Local Football Since 1882

proud county with a rich heritage

a football-rich county

Nearly five thousand teams currently participate in the beautiful game in the County of Essex.

Therefore it’s hard to believe the beginnings of the Essex County FA began at a modest public house in Chelmsford, just a stone's throw away from the current County Office...
Essex Representative Team (September 1894)
Story of the Essex County FA...

Tens of thousands of footballers from all edges of the County continue to enjoy the sport which became subject to increased organisation when, on the 30th September 1882, members of several local football clubs discussed the formation of a “Football Association” at the White Hart Hotel, which was still in existence in Colchester Road until its demolition in December 2010.

AC Durrant of Chelmsford FC, being in the chair at the time, proposed the name the “Essex County Football Association,” which was seconded by JL Nickisson from Brentwood FC and carried unanimously.

From these unsophisticated beginnings a provisional committee was elected with one member from each club for the purpose of framing the necessary rules. This committee would act until a permanent one was appointed. Mr Nickisson proposed “any club playing or having its headquarters in Essex should be eligible for membership.” 

Eleven years later a full executive committee was finally formed, consisting of three members from north Essex and three from the south, who would be elected annually at the general meeting. Later, the number was increased to eight, then to twelve, and now a 30-strong council unite as evidence of the rapidly-expanding game. 

By the time the committee started to enlarge, the famous Essex Senior Cup competition had been inaugurated, with the first final seeing Colchester defeat Braintree. Over 100 contests later, Ilford have proved the most prolific winners of the coveted silverware, emerging victorious no less than 13 times. 

One of the most prominent names in the Association’s history is Jas T Clark (pictured), whose involvement began at the turn of the 20th century when he was appointed Secretary of the new Referees Committee and his first important task was to draft a set of rules for their guidance. 

His prime emergence, though, came in 1908. To the deep regret of every sportsman in the County, Honorary Secretary Robert Cook passed away with tragic suddenness and Clark was appointed in his place. It was the commencement of his secretarial duties which would span 50 years. 

He will have faced fewer challenges during his service than the outbreak of the Great War, imminent during 1914. A message in that year’s County Handbook read: “The Council sees no reason to interfere at present with games that Competitions and Clubs may see fit to arrange; but trusts that so far as possible teams will be confined to players precluded through physical unfitness or home ties from serving their King and Country.” 

The Council decided to institute a roll of honour of all players and officials who enlisted from Essex clubs. Operations were suspended at the Association the following year as the conflict began to reach its heights and, pending the return to normal conditions, all available funds were donated to war charities. The clubs in existence at the start were retained in membership without payment of further subscription.


At the start of 1919 the nation assessed the damage several years of War had created and the task of the Essex County FA’s reconstruction was begun in January. The principal towns in the County were visited by members of the Executive Committee, meetings were addressed and clubs were formed.

At the annual meeting the following September, it was reported there were 446 clubs and competitions in membership - a promising increase of around 75 per cent on the pre-war record. This total was re-counted in 1922 and the Association announced it had trebled its pre-war membership to 779 affiliated clubs and competitions and 257 Junior Cup entries. 

However, the County received a further setback when, in 1924, the precious Senior Cup (pictured) was burgled on 25th May during one of its spells in the possession of Ilford FC. On the 21st January the following year, the Junior Cup, while being cared for by Wellington Athletic FC of Forest Gate, met with a similar fate. Neither trophy was ever traced. 

Though the concern caused from this paled into insignificance during the years between 1939 and 1945. The Association continued to partly function throughout World War Two to provide football wherever possible for players employed at home on essential War services and for others “home on leave” or convalescing. 

In a separate flyer inserted into the 1945/46 County Handbook, President JB Slade stated: “Almost all of our operations in the Football world will be suspended. I trust, however that we may all look forward to, and hope for, an early termination to the struggle, and in the near future to see our members return to the game which we all have so much at heart.”

Naturally, football had to rebuild again in an all too familiar fashion and just over a decade after fighting ceased, Jas Clark celebrated his 50 years’ service as Honorary Secretary, having previously served as Assistant Secretary from 1901 to 1908. He had already been awarded an MBE.

With all the activity being seen around the pitches and fields of Essex nowadays, it may surprise some people that The Football Association never actually recognised Sunday football until as late as 1964. As we stand, there are now 36 adult and 13 youth leagues that operate what is a staple part of many players’ exercise routines on that day. 

Few will need reminding of the tremendous achievements of the game nationally in 1966, and Essex were prominent in providing three West Ham United players - Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters - to carry the County flag. They were amongst England’s most celebrated footballers who won the FIFA World Cup on home soil. 

Moore captained the side, Peters scored one and Geoff Hurst bagged a hat-trick. Amongst the 1966/67 County Handbook for the following season, Stuart J Mallinson included the following in his President’s Message: “England has won. I saw England play Portugal in the semi-final and West Germany in the Final. Never could one wish to see finer games in every way - quality of play in the true sporting spirit.”

Following one of the greatest days in English sporting history the game continued to develop quickly, with the very first paid staff appointed to carry out County duties in 1976. By 1980, Terry Alexander was engaged as an Administrative Assistant and was later promoted to Executive Secretary in the new County FA Headquarters which opened in Chelmsford.

31 Mildmay Road was then purchased as the new County Office in 1984, with current Chief Executive, Phil Sammons, appointed to his post in 1997 when a new, computerised disciplinary system was also installed. To mark the turn of the Millennium, the Essex County FA became a limited company. 

The beginning of the 21st century saw speedy growth in the County Office, one new appointment being Press & Publicity Officer Matt Phillips who helped inaugurate the Essex County FA Website, www.essexfa.com. Steve Goodsell was named County Development Manager and, outside of the Office, Michael Game became Chairman before also joining the Board of The FA in 2006. Michael has since retired and become a Life Member. 

A landmark occasion arrived in 2005, the County Office moving venues for a second time to its modern base at Springfield Lyons Approach, just a few hundred yards from the site of the old White Hart. The distance between those two points is only short, but the time spent to get here has been both historical and significant.

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