St. Francis Rangers Football
St. Francis Rangers FC was formed in 2002 following the amalgamation of St Francis (St Francis Hospital until 1999) , and Ansty Rangers (Lindfield Rangers until 1996).
St Francis (The ‘Mental Hospital’ as they were first known), won the Mid Sussex League Division 2 title in 1928, then Division 1 in 1929 and completed league and Montgomery Cup doubles in 1930 and 1931. After the second World War, the team became known as St Francis Hospital and won Mid Sussex League Division 1 in 1987, the Montgomery Cup in 1986 and 1990 and the Mid Sussex Senior Charity Cup in 1975, 1976, 1978, 1992, 1994 and 1999.They joined Division 3 of the Sussex County League in 1983/84, where they remained for two seasons before being relegated back to the Mid-Sussex League. In 1992/93 the club returned to Division 3 and achieved its best ever placing when finishing 3rd in 1998/99.
Lindfield Rangers joined Division 3 in 1991/2 after 8 very successful seasons climbing the Mid Sussex League Divisions. Their last ever match before merging with Ansty to form Ansty Rangers was the Mid Sussex Senior Cup Final where they ran out 2-1 winners winners over County 3 rivals Hurstpierpoint. Lindfield Rangers had their best season in County 3 in 1994/5 finishing 4th. / took place at the start of season 1996/7 and the highest position attained by Ansty Rangers was 3rd in 1999/00 under the guidance of Kevin Keehan. David Richardson and Peter Fisk who set up Lindfield Rangers back in the early 80’s are still active in the newly formed St Francis Rangers.
After just 2 seasons in Sussex County League Division 3, St Francis Rangers won promotion to senior football finishing a distant runners-up to champions Crowborough Athletic. Unlike many clubs making the move up from Division Three in the past, Rangers adapted extremely well to senior football, finishing in a very encouraging 4th place in the knowledge that had they finished any higher they would not have been able to accept promotion in any case due to lack of floodlights.
In contrast to the previous season when they knew that promotion would not be possible, Rangers were incensed when they were denied promotion to the League’s top division at the end of the 2005/06 season, after finishing in 3rd place, a massive 13 points clear of Westfield in fourth. The club maintained that it had been misled by the League with regards deadlines for its floodlights, whereas the latter maintained that Rangers had been told on more than one occasion what the requirements were, and that this was also detailed in the League Handbook.
Rangers began 2006/07 as the favourites of many pundits to achieve the promotion that had been denied them the previous season. After a slow start it looked as though they would miss out once more, but the second half of the season saw them clinch a late promotion spot. The club was grateful for two points awarded following a 1-1 draw against Broadbridge Heath after which their opponents were found to have played a player under suspension. The additional points lifted Rangers from 4th into 2nd place in the table, albeit ten points behind champions Pagham.
The 2007/8 season was certainly one to remember. For the first time in the clubs short history we were playing in Sussex County League Division 1. After a long hard season and some very memorable matches, we finished a very creditable 14th. The Reserves went on to win the Reserve Section East title and therefore gained promotion to the Reserves Premier Division. Then, after years of scrapping in relegation dogfights, Geoff Pitcher replaced Kieron Collins in October 2012. Since the appointment we have not looked back and expect to continue to progress under Geoff’s leadership.
23 May 2019
St Francis Rangers will be back in the Southern Combination Football League next season after Sussex-based coach Del Tobias was given the green light to rebuild the club that folded last season with ‘ambitious’ aims.
Currently manager of Whitehawk Under 18’s, Tobias, also co-founder of Learn Play Achieve Soccer Academy, is taking over St Francis with a partner with plans to ‘try and progress through the leagues’.
Tobias said: “The club was going down the pan. I saw it was dropping out the league, then everyone walked away from it. I’ve looked around other county league clubs but none of them really fit the model that I want to work under so it made sense to take on a club where I’m the owner of it, with a friend, and we can do what we want.
“Statistically it was the worst club in England at one point so I can’t do any worse.”
Rangers pulled out of the Southern Combination Football League in December.
At the time chairman Rob Ward and secretary John Goss released a statement which said: ““It’s a sad day for St Francis Rangers 1st Team. We hang up our boots for good.
“Almost three years to the day we were dubbed ‘The Worst Football Team in England’ and contemplated pulling out then, but we could not afford the fine. This time we have no option. This has not been an easy decision. We hoped we could see the season out, but it was not to be.”
Del Tobias also revealed plans to hold an Open Day on Sunday June 2, inviting people such as current Learn Play Achieve academy players and players interested in joining the project at St Francis to come down and discuss the plans for the future, as he looks to manage Whitehawk’s youth team and run St Francis simultaneously.
“We want it to be young players coming through, with a few older players to help the young players to have a ground where they can play men’s football.” He continued: “But the project is bigger. We want to try and progress through the leagues, we want to work within the local community with schools and others areas, and link our LPA Academy to it.
“Over the next few years we want to introduce an Under 23’s, we want to introduce Women’s football, it’s a long term project but no-one can tell me I can’t do this or that, because me and my partner are the owners.”
As co-owner, Tobias also discussed plans to build a sustainable model at the club, giving opportunities in the future for people, such as students, to get work and help the club progress.
He said: “Eventually we’d like to have a club model where people that finish university can potentially come and work in the club because we’ve got through the leagues and we can generate money with other projects. We want to create jobs within that football structure, that’s the plan. It’s quite ambitious but I know it will work.”
For more information about joining please contact Del Tobias on 0779 518 3721.
Website: St. Francis Rangers website coming soon
Macron Store SOUTHERN COMBINATION FOOTBALL LEAGUE
2019 AUGUST & SEPTEMBER FIXTURES
|SATURDAY 17th AUGUST||St. Francis Rangers||v||Bosham|
|SATURDAY 24th AUGUST||St. Francis Rangers||v||Littlehampton Utd|
|The Emirates FA Cup – Preliminary Round|
|MONDAY 26th AUGUST||spare|
|SATURDAY 31st AUGUST||Cowfold||v||St. Francis Rangers|
|The Buildbase FA Vase – 1st Round Qualifying|
|SATURDAY 7th SEPTEMBER||Rustington||v||St. Francis Rangers|
|The Emirates FA Cup – 1st Qualifying Round|
|SATURDAY 14th SEPTEMBER||St. Francis Rangers||v||Angmering Village|
|The Buildbase FA Vase – 2nd Round Qualfying|
|SATURDAY 21st SEPTEMBER||Copthorne||v||St. Francis Rangers|
|The Emirates FA Cup – 2nd Qualifying Round|
|SATURDAY 28th SEPTEMBER||St. Francis Rangers||v||Montpelier Villa|