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The History Of Football In Tavistock

Adhoc football, an ad hoc cross between rugby union and soccer and perhaps a few other games to boot, took place between Plymouth and Tavistock sides from the mid 1870s, but it took a letter in the Tavistock Gazette from scribes under the pseudonym of “Wei/wisher” and “Halfback”, to attract the attentions of two local businessmen.


The club was thus founded on September 8th, 1888, the foundation year of the Devon County FA, when sportsman and businessman Herbert Spencer summoned “interested persons to assemble at the Guildhall where a committee was elected under the chairmanship of his brother, Wilfred, with Herbert as his deputy and another brother, Kingsley, on the committee with Tom Owen Esq as secretary.  The old Tavistock Grammar School playing field in Russell Street hosted the newly formed club and the first match against the Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry resulted in a 1-0 victory. The first AGM held at the old Temperance Hotel, now the Ordulph Arms, proudly recorded a first season playing record of Won 13, Lost 3 Drawn 1.


By 1890 the club adopted a strip of blue and old gold and formed a second team, moving two years later to Green Lane, Torlands courtesy of the proprietor of the Bedford Hotel. Going from strength to strength the team won the league and were cup runners up in 1900-1901. On one day in 1903 at Torlands on the edge of Dartmoor, a game had to be abandoned due to a sudden blizzard. In the same year wild ducks invaded a flooded penalty area and set up home for a week in a makeshift pond, resulting in a postponed fixture. No wonder that over the next few years venues changed, from a return to the old grammar school pitch, to Green Hill and Sandy Park.


It is believed that in 1913 the entire Tavistock team was selected to represent the County. During the period of 1914-1918 structured football was abandoned.


Eventually there were at least three other clubs in the town, Tavistock Comrades, Bannawell Blues United and Tavistock West End. Amalgamation in 1939 produced the familiar colours of red and black. A welcome change to the salmon pink shirts with chocolate collars and cuffs of 1919. The years 1920 to 1930 were successful times with excellent results in the league, Bedford Cup and Senior Devon Cup. Sadly the next decade saw a decline in both results and attendance. Play ceased at the end of the 1931-32 season due to debt. Jumble sales and whist drives were held to ease the financial situation and football resumed once more in 1937.


The onset of World War II put things on hold until 1945 when the Lambs joined the Plymouth Combination League First Division. In 1947 the Club President Herbert Thomas Langsford purchased Langsford Park, giving it under trust to the club in 1949. A carved commemorative stone serves as a reminder of his benevolence.

9 Responses

  1. Adam says:

    Hi, looking to find a venue in Tavistock to put on an event. If someone could please get back to me on the email address, i would be greatfull. Regards,

  2. Jason Fletcher says:

    Went on a link for Tavistock v Leeds United as a Leeds fan however every time I submitted it came up with errors. I was looking for 1 Adult and 1 child ticket for pitch side. Can you confirm my interest has been registered please.
    My noted e-mail a address is my preferred email account.

    • Cfenner says:

      Hi Jason – two tickets will be waiting for you at the Clubhouse, from 10am on matchday! Thanks. Chris.

  3. Jonathan Ford says:

    I booked tickets for the Tavistock vs Leeds games for 4 people under my name, and was wondering if it went through as i have not had confirmation,
    Jonathan Ford

    • Cfenner says:

      Hi Jonathan. Your tickets have been reserved and will be waiting for you at the Red & Black Clubhouse on matchday! Many thanks,


  4. Ray Sterling says:


    I have perused this site and have failed to find any information about the Boot Sales held in the car park. These also do not seem to appear on the Club Calendar. I used to attend these as a Seller a few years ago and would like to resume.

    Where on the site is the information about dates and times of Club Car Boot Sales, please?



    • Cfenner says:

      Thank you Ray for the note.

      Unfortunately, we have not been running car boot sales this summer. This is largely due to our volunteer work force spreading themselves so thinly in the reconstruction of our Clubhouse, which is getting near to its completion. Once the Clubhouse is up and running we can look once again at car boot sales. Should you know of anyone who might like to get involved in a voluntary capacity to steward the carpark and organise proceedings, I am quite sure that our Committee would be strongly motivated to get the sales back up and running.

      Many thanks,
      Chris Fenner, Chairman, Tavistock AFC

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