A pivotal time in the long history of Ide Hill FC was the year 2009. A defining time for the club. Like so many others, then and now, Ide Hill was struggling for numbers and sponsorship. Club Chairman Wally Paxton, who once was the village policemen recalls how close Ide Hill was to closure.
There was no youth football development structure, very few locals played for the two adult teams and the club had lost its relationship with the residents of the village. The changing facilities were poor, and the clubhouse was served a dilapidation order. Could it get any worse?
It was time for radical thought and fresh ideas. To turn the club back into what it once was. A thriving part of village life. A club run for, and organised around, the benefits it could bring to Ide Hill.
The club formed in the 1923-24 season and its home has always been the recreation pitch at Ide Hill. It is widely rumoured that football was first played there in 1901 when a member of the local Boakes family, who played for Holmesdale FC, brought along a few friends and they played a friendly game. Football and Ide Hill village have been companions for a very long time.
So, what happened? The only way to survive was a total re-organisation of the club. To bring in more members and lay down plans to boost the club for future generations to enjoy. Both for the adult teams and a newly formed youth section, offering local kids the chance to enjoy playing supervised football. To Improve the club facilities, boost village life and make everyone associated with Ide Hill FC proud of it again. And everyone stepped in to help.
With major grants provided by Sport England and the Football Foundation the old clubhouse was demolished and replaced with modern facilities. An impressive new building that sits proudly atop the recreation ground with its stunning views and outlook. Like St Mary’s the village church, the football pitch is the highest in the county.
But all this took time, the commitment of several hard-working individuals and the support of the Parish Council. After five years of planning and fundraising, in 2011 the youth section opened with an under-16 team, followed by an under-7 side who pleasingly have grown into their under-14 squad.
In 2014 the new clubhouse opened with first-class changing facilities in keeping with the level of football they play. The club badge was redesigned, and a new motto added ‘Ludo est ut Lucror’, meaning ‘to play is winning’. Winning titles and trophies are a great boost to the club but so is playing football in the right way and spirit.
Club Secretary Keith McGinn was instrumental in securing funding for the new clubhouse. He said, “We have come a long way in a few short years and now Ide Hill FC is a chartered standard club, an FA accreditation scheme for grassroots football. Our adult team competes in Division One-West in the Kent County Football league. Our adult reserve side plays in Division Three of the Sevenoaks and District Football League. Pleased to say both are enjoying success this season.”
The Club has a thriving youth section with nearly 100 members playing in various age groups from under-6 (Kickers) to the under-14’s who all compete in the Crowborough and District League.
According to Clare Dance the Youth Secretary, “Each year the club continues to introduce one new age group and recruits youngsters from within the village school and surrounding areas. Training, kit and facilities are provided and we organise matches for them. It is great to see the club facilities put to such great use and enjoyed by so many”.
In recent years the village has benefitted from the opening of the newly built Ide Hill Community Shop, and the Cock Inn has been superbly revamped offering a fine range of beers and food.
Throughout this time Ide Hill FC has played its part and is now one of the largest, well-structured clubs in the area and its aims and objectives remain the same. To be at the heart of village life and provide the opportunity for adults and children of all ages to enjoy playing football in their local community.