LET'S LOOK AT: Cheltenham Town

Last updated : 17 February 2011 By Jaybee





Cheltenham Town were founded in 1887 by Mr Albert Close White and spent most of their early years in local history and played at three grounds; Agg – Gardner’s Recreation Ground, Whaddon Lane and Carter’s Field and were an amateur team.

It was not until 1932 that the club turned professional when they joined the Birmingham Combination and the club started playing at Whaddon Road, their home ever since. In 1933, Cheltenham, now nicknamed the Robins, due to their red and white playing strip, defeated Carlisle United to reach the 3rd round of the FA cup when, in front of a crowd of over10,000, they lost 3-1 to Blackpool.

In 1935, the Robins joined the Southern League where they first played in the Western Division and finished 6th with Plymouth Argyle Reserves finishing top!! The following season, the Eastern and Western sections merged and the Robins finished 11th.

In the first season following WW2, Cheltenham had their best season so far finishing 4th and they became an established Southern League Premier side tending to finish about midway in the table. However, in 1954 the club finished 2nd from bottom and were lucky that there was no relegation at this stage.

The next few seasons saw a great deal of improvement and the following season they finished 4th and in 1956, they achieved their highest result finishing as runners up to Guildford City under the management of Arch Anderson and in 1958, the club won the Southern League Cup beating Gravesend & Northfleet (now Ebbsfleet) 4-1 on aggregate.

Cheltenham finished in the top six in six successive seasons between 1955 and 1960 but never quite managed to win the Championship. However, in 1962 the Robins finished bottom and were relegated to the Southern League Division One but two seasons later they finished 3rd and won promotion back to the Premier Division.

In their first season back they only just escaped relegated again but things improved and in 1968, they finished 4th. The next season was a bitter disappointment though and they finished 19th and were relegated back to Division One. They only went down on goal average, by 0.002 of a goal.

Unfortunately for the Robins, they didn’t bounce back as quickly this time, though they finished third in Division One North in 1974. In 1977, they finished as runners up to Worcester and returned to the Premier Division. Two years later, they finished 18th and missed the cut off point which would have meant membership of the new Alliance Premier Division and were moved to the Midland Division in the new Southern League set up and struggled, finishing 19th in 1980.

In season 1982 the two regional divisions were merged with the top 10 clubs from each section making up a new Southern League Premier Division. Again, Cheltenham failed to make the cut finishing 16th meaning that they became part of the Southern League Midland Division which was, in reality, a regional Division One. However, under manager Alan Wood, the Robins won their first Championship title in 1983 and were promoted back to the Premier Division.

In their first season back, the Robins finished 8th but 1984/85 proved the club’s finest so far when they won the Southern League Premier Division Championship, under John Murphy,  by a margin of two points from Kings Lynn and gained promotion to the Alliance Premier League.

In their first season in the APL, now renamed the Gola League, the Robins finished a creditable 11th and generally for the next few seasons they finished around mid table or below. However, in 1992 they finished 21st and were relegated back to the Southern League.

In 1993, they finished as runners up to Dover Athletic and the following season they finished 2nd again this time to Farnborough. In 1995 they completed a hat trick of near misses when they were runners up to Halesowen Town. The following season they finished 3rd and were runners up again in 1997, but the champions, Gresley Rovers, were deemed not eligible for the Conference (APL renamed), as there ground was not up to standard and so Cheltenham Town were promoted in their place.

The Robins were now managed by Steve Cotterill and under his management the Robins achieved their highest ever placing the following season finishing as runners up to Halifax Town in their first season back in the Conference. In the FA Cup, the Robins reached the 3rd round for only the second time in their history before going down to Reading in a replayed match, 2-1.

The next season, 1998/99, Cotterill went one better and Cheltenham won the Conference by 4 points from Kettering Town and were promoted to the Football league for the first time. The title was won with a 3-2 win over Yeovil Town and the Robins also made the semi-finals of the FA Trophy.

In their first season in the league, Cheltenham failed by just two points to make the Division 3 play-offs. In 2002, the Robins reached the play-offs finishing 4th and after beating Hartlepool in the play-off semi final on penalties, they beat Rushden 7 diamonds 3-1 at the Millennium Stadium to gain promotion to Division 2. In the FA Cup, the Robins reached the fifth round, the furthest the club had ever gone in the tournament, having beaten Oldham athletic in the 3rd round and Burnley in the 4th round both by 2-1. In the 5th round, they narrowly lost to WBA by 1-0. At the end of the season, Steve Cotterill, having taken the club from non-league football to the 3rd tier in the league, left to take over at Stoke City.

Unfortunately, Cheltenham were relegated back to the bottom tier after just one season, finishing in 21st place. The Robins reached the 3rd round of the Fa Cup and defeated Norwich City in the League Cup but the season was a great disappointment.

In their first season back in Division 3, Cheltenham finished 14th, a placing they repeated the following season when the bottom tier was renamed League Two. However, in 2005/06, Cheltenham were promoted to League One via the play-offs after finishing the season in 5th place. Grimsby town were defeated 1-0 in the play off final after the Robins had defeated Wycombe Wanderers 2-1 over two legs in the semi final.

Cheltenham struggled in their first season back in the 3rd tier but finished the season safely in 17th place. The following season, the club finished 19th and in 2008/09 the club were relegated back to League Two after finishing in 23rd place, 11 points from safety. Last season, the club came close to being relegated to the Conference, having been in danger right up to the last day of the season, eventually finishing 22nd, just one place off of losing their league status.