Saturday, April 10, 1999

Soham Town Rangers FC

Soham Town Rangers 2 Histon 0 - Eastern Counties League, Premier Division

Soham is a small town in Cambridgeshire. The region between Devil's Dyke and the line between Littleport and Shippea Hill shows a remarkable amount of archaeological findings of the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. A couple of hoards of bronze objects are found in the area of Soham, including one with swords and spearheads of the later Bronze Age as well as a gold torc, retrieved in 1938. An extensive ditch system, not visible on aerial photographs, has been identified, as well as a wooden track-way 800 m in length between Fordey Farm (Barway) and Little Thetford with associated shards of later Bronze Age pottery (1935). The town narrowly escaped destruction on 2 June 1944, during the Second World War, when a fire developed on the lead wagon of a heavy ammunition train travelling slowly through the town. The town was saved by the bravery of four railway staff, Benjamin Gimbert (Driver), James Nightall (Fireman), Frank Bridges (Signalman) and Herbert Clarke (Guard), who uncoupled the rest of the train and drove the engine and lead wagon clear of the town, where it exploded, killing Nightall and Bridges but causing no further deaths. Ben Gimbert survived and spent seven weeks in hospital. Although small in comparison to what would have happened if the entire train had blown up, the explosion caused substantial property damage. Gimbert and Nightall were both awarded the George Cross (Nightall posthumously). 

Julius Martin Lane

The football club was established in 1947 by a merger of Soham Town and Soham Rangers. Town were formed in 1920, won the Cambridgeshire Junior Cup in 1932–33, and played in the Cambridgeshire League during the 1930s, earning promotion to the Premier Division in 1938. Rangers were formed in 1919 and reached the top division of the Cambridgeshire League in 1926, the same year in which they won the Junior Cup. They went on to win the Cambridgeshire Challenge Cup in 1929–30 and 1934–35. The merged club started in the Premier Division of the Cambridgeshire League and played at Town's Julius Martin Lane, as the Rangers ground was taken over for agriculture. The ground had been home to Soham Town since 1921. In 1956 they switched to the Peterborough & District League and two years later won the Challenge Cup. They retained it in 1958–59 and also applied to join the Eastern Counties League, but were unsuccessful. In 1959–60 they won the league for the first time, repeating the feat in 1961–62. In 1963 they applied to join the Eastern Counties League again and this time were accepted. Discussions were held regarding a merger with local rivals Soham United, but nothing came of the talks. After the ECL added a second division in 1988, Soham were relegated at the end of the 1988–89 season. In 1990–91 they won the Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup for the first time with a 4–1 win over March Town United. In 1992–93 they finished second in Division One and were promoted back to the Premier Division. They won the Invitation Cup again in 1997–98.

This Pieman visited Soham by car (the nearest railway station being Ely) for this Eastern Counties League encounter with Histon. The home side winning 2-0.

Programme: 50p

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