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FOOTBALL has been played in the border town of Oswestry for as long as the game itself. Indeed there is some evidence that the Oswestry club might have been formed as long ago as 1860, which would make it one of the oldest clubs in the world.
In the earliest days, Oswestry United arranged to play friendly matches at the Cricket Ground, many being against near neighbours Chirk, the Druids from Ruabon and Wrexham. All of these joined Oswestry competitively when the Combination - based on clubs in the north west of England and North Wales - was formed. With rugby being the dominant code in South Wales, it was left to the industrial area of the North Wales coalfield (which included much of north west Shropshire) to lay the foundations of Association Football in the country.
Oswestry were among the leading clubs in the formation of the Football Association of Wales in 1876 and took part in the first ever Welsh Cup competition in 1877 - a competition which they have entered regularly ever since. The club's Welsh connections also saw it provide many international players including no fewer than nine when Wales played their first international against England at Kennington Oval in 1879.
United won the Welsh Cup in 1883 (becoming the first team to take the trophy over Offa's Dyke) and again in 1901 and 1907. They continued playing in the, by then, Lancashire Combination, until the 1914/15 season - a season which started with some promise until the majority of the team left with the "Oswestry Pals" to serve in the trenches of the First World War.
In fact it wasn't until the 1920/21 season that the club returned to active service when the renamed Oswestry Town joined the North Wales Alliance. During this period they obtained the services of local lad Herbert Roberts who caught the eye of Herbert Chapman, manager of the all-conquering Arsenal team. Herbie was converted to become the first "stopper" centre half and won many league and cup honours whilst playing for the Gunners. He also won an England cap, despite coming from a Welsh-speaking family.
Having won the Alliance championship in 1924, Town moved on to the then powerful Birmingham League where they rubbed shoulders with the likes of Shrewsbury Town, Wellington Town (now Telford United), Hereford United and Kidderminster, plus a number of the West Midlands' Football League clubs' reserve and A teams - and even Cardiff City's reserves. Once more the outbreak of war in 1939 saw an end to football at the Cricket Ground for the duration of hostilities.
After the war Town had some success winning the league championship in 1953 with several visits to the first round of the F.A. Cup. Amongst the managers in this period was Alan Ball senior. His son was, of course, to become an England 1966 World Cup hero and learned many of his skills at the old Victoria Road ground (the ground was renamed when the Cricket Club moved to its new home shortly after the War).
In 1960 Oswestry moved into the Cheshire League where they regularly played against such teams as Macclesfield Town, Wigan Athletic and Northwich Victoria plus older rivals in Rhyl and Bangor City. The restructuring of the non-league system saw a couple of league changes in the 1970s with Oswestry enjoying spells in both the Southern and Northern Premier Leagues. The 1980s saw bleak times. There had been several financial crises over the years but with debts mounting, things came to a head in 1988 when the Victoria Road ground had to be sold to developers to pay off the debts. Various attempts to find a new home - including several ground share schemes - failed and so, for the third time in its history, Oswestry faced a period of inactivity.
Eventually, the club managed to obtain the use of Park Hall Stadium, an ideal facility built by the Army. Much had changed since Oswestry Town had kicked a ball, but the changes to the Welsh soccer pyramid gave the club a unique opportunity to regain a soccer foothold.
Oswestry United's early work in helping to form the F.A. of Wales, and the club's unbroken full membership qualified them to re-enter the Welsh soccer fraternity. So it was on 28th August 1993 Oswestry returned to competitive action with a goalless draw at home to New Brighton Villa in the Welsh National League 1st Division (the third tier of the pyramid). Two weeks earlier, over 1000 had crammed into Park Hall to see the club's first game there, against Football League neighbours Shrewsbury Town.
After a flying start, it looked as if Town might move up the pyramid at the first time of asking, but a loss of form late in the season saw them finish a creditable third. The following season Town cruised through to the League Championship and League Cup double without defeat, and promotion to the Cymru Alliance. Even more amazingly the League and League Cup double was repeated the following season in the higher grade, which should have resulted in promotion to the LoW.

Oswestry's Park Hall Stadium is now used for TNS reserve, youth and ladies' games
Unfortunately, the club was caught out by its own success as Park Hall Stadium was not up to the strict criteria laid down by the LoW. In particular the lack of floodlights being a major stumbling block. With the financial lessons of the past well and truly learned the club decided against going deeply into debt to get the work done, preferring to improve the stadium through its own resources and passed over the chance of promotion. An appeal was made for money to provide and erect floodlights on pylons that were still held from the old Victoria Road ground and, after three years hard work by volunteers, they were switched on for a League Cup game with Flint Town United on 13th November 1998.
With this hurdle cleared a successful assault was made on the Cymru Alliance championship in 1999/2000 to earn promotion to the top level of Welsh football. Once more the club's willing band of helpers turned out in force and, working almost round the clock, met the deadline to get the ground up to League of Wales standards. This included the provision of new dressing rooms, better toilets, a hospitality area, increasing the number of seats and the provision of hard standing all around the ground - no mean task with a stadium the size of Park Hall!
Oswestry Town, after years of inactivity and rebuilding, entered the millennium as a senior non-league team once more and ready to carry on, and develop, its unique role in Welsh Football history. Steve O’Shaughnessy took over as manager for Town’s first season in the League of Wales. The campaign got off to a bright start but injuries and suspensions, coupled with a flooded pitch, saw the team struggle to take points in the winter months. Under manager Dave Norman, the team avoided relegation at the eleventh hour in 2002/3 with some stirring performances. But unfortunately, the story doesn't end there.
Racked by financial problems and poor support, Oswestry decided the best way forward to keep football in the town was to merge with nearby rival TNS and the plan is to build a new, purpose-built stadium in Oswestry within the next three years.

League stats
Biggest Home Wins
5-2 v Llanelli 19/08/00
3-0 v Port Talbot Town 27/04/02
Biggest Away Wins
7-3 at Flexsys Cefn Druids 30/01/01
2-0 at Connahs Quay Nomads 02/12/00
2-0 at Port Talbot Athletic 27/01/01
Biggest Home Defeats
0-5 by Flexsys Cefn Druids 21/09/01
1-5 by Total Network Solutions 26/12/01
2-5 by Haverfordwest County 03/03/01
2-5 by Aberystwyth Town 12/01/02
Biggest Away Defeats
0-11 at Llanelli 04/04/01
2-8 at Cwmbran Town 23/02/02
1-7 at Barry Town 29/12/01
0-6 at Aberystwyth Town 17/02/01
0-6 at Barry Town 23/04/01
Most Goals in One Season
15 by Steve Rogers 2000/2001
Most Goals in One Match
3 by Steve Rogers v Llanelli 19/08/00
Top Scorers in Aggregate
20 by Steve Rogers (2000 2002)
Most Appearances
40 (+5 Sub) by Dave Norman (2000 2002)
40 (+3 Sub) by Steve Rogers (2000 2002)
37 (+2 Sub) by Justin Bridges (2000 2002)
Steve OShaughnessy (Aug 2000 May 2001)
Peter Hepper (June 2000 Feb 2002)
Dave Norman (Feb 2002 July 2003)