Chepstow Town

Formed: 1878

Ground: Larkfield Park

Manager: Andrew Wenzel

Nickname: The Jockeys

by Jordan Foster

THE club’s founding year is given as 1878, which would give Chepstow Town a potential claim to be the oldest association football club in the south of Wales.

This is an honour Treharris Athletic Western have often self-claimed but Chepstow’s year of foundation pre-dates Treharris’ official date of origin by 11 years.

Detail of these early years is difficult to ascertain.

Chepstow were not part of the South Wales League that originated in the 1890s as a predecessor to the Welsh Football League, but the County Observer and Monmouthshire Advertiser reported in May 1905 “Chepstow A.F.C” receiving the Wye Valley League Challenge Cup. The club records it was part of the East Gwent League before the First World War.

When peace was restored and football resumed, Chepstow were members of the Welsh Football League for the 1919/20 season, playing in division one which included famous names past and present, such as Cardiff City, Swansea Town, Mid Rhondda, Barry and Merthyr Town. However, The Jockeys were outclassed in that campaign, finishing bottom.

Chepstow did hold onto their top flight place and despite finishing bottom again in 1920/21 were again reprieved.

Ironically, they were eventually relegated - and dropped out of the Welsh League - at the end of the 1921/22 season despite a best ever finish of fourth from bottom as Bargoed Town and Newport County reserves were retained despite finishing below The Jockeys.

The club were absent from this level of football until the emergence of Chepstow Town in Welsh League division two east in the 1954/55 season. After a number of years treading water at this level the Welsh League breakthrough for Chepstow arrived in the 1964/5 season when they won Division Two. Pushed all the way by Ammanford Town, Chepstow secured the league title by a single point, scoring 104 goals in their 30 games.

Success in the top flight could not be replicated and after a number of years of struggling in division one, Chepstow dropped out of the Welsh League altogether, citing travel costs and the financial difficulty these created for the most eastern of southern clubs.

The club joined the newly formed Gwent Premier League (which merged in 1980 with the Monmouthshire Senior League to form Gwent County League) and remained around county football until the 1990s.

Having dropped into Gwent’s second division by the early 1990s, Chepstow revival began with promotion to the Gwent County first division in 1992. Crowned champions of Gwent in 1996/7, The Jockeys rejoined the Welsh League after a 27 year absence.

As so often happens with teams newly promoted to the Welsh League, momentum from their Gwent County triumph saw Chepstow promoted in their first season in division three. Chepstow were competitive in division two for three seasons before a collapse in the 2001/2 campaign saw Town return to division three.

After another five tempestuous years, a poor campaign in 2006/7 ended with relegation back to Gwent County football.

Promotion back to the Welsh League was gained with a second Gwent County League title in 2011/12 and once again the momentum from that earned another instant promotion. A third successive promotion was denied in 2013/14 as Garden Village pipped Chepstow to the third and final promotion place to division one on goal difference despite a rousing charge to the finish line from The Jockeys.

It didn’t get any better than that for Chepstow and in 2016 they were relegated back to division three where they remained until this summer’s re-structure.