This Saturday sees both the start of the 2016/17 competitive football season as well the Club's second foray into The Emirates FA Cup, this time with a match at Erith & Belvedere FC of the Southern Counties East Football League, Premier Division (Step 5).
The two Clubs have been around for a similar length of time although an Erith FC had existed at the turn of the 20th century. However Erith and Belvedere FC was formed due to the restructuring of the Belvedere and District FC in 1922; which itself had only existed since 1918. On formation it joined the Kent League. Apart from two seasons (1929–31) in the London League, the Deres remained in the Kent League until the war, with third place in 1928–29 being their highest finish.
After World War II, The Deres were founder members of the Corinthian League, winning the Memorial Shield (League Cup) for three seasons in succession (1948–50). They were one of only three clubs to remain in that league throughout its existence, and in 1963 they joined Division 1 of the Athenian League on its expansion to three divisions. They reached it's Premier Division in 1971, and won the League Cup in 1974, beating Redhill 1–0 on 25 May, via a goal scored by Charlie Carroll.
In 1978 the club opted to return to the Kent League and just 4 years later they won the championship and were promoted to the Southern League. However, although they remained at that level for over twenty years, they always struggled until finally they were relegated in 2004–05 (the first relegation in the club's 83-year history).
To add to their problems during this period, the club was forced to leave its original ground, Park View, Belvedere, after a fire wrecked the main stand in September 1997, and entered a ground share arrangement with Welling United at their present home Park View Road (within the town of Welling).
Since 2010, the Club hired Micky Collins and Julian Leigh to replace Richie Radbourne as Manager and Assistant Manager respectively. After finishing 5th in 2010-11 campaign, they finally found their feet during 2011-12 and finished runners-up to Herne Bay. However, a even stronger campaign the following season finally clinched The Deres their first major league success since 1982 by winning the Premier Division of the Kent League on the final day of the season and saw them return to Step 4 football in the Isthmian League, Division One North for the first time since 2005. They clinched the double that season by defeating Corinthian 4-1 in the Macron sponsored Kent League Cup.
Micky Collins resigned at the end of that season with Chris Cosgrove and Martin Ford taking over as the management team, however, Ford was sacked in October and this sparked a downward spiral which left the club finishing bottom at the first attempt, which spelled an immediate return to what was now known as The Southern Counties East League.
Under the stewardship of Matt Longhurst in the 2014/15 season the club achieved their best ever run in the FA Vase, reaching the quarter-finals where, in front of a record Park View Road crowd of 503, the team lost to eventual winners North Shields FC.
The positivity following that season's run was knocked when Longhurst left in October 2015 to take up the reins at East Grinstead Town FC. This saw current Manager John Wilfort appointed from Holmesdale FC and he managed to provide enough stability to retain Premier Division status and will now look to build in his first full season in charge.
Saturday promises to be an exciting start to the season at a ground that can seat 1,000 of its 5,000 capacity, although a sell-out is not expected!
For those travelling to the game, please be advised that parking is limited at the ground itself, but there is plenty of non-restricted parking in the streets nearby.
The ground's address is Park View Road, Welling, Kent, DA16 1SY Admissions prices are: £8 Adults; £5 Concessions; and £1 U14s. Should a replay be required it will be held at Plaistow Road on Tuesday 9 August 2016 with a 19:45 kick off.
Officials: Edward Smith (Referee), Ryan Fox (Assistant Referee) and Callum Gunn (Assistant Referee)