Cowes Sport Football Club
The original Cowes FC, formed in 1881, had folded in 1899 after an unsuccessful venture into professionalism in the Southern League. The Club re-formed four years later and then moved to Westwood Park, their current home, in 1912.
Many years of success followed in the Hampshire League, especially in the 1920s and 30s, when County trophies were won on several occasions. All told, the Hampshire League was won on ten occasions, along with nine successes in the Hampshire Senior Cup. In one Final in the 1931/32 season, they were beaten 2-1 by their deadly rivals Newport, but the amazing statistic was the attendance of 21,000 at the Dell in Southampton. That same season, the FA Cup tie at Westwood against the same opponents, drew a ground record attendance of 4815 that stands to this day.
In 1945 the Club, after many years of trying, finally secured the purchase of Westwood Park as the country recovered from the War and the trophies continued to be won, but a gradual decline in fortunes led to relegation to the 2nd Division of the Hampshire League for the first time in 1967. Ironically, the Club won the Hampshire Senior Cup that season as well, for what would be the final time.
The Club has enjoyed a measure of success in the FA Cup and FA Vase over the years, reaching the fourth Qualifying round of the FA Cup in 1908/09, 1937/38, 1957/58 and 1963/64, while they reached the last sixteen of the FA Vase in 1999/00.
In 1968 a group of workers at Cowes shipbuilders, J. S. White’s resurrected the football section of its Sports Club. This continued until 1973, when the Company closed its Sports ground, but the Club continued independently as White Sports, on a Council ground, in the Island League.
In 1980, White Sports merged with their close neighbours, Cowes FC, that, by then, had fallen on hard times, and became Cowes Sports FC.
The Club in its original form, had always recruited players predominately from the Mainland, but in 1982 they went “all Island” to increase local support and gradually fortunes improved until the Hampshire League Championship was won in 1994 and Wessex League status was secured.
In 2004, a new Clubhouse and dressing room complex was opened, having been built entirely by volunteer labour. A new covered enclosure along with a turnstile block completed the development of the ground as it is today.
Fifteen years in the top flight ended in relegation, but in 2015 the Club was promoted back to the Premier Division, where it remains, though last season, only a final day victory avoided another relegation.
The Club has been very fortunate to have obtained the services of a new First team Manager, Steve Hunt, an England International, who enjoyed a long career with Coventry City, West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa and New York Cosmos.
Since Steve Hunt’s appointment, the mood at Westwood Park has been incredibly upbeat although, as an amateur side in a highly competitive, semi-professional League, success will be maintaining a place in the Sydenhams Football League, Premier Division.
At present, a mid-table position has been attained after a difficult start against many of the League’s top sides. When the current spate of injuries, which have also had a knock-on effect to our Reserve side, has eased, we should be capable of staying away from the wrong end of the table.
Our Reserve side plays in the Isle of Wight League Division 1, under the Management of Mark Greenslade, Keith McLaughlin and Coach Steve Spriggs, who have recruited a raft of the Island’s best young players. For those who don’t get a regular place in the Reserve side, they have also created a Development squad that will offer valuable pitch time in a series of friendlies throughout the season. Some of these impressive youngsters have already stepped up into the First team this season and it is hoped that many of them will form the backbone of the side in the years to come.
A successful conclusion to the season would see both of our sides retain their places in their respective divisions and our First team to win back the Isle of Wight Gold Cup, reputed to be the most valuable trophy in English football. In each of the last four seasons, we have lost in the final to Newport, who also play in the Sydenhams Football League Premier Division.
We have a passionate fan base of around one hundred and we are striving to increase the profile of the Club still further in the town.
The biggest challenge we face in the next five years is to find replacements for the current Officers of the Club, all of whom are in their sixties and seventies. We have a large and enthusiastic committee and hopefully, they will step forward when the time comes.
Up the Yachtsmen!