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|Programme Editor||Barnes Print|
|Ground||Millbank Stadium, Rosemary Lane, Broton Industrial Estate, Halstead, CO9 1HR||01787 472082|
|Midweek matches – Tuesday|
|Colours||Black & White Quarters Shirts||Black Shorts||Black Socks|
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The club was formed in 1879 following a meeting of 16 “interested gentlemen” in the Town Hall. In the early years friendlies were played against local villages before the club became members of the North Essex League in 1894.The first trophy of note was winning the Essex Junior Cup in 1902, beating Chingford 2-0 in the final at Chelmsford.
During the early years of the century the club competed in the Halstead & District League and also the Haverhill & District League. They played at various grounds in the town including Three Gates, Ravens Meadow, King George playing field, Courtaulds Sports Ground and Coggeshall Pieces.
In 1947 they won the Essex Junior Cup again, beating Eton Manor 6-3 at Grays. In the following year they moved to their present ground at Rosemary Lane which had been developed from parts of three fields. In 1949, the clubhouse was opened and the 500-seater stand was added a year later.
Halstead then joined the Essex & Suffolk Border League, finishing joint runners-up to Sudbury in 1955. Three years later, under Bob Curry Snr, they landed the Championship as well as the League Cup, beating Lakenheath 11-4 on aggregate in the final.
Four Border League titles, six runners-up places and four League Cup victories were amongst the honours that followed before the club moved up to the Essex Senior League in 1980. In this league, two third places and League Cup runners-up spot were achieved.
In 1988 Town joined the newly formed Jewson League First Division, from where player-manager Dennis Longhorn led the club to promotion to the Premier Division and the final of the League Cup
In 1992 Keith Martin was appointed manager with Ian Phillips as coach, and the club went from strength to strength. They were pipped by a point for the title, but landed the Essex Senior Trophy, beating Canvey Island 2-0 at Braintree.
The following season 1994/95 they took the title by seven points from Wroxham, and followed up with the title again in 1995/96, this time with Ian Philips in charge. For good measure they took the League Cup as well, beating Fakenham 4-0 in the final at Diss.
Steve Parnell, who lifted the club to a promising seventh spot, ended a disappointing spell with Danny Greaves in charge and then Terry Benson was appointed manager. With only one win in the first 12 games, he then departed and Shaun Bailey took over the reins.
Due to work commitments, Shaun left and was replaced by the Paul Grimsey, formerly with Sudbury Town. Working with very limited finances and resources, his first season ended with the relegation to division one. One year later, Andy Clark joined as assistant manager, and together they were able to land the Division One League and Cup double. They also won the Uttlesford Charity Cup, overcoming Stansted at Leyton Orient’s ground at Brisbane Road.
Season 2003-2004 proved to be a very satisfying one; Town ended up in seventh place and reached the Essex Senior Cup semi-final before being beaten by Aveley. Paul Grimsey then handed over the reins to Andy Clark, who added a professional touch to the proceedings. His second in command was Gary Harvey, with keeper Lloyd Pentney also playing an important part.
Season 2004-05 was another excellent season with Town finishing in third position in the league and winning the League Cup for the second time, beating Histon Reserves 3-1. They also reached the final of the Essex Senior Cup before going down 0-1 after extra time to a very good Thurrock side.
The next season was a very turbulent affair, with high hopes of success early in the season replaced with a battle against relegation by the end. Off field problems saw the break up of the complete first team squad, and also the departure of manager Andy Clark. Mitchell Springett took over in charge but was forced to leave due to ill health.
Under 18’s manager Tony Kinsella was appointed early in 2006, and with a young and inexperienced side made continual improvements until safety was assured on the final game of the season. The following season, though, the club was unable to fend off relegation.
In 2007, Jody Brown, joined from Tiptree United, and using the experience he gained from working with Colchester United youth players, kept a youthful team in the promotion race until pipped for promotion by Whitton United.
The following year, some new faces were brought in and promotion was on the horizon again. However, Lady Luck did not smile on Halstead and again we missed out on promotion, this time on goal difference to Debenham.
In 2010, Halstead reached the final of Division One KO Cup, losing 1-2 to Clacton and also suffered an extra-time defeat by Ryman league team, Tilbury, in the final of the East Anglian Trophy.
At the start of the 2010-11 season, manager, Jody Brown decided to stand down and with the resulting uncertainty many of the previous season’s players moved on to other clubs. Rob Munro, previously with Haverhill Rovers, was drafted in as a short-term stand-in replacement and a decision was made that the club would pursue a youth policy.
The team that started the season was a mixture of players from the previous year, with some recruits who had moved over from Haverhill and a number of academy trainees.
Initially, results were hard to come by and the team found themselves near the bottom of the league. In November, Jimmy Holder took over the reins as manager, his fourth such stint for the club, and the team began to find its feet and climb up the table. Helped by four victories in the final five games the team eventually finished in 11th position.
The following season the club had a measure of success in the FA Vase, securing victories against two clubs from higher divisions before being eliminated, and they ended the season a respectable 6th place in the league.
By the start of 2012-13 season, the league had new sponsors and a new name. Formerly the Ridgeons League it was now to be known as the Thurlow Nunn League. At this time a new name also appeared on the bench for Halstead with the recruitment of Mark Benterman as assistant manager. Mark, who as a player had spells with Peterborough United and Chelmsford City was previously manager at Maldon St Mary’s. At the end of the season he was promoted to team manager with his predecessor, Jimmy Holder, remaining on the bench as his assistant.
In Benterman’s first season as manager, 2013-14, the team finished 6th in the league and also brought some silverware to the club by virtue of a hard-fought, 4-3 victory at Witham Town in the final of the Tolleshunt D’Arcy trophy. This brought the trophy back to Rosemary Lane for the first time since 1997.
Another success for the club was the recently-formed Vets team who remained unbeaten throughout the season and won the North Essex Veterans league at the first attempt.
Despite this, the club’s focus was still on gaining promotion to the Thurlow Nunn Premier League. The following season was disappointing but a strong challenge was made during the 2015-16 season, with the club still in with a chance of promotion until the very last game. However, on that fateful day results went against the club and the final league table showed the Humbugs, as they were now known, in 4th spot, one place below the promotion places.
During this season, changes occurred off the field. Jimmy Holder stood down as chairman and in his place Darren Mitchell took over the hot seat, joined by some new additions to the committee, and it was decided that work should be started to improve the ground and facilities. The clubhouse was completely modernised, showers updated and thanks to assistance from new sponsors, Milbank Concrete, the external walkways and terracing was greatly improved.
The 2016-17 season is one that will be remembered for the exciting FA Cup run which saw Halstead beat two teams from higher divisions. Firstly Newmarket Town from the Thurlow Nunn Premier League were beaten 2-1 at the newly-named Milbank Stadium before Halstead travelled to the other side of Essex for a sensational 3-2 victory at Ryman League side, Thurrock FC.
The reward for this was a tie at near neighbours, AFC Sudbury and over 100 Humbugs supporters made the short trip across the county border to see the encounter. On the day, however, the home side, who play their football in a league 3 steps higher than Halstead, were just too good and the FA Cup dream ended with a 6-0 defeat.
Nevertheless, the endeavour and application of the players, together with the conduct of the visiting supporters did themselves and the club proud.
Later the same season, Mark Benterman left the role of manager and was replaced by Mark McLean with Pete Travers as his assistant.
For season 2018-19 the Football Association made changes to the structure of the Eastern Counties league and Halstead Town joined a new league, the Thurlow Nunn First Division South. In their first season in this league, the club challenged for first spot all season but unfortunately fell away towards the end and eventually finished 3rd.
The club celebrates its 140th anniversary in 2019.