1896-1900 a o
1953-c1957 a g
1959-1961 a k
1968-1972 l n
1985-1987 a n
1988-1989 b m
1991-1992 a m
1993-1994 a b m
1995-1996 a m
1998-1999 m p
2000-2001 (1) a
2000-2001 (2) a m
2002-2003 i m
2003-2004 a h m
2004-2005 a h
2007-2008 c j
Officially Crawley were formed in 1896 when they joined the West Sussex League transferring to the Mid-Sussex League in 1901. Richard Essen has recently (March 2015) discovered evidence that the club may have been founded earlier, in 1890 in fact. He points to a reference from 1896 that states, "A discussion arose as to the club colours, the Secretary pointing out that in league contests the club must play in distinctive colours and ultimately the old navy blue shirts were thrown over in favour of scarlet." This is corroborated by a minute from the Sussex County FA confirming that the club had been given permission to change their colours. Both references imply that Crawley FC was already in existence in 1896.
Further evidence has come to light (April 2016) from Stewart Hall who has found a report in the Surrey Mirror from 29 November 1890 on a game between Crawley and Lingfield that states "the first match played by Crawley club since its formation, came off on Saturday...ending in a win for the home team by four goals to two."
We have limited information about what the team wore between 1902 and 1938 but plain red tops were definitely worn in the 1920s and in 1938 quartered red and white shirts became their signature strip.
A photograph of the team from 1946 show the players in scruffy dark shirts and a mixture of knickers and socks, possibly a scratch kit because of the rationing of clothing. The quartered tops reappeared at some point after this and in 1953 were replaced by hooped shirts.
Crawley continued to play at local level until 1951 when they joined the Sussex County League and in 1956 they joined the Metropolitan League. In that year Crawley Urban District Council was formed and in 1957 the new body was granted a coat of arms. This change of status was reflected by the football club who changed their name to Crawley Town in time for the 1958-59 season and wore what appears to be the new borough arms on their shirts (the graphic is an approximation).
Crawley remained amateur until 1962 when they became semi-professional before joining the Southern League First Division. In 1984 they were promoted to the Southern League Premier Division where they remained for the next twenty years.
Because records are sparse, it is not clear when the club, which had become known as "The Red Devils", started to wear a crest on a permanent basis but certainly badges were regularly appearing after the mid 1980s although HFK does not have details. We do know, however, that the older crest was revived in 1995-96 in time for the club's centenary.
In 1991-92 the team defeated Northampton Town in the FA Cup and went on to reach the third round where they met neighbours Brighton & Hove Albion in a money-spinning tie at the Goldstone Ground in front of 18,000 supporters.
In 1997 the council sold the Town Mead ground to property developers and moved the football club into the brand new Broadfield Stadium, which was also owned by the borough council and had a capacity just under 5,000.
We have reliable evidence of the crest worn at the start of the new millennium, worn on the Errea kits of the period. This featured a cartoon red devil bearing the modern Crawley coat of arms (which date from 1974) and a burst football impaled on his tripod.
The crest was replaced in 2004 or 2005 with a central motif loosely based on the Crawley coat of arms. The central cross (representing the town's importance as a cross roads) is rendered in red rather than blue and a red devil replaces the lion sitting in the crown above the shield.
In 2004 Crawley were promoted to the Conference, having won the Southern League Premiership title along with the Southern League Cup and Championship Match Trophy. After a mid-table finish, the club became fully professional in 2005 but over-reached themselves and were only saved from liquidation in August 2006 by a last-minute rescue package. The following season Crawley just managed to retain their place despite a ten-point penalty, by securing a point in their final game.
A further six-point penalty was imposed the following season for financial irregularities but they again held on to their place in the Conference. In April 2008 Prospect Estate Holdings Limited took control of Crawley after buying it from the SA Group in conjunction with former owner John Duly. The club finished in ninth place but again were handed a four-point penalty (later reduced to one point) for fielding an ineligible player.
In February 2010 the club once again faced extinction when HMRC brought another winding-up petition to the High Court over unpaid tax. The case was, however, dismissed a month later when the management were able to prove that the debt had in fact been paid. A slightly modified version of the crest was introduced in 2010-11.
After a season of consolidation, Crawley £1m debt was cleared and the owners made a large budget available to enable manager Steve Evans to assemble a squad to challenge for promotion to the Football League. The estimated £500,000 spent on the transfer market was more than offset by a remarkable FA Cup run that netted the club around £2m and ended with a tie at Old Trafford, when Manchester United snatched a 1-0 win. Because of this cup run, Crawley, sitting in second place in the Conference, had games in hand over leaders AFC Wimbledon and soon overtook them, finishing the season as comfortable champions with 15 points to spare.
The run-in to the Conference title was marred by the death of long-time supporter and co-owner Bruce Winfield in March 2011: nineteen days after Winfield's death the club secured promotion to the Football League.
A brand new crest was unveiled in May with design elements intended to broaden the club's support. The rather obscure diamond motif on the top left represents aircraft taking off from Gatwick Airport while "West Sussex" is printed round the football on the right: "Noli Cedere" is Latin for "Never Give Up."
The team were promoted to League One at the end of their first season in the Football League but dropped back into the basement in 2015.
- (a) Ian Hands
- (b) Ralph Pomeroy
- (c) Robert Brown
- (d) Kent & Sussex Courier
- (e) Gateshead FC Website
- (f) Crawley Town FC Website
- (g) Crawley News Photostream
- (h) oldfootballshirts.com
- (i) classicfootballshirts.co.uk
- (j) TGS Photos
- (k) Dennis Verlander
- (l) Richard Ralph
- (m) John Barnett
- (n) Michael Gluck
- (o) Rich Essen
- (p) Andy Burton
Crests are the property of Crawley Town FC. Crest dates are subject to revision. Photograph courtesy of Crawley News Photostream