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Our first competitive match - 135 years ago!

The date is Saturday 31st October 1885 and Luton Town travelled to meet Great Marlow F.C. in the F.A. Cup first round. 

This was stiff opposition for Luton Town.  Great Marlow had been formed in 1870, made a contribution to the purchase of the first F.A. Cup and had reached the semi-final in 1881/82 losing to the eventual winners, the Old Etonians.  The Berks and Bucks Cup began in 1878/79 with Reading the first winners.  It was a strong football region with Reading, Windsor Phoenix, Maidenhead, Swifts (from Slough), Wolverton, Chesham and later Wycombe Wanderers all competing.  Marlow had won the cup in 1881, 1883 and 1885.  They would go on to win it in 1886, 1888, 1889, 1890, 1894. 1897, 1899 and 1900.  R.A. Lunnon, the Marlow forward, had played in a representative game between the South against the North in January 1885.

The Luton Reporter said;

“This tie in connection with the English Association Challenge Cup was played at Great Marlow on Saturday.  Lomax won the toss and Shaw kicked off in the teeth of a strong wind a few minutes after three.  For the first five minutes Luton more than held their own, and looked like scoring, but subsequently play progressed very evenly and at half time both goals remained intact.  Directly afterwards, H. Walker put in a fine shot, which the goalkeeper muffed, and the ball rolled between the posts.  The Marlowvians continued to harass the opposing backs with energy, and after twenty five minutes further play H.Walker brought about the second downfall of the visitors’ uprights, after some fine passing between Bailey and R.A. Lunnon.  Two minutes before time Barrett in attempting to stop a shot by Tom Walker sent the leather through his own goal, and Marlow were left victors by three goals to nil.  Although the day was a bad one for football some good play was witnessed on both sides.  Shaw, Mellett, H.Walker, R. Lunnon, Martin, Small, Whitby, and the brothers Lomax being conspicuous.  

-Umpires Messrs T.G. Lunnon and W. Capon.  Referee Capt. Foulger. Sides:- 

Marlow Goal – F. Plumridge.  Backs – F. Spelier and W. Mellett.  Half backs – R.H. Lunnon, J.S. Flint and F. Morgan.  Forwards – R.A. Lunnon, J Bailey, right wing; T. Walker and H. Walker, left wing; and R. Shaw centre.  

Luton Goal – G. Long.  Backs – A. Martin and J.G.Hunt.  Half backs – E.H. Lomax, captain, T. Lawrence and H. Barrett.  Forwards – G Deacon and A. Deacon, right wing; J.C. Lomax and G.H. Small, left wing; and F. Whitby, centre; forwards.”

The South Bucks Free Press of Friday 6th November 1885 reported as follows;

“Luton Town v Marlow.  This match took place on the Marlow ground.  The home team began with the custody of the Crown goal.  Shaw kicked off at 3.10.  The play was very even all through the first half of the game.  Both sides cheered by the spectators strove hard to gain a point, but in vain.  At half-time Marlow had made 4 byes and 2 corners, Luton 5 byes and 2 corners.  On ends being changed, and now aided by the wind and hill Luton were soon placed in the defensive and were for the most part kept in a state of siege.  At length H. Walker put in a good shot and the first goal was scored, and ere long another goal was kicked by the same player, the ball being passed to him after a fine bit of play by the captain and Bailey.  And ere time was called Long Tom put in a good shot which the goal-keeper helped to pass under the tape.  Nothing further was done and Marlow were left victorious by 3 goals to none.  During the second half Marlow made 19 byes and 3 corners while Luton only made 1 bye.  For Marlow, Bailey, H. Walker and captain generally played exceedingly well.  The brothers Lomax with Whitby, Martin and Small did good service for Luton.”

Courtesy of Brian Webb of the Strawplaiters website (

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