In the beginning
The Crouch End Football Club was founded at least as early as 1883 and there is some suspicion it may have been earlier. It was originally named Balmoral Football Club (for no reason that we know) but quickly changed its title to represent the area in which it played. The club played its home fixtures in front of sizeable crowds - some rumoured to stretch into four figures - on the Crouch End Playing Fields. This area of land is now occupied by the North London, Highate and Crouch End cricket clubs in Park Road, Crouch End.
Meet the Vampires
In 1896 Crouch End became founder members of the London League and in its first season entered 1st and reserve teams into the competition. The 1st team finished 5th out of seven teams in Division 1, one place and three points ahead of Vampires, a name which of great import to the future of the club.
The club is likely to have played league football after leaving the London League but no trace of it has yet been found up until 1907 when it became a founder member of the Southern Amateur League. 1907 was the year of the 'Great Split' between the professionals and amateurs. The Amateur Football Defence Federation (later renamed the Amateur Football Association and, later still, the Amateur Football Alliance) was formed by a number of clubs and county associations concentrated in, but not restricted to, the home counties. Essentially, these parties felt that the Football Association was overlooking the interests of amateur footballers in favour of professionals.
The team's second stint in the top flight was more successful and a mid-table finish was considered a success, with 8 wins and 6 defeats along the way. Sadly, this would be the last league season the team would complete for many years due to the outbreak of the Great War in 1914.
Between the Wars
After the War the club was resurrected by the inspirational Jack Bruce, who would later become a committee member for the Nemean Amateur League and the Southern Amateur League and a Vice-President of the AFA. Under Jack, the club roamed north London from Lea Bridge Road to Preston Manor in place of a permanent home which it found, for some time, at Woodside Park (see further on).
In the early years of the 1920s the club played in the Middlesex County Amateur League but in 1926 the Honorary Secretary of competition decided, without mandate from its member clubs, to affiliate the league directly with the Football Association instead of with the Amateur Football Alliance. In protest a number of the member clubs, the Vampires included, resigned and set up an alternative competition, the Nemean Amateur League.The Vampires thrived winning the Senior Division of the new league in 1926-27, quickly followed by the Premier Division in 1927-28. This proved to be a springboard for the club as it was elected back into the Southern Amateur League for the 1928-29.
The Move to Muswell
Following World War II Southern Amateur League clubs were quick to restart their activities. Indeed, the Vampires competed in a truncated SAL Second Division in season 1945-46. A priority for the club at this time was to find itself a permanent home. In 1952, after several nomadic years which saw the club move to King's Park, Enfield and back to Woodside Park, it took on a lease at Muswell Hill Sports Ground in Coppetts Road - the current home of the club. Club members built the original club house themselves with an extension to the front and side being added later.
The ground at this time only offered one football pitch as the area now occupied by the top pitches was a municipal refuse facility (a dump) and so Enfield and Woodside Park were still used to accommodate lower team home games. This area was filled in in 1962 and was made available to the Vampires in time for the ill-fated 1962-63 season during which all league competitions had to be abandoned following an incredibly harsh winter. The club was kept alive by the playing of friendly matches and, probably more importantly, socialising with opponents in the club house. It was during this time that the club developed a reputation for hospitality and sociability.
The Modern Era
During the next two decades the 1st XI flitted between the Second and Third Divisions with a 3rd placed finish in Division in 1974-74 the best to show for their toils until promotion back to Division 1 was gained in 1979-80. In the build up to the club's centenary it was fitting to see the side in the SAL's top division once again but the pinnacle of the club's achievements came three years later when, bang on schedule for the 100th anniversary celebrations, the club became champions of the League for the first and only time. For good measure the 2nd XI also brought home the AFA Middlesex Intermediate Cup.
In the team that day were two of the best players ever to represent the club. Steve Langley (pictured above with the Senior Cup) and Ben Smart (far left, front row) formed a formidable centre-back partnership. Sadly, both suffered untimely deaths in the next decade. With the 1st XI once again vying for the SAL championship in the 1996-97 season Ben suffered a brain haemorrhage and died aged just 28. A few short years later Steve was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away aged 42 years in 2003. The untimely loss of Ben, shortly followed by another stalwart - Ian Goldie - led to the introduction of the Annual Memorial 6-a-side tournament.
The 21st century has seen the club's flagship side struggle after the dizzying heights of the 1990s with consecutive relegations to Division 3 of the League but with former 1st XI goalkeeper Ina Singh at the helm the team won promotion back to Division 2 during 2007-08 and, in 2016 led by Dan Oliver and Drew Dawson, achieved the Holy Grail of First Division status with promotion back to the top flight after a fourteen year absence. Plans to relay the first team pitch and build a new clubhouse are the main talking points as the club looks to the future.
Honours 1st XI
1888-1889 - London FA Junior Cup (CEFC)
1912-1913 - Southern Amateur League | Senior Division 2
1926-1927 - Nemean Amateur League | Senior Division
1927-1928 - Nemean Amateur League | Premier Division
1937-1938 - AFA Middlesex Senior Cup
1949-1950 - Southern Amateur League | Senior Division 2
1959-1960 - Southern Amateur League | Senior Division 3
1982-1983 - Southern Amateur League | Senior Division 1
1991-1992 - Southern Amateur League | Senior Division 2
1993-1994 - AFA Senior Cup
1995-1996 - AFA Middlesex Senior Cup
Honours 2nd XI
1949-1950 - Southern Amateur League | Reserve Team Division 2
1966-1967 - Southern Amateur League | Reserve Team Division 3
1975-1976 - Southern Amateur League | Reserve Team Division 2
1979-1980 - Southern Amateur League | Reserve Team Division 2
1981-1982 - AFA Middlesex Intermediate Cup
1982-1983 - AFA Middlesex Intermediate Cup
1986-1987 - AFA Middlesex Intermediate Cup
1995-1996 - AFA Intermediate Cup
1995-1996 - Southern Amateur League | Reserve Team Division 2
2000-2001 - AFA Intermediate Cup
2006-2007 - Southern Amateur League | Intermediate Division 3
Honours 3rd XI
1951-1952 - Southern Amateur League | 3rd Team Division 1
1960-1961 - AFA Minor Cup
1983-1984 - AFA Junior Cup
1986-1987 - AFA Junior Cup
1989-1990 - AFA Junior Cup
1989-1990 - Southern Amateur League | 3rd Team Division 2
1993-1994 - Southern Amateur League | 3rd Team Division 3
1994-1995 - Southern Amateur League | 3rd Team Division 2
1996-1997 - Southern Amateur League | Junior Cup
2001-2002 - Southern Amateur League | Junior Cup
Honours 4th XI
1951-1952 - Southern Amateur League | 4th Team Division 1
1957-1958 - AFA Novets Cup
1957-1958 - Southern Amateur League | 4th Team Division 2
1967-1968 - Southern Amateur League | 4th Team Division 2
1975-1976 - AFA Novets Senior Cup
1978-1979 - Southern Amateur League | 4th Team Division 2
1981-1982 - Southern Amateur League | 4th Team Division 1
1983-1984 - Southern Amateur League | 4th Team Division 1
2006-2007 - Southern Amateur League | Minor Division 2 North
2015-2016 - Southern Amateur League | Minor Division 2 North
Honours 5th XI
1957-1958 - Southern Amateur League | 5th Team Division 1
1964-1965 - Southern Amateur League | 5th Team Division 2
1973-1974 - Southern Amateur League | 5th Team Division 1
1979-1980 - Southern Amateur League | 5th Team Division 2
1988-1989 - Southern Amateur League | 5th Team Division 2
2000-2001 - Southern Amateur League | 5th Team Division 2
2004-2005 - Southern Amateur League | Minor Division 3 North
Honours 6th XI
1968-1969 - Southern Amateur League | 6th Team Division 2
1985-1986 - Southern Amateur League | 6th Team Division 2
1996-1997 - Southern Amateur League | 6th Team Division 2
Honours 7th XI
1974-1975 - Southern Amateur League | 7th Team Division 1
2016-2017 - AFA Junior Novets Cup