1972 - 1973 season,
Having survived in the Hellenic Premier League on the last day of the previous season with an outstanding 5-1 victory at Moreton Town, one of the best clubs in the competition, Dennis Giles' Hungerford squad was looking forward to the new season with understandable confidence.
Douggie Webb, who had scored over a hundred goals for Reading, had signed for the club along with Keith Newman, a defender who had enjoyed experience with Aldershot and York City Town. Perhaps the most important signing, when you consider the service he has given since, was Norman Matthews who I had played with at Great Bedwyn. Barry Feltham and speedy winger Ken Newman had also come down the road from Newbury, so the season couldn't come quick enough.
Spirit in the club was excellent as everyone enjoyed their little social club which was brilliantly cared for by Bob Ponsford, who was another player to prove himself a top class clubman over the years and there was healthy competition for first team places.
The pre-season fixtures brought visits from Andover Town (1-1) and Harrow Borough (1-2) who both provided tough opposition at Bulpit Lane and a 5-0 win at local club Pewsey made up for a loss at Paulton Rovers by two goals.
However, the first Hellenic League fixture was away to Champions Witney Town who had also strengthened their squad considerably. Two scrambed goals for the home side, one in injury time, provided a 2-1 victory but Sid Webb's goal was described "as good a goal as will ever be seen' - what a way to start the season for a lively versatile character.
It was a good result at Witney, but if it was needed, the old rivalry with Newbury Town lifted the club to even better performances. Two early season midweek fixtures provided Hungerford with a 4- 1victory at Newbury and a 5-0 celebration at home. Ken Newman scored a hat trick against his old cub, David Watts scored four in the first four games, Douggie Webb got off the mark in a 1-1 draw at Clanfield and after Witney, the club's star goalkeeper Rod Oland, only conceded two in four games. Prospects were looking good!
World Cup hero Roger Hunt returned to the area to see the club's tenth game of the season and a 2-0
victory over Chipping Norton took Denis Giles' side into second place. This was probably the best spell of the season as it included a wonderful 5-2 victory away at Chippenham Town (and another hat trick for Ken Newman) and an F.A. Amateur Cup comeback to beat Bromham, a Wiltshire Combination side 4-2, after trailing 0-3 with just thirty five minutes to go. Another new signing Chris Munday, fresh from trials with Swindon Town, scored in this game and the bustling Barry Feltham claimed two.
While the club continued to challenge at the top of the league, the same form was not produced in the cups. After a spectacular 8-1 Berks & Bucks Cup victory over Buckingham Athletic, Didcot Town won by the only goal of the game at Bulpit Lane in the next round and two other home defeats were handed out by Devizes Town in a 5-0 Amateur Cup thrashing and Walingford Town who won 2-0 in the League Cup.
David Watts broke his nose and an arm colliding with the surrounding wall at Thame but some good news was the selection of Rod Oland, Sid Webb David Watts and Skipper Douggie Webb for the Hellenic League Representative Squads. The club definately suffered from a mid season slump, but a winning goal against Chippenham from Watts on his return, signalled a challenge for the top three places in the last third of the season but goalkeeper Rod Oland had been given a trial by Bath City and was soon to join the Southern League Club so Mick Gainey and John Hollister saw the season out successfully.
Hungerford Town"s best finish had been fifth in 1958-1959 and no local club had ever finished in the top three. Witney Town had successfully applied for promotion to the Southern League and were being chased by Clanfield but could Hungerford finish third?
With the honours out of reach it was perhaps understandable that the end of season determination wasn"t quite as intense as it had been, so five defeats in the last eight games saw the club finish in fourth place, which was still the club's best ever Premier Division finish and a suitable time for manager Denis Giles to stand down from the managerial worries.
The top goalscorers for the season were: Douggie Webb 21, David Watts 18, Ken Newman, Barry Feltham and Norman Matthews 8, Sid Webb 5 Colin Moyle and David Ingram 3, Stuart Dinham and Chris Munday 2 and one each for Jeff Hutchins, Miles Welch, Keith Newman, Bob Alton and opponents
On a personal side I had been thrilled to have persuaded Rothmans of Pall Mall the famous cigarette manufacturers to sponsor the Hellenic League for the following season and although very busy with some additional ideas regarding sports sponsorship I was happy to accept the chance to managing the club in the 1973-1974 campaign.
Denis Giles was going to continue helping to raise funds and look after an under 18 squad, the Reserves would play in the Hellenic Reserve section, chairman Ron Tarry was as keen as ever to see the club progress, and the committeee responded well to his leadership. The clubhouse was well run and our attendances were generally around the 220 mark and and with a playing surface as good as any in the league the club was certainly looking to improve facilities and results. The close season could prove exciting!