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Taverners Football Club looking to celebrate 50th anniversary in style

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Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Monday, 8th November 2021, 09:00

Taverners are flying high in Division Two of the Stroud League Taverners are flying high in Division Two of the Stroud League

Taverners Football Club are enjoying some good times on and off the pitch after a tough few months.

The team are going well in Division Two of the Stroud League and behind the scenes there is a big shindig being planned at the end of the campaign to celebrate the club’s 50th anniversary.

Fifty years is something worth celebrating, of course, and the hope is that former Liverpool and Spurs defender Neil Ruddock will be the guest speaker at an end-of-season party at Stonehouse Court Hotel.

And there’s sure to be plenty of smiles should the event go ahead as planned at the 17th-century manor house, all the more so because it will show that the club are very much alive and kicking after the difficulties of the previous campaign.

“We had to fold our first team because of a shortage of players last season,” said club secretary Simon Lloyd-Jones. “They were playing in the Northern Senior League and it had been a struggle so we decided to consolidate.”

As a result the reserves have become the club’s first team and, at the time of writing, are sitting pretty in the top four of the Stroud League’s second flight with five wins and three draws from their opening nine games.

Lloyd-Jones, who has been the club’s secretary for the past three years, still plays even though he is now in his late 30s.

“I try,” he laughed. “I’ll play anywhere but quite often I play left midfield, although I’m not a regular anymore.”

Lloyd-Jones had a short spell with Uley but played most of his career with Cashes Green before joining Taverners five or six years ago.

And there’s a familiar face in charge at Taverners because manager Mark Harsant is in his third spell as the main man.

“We’ve got 40 to 45 signed on, although half of them don’t play,” continued Lloyd-Jones. “They’re in their mid-40s and have signed just in case we need them.

“We’ve got a good balance of younger and older players, some of whom have played at a higher level.”

And leading the charge this season are Taverners’ strike duo Dean Neale and Kyle Adams, who have been banging in the goals from day one.

“Dean is 37,” said Lloyd-Jones, “but he’s still the quickest person I know. Kyle is his 20s and they’re both pretty key for us. They are both 6ft but they are quite athletic.”

And they will both need to retain their form and fitness if the one-time County League club are to have even more to celebrate come the end of the season.

“The aim is to win promotion, we want to get back to the Northern  Senior League as soon as possible although it will be an uphill task because the standards are getting higher,” said Lloyd-Jones, who also confirmed that the club will be running a 2nd team next season.

Lloyd-Jones, in his role of secretary, is a big part of everything that goes on at the club, of course.

He lives in Rodborough, which is a 10-minute drive from Easington where Taverners play their home games.

Football is a big part of his life because his stepson Louis is playing for Rodborough Youth’s under-11s. He’s a left-back and Lloyd-Jones says he would love to see him play for Taverners when he’s old enough.

And if and when he does it’s likely that two of the club’s stalwarts will still be very much involved at the club.

“Our chairman Mike Stratford and treasurer Len Keating have been there from the start,” said Lloyd-Jones. “They’re absolute legends both of them, hopefully they will continue at the club for a long time.”

And Len Keating, as well as obviously being good with numbers, is a bit of a wordsmith too because he penned a short history on Taverners Football Club, which Simon Lloyd-Jones was happy to forward to The Local Answer.

Under the heading ‘Pride of the Cotswolds’, it reads: “Taverners Football Club were formed in 1972 under the name of George Arcadians, which was changed after one season to the George Taverners, the names being derived from their roots at the George Hotel, Nailsworth.

“The early years were spent lounging in the lower divisions of the Stroud League, with little success apart from one brief excursion into Division Three.

“The turning point for the club came in October 1982 when player Dale Russell decided to try his hand at management and was elected player/manager for the first time.

“This triggered a golden era for the club. Four championships, three runners-up spots, two Stroud Charity Cups and two Berkeley Hospital Cups soon followed, together with the disappointment of two County Cup final defeats in 1983 and 1985.

“The club also suffered a huge disappointment after their first Stroud League Division One championship in 1990-91 when their application to join the Northern Senior League was rejected.

“Despite this, the team went on to retain the title and took a self-imposed exile to Hawkesbury Upton in order to satisfy the Northern Senior League's facilities requirements. Two years later the team returned to Nailsworth to play at the home of Forest Green Rovers before moving to Highwood (Nailsworth Recreations Centre) in 1995.

“The first five seasons of Senior League football brought no success, but the side were able to establish themselves as a mid-table outfit. In 1997/98 fortunes changed with the recruitment from a rich seam of emerging local talent, together with the return of former captain Mike Stratford as Dale Russell's assistant. The Adrian Lees Charity Cup and promotion to Northern Senior League Division One soon followed.

“In 2001-02, Taverners enjoyed an historic season capturing the GFA Senior Amateur Cup and finishing a close second in Northern Senior One to gain promotion to the Gloucestershire County League for the first time.

“After 10 seasons and having established themselves as a respected County League side, first-team manager Dale Russell stepped down after nearly 30 years’ service, having enjoyed four top-eight finishes with a best placing in season 2003/04 of fourth. The hope of a new era soon paled with the team fighting a relegation battle, which they finally lost despite the return of Russell for the final quarter of the season.

“The Taverners FC crest sports a Latin motto ‘Superbia Dobunorum’ meaning ‘Pride of the Cotswolds’ and the club will be working hard to live up to that motto.”

Other Images

Ethan Moulden in action for Taverners. Image: Matt Bigwood, Stroudtimes.com
Louis Wilkins on the run for Taverners. Image: Matt Bigwood, Stroudtimes.com
Taverners Football Club crest
Taverners committee members, from left, Simon Lloyd-Jones, Mike Stratford, Simon Wilkins, Len Keating, Russell Chamberlain and Mark Harsant

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