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Saturday, 30 June 2007

4631: Histon FC: Not Bad for a Villa

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by : Paul Grech

With money increasingly becoming the over-riding concern in football, fans only seem interested in getting a rich owner capable of spending his way to fulfilling their dreams. Even when this money is burdening the club with debt they will never be able to service thus putting its existence on the line. And any notion that this belief is limited exclusively to Premiership clubs is made redundant by Weymouth’s financial implosion after they overspent in a bid to make it to the Football League.

Thankfully, there are still clubs willing to progress through the time honoured British way of slowly building a side capable of delivering success. Teams capable of showing that patience and planning are ultimately more important than budget.

Twelve years ago, Histon FC were relegated from the Premier division of the Eastern Counties League. For the side from the village of Impington it was a disappointment. In hindsight, however, it was also the start of their success story.

Two years later, they won promotion and after a further three years they won the Premier league title to gain promotion to the Southern Football League. Two seasons of consolidation followed but in the third they placed second in the Eastern Division to go up to the Premier division which they won at the first attempt.

This meant promotion to the Conference South division, a league which they went on to dominate last season winning the title with four games to spare and finishing nineteen points ahead of second placed Salisbury. Significantly, the previous season Weymouth had won the same division by eight points (albeit with the same number of points as Histon: 94) despite their heavy outlay.

The turning point came in December when Histon trashed neighbours Cambridge United 5-0 in the FA Trophy. For them to win so easily against a professional side playing in higher division was a momentous result.

It also helped boost the belief that the club could achieve promotion even when they slipped to fourth. Not least as that had come about through bad weather which had forced the postponement of a number of games.

When Histon finally got to play those games, they embarked on a run of ten games that saw them win nine and drew the other one. Suddenly they were clear at the top and kept pulling away. A 1-0 win against Welling United – on the same day that their Glassworld Stadium was certified as being adequate for the Blue Square Premier – finally saw them clinch promotion.

Histon’s dramatic rise is captured by their changing rivalries. Just a few years back, a game against Ely City was considered their derby. Next year, however, it will be the games against former Football League outfit Cambridge United that will deserve that title.

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