BILLERICAY TOWN v TONBRIDGE ANGELS
Farnborough 0-1 Tonbridge
F.A. Cup 2nd Qualifying Round
Saturday 3 October 2020
P25 W5 D10 L11 F38 A54
Tuesday 6 October 2020, 7:45pm
Blunts Wall Road
Tuesday 6 October 2020
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Tonbridge Football Club was formed in 1947 and joined the Southern League for the 1948-49 season. They moved in to The Angel Ground, named after the nearby Angel Hotel. They immediately took the nickname ‘The Angels’ and started their league history with a 2-1 home defeat against Hastings United, and a crowd of around 5,000.
They ended their first season in 20th place, in a league of 22 clubs.
The clubs first experience of F.A. Cup football came in the same season when they hosted, and beat, Bexley in the Extra Preliminary Round. The Angels made the short journey to Dover in the Preliminary Round but were beaten 4-2.
Over the next ten seasons Tonbridge never finished higher than 11th.
The club was only three seasons old when they reached the F.A. Cup First Round for the first time in 1950. They started with a 3-0 Preliminary Round victory at Aylesford Paper Mills and followed it with a First Qualifying Round win against Gravesend & Northfleet. Sittingbourne were then defeated 3-1 before a home draw against Snowdown Colliery Welfare of the Kent League.
The replay was won 6-3 and a Fourth Qualifying Round match at Athenian League Hendon. A 3-3 draw meant Hendon travelling to Kent and Tonbridge winning the replay 2-1.
The win gave Tonbridge a First Round trip to Essex where they were hosted by Southern League opponents Chelmsford City. The match ended in another draw and City made the journey to Tonbridge for the replay. The Essex club won the match 1-0.
The Angels repeated the run during the 1951-52 season, beating Worthing 11-1 on the way to hosting Aldershot in the First Round. The Hampshire club were members of the Football League Division 3 South at the time and would have been disappointed with the goalless draw. The replay at The Angel Ground was won 3-2 by Aldershot, in front of a club record attendance of 8,236.
Tonbridge did win the Kent Senior Shield during the 51-52 season, as well as the Metropolitan League Cup, which they won again the following season.
Folkestone were beaten after two replays in the Fourth Qualifying Round of the F.A. Cup during the 1952-53 season. Tonbridge were rewarded with another away match in the First Round as they headed to Carrow Road, Norwich. The Canaries were also members of the Football League Division Three South at the time. The Angels held league opposition to a draw again, but the replay was a match to far. Norwich left Kent with a 1-0 win.
The Kent Senior Shield was won again in 1956 and again in 1958 then 1959.
In 1962 Tonbridge were relegated from the Southern League Premier Division. They finished fifth at the end of the 1962-63 season and then fourth a year later, earning themselves a return to the Premier Division, only to be relegated again in 1966.
From 1965 Vic Akers spent three years playing for Tonbridge. He would later become the manager of Arsenal Ladies and lead them to great success.
Having been released by Barnet a young Malcolm Macdonald joined Tonbridge for the 1967-68 season. He left the following summer when he was signed for £1,000 by Fulham. He would later play Newcastle United, Arsenal and England.
In 1966 Tonbridge picked up a young player from Crystal Palace called Roy Hodgson. He moved to Gravesend & Northfleet in 1969.
Wins against Hastings United, Chatham, Dover and Folkestone were beaten as Tonbridge reached the First Qualifying Round of the 1968-69 F.A. Cup for a fourth time. The Angels made the short journey to East London where they lost 1-0 against Dagenham.
Tonbridge were promoted back to the Southern League Premier Division in 1973, finishing as Runners-Up behind Maidstone United. Earlier in the season Maidstone had been beaten as Tonbridge made their fifth appearance in the F.A. Cup First Round. They were rewarded with a home draw against Third Division Charlton Athletic. The Angel Ground held 7,770 that afternoon as The Addicks won the match 5-0.
The 1975-76 season ended with another relegation. The 1980’s started with a last place finish in the Southern Division. The decade would end with relegation in to the Kent League.
It was in 1980 that Tonbridge moved in to their new Longmead Stadium home.
In 1987 Tonbridge promoted Neil Emblen to the first team squad. In 1990 he moved to Sittingbourne who sold him to Millwall for £210,000. A year later and he moved to Wolverhampton Wanderers for £600,000. He is currently the Assistant Manager of Colorado Rapids having sent several years coaching in New Zealand.
Their first season in the Kent League gave Tonbridge a third-place finish, then fourth in 1991 followed by another fourth in 1992. They finally won the league in 1993, six points ahead of Herne Bay, and were promoted back to the Southern League.
In 1993 Paul Emblen followed in his brother’s footsteps when he progressed in to the first team at Tonbridge. He left in 1997 to join Charlton Athletic. Paul re-joined The Angels in 2002 before retiring in 2005.
Tonbridge became Tonbridge Angels F.C. in 1994.
On 3 October 1998 Tonbridge travelled to Billericay Town for the first ever meeting between the two clubs, as they faced each other in the Second Qualifying Round of the F.A. Cup.
Paul Battram scored twice that afternoon as The Blues won 4-0.
In 2004 The Angels finished in Third Place in the Southern League Eastern Division, missing out on second place because of their goal difference. They switched to the Isthmian League Premier Division for the 2004-05 season as non-league was restructured, and met Billericay Town in the league for the first time, on 21 August 2004.
Dave McSweeney scored for Town as the teams played out a 1-1 draw in front of 460 fans.
The Blues visited Longmead for the first time the following March. Neil Cousins and Ross Wareham scored in the 2-0 away win.
Tonbridge ended the season in 20th and were relegated. A year later and The Angels finished in third place, and went in to the play-offs hoping for an immediate return to the Isthmian Premier. A 2-0 win against Tooting & Mitcham United gave Tonbridge a final against Dover Athletic. The match was played at Longmead and Tonbridge won 3-2.
In 2009 they reached the play-offs for promotion to the Conference South. They fell at the first hurdle as they were beaten 3-2 by Carshalton Athletic.
Two seasons later and Tonbridge finished as runners-up, 11 points behind Sutton United. They went in to the play-offs again hoping to gain promotion. They beat Harrow Borough 3-2 as Lowestoft Town were beating Bury Town.
The Angels hosted another play-off final, and won 4-3.
This was followed by three seasons in the Conference South, until they were relegated in to the Isthmian League in 2014, and narrowly avoided a second successive relegation a year later.
In 2016 they were beaten in the play-offs by East Thurrock United. In 2019 they reached the play-offs again. Wins against Heringey Borough and Merstham meant another match, a ‘Super Play-off’ against Metropolitan Police, who had won the Southern League Premier Division South play-offs.
The match was hosted at Met Police’s Imber Court ground. The match went to extra time but Angels triumphed 3-2.
Tonbridge were in 20th place when the Coronavirus Pandemic brought football to a halt.
Ex-Blue Tom Derry is still with The Angels. Derry finished the 2015-16 season as Town’s top scorer, having netted 15 times. He then moved to Kingstonian that summer. Tom scored The Angels only goal in their 1-0 away win at Farnborough on Saturday.