Our look back today starts on a high, with the 1896 fixture against Forest Swifts. The game played on the 18th of April was a replay of an October fixture which was abandoned three minutes before full time, with Leyton leading 5-0. A protest by Swifts was upheld, but they were punished, with Leyton winning the rearranged game 8-1, and lifting the South Essex League title.
In 1904, an under-strength Leyton side visited Plumstead to take on Woolwich Arsenal Reserves, but went down 4-0 despite a gallant effort, in front of 1,000 people.
Two years later Leyton would play West Ham United in a friendly at Upton Park, following the transfer of Jimmy Jackson (pictured left).
Jackson was quite a high-profile signing for an ambitious Leyton in the Southern League. He had just spent six years at Woolwich Arsenal, and joined Leyton to be player-manager. However, he only lasted about six months before joining West Ham. The game against West Ham was “fairly interesting”, the London Daily News reported, “despite very unpleasant conditions, with a strong cold wind blowing clouds of dust onto the field”. Disappointingly, only a few hundred people turned up, and despite Fetherstone scoring for Leyton, West Ham won 2-1.
On this day in 1908, Leyton travelled to a depleted Luton Town side and caused something of an upset, winning 3-0 thanks to an own goal, and a goal each from Kingaby and Silor.
After a two-year absence, a new Leyton FC was formed for the 1913/14 season. Towards the end of the season Leyton travelled to Bedford, to meet the runners-up in the Bedfordshire League in a friendly. By all accounts the Leyton Keeper, Nurthern, had a ‘brilliant’ game.
Although the home team took the lead, Leyton equalised just before half time, with their winner coming just after the half hour mark. But as David Chapman writes, it was all “bunkum”. In a letter which was printed in the following edition of The District Times, a Mr Lewis wrote to say that he had been staying in Bedford and went to see the match, where he was asked by the Leyton Hon Sec to run the line. Instead of winning, in truth Leyton lost by eight goals to one.
Ten years later, a home defeat to Grays Athletic would not stop Leyton from lifting the London League Premier Division title; the first championship since 1900. Leyton would go on to win the league for the following two seasons and were runners-up the season after.
After the war, Leyton struggled. But there was a bright spot in 1949 when the final of the Essex Senior Cup was reached. Leyton would play old rivals Leytonstone at Ilford, but it wasn’t to be a happy ending. Leytonstone fielded a team including former Leyton player Cliff Hockaday and Essex and England cricketer Trevor Bailey, and ran out 3-0 winners.
In 1964, it looked like Leyton’s days in the Athenian League could be numbered. Leyton would play Southall, with both teams languishing at the wrong end of the table, and the prospect of having to seek re-election a real possibility. Leyton won 2-0 to ease their fears. In the end, the league was expanded by two teams so neither Southall or Hounslow Town who finished bottom and second-bottom lost their places.
By the mid-80s, Leyton had moved to the Isthmian League, and in 2000, suffered relegation to Division Two. The game against Grays in 2000 was the 18th without a win, a run that would stretch four more games until the end of the season. Grays on the other hand, finished second, and were promoted to the Premier Division.
Nine years later, Waltham Forest, as we were now known, would again play a second-placed team on the 18th of April. This time East Thurrock were comfortable 4-1 winners, but they would lose their play-off semi-final against Concord Rangers.
Most recently, Waltham Forest suffered a torrid afternoon despite the sunshine at home to Barking. Forest were 4-0 down by half time, but did manage to get a consolation goal in the second half, costing former Forest keeper Jason Willis a clean sheet.
|1895-96||Forest Swifts||South Essex League||Away||8-1|
|1902-03||Queens Park Rangers||London League Division 1||Home||1-2|
|1903-04||Woolwich Arsenal Reserves||London League Division 1||Away||0-4|
|1905-06||West Ham United||Friendly||Away||1-2|
|1907-08||Luton Town||Southern League Division 1||Away||3-0|
|1909-10||Swindon Town||Southern League Division 1||Home||3-2|
|1923-24||Grays Athletic||London League Premier Division||Home||1-2|
|1924-25||Finchley||London League Premier Division||Away||0-0|
|1926-27||Millwall United||London League Premier Division||Away||4-0|
|1929-30||Walthamstow Avenue||Athenian League||Home||3-2|
|1930-31||Chelmsford City||Essex Senior Cup||Away||2-0|
|1935-36||Walthamstow Avenue||South Essex Charity Cup||Away||1-3|
|1941-42||Slough United||Herts & Middlesex Combination||Away||5-0|
|1948-49||Leytonstone||Essex Senior Cup||Neutral||0-3|
|1977-78||Grays Athletic||Athenian League||Away||0-3|
|1984-85||Heybridge Swifts||Isthmian League Division Two North||Away||3-3|
|1986-87||Leatherhead||Isthmian League Division One||Home||2-0|
|1997-8||Thame United||Isthmian League Division One||Home||4-1|
|1999-2000||Grays Athletic||Isthmian League Division One||Away||0-4|
|2000-01||Berkhamsted Town||Isthmian League Division Two||Away||1-1|
|2008-9||East Thurrock United||Isthmian League Division One North||Home||1-4|
|2014-15||Barking||Essex Senior League||Home||1-4|
Sources: Dubbined Boots and Shin Pads – A History of Leyton FC (David Chapman)