There is little doubt that football was being played in the Basingstoke area in the early 1890’s, but it was not until 1896 that a Basingstoke Town club was formed from Aldworth United and Basingstoke Albion.
In 1901 the club entered the Hampshire League, and in 1909 the local Hants Ironworks team merged with the ‘Town’ club. This merger produced dividends, with title success in 1911/12 and 1919/20. After playing at a couple of grounds in the area, the club moved to its present site in 1946. The ground is named after its benefactor, the late Lord Camrose.
The sixties were the beginning of a more successful period for the Camrose club, finishing as runners-up in 1965/66 and again the following season. It was third time lucky in 1967/68 when the Hampshire League was won. After being runners-up again in 1968/69, they won back to back titles in 1969/70 and 1970/71. The latter came without a league defeat, and the Hampshire Senior Cup was won for the first time.
The club joined the Southern League in 1971/72 and finished eighth in their first season. The highlight was reaching the FA Cup 1st Round for the first time. A then record attendance of 3,400 saw Northampton Town win 5 – 1 at the Camrose.
In 1984/85 the club won the Southern League Southern Division, without losing a home game. A couple of years later, in the Premier Division, the club had the chance to move across to the Isthmian League. It was a disastrous first season as the club was relegated, but the following year promotion was achieved with a last day victory at Southwick, and for the first time the club reached the FA Trophy 1st Round, losing at Kettering after a replay.
The following year saw more cup success as the club reached the 2nd round of the FA Cup for the first time. A crowd of over 4,000 saw Torquay Utd win 3 – 2.
The next few seasons were a struggle and in 1993/94 the club suffered relegation. After two years in Division One, the club had only another Senior Cup to show for its efforts. In 1996/97 promotion was achieved as runners-up and another appearance in the Senior Cup saw a second successive 2 – 0 win over Waterlooville.
The 1997/98 season became the club’s most memorable to date, with FA Cup success over Wycombe Wanderers. After a 2 – 2 draw at Adams Park, the team won the replay on penalties after another thrilling 2 – 2 draw at the Camrose. A new record attendance of 5,085 saw this remarkable result as in both games Basingstoke had trailed at every occasion.
In the second round it was an away trip to Northampton Town and, despite being under pressure for much of the game, the club earned a replay with a late equaliser. The replay saw Sky Sports beam the game live, and another crowd of nearly 5,000 saw Basingstoke go out on penalties.
1998/99 saw the club reach the 1st round of the FA Cup, again losing 2 – 1 at home to Bournemouth after a memorable 4th Qualifying round win at Dover Athletic. The Hampshire Senior Cup Final was lost 1 – 0 to Aldershot Town and the club finished in eighth.
The millennium season was the poorest in recent years, with only the club’s home form saving it from relegation. Indeed it was a last day draw at home to Hitchin Town and other results working in the clubs favour that meant Premier Division football was retained.
After a more encouraging 2000/01 season where the club finished third, there was an air of optimism as plans were implemented to improve the financial stability of the club.
2001/02 saw the club fail to match the success of the previous season, with a low table finish. The biggest disappointment was drawing against Conference leaders Dagenham & Redbridge in the FA Cup to a 4th minute injury time goal scored by goalkeeper Tony Roberts. Roberts went up to join the play in the dying minutes and scored with a 25 yard volley after the ‘stoke had taken a 2-0 lead. A feat that made FA Cup history and footage of which is often replayed on TV. The replay at Dagenham saw the ‘Stoke comprehensively defeated and D&R’s subsequent exploits were well documented by the media.
2002-03 was a season many thought would be the last in the Ryman Premier league, with virtually a new squad put together at the start of the season. But the team exceeded all expectations and put in a remarkable set of results to finish a respectable 5th.
The 2003-04 season was a real roller-coaster ride, with the club constantly chasing an elusive top 13 finish to secure a place in the newly formed Nationwide Conference South. Even though 14th was the best Basingstoke could do and this was followed by a play-off defeat, a place was secured when Hendon decided not to take up their option to join the Nationwide Conference South.
In their first season in the new division Town began well, with head coach Ernie Howe collecting the Conference South Manager of the Month award for August. Basingstoke went on to finish the 2004-05 season in sixth position, just a point off the play-offs.
The second season saw top ‘Stoke star Sergio Torres snapped up by League outfit Wycombe Wanderers. Basingstoke struggled for form and in March 2006, manager Ernie Howe was sacked. Francis Vines took over, leading the side to safety and watching them narrowly miss out on the Hampshire Senior Cup in a 1-0 defeat to Farnborough Town at Dean Court.
The 2006-07 season saw the poorest league performance in years but the best FA Cup run since 1997. Basingstoke defeated League One Side Chesterfield away from home in the First Round (courtesy of a Matt Warner strike) but were knocked out by Aldershot Town in an FA Cup second round replay at The Camrose. In the league, ‘Stoke were lucky to avoid relegation and stayed up on the last day of the season by goal difference.
The 2007-08 season in the newly branded Blue Square South started well but soon led to mid-table mediocrity. Francis Vines resigned as manager in March 2008 and long serving player, coach and assistant manager Steve Richardson took over as caretaker boss until the end of the season. Basingstoke won the Hampshire Senior Cup against Farnborough at Dean Court 1-0 courtesy of a James Taylor goal.
In May 2008, Ex-Scotland international Frank Gray was appointed as Basingstoke Town’s new manager and a new plan was implemented to improve off field activities with a view to creating more stability for the club and it’s finances. Work began on Commercial, Communication and Community, while operating on a fairly low budget. The 2010/11 season began to see the results of this work, with the regeneration of the practice courts, the expansion of the Football in the Community, improvement in Commercial activity and the appointment of a full time General Manager. The budget was also improved but expectations were high and a mid table finish felt like a disappointment.
The 2011/12 season was a hectic one. Results started positively and Basingstoke reached the FA Cup first round, this time going down 1-0 away at League One Brentford. However, Town began to drop away from the Blue Square South play-off picture and Frank Gray was eventually released in February 2012. Long time club servant Jason Bristow took the reigns with the club 12 points adrift of the play-off zone. A tremendous sequence of results followed and the seemingly impossible was achieved, with Basingstoke qualifying for the play-offs on the final day of the season. Despite defeat in the semi-finals to eventual winners Dartford, the season ended with a very positive mood around The Camrose.
Sadly, a torrid start to the 2015/16 season saw Basingstoke languishing in the lower reaches of the league and the club took the decision to freshen up the First Team coaching staff, with Jason’s assistant, Michael Gilkes, taking the reigns. After a promising start, results quickly began to go the same way they did under the Bristow stewardship and Gilkes was released as Manager in March 2016.
Terry Brown – former AFC Wimbledon, Hayes & Yeading and Margate manager – was announced as First Team Manager shortly after Gilkes’ departure and although he wasn’t able to achieve the ‘mission impossible’, keeping Stoke up in the National League South, a new approach of youth and a full-time First Team points to an exciting next few seasons to come!
|Conference South||Play-Off Semi-Finalist||2011/12, 2014/15|
|Isthmian league||Division One Runner Up||1988/89, 1996/97|
|League Cup Runner Up||1997/98|
|Southern League||South Division Winner||1984/85|
|Hampshire League||Division One Winner||1967/68, 1969/70, 1970/71|
|Division One Runner Up||1965/66, 1966/67, 1968/69|
|North Division Winner||1911/12, 1919/20|
|Hampshire Senior Cup||Winner||1970/71, 1989/90, 1995/96, 1996/97, 2007/08, 2013/14, 2016/17|
|Runner Up||1964/65, 1975/76, 1981/82, 1985/86, 1998/99, 2005/06|
|FA Challenge Cup||Second Round Proper||1997/98 (replay), 2006/07 (replay)|
|First Round Proper||1971/72, 1998/99, 2011/12, 2014/15 (replay)|