Gloucester City AFC Club History
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 New Meadow Park 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. Phase 2 of the development is planned should the club achieve promotion and will see the capacity increased to 8,000.
Gloucester City AFC
Lee Mansell – Manager
Gloucester-born Lee Mansell was appointed as City's interim Manager in September 2021.
Lee began his professional career at Luton Town, before spells at Nuneaton and Oxford United. But it was at Torquay and Bristol Rovers where he is best remembered, in particular his winning penalty-kick at Wembley in 2015 to send Rovers back to the football league.
Dafydd Williams – Assistant Manager
Assistant Manager Dafydd 'Daf' Williams was appointed alongside Lee Mansell in September 2021. He began his coaching career aged 17 and worked with Mansell as U18 Professional Development Phase Coach at Bristol Rovers.
Jake Cole - Goalkeeper
Highly experienced keeper Jake Cole began his career at Queens Park Rangers and made over 200 EFL appearances whilst at Barnet and Plymouth Argyle from 2009 to 2014. Jake then went on to play for Woking, Aldershot Town and most recently Maidstone United before joining City in a combined playing and coaching capacity.
Liam Armstrong - Goalkeeper
Signed in the summer following his release from Bristol Rovers, the 21 year old made his debut against Guiseley earlier this season.
Jordon Thompson – Defender
Cultured centre back who began his career at Coventry and joined City in September 2021.
Jack James - Defender
The former Republic of Ireland U-19 International defender joined City from National League South club Braintree Town. James was previously on the books of Luton Town and whilst with the Hatters spent two terms out on loan at Hitchin Town and Havant & Waterlooville. The young right-back played in all three qualifying games for the Republic of Ireland’s U19 2019 UEFA European Championship campaign facing Bosnia, the Faroe Islands and the Netherlands.
Daniel Leadbitter - Defender
Joined the club on loan from Newport County towards the end of last season, then joined the club on a permanent deal in the Summer.
Tom Harrison - Defender
In his second spell at City after previously appearing on loan from Bristol City, he joined permanently in January 2021.
Ben Gerring - Defender
Experienced centre back formerly of Torquay, Woking and Bath City. Signed in November 2021.
Ben Nugent – Defender
The 27 year old began his career at Cardiff City where he won promotion to the Premier League in 2013, making 12 appearances during Cardiff’s EFL Championship-winning season. The 6’5” defender then went on to amass a further 173 EFL appearances with lengthy spells at Crewe, Gillingham and Stevenage before joining Barnet in the National League.
Fabien Robert - Midfielder
Former French Under 20 International Robert spent the majority of his younger years playing in Ligue 1 for Lorient before moving to England. Originally moving to Doncaster Rovers on loan in the Championship, Fabien then spent time at Swindon Town before moving to Forest Green Rovers where he was loaned out to Aldershot on two occasions, before making a big first impression at City when he scored within 17 seconds of his debut in September 2018. His second loan spell at Gloucester saw an incredibly successful few months where his spectacular goals played a major part in helping the Gloucester City avoid relegation.
Tommy O’Sullivan - Midfielder
Creative midfielder O’Sullivan joined from Hereford and is a former Welsh U21 international. He began his career at Cardiff City making appearances in the League Cup and FA Cup. Following loans at Port Vale and Newport County, Tommy joined Colchester before moving to the Bulls where he made 51 appearances.
Kevin Dawson - Midfielder
Experienced midfielder and club captain, who has previously appeared for county rivals Cheltenham Town & Forest Green Rovers.
Max Sheaf – Midfielder
Attacking midfielder who started his professional career at Hull City, before spending a productive season on loan with Cheltenham Town in 2019/20. Joined City as a free agent in August.
Lucas Tomlinson - Midfielder
A product of Bristol Rovers Academy, attacking midfielder who joined on loan in September.
Jordan Young – Forward
Product of Coventry City’s Academy who initially joined City on loan in December 2020 before signing permanently in the summer
Bernard Mensah - Forward
Began his professional career at Watford in 2013 where he made two substitute appearances in the Championship. Mensah had loan spells at Barnet and Brainteee before joining Aldershot Town in 2016 and then Bristol Rovers two years later. Whilst at Rovers he enjoyed successful loans at both Aldershot and Maidenhead United before joining City in January 2020.
Matt McClure - Forward
Prolific goalscorer who finished last season as the top scorer in the league. Formerly of Wycombe Wanderers & Aldershot, as well as appearing for Northern Ireland U-21s.
Danny King - Forward
Local player who has previously played for all ages of Gloucester City youth teams.
Dejon Noel-Williams - Forward
Grenadian international forward who joined from Hemel Hempstead in October 2021, Dejon was previously with Oxford United and spent time on loan at City in 2019.
Ollie Hulbert – Forward
Loan signing from Bristol Rovers in October 2021.