There’s a lot of history behind the Stratford football and rugby teams. With the football club founded in 1941 and the rugby club going all the way back to 1877, these sports form the foundation of the town, to the point where it feels almost impossible to be without them.
They have also been performing well recently. Albeit a few losses here and there, Stratford Town FC have beaten some tough opponents after the last couple of months, with particular highlights being wins over Stamford, St Ives Town and a 4-2 finishing of AFC Sudbury.
Likewise, Stratford-Upon-Avon rugby club had a strong finish to the season earlier in the year, winning 29-10 over Wolverhampton, and putting 34 on Hereford – as well as a more recent 39-29 win over Shipston-on-Stour.
Both clubs aren’t perfect, but they’re a crucial part of this town, and we couldn’t help wondering if it was time they dreamed bigger.
When it comes to football, there is always opportunity to move up the ranks and make a claim for the big leagues. While something like the English Football League may be way off in the future, it isn’t unreasonable to suggest this club can begin the climb.
Right now, they exist within the Southern League Premier Division’s Central. During Step 3 of this league, two teams of each of the four divisions will make their way to Step 2, four champions are then promoted and are joined by a playoff winner.
This is what Stratford FC should be aiming for. That’s not to say that they haven’t been aiming for it already. But there’s a big difference between aiming and believing. Their results have been steadily getting better, the coaching system is well organised and effective, and there seems to be a real buzz about what they’re doing.
The route for the rugby team may be a bit more difficult. Due to the shaky management of the RFU, it has become difficult for clubs to make their way up the ranks – with a clear example being Ealing Trailfinders, who play in the Championship.
For the last two years, Ealing Trailfinders have been dominating the league beneath the Premiership, and yet they have been blocked from promotion by the RFU due to insufficient stadium size – the required capacity is 10,001, while Ealing have a capacity of 5,000.
Add to this that the Premiership itself has been without a rugby relegation system for the last few years, and the route to the top seems a little foggy.
The Future For Stratford
But what the Stratford rugby team – and the football club, for that matter – should remember is that these are two sports built around community. As mentioned before, they have become staples of Stratford for decades. The rugby club, specifically, was one of the first ever English rugby clubs in existence.
With this in mind, just as Stratford is famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare, it can also claim to be the birthplace of the English club game!
That’s certainly something to be proud of, and as both the football and rugby season move forward, we can only hope they go well and keep their dreams for the future shining just a little bit brighter.