Barnes FC – the famous football club set to be revived from the relics of history

4 min

Amidst the backdrop of football fever during England’s Euro 2020 campaign this summer, the wheels were set in motion to revive a historic club from the relics of history.

Formed in 1862 by Ebenezer Cobb Morley, Barnes Football Club had great importance in the development of the game in the nineteenth century.

The West London club held the honour of being the sixth oldest in England and one of the founder members of the FA as well as being among the 10 founding members of The Surrey County Football Association in 1877. 

They were also one of the first to feature in the FA Cup, having their best performance in the competition during the 1878-1879 season, reaching the Third Round before losing 2-1 to Oxford University. 

Domestically, they won the Surrey Senior Cup in 1884, causing an upset by beating reigning champions Reigate Priory 3-2 at The Kennington Oval while club captain Charles Morice also represented England in the first-ever international friendly against Scotland at Hamilton Crescent in Glasgow in 1872.

The 20th century wasn’t as kind to Barnes with their later history more sparsely documented before the club fell into financial difficulty in the late eighties and eventually dissolved due to a lack of public interest and support.

However, back in June this year a movement began to re-establish Barnes FC, and, backed by the grandchildren of ex-chairman Leslie Kilsby, a crowdfunding campaign was launched to raise much-needed start-up costs with the aim of entering the Surrey FA’s Kingston & District Football League ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.

Leslie Kilsby (centre), Barnes FC chairman between 1926 and 1967

“We thought it was an amazing idea to bring the football club back to the Barnes community again,” committee member and fan liaison officer Julie Burgess exclusively told London Football Scene.

“It’s such a community project and, since Covid, I think everyone’s mental health and fitness has declined. So this is our way of bringing community spirit back to Barnes.”

Julie, alongside fellow committee member and community & PR Director Janice Kilsby, are the eldest grandchildren on both sides of Leslie Kilsby’s children, ensuring a direct link to the past and the club’s traditions remain in the new incarnation of Barnes FC.

Kilsby, chairman between 1926 and 1967, ensured that the club had a community focus and particularly supported those struggling with the after-effects of war, the disabled and the wounded soldiers of Queen Mary’s Hospital Roehampton.

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The club also reaffirms their commitment to the local community stating: “Our mission is to develop and promote community participation in healthy recreation by providing affordable activities that improve health and social welfare and provide a more socially inclusive community.” 

Similar to Kilsby’s post-war efforts over a century ago, those involved with the newly-formed Barnes FC are also hoping to use the club to help combat the effects the coronavirus pandemic has had on all aspects of daily life.

All of this takes a fair amount of money though with the crowdfunding page raising £4,937 before closing on November 3rd with Sport England also pledging 30% of the project target (£1,395) to help drive the campaign forward.

Barnes FC’s newly-appointed chairman Ranko Davidov could not be more proud of the work that has already been put in but is urging more local businesses to get involved.

“In terms of further financing, we do have a great pool of sponsors albeit there are few sponsorship packages left and hope we will attract more local businesses in due course,” Davidov said.

“We will organise social events – the first a Christmas event with a stand in the central Barnes area in cooperation with our community partners with the aim to increase awareness and to attract more members to help us run the club.”

When it comes to a home, Barnes FC will be going back to their roots of Barn Elms Park and playing in their historical colours of blue and white hoops or stripes with Davidov hoping the club will become semi-professional once they have re-established themselves.

The club clearly means a lot to Davidov, who rounded off by expressing his desire to make the Barnes FC name proud once again: “There’s a lot of history and importance around this club. I’m sure this club can play in The FA Cup again!”

The old Barnes FC of the 19th and 20th-century may well be consigned to the annals of history, but now new life has been breathed into the famous old club based on community traditions that it can be proud of.

For more information, visit the official Barnes Football Club website or to donate check out the PayPal Donation page.

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