1883 - The Early Years
Thomas H. Coleman sat down in his home in Littleton Villa, Brook Street, Tredworth and wrote a letter to the Editor of The Citizen on Saturday 27th January 1883 wondering why there was no football club playing under Association Rules in the City of Gloucester. As a result of the letter, thirty-seven days later the club was officially formed on March 5th 1883 as Gloucester Association Football Club and Thomas H. Coleman became the club's first ever captain in the inaugural season of 1883-84. Although formed on March 5th 1883, Gloucester AFC did not play their first game until 9th February 1884 when a match was advertised as the first in the city under Association Rules to be played at Budding's Field against Warmley losing 1-3. Unfortunately, the first venture was to last only three seasons and folded in 1886.
A group of players keen to have a major team in Gloucester played eight fixtures in 1888-89 under the leadership of Algernon S. King and called themselves initially ‘A.S. King's XI. After two games they were known as ‘Gloucester Nomads’ due to the lack of a home venue. It was these players who passed the baton on to two enthusiasts of the game who re-formed the club in September 1889 as Gloucester AFC they being the Reverend Henry Lloyd Brereton, Headmaster of the new County School in Hempsted and Charles Poole, Assistant Headmaster at the Crypt Grammar School. Gloucester’s first competitive game was on Saturday 26 October 1889 in the 1st Round of the Gloucestershire FA Junior Challenge Cup beating Clifton Association Reserves 10-0 at Budding's Field.
The club became members of the Bristol and District League, which subsequently became the Western League. The recommendation that led to the idea of establishing the Bristol and District League was on the suggestion of Gloucester AFC player and future Gloucester and England Rugby Union international player, Percy Stout. Although Gloucester AFC did not participate in the inaugural season of 1892-93, Percy was a member of the Gloucester team that played in that historic first league match the following season away to Bedminster on Saturday 30 September 1893 losing 2-3. During this era the club was noted as ‘The Gloucestrians’ and ‘The Citizens’ in local media. In 1897 Gloucester AFC entered the Gloucester and District League.
The first time ‘City’ was officially added to the Gloucester title was in 1902, although the first mention in The Citizen of the team being called Gloucester City was when the team was printed on Friday 16 November 1900.
In 1906 the club amalgamated with the Hempstead team of St. Michael's prior to the start of season1906-07 and entered the North Gloucestershire League in 1907. The club disbanded in September 1910 but coincidentally, the Gloucester YMCA was formed at the same time and many of the players who had been with City joined Gloucester YMCA. The YMCA club continued
in the lesser Gloucester and District Thursday League until 1913 when it was decided to enter a team in the North Gloucestershire League. Based on the criteria of a continuous link on a seasonal basis the current club could claim they were formed in 1910. However, the link with all clubs going back to the 1883 formation is irrefutable.
By 1925 they had assumed the name of Gloucester City once more and become founder members of the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League. In 1934-35, after winning both the Cup and League, City turned semi-professional, joined the Birmingham Combination and moved to a new stadium in Longlevens where the club stayed for the next 26 years. In 1964 City moved ground to the Horton Road Stadium. Following this move the club was brought by Westbury Homes, who changed the clubs colours from mainly red as the primary colour to yellow to match the Westbury Home corporate colours.
In 1986 the club moved grounds again, this time to the Hempsted area and Meadow Park. The Horton Road ground became a housing estate which now boasts the names of City legends: (Stan) Myers Road, (Dicky) Etheridge Place and (Ron) Coltman Close amongst others.
In 1988 then chairman Geoff Hester wanted to appoint a new manager and after an exhaustive search found his man: former Aston Villa and Wales player Brian Godfrey. The new manager went about trying to assemble a squad capable of fighting their way out of the Midland Division. Players such as Lance Morrison, Steve Talboys, Wayne Noble and Brian Hughes were-among those who walked to the Championship, but the most important signing came just before Christmas when Chris Townsend joined from Cheltenham Town.
The next big achievement of the Godfrey years was the club best ever FA Cup run which ended at Cardiff City. Following wins against Mangotsfield United (4-0), Barry Town (2-2, 2-0), Folkestone (1-0) and Dorchester Town (1-0) all came and went before City suffered heartbreak in the replay after being 2-0 up at Ninian Park with just five minutes to go. The club was beaten 1-0 in the replay at Meadow Park.
1997 saw the end of the Westbury Homes era, with Eamonn MuGurk joining the board and acquiring the majority of the clubs controlling shares.
2007 - Flooding, promotion and exile
In July 2007, Gloucester City’s home, Meadow Park, was affected by the Gloucestershire flooding that engulfed the county. The club was hit with almost 8 feet of water, almost submerging the crossbar. This astonishing picture, featured in The Sun, Sky News and the BBC shot the club to national attention both in the media and football supporters across the Country. This caused many of the club's supporters to start a donation fund to help the club. In the first game after the flooding occurred, Western League side Frome Town donated £300 to the fund. The club's home friendly against Bath City was changed to Bath's Twerton Park with all gate receipts going to the fund.
The club's first season of exile was at Forest Green Rovers New Lawn Stadium, despite the loss of a stadium and revenue stream the club finished a creditable 6th in the league, just outside the Playoffs.
The club's second season of exile at Cirencester Town proved to be one of the greatest in the history of the club. The club finished 3rd in the Southern Premier League thus qualifying for the Playoffs. In the Southern League Playoff semi-final Cambridge City were beaten 3-1 at the Corinium Stadium. They went on to play Farnborough in the final at Cherrywood Road and won 1-0 with Matt Rose scoring the crucial goal, ending a 70 year continuous association with the Southern Football League, and gaining promotion to Conference Football for the first time. A quite remarkable achievement considering the club's predicament.
During the 2009-10 season, new F.A. ground regulations meant that Cirencester Town's Corinium Stadium would not be suitable for use in the following season meaning if the club failed to find a suitable new home, it would be forcibly relegated.
It was announced in March 2010 that the club would be ground sharing with major rivals Cheltenham Town for the forthcoming two seasons. Gloucester City Council provided £20,000 towards helping this agreement, heralding a new era in co-operation between the club and the council, and with Cheltenham Town.
In October 2018 Alex Petheram joined the main club board and became co-Chairman with Eamonn McGurk in 2019. With new vision and investment both on and off the pitch and the club returning to its original club colours. City finally in September 2020 returned home to TigerTurf Stadium with a Phase 1 capacity of 4,000 and a build cost of circa £3m. The club receiving a grant of £500,000 from the Football Foundation to help fund the build programme. The new '3G pitch' has been raised by circa four metres from that of the Old Meadow Park to safe guard from any future flood events.