Leiston FC were first affiliated with the Suffolk County FA in 1880, undoubtedly this club was closely associated with the Richard Garrett Engineering Works at that time, and in the 1980’s received the “Illuminated Address” from the Football Association, to celebrate the club’s centenary.
Over the years, Leiston FC has been blessed with many able and willing Chairmen, Secretaries and committee members and the club has proud itself on its family attitudes. Leiston FC has also been very fortunate over the years to have players of note in their ranks and include many links with Ipswich Town including Ted Phillips and Jackie Warne who both played for Ipswich Town.
In the early days, games were played on the old Recreation Ground adjacent to Gas Hill (now known as Park Hill), players would change at either the White Horse Hotel or at the Works Hall. The home ground was changed to the LWAA (Leiston Works Athletic Association) when Garretts’ bought the ground in Victory Road in the early 1920’s and has remained the home ground for Leiston FC to this day. The ground name was changed in the 1980’s to LTAA (Leiston Town Athletic Association).
During the Second World War the King’s Regiment was stationed at Leiston, which included most of the players of Liverpool FC and they played some of their matches on the LTAA ground.
Leiston FC were “full members” of the Football Association from the early 1950’s until approximately 1982 (the only other Suffolk teams to be full members at that time were Ipswich Town and Lowestoft Town). During this period Leiston were accepted and played in the FA Cup, FA Amateur Cup and later the FA Vase. Leiston FC Youth team was the first club in Suffolk to enter the FA Youth Challenge Cup, playing Arsenal FC Youths at Highbury in 1954.
The club spent many years in the Suffolk & Ipswich League and only narrowly avoided a drop to Division Two in the late 1980’s. Slowly the club climbed its way back and after narrowly missing out on the Senior Division title in 1986 they achieved their long term goal of progression to the Eastern Counties set up in 2001 finishing third and the necessary promotion placing. Despite their prestigious history, Leiston FC has not had the best of fortune with regards to silverware until recently.
Six times they have been losing finalists in the Suffolk Senior Cup (1892, 1897, 1904, 1949, 1966 and 1986) and have also been losing finalists in three Suffolk Premier Cup Finals at Portman Road 2006, 2007 & 2008. However, in the Suffolk Junior Cup fortunes have faired more favourably. Four finals and three wins, in 1895, 1983 and 1984, with 1984 also seeing the club lift the SIL Division One trophy as well. More recently, and in their first Jewson League season, Leiston lifted the Division One trophy in 2002. The club also lifted the prestigious East Anglian Cup after a penalty shoot out over Brentwood Town in May 2008 and of course, the club achieved back to back titles winning the Ridgeons Premier Division in 2011 and the Ryman League Division One North in 2012. Efforts on and off the field in the past two seasons has also seen the club win prestigious awards for Respect and Fair Play from the Ryman League and the club is extremely proud to collect such achievements.
Season 2008/2009 will be long remembered in the history of Leiston FC as we became only one of three sides to reach the First Round proper of the FA Cup in its history after starting in the Extra Preliminary Round. Memorable wins at higher ranked Carshalton Athletic and Conference Premier Lewes in a run that lasted nine games and ended in a replay defeat at Conference North Fleetwood Town in front of 2000 fans after 1250 had watched the First Round goal less draw at Victory Road. In our tenth season in the Eastern Counties League we gained promotion to the Ryman League after receiving the required Grade E Grading from the FA. The inaugural Ryman League provided unexpected success at the first attempt, securing the title with some fantastic performances including a 26 game unbeaten run. Further ground improvements have brought a Grade C Grading from the FA as the club has enjoyed a first ever season at step three in the Ryman Premier Division finishing in a very creditable twelfth place .
Currently Leiston FC has some of the best Non League facilities in Suffolk and comments are often made about these excellent facilities. The efforts of Chairman Andy Crisp and Vice Chairman Peter Mayhew have been the main factor behind the changes and the meteoric rise of the club. The recent appointment of Steve Pitt as First Team Manager and the return of Head Coach Steve Ball bolsters further development within the club and continuation of development at Victory Road is envisaged.