The football season kicks-off this month with the Sky Bet League Two opening on the weekend of Saturday, August 4 and Sunday, August 5. Among those hoping that glory will come their way is Crawley Town Football Club which will be kicking-off an eighth successive season in the Football League. To mark the new season ahead, RH History Uncovered looks back on the rise of Crawley’s very own Red Devils.
Much is written about Crawley New Town and its post-Second World War origins, however, the town’s foremost football club dates back to the 19th Century. Formed in 1896, Crawley Town was a founder member of the West Sussex Football League that year. The club remained in the West Sussex league for five years before transferring to the Mid Sussex League, winning the league in only their second season.
Disbanding at the end of the 1934–35 season, the club reformed in 1938, and it joined Division Two of the Brighton, Hove and District League. The club stayed at this level until entering the Sussex County League in the post-Second World War era. Crawley Town remained amateur and, the club went on to win the Metropolitan League Challenge Cup in 1959 before turning semi-professional in 1962.
In 1969 Crawley Town was promoted to the Premier Division of the Southern League, however, the club’s stay in the region’s top flight proved to be a short stint, the following season the club was relegated back to the First Division of the Southern League where the club would go on to remain until the 1983–84 season when the club was promoted as runners-up to the region’s elite level league.
Crawley Town & Manchester United’s Devilish Connections
Crawley Town shares its nickname, the Red Devils with one of the richest and most successful clubs in world football, Manchester United. It is not clear how Crawley Town acquired the nickname, ironically, for a number of years, Crawley Town was known as the Manchester City of non-league football – United’s near city rivals.
Crawley Town are the only other English team to use the nickname, however, overseas clubs including: Kaiserslautern of Germany and Israeli side Hapoel Tel-Aviv use it as well as the international football teams of Belgium, Congo, and the South Korea supporters club.
By Jacob White