Who are Potters FC?
Founded in the Summer of 2007 in the neighbouring villages of Borough Green and Wrotham near Sevenoaks in Kent, Potters are one of the most successful & well respected men's football clubs in the modern day era of amateur football in Kent.
Despite the club's relatively tender history, the achievements, success & significant milestones amassed, together with their meteoric rise up through the local leagues has already created a beautiful modern legacy, complemented in turn by the club's sterling reputation as one of the most approachable, well-run teams in the area, with an off-the-field setup and infrastructure that continues to impress & attract fans, followers & new players alike, season after season.
The Early Days: 2007-
In May 2007, after a frustrating first year warming the bench in men's football, Henry Willard, a then 19yr old lifelong resident of Borough Green, on a whim, took up the idea of setting up his own football team that he and his friends could play for, with the intention of bridging the gap between U18's junior football, and the senior game.
Willard had himself played football for Borough Green Junior FC throughout his teens but found playing opportunities limited in his first year of men's football, and so set out completely into the unknown to recruit personnel and build his own men's club from scratch.
Tapping into contacts from both his junior football days and a years stint with senior side, Borough Green United, Willard first recruited an off-the-field team of Carl Moorey, Sophie-Moorey-Brown, Kayleigh Scott and Matt Brown to divide up secretarial, financial & management roles, with Carl Moorey taking the reigns as the Manager of the team for the first season.
Initial player interest was well received, whilst the club also secured the hire of the single senior pitch at Potters Mede from Borough Green Parish Council (although the ground is actually in the village of Wrotham) on an annual rolling basis.
The ground itself had notorious waterlogging problems, but with no other pitches vacant or available at the time, the club took the risk.
Having found their home, the club name soon followed, tying in with the name of their ground. Very early plans actually had the club name as Potters Mede FC, but this was soon shortened to Potters FC.
Giles Farmer, secretary of Borough Green United FC, and former next door neighbour of Willard, had played a helpful role in providing League and affiliation information and contacts, and after beginning the application process to found the club and affiliate with the Kent FA, Potters FC soon found themselves officially registered and founded in June 2007, and were accepted into the Sevenoaks & District Football League, being placed in the basement Third Division.
Potters Football Club were formed.
Right: Team photo before the very first Potters game on 25th August 2007
The First Season: 2007-2008
As the team began to take shape over the course of July & August 2007, the club adopted its colours. Opting for something 'a bit different', with the help of Willard's father's business, Borough Green Forge Farriers in the form of sponsorship, Potters purchased their first kit of purple shirts, black shorts & purple socks, manufactured by grassroots giants at the time, Prostar.
The clubs first ever match was a pre-season friendly away vs Nomads (Edenbridge) on 25th August 2007. Potters fell to a 4-1 defeat, but the first ever goal in a Potters shirts was scored by Glenn Bunn, who would go on to make many more appearances for the club in spells over the next few years.
Two weeks later, Potters and Borough Green Parish Council were dealt a significant setback - Over the evening of Saturday 8th September 2007, just a week before Potters were due to play their first ever League game, the main building at Potters Mede which housed the clubs' changing rooms as well as various meeting rooms and a large hall, was burnt down in an arson attack. Although no-one was ever charged, rumour has it that the arsonist was an ex-boyfriend of a bride-to-be who was having her wedding reception in the Potters Mede hall the following day.
This setback led to last minute negotiations between Potters FC and Wrotham School which is located opposite the ground, and the school thankfully came to the rescue, allowing Potters to use the school changing rooms for home fixtures, which just meant a short walk across the main road between the two sites before & after games. This arrangement would remain in place until the end of the 2012/2013 season.
The inaugural 2007/08 season saw Potters finish in a respectable 5th place in the League, with Jack Wilson finishing as top scorer with 17 goals and Michael Bateman scoring Potters first ever competitive goal.
The following 2008/09 season would mark the start of the club's most successful years to date.
A change of personnel over the Summer of 2008 saw club founder, Henry Willard take on all off-the-field club duties himself, including the Managerial position, whilst also continuing to play. This would however be his last full season as a player at the age of just 20yrs old, shifting his focus to management & overall running of the club from 2009.
The 08/09 campaign will always fondly be remembered as the club's double winning season. A number of notable new players arrived at the club over pre-season in 2008 - Faces that would go on to be major figures in Potters history over the next decade, including Craig Bowman, Mark Weller, Jim Cook, and arriving a few months in to the season, Bradley Bowman.
Leading goalscorer from the previous season, Jack Wilson, was unfortunately no longer at the club after moving to Australia, however a new talisman stepped up in Mike Beverley - Beverley had scored 15 goals in 25 appearances in the club's first season, however the 08/09 season saw the striker net an incredible 31 goals in 28 appearances as Potters stormed their way to the Division Three title in April 2009, but not before lifting their first piece of silverware on 27th December 2008 - The League Cup.
After a 2-2 draw AET, a 4-3 victory on penalties vs rivals Wilderpark saw Potters secure their first trophy at a well attended Greatness Park - The home of Sevenoaks Town FC.
The double winning season was the start of something very special, and the years that would follow will forever be remembered as some of the club's best years both on and off the field, by all of those who were fortunate enough to be involved.
Left: Lifting the League Cup on 27th December 2008
Lucozade Sport Sponsorship: 2009-2010
After achieving promotion for the first time, the 2009/10 season was a new test, but the club were given a huge boost before the season had even gotten underway after being chosen as one of 80 amateur football clubs from across the whole of the UK to receive an incredible season-long sponsorship package from Lucozade Sport.
The team literally could not drink Lucozade Sport fast enough, there were so many bottles. Pallets and pallets stacked high of free Lucozade Sport bottles, powders, gels, & bars were shipped to the club over the course of the season, along with a whole bundle of Lucozade Sport branded training and matchday equipment and a brand new Puma kit, whilst Potters were also entered into the 'LSPL' along with the other 79 teams dotted around the UK who had received the sponsorship deal.
The LSPL was a single-season virtual league table made up of the 80 sponsored teams, and each team's domestic results & statistics during the 09/10 season were calculated and translated to the LSPL table.
At Christmas, the LSPL was broken down into four leagues of 20 teams, and at the end of the season the winners of each of the four LSPL tables would receive the ultimate experience of a trip to play one of the other LSPL winners at Old Trafford.
The LSPL gave Potters even more determination to do well as the season went on. The club adopted new club colours as a result of their brand new sponsored Puma kit, and opted for white shirts & black shorts to represent the fresh new chapter for the club.
The 09/10 season was to be another huge success on-the-field. Notable new recruits included defender Peter Andrea and Czech winger, David Hicl, who would both become very popular figures at the club, and the new season in the Second Division begun in the best way possible with a 6-1 win at home vs Nomads.
Over the course of the season, the victories continued to come, which saw Potters climb to the top of both the Sevenoaks Second Division, as well as their LSPL table.
Another memorable occasion tied into the Lucozade Sport sponsorship saw striker Mike Beverley win the opportunity to travel up to Sunderland FC's prestigious training ground for a day for a training session with then England & Premier League striker, Darren Bent. In what was a terrific experience, for the second half of the session, Sunderland brought out two of their Academy goalkeepers for shooting drills and a penalty shooutout, one of whom was none other than a 15yr old Jordan Pickford!
As the months went by and the end of the season neared, the club were now spurred on by the very real prospect of winning the LSPL.
It eventually all came down to the last game of the season away vs domestic league title challenging rivals, Old Boars on 17th April 2010. A win would have sealed the LSPL... but it was not to be. A narrow 2-1 defeat saw Potters ultimately finish second in both the LSPL and the Sevenoaks Second Division. It was a heartbreaking day, but Potters had still carved out an incredible season and secured back-to-back promotions, winning promotion to Division One as Runner's Up.
Bottom Right: Potters all-time leading goalscorer & appearance holder, Mike Beverley, putting away a penalty vs a young Jordan Pickford at Sunderland AFC's training ground on 23rd February 2010
Netherlands/Germany Pre-Season Tour + Third Successive Promotion: 2010-2011
It was always going to be a near impossible task of repeating the many achievements, memories & success of the 09/10 season, but with an incredibly close-knit team Potters prepared for the 2010/11 Division One season by winning one of two Summer 6-a-side tournaments they participated in, before embarking on a short pre-season tour of Holland and Germany, staying and taking in the local culture in the Netherlands and playing two friendly matches just over the border vs German opposition - DJK Rasensport Aachen-Brand, and VfB 08 Aachen.
Whilst there wasn't the additional incentive of the LSPL this season, Potters maintained a strong squad and added several talented new faces to the ranks including Adam Roxburgh, Greg Francis, Chris Gubbins, Russ McEwan & Olly Hayward. Incredibly, the club would go on to have yet another marvellous season.
Goals scored were well shared out, with Beverley (15), McEwan (8), Hicl (5), Gubbins (4) & Bradley Bowman (4) all getting in on the action & leading the charts, contributing to another successful campaign that resulted in Potters once again finishing as Runner's Up at the end of the season, thus securing an incredible third successive promotion. The Sevenoaks & District Premier Division awaited.
Top Left: DJK Rasensport Aachen-Brand vs Potters FC - Saturday 21st August 2010
Bottom Left: Fixture poster for VfB 08 Aachen vs Potters FC - Sunday 22nd August 2010
Premier Division + Temporary Move: 2011-2012
It had only taken four years for Potters to climb three divisions from the Sevenoaks & District League's bottom tier, right up to the summit of the Premier Division.
Three back-to-back promotions had led the club to new territory & new heights once again, and the 2011/12 debut Premier Division campaign also marked the end of an era for the club at the 'old' Potters Mede ground.
Following the 2007 arson attack, Borough Green Parish Council now had plans drawn up & given the green light to rebuild the main building at Potters Mede, whilst also completely re-landscaping & redeveloping the pitches at the same time.
It was a hugely exciting project that would open up a new chapter for the club. For now though, Potters re-located to their temporary home just across the road to Wrotham School's brand new 3G pitch for two seasons.
The Premier Division proved to be a whole new challenge. The division had always carried a strong reputation, but the step up in the quality of opposition was certainly evident.
Potters, however, held their own well, and a very respectable fourth place finish in their debut season was a fantastic achievement.
Potters Mede Redevelopment: 2012-2013
Over the 2012/13 season, huge progress was made at Potters Mede on the ground's redevelopment.
The brand new building went up quick, and what was one large, slightly sloped green space where the original pitch was situated, this area had now been re-landscaped to accommodate two new, flat pitches, one 11v11 and one 9v9, on two different levels with a bank in between.
The new building now featured four modern en-suite changing rooms, an en-suite officials room, a separate hall, kitchen & WC's on the other half of the building, and a clubhouse upstairs on the second level.
Extensive finishing touches were also gradually added such as new fencing between the car park and the ground, whilst the club also added a brand new roadside fixture board.
On-the-field, Potters had one more season left at Wrotham 3G before they moved back home in 2013, and the fine achievements of recent years continued. Russ McEwan and Matt Bunn both hit double figures with their goal tallies, with the latter finishing top goalscorer with an impressive 18 goals, whilst Mike Beverley and Craig Roxburgh also both netted nine times during the season.
The 12/13 season ended with Potters finishing runner's up in the Premier Division - just six points off top - the highest they would finish for a number of years.
The club would head back to Potters Mede over the Summer of 2013 for the start of the 2013/14 season to begin another new chapter at their mighty impressive new ground.
Remembering David Hicl: 06.09.79 - 18.03.13
In March 2013, the close-knit Potters family lost one of their own.
Despite having relocated abroad for work in late 2011, for two seasons (09/10 & 10/11), Czech winger David Hicl terrified every left-back he came up against with his lightning pace and mazy runs, and clocked up 10 goals in his 27 appearances in a Potters shirt.
David was a beautiful soul and an absolutely wonderful man to be around. He was on the club's pre-season tour of Holland & Germany in 2010, played in pre-season 6-a-side tournaments that Potters entered, and played a huge part in the club's promotions up to both Division One, and the Premier Division.
We received the devastating news that David had passed away on 18th March 2013 and the age of just 33 after a skiing accident in Europe.
David's Potters profile picture from 2010 has been mounted in the Potters Mede changing room corridor ever since, and those who were at the club during David's time as a Potters player will always remember his huge smile, his wonderful accent, his laughter and his magnificent speed on the football pitch.
Rest in Peace, David. We're always thinking of you.
New Crest + The Move Back Home: 2013-2014
The club's move back home for the 2013/14 season came off the back of their second place finish in the Premier Division, and the new chapter also welcomed new main sponsors and a brand new club crest.
Nisa Local of Borough Green high street who had supported Potters for the past season or so as casual sponsors, now became the main sponsors of Potters Football Club which was reflected with a brand new Adidas home kit for the start of the new campaign.
Whilst the hugely successful Lucozade Sport Puma kit itself was retired, the club retained their adopted colours of white & black, however a new modern club crest was designed and used for the first time on the new kit.
The crest pays homage to the history of the land at Potters Mede - The word 'Mede' itself has in the past been used to describe a water meadow, and the old ground certainly used to have its drainage problems, but the main historical use of the land was said to be for clay extraction as Potters Mede was a main source for many of the pottery works that existed around Wrotham, Borough Green & Basted in the late 1800's. The pot and water symbol are therefore the two main features of the club crest, along with Latin script that roughly translates to 'Harmony & unity for its success'.
The first season back at the 'new' Potters Mede was the third season in the Premier Division for Potters, and the division itself was getting stronger by each season.
The Potters squad was naturally evolving with each season, and some of the faces from the previous years of success were no longer at the club. There was however still a strong core within the team who now had a magnificent home ground to play their football.
After a mixed campaign, the 13/14 season back at Potters Mede ended with Potters finishing in sixth place, somewhat struggling in front of goal to make a real impact on the division, but after such a meteoric rise up through the Sevenoaks League's, the club were certainly holding their own & proving they were in the top flight on merit, & there to stay.
Bottom Right: Potters Mede pitch & building redevelopment.
Photo taken 20th June 2012
The Following Years: 2014-2018
The next four season's would see Potters cement consistent, solid finishes in the Premier Division, although admittedly without setting the division alight, finishing fourth, seventh, eighth and sixth respectively.
The years between 2014 and 2018 were certainly transition years.
There were notable milestones for a handful of players still remaining from the 'tour' days - Craig Bowman, Bradley Bowman, Mark Weller, Gary Weller, Mike Beverley & Jim Cook all clocked up over 100 League & Cup appearances for the club by 2016 - A fantastic achievement, and a proud indication of what Potters Football Club means to many of these players.
Some of the stalwarts from yesteryear Potters days such as Mike Beverley, Olly Hayward, Jim Cook, Chris Gubbins, Will Millins, Russ McEwan & Gary Weller, did however all move on during this period.
With every departure, however, came new blood. A new wave of youngsters were coming through. The likes of Harry Paternoster, Connor Jeffery, Taylor Sutton, Max Jones, Harry Clapp, Ollie Burman & Matt Mills all joined the club between 2015 and 2016, all under the age of 20.
Potters may have been developing a new identity on-the-field, but during these years continued to put everything into being a successful club as a whole.
The club continued to make small improvements to their home ground with small additions to the changing room & clubhouse adding personal touches, whilst there were also extensive ongoing works to improve the durability of the playing surface at Potters Mede, which thrived at the beginning of each season, but quickly deteriorated if over-used as the months of the season went by.
After four seasons of mid-table obscurity though, it was time for change. Potters were a club who wanted to be challenging for honours again and would head into the 2018/19 season with a new plan of action.
Top Left: Team photo 2014-15
Bottom Left: Team photo 2016-17
Premier Division Champions: 2018-2019
It was now ten years on from the 08/09 season that saw a Potters side who were still very much in their infancy as a club take the Third Division by storm, winning the Division Three title as well as the League Cup, & to mark the anniversary, the club switched their colours back to purple ahead of the 2018/19 season.
That was not the only change made. Henry Willard took a back seat from managerial duties, and over the summer recruited Nick Mills to take charge of the team, with Willard able to focus more on running the club behind the scenes.
A few new recruits were also added to the playing squad with the likes of George Burton, Kieran Sutton & 18 year old Tom Clark featuring the most during the course of season.
There was fresh determination to achieve success going into this season. A tough pre-season worked the team hard in preparation for the challenge ahead, but pre-season friendly results were mixed, with one win, a draw, and one defeat coming from Potters' three friendly fixtures.
The opening day of the season also saw Potters throw away a lead to concede a last minute equaliser from Nomads in a 3-3 draw away from home, but a change in fortunes kicked in from the second game of the season.
A 4-2 away win at AFC Valour on 8th September 2018 sparked an incredible 11-game unbeaten run in the League, with ten straight victories taking them beyond the New year, and only a 1-1 draw away vs St Lawrence on 5th January 2019 bringing a halt to the winning streak.
Narrow 3-2 cup defeats, both back in October meant that Potters would not be heading on a cup run this season, but it was clear that full focus was on the Premier Division title.
A stuttering January saw another draw and a defeat for the club, but Potters picked themselves up again in February, and three consecutive wins finally brought the Premier Division title to Potters Mede, with a 1-0 home victory over FC Revo on 9th March 2019 officially crowning Potters as champions.
Complacency set in on the final game of the season with the title already secured, as Potters fell to an out-of-character heavy defeat to Blackham & Ashurst, but nothing was to be taken away from the achievements of this incredible season.
It was a fitting tribute to the 08/09 Division Three title win, ten years on & back in their original colours, in their eighth season as Premier Division club Potters had finally achieved what they had always set out to do, and were finally Premier Division Champions.
Bottom Right: The Premier Division team of 2018/19 celebrate lifting the trophy on the final day of the season
The 2019/20 season saw Henry Willard take charge of the team once more, with Nick Mills opting to not continue in his position as Manager.
Before the season got underway, though, in July 2019, both current and old Potters faces came together for a pre-season 'Legends' friendly fixture at Wrotham 3G.
Heading into the new season, retaining the League title was going to be a tough task. The loss of a number of key players over the Summer including the lack of a recognised goalkeeper would cost the team dear in the early stages of the season, with a number of defeats & a poor run of form.
Results and performances did pick up in the New Year, with three wins, two draws and just one defeat in six games from mid-January onwards, but with the team just hitting their stride & moving up the league table, Covid-19 hit and the curtain prematurely brought down on the season.
Potters were eventually awarded a final position of sixth place in the table, and although disappointing to lose the season early, the long spring/summer break would allow the club to lay the foundations for exciting changes and a fresh new chapter going in to the 2020/21 season.
Left: Potters 2019 vs Potters Legends XI. 20th July 2019
Premier Division Runner's Up.. on Goal Difference: 2020-2021
As the pandemic was seemingly being brought under control heading into autumn 2020, club founder Henry Willard was able to return 'upstairs' and hand over first-team management duties once again, promoting midfield duo James Delaney & Harry Clapp into dual-management roles, with experienced goalkeeping coach Russel Palmer also coming on board in July 2020 to join the management team.
A Club Committee was formed to bring some of the longer-serving players into roles where they could have their say and share their feedback and ideas for club decisions going forward, and Delaney & Clapp also utilised their own contacts to make a number of key signings during pre-season including Frankie Deakin, James Pass, Ashley Waterman and Joe Hudson.
Bringing fresh drive and vigour to the team, the new management worked wonders in the first six games of the season, winning four and drawing two of their fixtures before a surge in Coronavirus returned across the UK to halt football at the end of October 2020.
Potters ended a year like no other sitting top of the Premier Division table.
After a long winter break, football finally returned in April 2021 as the Sevenoaks & District League pressed on with completing the league campaign in just a couple of months, and Potters now had their remaining 12 games to play in just 8 weeks.
Three wins, one draw and one defeat kept the momentum going in the drive for the title during April, but a difficult final month of the season followed as Potters had to cram in 8 games in 4 weeks, with injuries now wreaking havoc throughout the squad.
An eyebrow-raising 1-2 evening defeat to bottom-of-the-league Halls AFC Reserves had everyone scratching their heads, with Potters playing out of their skins but just unable to match a Halls side that looked largely unfamiliar, and miles stronger than any other side Potters had played in the league so far.
The defeat not only saw more points dropped, but a number of long-term injuries to key players were picked up from bad challenges during the game which resulted in a devastating run of five defeats on the bounce.
A depleted, walking-wounded Potters side just could not keep up with the demands of the packed fixtures, and having led the division for the entire season, the chasing pack finally caught up.
As fit bodies finally returned for the final two games of the season, however, Potters ended on a high with impressive back-to-back wins vs Kemsing United (5-2) and Hawkenbury (3-0), before also being awarded the 3 points from the Halls fixture on 5th May, with Halls found guilty of fielding multiple ineligible players in that fixture.
The final league table for a long 2020-21 season saw both Nomads and Potters top the Premier Division with 33 points each, but Nomads were the ones to cement first place with an impressive +22 goal difference to Potters +10.
Bottom Right: The new management duo of Harry Clapp (l) and James Delaney (r)