|Full name||Weston-super-Mare Association Football Club|
|Ground||The Optima Stadium, Weston-super-Mare|
|Capacity||3,500 (350 seated)|
|League||Southern League Premier Division South|
|2019–20||Southern League Premier Division South (season abandoned)|
Weston-super-Mare Association Football Club is a semi-professional football club based in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England. Nicknamed "The Seagulls", the club is affiliated to the Somerset County Football Association and currently competes in the Southern Premier South, the seventh tier of English football.
The club was founded in 1887 but disbanded twice (for the two World Wars); the current club was established in 1948. Their claim to fame is that they have never been relegated in their history, although since their promotion to the sixth tier in 2004 they have been reprieved from relegation three times (in 2007, 2008 and 2010). The team's best performance in the FA Cup came in 2003–04 when they reached the second round of the competition.
Weston-super-Mare has a modest fan base and a fierce rivalry with fellow Somerset club Clevedon Town. However, the two clubs have not played in the same league since Weston-super-Mare gained promotion to the Southern League Premier Division in 2003.
Formation, reformation, and early history
Weston-super-Mare A.F.C. was formed in 1887. The team's first record of a competitive match being against near-neighbours Clevedon Town in a "Medal Competition" organised by the Somerset FA. In 1900 they joined Division two of the Western Football League but left after two years. In 1910 they rejoined this league and played there until World War I.
Between the wars, the club played in the local Bristol and District Football League and then the Somerset County League but the club disbanded upon the outbreak of hostilities in 1939. The club reformed in 1948 and immediately rejoined the Western League, initially in Division Two. At this time the team played at the Great Ground in Locking Road, where initially there was no cover for spectators and the players had to change in a marquee. A season after the club joined rejoined the Western league they made their debut in the FA Cup in the 1949–50 season losing to Gloucester City in the preliminary qualifying round. The team remained in the Second Division until the league consolidated to a single division in 1960. During this time they moved to the Langford Road Ground. In 1976 they were placed into the Western League Premier Division upon the creation of a second tier, meaning that by their centenary in 1987 they had never been promoted or relegated in their history.
Paul Bliss era
In early 1986, Paul Bliss was approached by Weston-super-Mare and he was named as the club's chairman roughly six months later. In 1989 John Ellener was appointed manager and led the club to the Western League championship in 1991–92 and with it promotion to the Southern League Midland Division. They remained at this level, playing successively in the Midland, Southern, Midland (again) and Western Divisions due to the Southern League's regular reorganisations, until 2002–03 when they finished in second place and were promoted to the Premier Division, clinching promotion with a win away to rivals Clevedon Town. In their first Premier Division season they finished in 10th place, enough to clinch a place in the newly formed Conference South.
The club's most successful cup run came in the 2003–04 season, when the Seagulls reached the Second Round of the FA Cup. After defeating Dorchester Town, Chesham United (via a replay) and Welling United in the qualifying rounds, Weston secured a 1–0 away win against Farnborough Town to progress from the first round. They were awarded with an away tie against Third Division side, Northampton Town where they were eventually beaten 4–1. In the same season, Weston would equal their best performance in the FA Trophy, reaching the Fourth Round of the competition.
In the 2006–07 season of the conference south the club looked they finished in 20th position and looked seemingly relegated. However, Farnborough Town were relegated due to going into liquidation and Hayes and Yeading merged to form Hayes & Yeading United, leaving the Conference South one team short, earning a reprieve for Weston. The 2007–08 season ended in similar fashion for Weston. A 20th-place finish meant the club was eligible for relegation, only to be spared by the enforced demotion of Cambridge City, who failed a ground inspection. The 2009–10 campaign again saw the club finish in the relegation zone again when they finished 21st, however as before the club was saved by the FA, this time when Salisbury City were demoted twice to the Southern league.
The 2010–11 season saw the club win the Somerset Premier Cup for the first time, when they defeated Yeovil Town in the final. The club retained the cup the following season (2011–12) when they beat local rivals Clevedon Town 2–1.
In 2012–13, the club finished the season with their highest ever placing in the Conference South in 7th place with 67 points and narrowly missing out on a place in the playoffs. The 2014–15 season brought a relatively successful cup campaign as the Seagulls won three qualifying matches in the FA Cup and reached the First Round Proper of the FA Cup, where they lost 4–1 at home to Doncaster Rovers in front of a record attendance of 2,949.
After a string of poor results, Micky Bell was replaced by Director of Football, Ryan Northmore at the end of November 2014 with the Seagulls at the bottom of the table. Northmore took the team on a string of unbeaten games, taking them to promotion challenging form. Unfortunately this didn't continue and after defeating Bath City at home 4–1 in a rearranged fixture the rejuvenated Seagulls didn't win another league game, which saw them finish 17th.
The 2015-16 season saw the side struggle to gain a win throughout August in the League, winning just 1 point from 18, with that point coming at home in the Somerset Derby against Bath City.
Through September and October, the side couldn't maintain a consistent run of form going and continued to lay low in the dreaded depths of the relegation zone.
However, toward the end of November, Ryan Northmore's troops managed to pull themselves up to 2nd in the league's form table by going 10 games unbeaten in the Nation League South from 21 November until 16 February. It came to an end when Weston couldn't maintain the run, eventually losing 2–0 to Hayes & Yeading at the Woodspring.
The side momentarily lost form with losses coming against St. Albans and Wealdstone however, over the Easter weekend, the side bagged an important 3 points over Ebbsfleet thanks to Captain Dayle Grubb's impressive strikes.
This was followed by a tough defeat to relegation rivals Bath City, with Scott Wilson firing in during the 91st minute, but Bath hit back with a penalty in the 92nd minute and the winner from half-way in the 94th minute.
During the last month of the season, the Seagulls once again turned on the style and ended the season with 6 unbeaten games from 7, with Scott Wilson and Dayle Grubb netting in a 2–0 win over Maidstone to spark manic celebrations from the home fans at The Woodspring knowing that the Seagulls had avoided relegation.
With the season ending in a party atmosphere in Havant on 30 April, with fan favourite Scott Wilson sliding home at the far post to ultimately send Havant down and keep Margate down.
Weston-super-Mare AFC are currently sponsored by Il Michelangelo and Howards Motor Group.
The club revealed a new crest after the end of the 2015–16 season. Manager Ryan Northmore was sacked by the club on 18 September 2016 after a run of seven league losses and an FA Cup exit to North Leigh Northmore was replaced by former Weston-super-Mare player and Forest Green Rovers caretaker manager Scott Bartlett on 3 October 2016. Bartlett left the club at the end of the 2016–17 season after having led the Seagulls to 15th in the National League South. Former player Marc McGregor was his replacement for the new season.
In the 2018-19 season the club suffered their first relegation in the club's 137 year history finishing bottom of the National League South.
Weston-super-Mare A.F.C. play their home games at Optima Stadium on Winterstoke Road, where the club moved to in August 2004. They previously played at Woodspring Park a short distance away. The move marked the third time in the past 40 years that Weston-super-Mare have changed venues. The capacity of Optima Stadium is 3,500 in which 2,000 is covered and 350 are seated.
Woodspring Park had been built almost entirely by supporters and boasted a clubhouse costing £100,000. The Park had been the home of Weston-super-Mare since 1983 and had floodlights installed in 1986. The ground nearly had a greyhound track around the pitch, an idea which chairman Paul Bliss shot down. Weston-super-Mare sold this ground to a residential home builder when it became apparent the club was going to move the short distance to the Optima Stadium. The last home fixture was played in April 2004.
The ground for what is now Optima Stadium was formerly a sporting complex owned by Westland Aircraft known as Westland Sports Ground. It was home to cricket and football in addition to social buildings. Difficult financial times forced Westland to reconsider their place in town and put the ground up for sale. The club purchased it for £270,000 in 2001. The Stadium opened 14 August 2004, with its first match against Conference South opponents Hornchurch drawing 500 people to the game.
As of 16 October 2020
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
|Managing Director||Oli Bliss|
|Head Coach||Scott Bartlett|
|Assistant Manager||Scott Laird|
|Graduate Sports Therapist||Rebecca Cox|
|Kit Man||Malcolm Fitzgerald|
- Southern League Western Division
- Runners-up (1): 2002–03
- Western League
- Champions (1): 1991–92
- Runners-up (1): 1976–77
- Bristol and District League
- Runners-up (1): 1922–23
- Clevedon and District Charity Cup
- Winners: 1922–23
- Somerset Premier Cup
- Winners (2): 2010–11, 2011–12, 2017-18, 2018-2019
- Runners-up (1): 1990–91
- Western Senior Cup
- Winners (6): 1971–72, 1972–73, 1973–74, 1974–75, 1975–76, 1977–78
- Western League Challenge Cup
- Winners (1): 1976–77
- Western Merit Cup
- Winners (2): 1976–77, 1977–78
- Western League Subsidiary Cup
- Runners-up (1): 1959–60
- Somerset Senior Cup 
- Winners (1): 1926–27
- Bristol Charity Cup
- Winners (1): 1922–23
- Weston Charity Cup
- Winners (1): 1910–11
- Clevedon Charity Cup
- Runners-up (1): 1926–27
- Highest League Position: 7th in Conference South 2012–13
- FA Cup best performance: Second round 2003–04
- FA Trophy best performance: Fourth round 1998–99, 2003–04
- Highest Attendance: 2,949 vs Doncaster Rovers – 2014–15 (F.A. Cup)
- Players that have played/managed at least 40 games in the football league or any foreign equivalent to this level (i.e. fully professional league).
- Players with full international caps.
- Players that have played/managed within in another professional sport.
For those players that also played for the club but did not meet the criteria above:
- Managers/Coaches that have played/managed in the football league or any foreign equivalent to this level (i.e. fully professional league).
- Managers/Coaches with full international caps.
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