Bashley Football Club was founded in 1947 and joined the Bournemouth League in 1950, progressing through the ranks before leaving in 1983 to join the Hampshire League. In 1986 they became founder members of the Wessex League and won the title for the first three years they took part, 1986/87, 1987/88 and 1988/89. In the 1987/88 season, Bashley came to national prominence after an incredible run in the FA Vase, which came to an end when they reached the semi-finals, losing narrowly to Emley in the second leg of the semi-final after a 0-0 draw at the Recreation Ground.
Following their third Wessex League title, the club were accepted into the Southern League Southern Division and amazingly won the title in their first season, gaining promotion to the Premier Division. Things almost got even better the following season as Bash led the table for a long period of time and were in contention for promotion to the Conference, but fell away towards the end to finish in fourth place. Sadly the meteoric rise of the club came to an end as a result of relegation two years later back to the Southern Division.
FA Cup Success
In the 1994/95 season, Bashley reached the First Round proper of the FA Cup for the first time, and won 1-0 at Chesham to set up a Second Round tie with Swansea at the Recreation Ground. Despite losing 1-0, Lee Walker hit the post in injury time and Richie Paskins had a clear chance which wasn’t taken as Bash almost caused a huge upset.
More recently, Bash had established themselves as a mid-table Southern Division side until August 1997 when ex-European Cup winner Jimmy Case was appointed as manager and Bash were promotion challengers during the 1997-98 season, eventually finishing third and just missing out on a return to the Premier Division, as well as having our record FA Trophy run in this season to the last sixteen, losing narrowly at Conference side Hayes.
Bash came to prominence again when their excellent young midfielder Wade Elliott signed for AFC Bournemouth in January 2000 for Â£5,000, with Bash receiving further money based on appearances. Wade subsequently progressed to the Championship with Burnley after a fine spell with the Cherries.
The 2001/2002 season was notable for a superb FA Trophy run, ended only by finalists Stevenage Borough of the Conference, with an unfortunate 1-0 defeat. A top six place was achieved in the 2002/03 season, although Bashley were top of the table for a spell in January and February and but for a five game spell in February and March from which they took only one point, would have been challenging strongly for promotion. The season was capped by a first ever Hampshire Senior Cup final, secured by two memorable victories over then Dr Martens Premier Division side Havant & Waterlooville in the two-legged semi-final. The night of the final at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium was another superb occasion for the club despite an eventual 2-1 defeat to Conference bound Aldershot Town after taking a first half lead, and no-one who was there will doubt how close Bash came to defeating their illustrious opponents.
The 2003/2004 season was a relative disappointment after the heights of the previous campaign, with Barry Blankley resigning early on in the season and leading players Paul Sales, Craig Davis and Aaron Cook departing for substantial transfer fees. Bashley narrowly missed out on promotion to the Isthmian Premier Division under new manager John Robson and had to settle for a place in Isthmian Division One, as a result of FA restructuring.
Robson departed as manager at the end of the season, and Geoff Butler was appointed in the summer with Ricky Haysom remaining as his assistant. Bash recovered from losing a number of players in the close-season and made an encouraging start to the new season, chasing a play off spot and playing some attractive football, but lost key players during the season and had to settle for a mid table finish.
Butler and Haysom departed during the summer of 2005 and Dave Wakefield took charge as player/manager for the new season. However, after a poor start to the season, both Wakefield and player/coach Andy Darnton were relieved of their responsibilities with Steve Riley taking over as player/manager, following a short spell as caretaker manager, with Eddie Harper as his assistant. An excellent run in the second half of the season took Bash to just outside the play off places, and gave hope that the 2006-7 season would be successful. A number of close season signings gave the Bashley faithful renewed cause for optimism. They were not to be disappointed!
Southern League Promotion
As a result of further FA restructuring, Bash found themselves transferred back into the Southern League South and West Division, and enjoyed an unforgettable record-breaking season, winning the league by an incredible 28 points and achieving a rare double century of 102 points and 111 goals, including a spell of 27 League matches unbeaten from October 27th 2006 to March 31st 2007, which was broken only after the league title had been secured. Promotion was an all round team effort, Bash having the most prolific attack and the meanest defence in the league. Richard Gillespie finished up with 41 goals, the highest total in any of the Southern League divisions, and along the way broke the club all time goalscoring record held by Colin Cummings, which had stood for over thirty years.
Bashley acquitted themselves very well in the Southern League Premier Division the following season, and finished in fifth place at the higher level, despite long term injuries to key players. The 2007-08 season unfortunately ended in disappointment with a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Team Bath in the play-off semi-final, a result that was particularly harsh on Bashley. Again, Bashley’s defence was one of the best in the league, whilst Richard Gillespie and Ryan Moss both finished in the top 10 goalscorers in the division.
Moss moved on to Conference South side Dorchester Town, but manager Steve Riley brought in a number of new signings, which allied to the retention of most of the side who had been so successful in the previous two campaigns, left Bashley quietly confident of mounting another assault at the top of the table. Unfortunately, 2008-9 was to be a very different season. For long periods during the winter, Bash were in the bottom four, although a run of five straight wins right at the end of the season led to a final position of 14th, well clear of the relegation zone.
The summer of 2009 saw the departure of club record top scorer Richard Gillespie to Blue Square South side Eastleigh, having scored 173 goals in 308 appearances. Steve Riley appointed long serving defender Chris Ferrett as player-coach to replace assistant manager Martin Doolan, who had emigrated to New Zealand, whilst the signing of striker Mark Gamble from Farnborough ensured that Bash could enter the 2009-10 season with renewed hope of being competitive in a strong League.
Top of the League… For a While
Bashley exceeded expectations in the 2009/10 season, briefly topping the table after a 5-0 win at Tiverton in October. They spent the vast majority of the season in a play-off place, only to surrender their grip on a top five finish on the final day of the season with defeat at Nuneaton. An impressive FA Trophy run saw Bash through to an encounter with ConferenceÂ National side, Crawley Town, who edged the tie at Bashley Road by the odd goal in five. The campaign provided some tremendous entertainment and although they lost a number of key players at the start of 2010-11, Bash rallied to secure a top half finish by the end of the season, meaning that they could look forward with quiet confidence to the start of the 2011-12 season.
After aÂ good start, however, Bash struggled during the middleÂ of the season and suffered losses to lower ranked opposition in all four cup competitions. A solid run towards the end of the season ensured Premier DivisionÂ survival, although Steve Riley and Chris Ferrett left the club during the summer to take up similar rolesÂ with AFCÂ Totton. Bash appointed the formerÂ Basingstoke Town management team ofÂ Frank Gray and Gerry MurphÂ inÂ preparation for season 2012-13. The side ended the season in 17th place and once again exited all cup competions in the initial round.
Club stalwart Paul Gazzard and goalkeeping legend Stewart Kearn took over in the managerial hot seats in 2013-14 with a much reduced budget. Results did not go for Bashley, several players departed and Stewart Kearn stepped down. John Pyatt joined Paul Gazzard to try and stave off relegation, The club was eventually relegated to the South and West Division and were lucky to survive the season after nearly going under.
Southern Division 1 S&W
Off the field problems continued until a new regime arrived and installed Andy Darnton and Graham Speechley-Price as joint managers. Darnton resigned in October and Graham Speechley-Price stepped down, with Martin Spiers taking charge. Spiers only lasted a short time and Dominic Cuncliffe replaced him. Cuncliffe was assisted by Paul Morris and Tom Prodomo. Cuncliffe suddenly resigned in December. In February 2015 Graham took over as caretaker manager and Prodomo left the club. The club battled on, but finished bottom and were relegated. Andy Howard took the reserves to the 2014-15 Wyvern League title.
Return to the Wessex
The FA reprieved Bashley in May 2015, which ensured another season in the Southern League Division One South and West. Ex league player David Stride arrived for a short tenure as manager, only to be replaced by the returning Steve Riley. Riley resigned following a run of 15 league defeats and Tom Prodomo returned for his second stint in charge. Alas the season ended with no wins, just two draws, another S&W bottom finish and relegation to the Wessex League. The highlight of the season was the 1-0 FA Trophy win against Cinderford Town, eventual S&W champions.
Look to the Future
Manager Tom Prodomo has pledged his immediate future to Bashley and began preparations early for the new challenges to be faced in the coming season.