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What's In A Photo?

Town's Football Glory In The Victorian Era

Philip Yaxley Published: 01 October 2023

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The winning team

The print shown here has been taken from an old sepia photograph of the successful Wymondham District, then to be renamed Wymondham Town, Football Club’s first team, which won the Norfolk Senior Cup in the 1888-1889 season, having also lifted the trophy the previous season. Arguably then for a short spell Wymondham boasted the top team in Norfolk – but that was before Norwich City FC was born!

Letter from J. Pearson, club secretary
Letter from the club’s secretary J. Pearson, who is shown in the middle of the back row on the photo, calling a meeting to discuss entering the Norfolk County Challenge Cup (i.e. The Norfolk Senior Cup) in the 1889-1890 season..

In the 1889 final a magnificent display saw Wymondham defeat Lynn Town (King’s Lynn) 3-0 with Philip A. Fryer (second from left in the back row) notching a hat trick. During his soccer career Fryer also appeared for the Norfolk County side, Cambridge University, and the legendary Corinthians. An all-round sportsman he also played cricket for Wymondham and the Norfolk County side. Wymondham’s success that season saw J. Fernie (2nd from left in the middle row), E.J. Fryer (4th from left in the back row) and, of course, P.A. Fryer turning out for Norfolk and being awarded County Colours. The Rev. C.H. Winter (4th from left in the middle row) received his County Colours the following season. The gentleman in the middle of the back row was the club’s honorary secretary J. Pearson. In the previous season’s final, staged at Lakenham before a then record crowd, Wymondham had defeated Thorpe 1-0 with a goal from G. Doidge.

Invitation to a smoking concert
Invitation to a smoking concert at the King’s Head Hotel on the Market Place towards the end of the 1889-1890 season. A similar smoking concert in the 1887-1888 season had been described in The Norfolk County Football Association Annual as follows: “The Wymondham smoking concert proved most successful. The room at the King’s Head was filled to overflowing and there was a sporting enthusiasm about the meeting.”.

The Wymondham club had been formed in 1883 and since then have always played home matches on the King’s Head Meadow. Changing rooms were at first in the King’s Head Hotel, which stood on the Market Place site now occupied by the Co-op, but by that 1889 final it seems they had a pavilion on the meadow. With the reserves also appearing in the Junior Cup Final five times in the last decade of the 1890s, winning on four occasions, the last years of the 19th century were, indeed, heady days for Wymondham’s Football Club, but it’s a sobering thought they have never again reached the final of the Norfolk Senior Cup since that 1889 triumph.

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