LOWESTOFT TOWN – SINGING THE BLUES
Lowestoft Town have a fine history stretching back well over 100 years. The club is first recorded as East Suffolk F C with games, all friendlies in those days, recorded back in 1884. On merging with the original Kirkley club the title of Lowestoft was adopted in 1887 with ‘Town’ added in 1890
When the Norfolk & Suffolk League was formed in 1897, providing the first inter-county competitive matches, Lowestoft dominated, winning the title 6 times in the first 7 years. The ‘odd’ season out 1899-1900 saw Lowestoft’s attentions turn to the F Amateur Cup with victories over such famous names as Leytonstone (9-0), and Gt Marlow (1-0) on the way to the final which brought a 1-5 defeat by Bishop Auckland at Leicester.
In 1904 Lowestoft had to appear before a F A Commission to answer charges of professionalism after a testimonial had raised just under £5 for player Fred Timoney who was about to emigrate. Norwich City who had ‘poached’ 4 of Lowestoft’s successful side amongst others were also called before the commission. Whilst City accepted the ruling and formally adopted professionalism to start on the road that has seen them up amongst the top clubs in the country, Lowestoft paid a restitution of 2 guineas to regain amateur status. In 1925 came the decision to adopt the blue and white colours that have served them so well since.
Lowestoft became founder members of the Eastern Counties League in 1935 but before starting out on this new challenge once again merged with local rivals Kirkley. The move proved a wise one with the first season seeing them sharing the title with Harwich & Parkston and then winning it outright 2 years later.
Lowestoft took the bold step of becoming semi-professional in 1962. & 7 ECL titles and twice runners up in the following 9 seasons is clear testimony to the manner in which they dominated in those years.
The ECL title was again won in 1977/8. The 1980s saw a decline in the club’s fortunes as crowds and income dropped. The unique club pavilion, originally the Yacht Club before being taken down and moved from the harbour to the Crown Meadow in 1902, was gradually falling into disrepair and the floodlighting system installed in 1964 was coming to the end of its lifespan. The floodlights were updated in 1986 and the new dressing room complex occupied in 1989 and at last attention could be paid to playing matters.
As playing fortunes declined a 19 year old local lad signed for the club in 1980 who was to figure prominently in the affairs of the club for the next 30 plus years. Micky Chapman soon became a favourite with his all action style, eye for the goal, long flowing hair and a genuine desire to bring success back to the club. 5 ‘Player of the Year’ trophies adorn his display cabinet as testimony to the respect he has earned from supporters and players alike. The 1990s saw Micky progress from captain to assistant manager and finally manager in 1994.
A persistent back injury forced Mick to hang up his boots in 1997 allowing him to concentrate fully on the managerial side. With the unwavering support of successive chairmen Mick had been able to improve the side year by year. In February 2012 he took charge of his 1000th game as Lowestoft manager.
After several years in the doldrums the 21st century has seen Micky team up with Ady Gallagher to bring a return to trophy winning days with the Ridgeons League title won twice, the League Cup collected twice and the Suffolk Premier Cup brought back to the Meadow five times. The culmination of all that recent success came in May 2008 when joint managers Micky Chapman and Ady Gallagher proudly led their squad out onto the hallowed Wembley pitch in the F A Carlsberg Vase final. On a blazing hot Sunday afternoon in front of over 14,000 Lowestoft supporters, the Blues were in the lead for three quarters of the game before conceding a last minute goal to lose out to Kirkham & Wesham by the odd goal of three.
Season 2008-2009 saw the first team win a League and County Cup double, as well as reach the semi final of the F A Carlsberg Vase and the season ended with promotion to the Ryman League Division One North. Success continued unabated in 2009/10 with back to back promotions seeing the Blues soar to the Ryman Premier Division at the first attempt achieving a century of points and goals for the second consecutive season. An excellent F A Cup run saw the first round proper reached with the run ended at Wrexham by a cruel deflected goal in the final minutes.
The first season in the Ryman Premier Division saw the Trawlerboys involved in the promotion race right to the end. There was just 9 minutes of the season left when Tonbridge Angels scored the goal that gave them a 3-4 victory and ended Lowestoft’s hopes of a third successive promotion. It was a similar story in the following 2 seasons with late goals in the Play Off final denying them promotion before the dream of Step 2 football was realised in 2014 with a play off victory over AFC Hornchurch and a 3rd promotion in 6 seasons.
Season 2014-2015 was one of consolidation in the highest sphere the club has ever reached and despite several early morning departures and a mere 8500 plus miles of travelling a satisfactory season ended with them holding a 16th place finish suffering just a single defeat in their final 13 fixtures. On top of this the blues closed their season out by winning the Suffolk Premier Cup for the twelfth time; beating Whitton United 2-1 after extra time. It was also a season that marked the farewell of a true Lowestoft Town legend with Micky Chapman retiring after the last league game of the season at home to Barrow, who sealed the league title that day with a 3-2 victory of the blues. After 32 years, 480 first team appearances, 193 goals, 1640 games and 147,600 plus minutes as a player, player/manager and then manager during that time, it was the end of an era for a figure who will forever be etched in the history of Lowestoft Town FC.
Season 2015-2016 saw Ady Gallagher in sole charge for the first time but a season plagued with injuries saw the Trawlerboys relegated on the last day of the season on goal difference bringing a return to the Ryman League Premier Division.