech resigned because the club could not find a better ground.
They continued for one more season.
The reunion at Bradley House is at 1pm on Saturday.
Tim Leech can be contacted on 07830 538191 for further information.