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Sprowston Athletic Football Club

Sprowston Athletic FC - History

In the year 1952 the brothers Mick and David Palmer got together a team of youngsters and played friendly matches on a pitch which they had to prepare themselves, including clearing, or at least reducing, the number of [ Cow Pats ] on the playing area. The goal posts had been provided by Sauls Timber Merchants and had to be transported by bicycles to the field situated behind the Ebenezer [now the Racecourse PH ]. The land belonged to Colonel Cator and permission for its use had been obtained by the father of the two boys, the late Les Palmer, who gave them every support and great encouragement. From these friendly matches progress was made to the Norfolk Minor League where, after an unimpressive beginning, they learned from experience and became a stronger team.

Sprowston Athletic - 1957
Sprowston Athletic FC - 1957

After two seasons in Minor football, some of the players were over the age limit and admission to the Norwich Business Houses League was obtained, beginning in division 5. It was at this stage the commitment of previous seasons brought its reward and promotion was won to dividion 4 at the first attempt. Further successes followed and the club won 4, 3 and 2 in successive seasons making division 1 in four seasons. They were holders of the Shoe Trades Cup several times during this period. After two seasons in the 1st division, first as runners up and then as Champions, the club was accepted into division 2 of the Norfolk and Suffolk League which they won, beating the 1st division winners in a two leg contest for the Mummery Cup. Another trophy, the Reepham Distis Cup, was won during this period and they reached the final of the Norfolk Junior Cup during the 1961/62 season, only to be beaten 2-1 by Holt Utd. It was at this time that the ambition of the late Les Palmer, to bring senior football to Sprowston rec., was realised.

When the Norfolk & Suffolk and East Anglian League amalgamated to form the Anglian Combination in the 1964/65 season, Sprowston Athletic were in the 1st division and remained so for ten years. Shortly after the formation of the Anlian Combination, the club suffered the sad loss of its Secretary Les Palmer. A new organisation carried on and was held together, but lack of personnel with sufficient knowledge of local football to run things as before led to relegation. Senior status was lost in the 1974/75 season. There continued to be highlights, the brightest of these in 1977 when the club's Silver Jubilee year victory at Carrow Road, over the holders Tottenhill by 1-0, brought the Norfolk junior Cup to the club. In the late Sixties an attempt to form a youth team was made but lasted for just two seasons. Talented players were poached with the false promises made by rival youth team managers. This led to the formation of an A Team which played with some success in the Business Houses League. But this stretched the management of the club to excess and the team was withdrawn after three seasons. Also, during this period, local teams Sprowston Athletic and Sprowston Wanderers competed for the Les Palmer Memorial Cup. The matches were played on Easter Mondays and proceeds from the collections were donated to the Sprowston Senior Citizens Club.

Once again, through lack of support in managing the arrangements and the cost of medals for players and tokens for officials, this had to be abandonned.