RUFC - What do we know about Crawley?
Rotherham United welcome Crawley Town on Saturday for their first visit to Don Valley and the first meeting between the two sides.
So, just what do we know about Crawley?
Crawley Town were formed in 1896 and began their life in the West Sussex League. Five year later they transferred to the Mid-Sussex League, winning the League in their second season.
In 1951 they entered the Sussex County League staying there until 1956 when they moved to the Metropolitan League, which was a league for both professional and amateur sides. In 1959 Crawley who had retained their amateur status won the Metropolitan League Challenge Cup.
In 1962 Crawley turned semi-professional and the following year joined Division One of the Southern League. Six years later they were promoted to Premier Division of the Southern League but the following year they were relegated back to the first division where they stayed until the 1983/4 season when they were promoted as runners-up.
The Red Devils had many cup successes including the Sussex Professional Cup in 1970, the Gilbert Rice Floodlight Cup in 1980 and 1984, the Southern Counties Combination Floodlight Cup in 1986 and the Sussex Floodlight Cup was won in three consecutive years from 1991 to 1993 and once again in the 1998/9 season.
In 1997 the club moved from their Town Mead home across town to the Broadfield Stadium which is owned by the council.
In 2004 Crawley were promoted to the Football Conference, finishing twelfth in their first season in the National Division. The following year the club were bought by the SA Group and went full-time. The season didn't start well and they soon found themselves in the bottom three but five straight wins throughout March and April saw them beat the drop by ten points, although the club were deducted three points for breaching the annual playing budget.
In August 2006 the club were in terrible debt and were just an hour from going into liquidation before being saved. They were given a ten point deduction for going into administration but carried on playing. After starting well and almost wiping out the deduction in their first three games, the clubs form dipped and it was the last match of the season that they got they point they needed to save them from the drop.
The following season, despite starting with minus six points because of their financial standing, saw them end up in fifteenth place.
In the 2008/9 season the club started on a level playing field and were top for most of the start of the season, they had a blip, but went into 2009 still in the top three. Unfortunately, they were then deducted four points for fielding an unregistered player although it was eventually reduced to just one point and the Red Devils ended the season in ninth place. The following season saw the club finish in seventh place.
2010 began with co-owner Bruce Winfield announcing that the clubs £1 million debt had been cleared. Manager, Steve Evans, went on a spending spree and brought in Matt Tubbs for £70,000 and Sergio Torres for a record £100,000 and they became known as the 'Man City of the non-league'. The club had a good FA Cup run and they played Manchester United in the fifth round at Old Trafford losing the game one-nil in front of nine thousand travelling Crawley fans. The club were going well in the league when, in March 2011, co-owner and life-long Crawley fan Bruce Winfield passed away. The club were shocked but vowed to continue his good work, and just nineteen days after his death his dream was realised when Crawley secured the League title by beating Tamworth 3-0 and reaching The Football League for the first time in the club's history.
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