Burnham Green Football Club

There currently is no Football League club at Burnham Green.  However, Burnham Green has an illustrious history in the sport.  The following history is taken from the Burnham Green Football club’s Minute books as well as the records and recollections of some of those who played or supported them.  Special thanks are due to the late Den Tyler, who donated the club minute books, to Alan Tyler a latter day player and to Les Brownsell who had a wealth of photos and memorabilia.

In 1932 the team decided to apply for membership of the Hertford and District League and were successful.  In their new colours of Royal Blue and White quartered shirts and white shorts, the team set about its fixtures in this new league and, at the same time, applied for entry to the Greg Cup.  The Chairman (then Mr A Bishop) also investigated the Welwyn Garden City Hospital Cup.

Football was taken very seriously in the village, supported by the following observations from the club’s minute Book of 1932:

  • A Gymnasium was set up to be attended by all players on Wednesday evenings
  • Players were asked to refrain from smoking during half time breaks!

1933 saw the team entered also in the Welwyn Hospital Cup and the Herts Junior Cup.  They clearly had great plans.


150 goals in 36 matches

In 1933, the Club celebrated having scored over 100 goals in league matches in a single season for the first time in its history under Captain Tom Franklin junior.  They had scored over 150 goals in 36 matches during the season including cup matches – an average of over 4 goals per game! The leading striker was C Kitcher who scored 56 of them.  Burnham Green reached the semi-final of the Welwyn Garden City Hospital Cup, only losing 2 – 1 to a strong Shredded Wheat eleven after extra time. It is rumoured that the Welwyn Garden City side regularly had three Shredded Wheat for breakfast, which was hardly considered sporting!

The 1932-33 season was such a success that the Club was promoted to Division 1 of the Hertford and District League and decided to set up a second team to compete in Division 2.  The following season was one of consolidation.


The Hut

The hut the team used for meetings and as a Changing Room was initially shared with the Women’s Institute.  However, the Women’s Institute took exception to the idea of sharing it and, after some heated discussions, the men decided to move out.  Fortunately, help was on hand from the Chairman, Tom Franklin Senior and another benefactor who preferred not to be named at the time (probably because his wife was in the WI!).

A new purpose-built hut was constructed by members of the team on Tom Franklin’s land and the Football Club went from strength to strength.

The team list for 1935 read as follows:

1st team:
Leggett, Brunton, Wilsher, Tyler, Burgess P, Hipgrave A, Cox J, Hipgrave L, Burgess C, Allatt, Brunton.

2nd team:

Marshall, Skeggs N, Brownsell B, Hornett, Giddens, Humphries, Shadbolt, Stewart, Ellis, Sears T.

However, for a village the size of Burnham Green, running two teams eventually proved too much and towards the end of the 1934 – 1935 season, the second team was withdrawn, providing a sizeable squad for the first team.


Burnham Green win the toss.

That same season, Burnham Green got through to the final of the Welwyn Garden City Hospital Cup and a thrilling match on a bright summer’s day in May against Welwyn Thistle. 

At the end of 90 minutes the score was 1 – 1. Penalty shoot outs had not been introduced at this time, so another 30 minutes were played and the score remained the same. Still another 30 minutes were played and no score. A third period of 30 minutes extra time was played (making 90 minutes of extra time – 180 minutes of play altogether!) without a decisive goal.

After this three hours of play, the teams crying “Enough!” and the Referee nearing exhaustion, even the 1000 plus spectators were beginning to think they might need to stay the night.

So a cunning plan was hatched between the captains and the referee;  they would toss a coin for the cup.   Which they did and Burnham Green Football Club won the Welwyn Garden City Hospital Cup for the first time.  The agreement was that they would hold it for the first six months and then hand it over to their rivals, Welwyn Thistle for the rest of the year.

It was such a good footballing story that it even appeared in the Daily Mail of 6th May, 1935.

In 1936, the club Secretary Mr A Wieck had to resign (presumaably for health reasons) and he was replaced by L Hammond.

Cup success led to entering still more tournaments.  At the 1937 AGM, the club decided to enter the following:
Hertford and District Junior League (1st Division)
Welwyn Hospital Cup
Welwyn Garden City Hospital Cup
Graphic Cup
Knebworth Nursing Cup


After the War

The club minute book records the club’s plans for the 1938-39 season, but shows no report of what happened, although we can imagine that the players would mostly have gone off to War. Certainly, it seems, the minute taker did! It resumes in 1946 with Mr A Barclay Bishop in the chair of a meeting to decide whether the club should be restarted again now that the War was over.  Robert Brownsell, who played before the War, sadly did not return and his body now lies in a cemetery in Germany.

The decision was made to restart the club and the following officials were elected:
President: Tom Franklin Snr
Chairman: A Barclay Bishop
Sectretary: B H Shepheard
Captain: P Burgess
Vice Captain: Les Brownsell

The player selection Committee consisted of A Bishop, Jack Hornett, Vic Bennett.

The Club’s six pounds balance had been safely kept at the Bank throughout the War and was used to restart the club and to buy nets and jerseys.

They also decided the restart the second team jointly with Tewin to reduce costs and still give the younger players a chance to play competitively.


Burnham Green FC on the up

1947-1948 was the club’s best season yet, finishing second in Division 2 of the Hertford and District league and beating Knebworth in the final on Easter Monday 29th March to win the Welwyn Hospital Cup.  They were promoted to the First Division.  The team list in 1948 included:  W Price (goal), L Brownsell (Cap), C Tyler, D Tyler, P Burgess, R Milton, C Brownsell, D Austin, B Tyler, B Ellis, W Smale.  Truly names to go down in the history of Burnham Green!


Maximum points

But the following season was better still. In the 1948-1949 season, Burnham Green, having just been promoted to the First Division of the Hertford and District League, won it outright without dropping a single point.  No team had ever done this in the league’s 39 year history.

Played 22, Won 22, Drawn 0, Lost 0, Goals for 80, Goals against 11, Points 44 (only 2 point per match in those days).  They were promoted to the Premier Division (leaving old rivals Tewin in Div 1).  They had a celebratory dinner at St Mary’s Hall, Welwyn and this turned into an annual event.

The superb squad went on to win the Premier Division the next year, but had the good grace to lose 2 of their 24 matches and draw 2 more!

The 1949-1950 season saw the team again win the Premier Division title.  They were also finalists of the Welwyn Hospital Cup and reached the last 8 of the Herts Junior Cup.  An incredible performance for such a small hamlet.

In the 1950-1951 season, BGFC lost the Premier Division title on goal difference.

The 1951 – 1952 season was another “Best year yet” with BGFC winning the Herts Premier Division, the Herts Premier League Challenge Cup and the Welwyn Hospital Cup, as well as reaching the quarter finals of the Herts Junior Cup.


Chairman Alfred Barclay Bishop Dies

The success was tinged with sadness when Alfred Barclay Bishop, the Club’s long time Chairman, died at the age of 63 ealy in 1952.  A memorial cup was purchased and presented to the Hertford and District League to be used as a competition cup.

In the 1952-1953 season, BGFC built on previous success by winning the Welwyn Hospital Cup and the Hertford and District Premier Division League Challenge Cup.  However, no prize was as welcome as winning the Premier Division again, as the Alfred Barclay Bishop Cup was presented to the winners.  So Burnham Green got their name engraved in first position on the Cup they purchased!

Despite the incredible success of the club, the small size of Burnham Green eventually took its toll and the club had difficulty getting a side together for many games during the 1953-1954 season, although 1956-1957 season saw BGFC back amongst the silverware when they won the league again.
The Minute book finishes here, but the accounts show the team carried on until 1960.