Affiliated County – Essex


Lee Harding

c/o Braintree Town FC, Clockhouse Way, Cressing Road, Braintree, Essex CM7 3RD

01953 797299 (business)

07722 133560 (mobile)


Graham Barkaway

43 Mount Road , Braintree , Essex, CM7 3JA

07757 132057 (mobile)

01376 335463 (home)

Fixtures Secretary

& Programme Editor


The Cressing Road Stadium

off Clockhouse Way, Cressing Road, Braintree, Essex CM7 3DE

01376 330976 & 01376 345617(ground)

01376 345617 (fax)


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Anton Smith  


Manor Works F.C. were formed in 1898 and joined The North Essex League. Until 1904 they operated a reserve team that played occasional friendlies. The first recorded game for the reserves was at home on 15th October 1898 against Earls Colne Reserves. The score has not been recorded although the home side ‘had the upper hand throughout’.

Competitive football finally came to the second team when they joined the North Essex League for 1904-05 and immediately won Section B. The following season they won Division 2 West after a play-off victory over Earls Colne at Witham. They also won their first cup, beating Courtauld United 7-0 in the Braintree Trades Cup Final. Promotion was unavailable to the team and so the next season they again competed at the same level and were runners-up.

For the 1910-11 season the North Essex League fixtures were supplemented by also entering the reserves in the Braintree & District League. Both leagues were won without a game being lost.  The latter title was won in a play-off victory over Witham at Boars Head Meadow in Braintree.

The practice of competing in two leagues continued for many years. Breaking with tradition, the secondary league chosen for 1913-14 was the Chelmsford & District League but the reserves withdrew from this after just two games.

When the football club, by now known as Crittall Athletic, moved to their current Cressing Road ground in 1923, it was the reserves that played the first game, beating Great Leighs 4-0 in the North Essex League on 15th September.

In the 1923-24 season Tiptree were beaten 17-0 in a Braintree & District League match believed to have been played on the old ground at Spaldings Meadow off Panfield Lane. This is still the record score.

In 1927-28 the secondary league was The Haverhill & District League and then the following season the reserves joined Division 1 of The Essex & Suffolk Border League, following the first team’s elevation to The Spartan League. 1931-32 was spent back in the North Essex League before returning to the Border League for a season while also in the Haverhill & District League.

Throughout the years of chopping and changing between leagues, first team demands upon the reserves pool of talent frequently diminished the chances of being competitive. This changed in 1935-36, their second season in the Premier Division of the Border League. The first team were at their peak, playing in front of huge crowds in the new Eastern Counties League. They signed numerous top players from Wales and the North East, attracting them to Braintree with the offer of a job in the works. Most of the pre 1935 first team ended up with the reserves who subsequently excelled in winning the Premier Division three years in a row. In 1938-39 they were losing League Cup Finalists. The 24 league wins in 1936-37 remains a record to this day, and it was achieved in just 28 games.

In the first season after the War, a place was found for the reserves in The South Essex League, and they won the league and cup double. In a departure from the usual arrangements the reserves were exiled to play at The Park, Witham in 1947-48. This ground had previously been used by Crittall Athletic (Witham), one of several teams operated by the Crittall Athletic & Social Club. For 1948-49 they moved to the London League Division 2 and won promotion at the first attempt.

The 1950-51 season began back in the Premier Division of The Border League but the team struggled for a number of years at the bottom end of the table and spent 1951-52 and 1953-54 at Witham.

At the end of the 1954-55 season the first team resigned from the Eastern Counties League after an unsuccessful brush with professionalism and dropped into the Border League. That meant that the reserves had to move to the Premier Division of the Chelmsford & Mid Essex League where they stayed for nine seasons. In 1963-64 they finished one off bottom, putting them at risk of relegation. To maintain as higher standard as possible for the benefit of the first team they moved to the Reserve Section of the Greater London League for the next three seasons. In their first season they played against Crittall Sports, a Witham based offshoot of the Crittall empire who were found to be out of their depth.  At the start of the 1967-68 season they sought a move to more local football, favouring The Essex Olympian League. As the competition did not entertain reserve sides, the team were rebranded as Crittall Braintree. The name was retained for the three year duration of their stay, even though for the last two of those the first team were known as Braintree & Crittall Athletic. Due to the difficulty in raising a side the reserves resigned from the league before the start of the 1970-71 season and did not play again until the start of the 1972-73 season.  They joined the Essex Senior League Reserve Section, the very first league competed in where every opponent was also a reserve side. In 1974 they were crowned champions by a single point over Basildon United Reserves. This was their first title for 28 years. The club  were experiencing severe ground problems with the Cressing Road ground unfit for purpose and games at the start of the 1975-76 season were played at Alec Hunter School before the situation became unmanageable and they resigned from the league.

The reserves were back for the start of the 1976-77 season, having rejoined the Essex & Suffolk Border League Division 1. Under the guidance of Paul King the reserves finished as runners-up in 1983-84 and the following season won the Essex & Suffolk Border League Premier Division title. The team provided several players for the first team but the on field success could not be repeated and the next four seasons were all spent near the foot of the table.

In 1989 the reserves moved to the Essex & Herts Border Combination, Eastern Division, playing the reserve teams of mostly South Essex and Kent based clubs.  In a successful 15 year spell in this league there were eight top four finishes, with the Premier Division title being won in 2000-01. Mel Mildenall managed the reserves for 9 seasons from 1993-94 to 2001-02. For the first two seasons he was a joint manager with Alf McQuillan. After that Alf became his assistant.

In 2004-05 the club operated with a youth team but no reserve side and then the following season joined the South Division of the Ridgeons Reserve League (the Eastern Counties League).  There were top half finishes in each of the first four seasons.  Tom Marshall was manager from 2005-08, and was in charge of the youth team at the same time. He was replaced by Mark Sansom who remained as Manager until November 2014.   In 2009-10 the youth team were disbanded but the reserves also competed in the East Division of The Capital League, a midweek competition where it was intended to give run outs to fringe first team players.  In the first season of fighting in both of these leagues commendable runners-up positions were achieved in each. The following year both titles were won. In 2011-12 the Ridgeon League Reserve Division was again won. On both occasions the Chell Trophy was secured by defeating the North Division winners in a play-off final. First Lowestoft Reserves and then Gorleston Reserves were convincingly beaten on neutral ground.  They were controversially deprived of The Capital League title.  They had to beat lowly Hornchurch Reserves at home in the last game by five to take the title on goal difference from Billericay Reserves. The visitors could not agree a date for the final game so the league awarded Braintree a 1-0 win, handing the title to Billericay That marked the end of the three year association with the Capital League.

For over 20 years from 1985 the reserves appeared in many cup finals, winning the last Essex Senior Trophy against Great Wakering Reserves in 2002. They appeared in 10 Tolleshunt D’Arcy Cup Finals, winning six, and numerous other cups.

The club looked to create a new senior team for Braintree, known as Team Braintree. They would replace the first team and groundshare at Cressing Road. Asuccessful application was made to join The Thurlow Nunn League, but the initial season would have to be under the title of the reserves still and they would not be eligible for promotion.  At the end of the season the F.A. turned down the request to form Team Braintree and a further two seasons have now been played at senior level with the team now giving academy players early opportunities on a bigger stage.

Mark Sansom’s successor in November 2014 was Ross McPherson he is also coach at Tottenham Hotspurs FC.

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