St Francis Rangers FC was formed in 2002, following the amalgamation of St. Francis (St Francis Hospital until 1999), and Ansty Rangers (Lindfield Rangers until 1996).
St Francis (The 'Mental Hospital' as they were first known), won the Mid Sussex League Division 2 title in 1928, then Division 1 in 1929 and completed league and Montgomery Cup doubles in 1930 and 1931. After the second World War, the team became known as St Francis Hospital and won Mid Sussex League Division 1 in 1987, the Montgomery Cup in 1986 and 1990 and the Mid Sussex Senior Charity Cup in 1975, 1976, 1978, 1992, 1994 and 1999.
St. Francis Hospital joined Division 3 of the Sussex County League in 1983/84, where they remained for two seasons before being relegated back to the Mid-Sussex League. In 1992/93 the club returned to Division 3 and achieved its best ever placing when finishing 3rd in 1998/99. In 1999/2000 although still playing at the same Hospital site, they dropped the 'Hospital' to become St Francis. Lindfield Rangers joined Division 3 in 1991/92 after 8 very successful seasons climbing the Mid Sussex League Divisions. Their last ever match before merging with Ansty to form Ansty Rangers was the Mid Sussex Senior Cup Final where they ran out 2-1 winners over County 3 rivals Hurstpierpoint.
Lindfield Rangers had their best season in County 3 in 1994/95 finishing 4th. The merger with Ansty took place at the start of the 1996/97 and the highest ever position attained by Ansty Rangers was 3rd in 1999/00 under the guidance of Kevin Keehan. David Richardson and Peter Fisk who set Lindfield Rangers up back in the early 80’s are still active in the newly formed St Francis Rangers.
At an EGM held between both clubs in May 2002 the new club was formed with an equal split of Committee Members from both clubs forming the new Club Committee. Dudley Christensen (Ansty Rangers) and Micky Jewell were offered the joint 1st Team Managers job. The clubs first ever match was a league match at home to Midhurst & Easebourne which unfortunately Rangers lost 2-3. Lee Mansell score the first ever league goal for the club and the 2nd was netted by Danny Bryan, a future Rangers Manager. The team that day were Andy Foulkes, Paul Richardson, Lee Christensen, Brian Newton, Dom Worthington, Scott Moran, Peter Aylett, Roy Agyei, Lee Mansell, Danny Bryan, Andy Wilson. Subs: Lee Smith, Nolan Mortimer and Lee Cook.
Lee Mansell - Scored the first ever goal for the club and played in the match at Pagham
which saw Rangers gain Promotion to Sussex County League Division 1
The joint Manager situation didn't last long and Micky Jewell was put in sole charge. After just 2 seasons in Sussex County League Division 3, St Francis Rangers won promotion to senior football, finishing as runners-up to champions Crowborough Athletic (2003/4).
The following season saw Rangers narrowly miss out on promotion to County 1 by 4 points. A creditable 4th place finish was accomplished in our first season in Senior football. The 2nd XI also had a good season and finished 5th in Reserve East. This season also saw the introduction of a youth section for the club with 3 teams in the Mid Sussex Youth League. Half way through the season, Micky Jewell resigned from his position as 1st Team Manager and rather than look outside for a new manager, the committee promoted the St Francis playing legend Danny Bryan from his position as Assistant 1st Team Manager. At this stage Rangers were very fortunate to have one of the best young managers in County Football and his success in the position was outstanding.
Danny Bryan Rangers 1st Team Manager 2004 to 2010
The 2005/6 season saw the 1st XI finish 3rd in Division 2 and gain promotion to Sussex County League Division 1. It was also notable for an amazing Sussex Senior Cup match away to Crawley Town. Rangers eventually lost 2-1 but did not disgrace themselves in front of a 500+ crowd.
Dan O'Farrell gets a shot in on the Crawley Town goal
However, the club failed to deliver the required ground grading (improvements) by the deadline date and therefore started life in 2006/7 still in Division 2. This was a bitter blow to the club as we were well ahead of our 5 year plan. Our Reserves had their best ever season and finished 3rd in Reserve West just missing out on Promotion to the Reserve Premier League.
Spring 2006 - The Improvements were happening but not quickly enough!
Danny Bryan and a large number of the players remained loyal to the club and as the 2006/7 campaign started there would be no such issues with ground grading at the end of the season. After a poor run of results, Rangers went on a 10 match unbeaten run to elevate them into 2nd place entering the last day of the season. With 3 clubs still in the running for 2nd and 3rd spot an away trip to the Division 2 Champions Pagham was not an ideal fixture! On 94 minutes with the score 0-0 Rangers were currently sitting in 4th place with only a win being enough to secure Runnners Up and promotion. As the clock moved into the 5th minute of stopage time Rangers ploughed forward. The ball found its way to top goalscorer Sam Jeremiah and he cut inside the full back and unleashed a fierce shot which ended up in the top corner 0-1. The team, management and supporters went mad.
What a Day! Everyone goes mad as Sam Jeremiah scores in the 95th minute away at Pagham
Sam Jeremiah will always be a Rangers Legend
On the 14th May 2007 the Sussex County Football League granted Rangers the appropriate ground grading to compete in Sussex County League Division 1. A huge thank you goes to all the people behind the scenes who got the floodlights installed. Special mentions go to David Richardson, John Goss, Brian Shergold, Brian Pate, Gary Lomas, Dave Palfrey, Victor Periera and Mark Thompson.
This time there is no failing the ground grading!! Let there be light!
The 2007/8 season was certainly one to remember. For the first time in the clubs short history we were playing in Sussex County League Division 1. The opening day saw Sam Jeremiah continue where he left off scoring a hat-trick in a 3-1 win away at Selsey. After a long hard season and some very memorable matches, which included a Sussex Senior Cup tie at soon to be promoted Lewes, we finished a creditable 14th. The Reserves under the guidance of Roy Staughton went on to win the Reserve Section East title and therefore gained promotion to the Sussex County League Reserve Section Premier Division. The 2007/8 Season was also notable for the introduction of a Sussex County Under 18's side headed up by Laurie Cannon. They too enjoyed a fantastic first season and it was hugely rewarding to see some of the boys breaking through into Senior Football.
After securing County 1 status again at the end of the 2008/9 with our highest ever finish (11 from 20), Danny Bryan and his Management Team decided to stand down. Roy Staughton was promoted from Reserve Team Manager and led the the team during the 2009/10 season to the magical 40 points and Division 1 status for 2009/10. The Reserves also had a successful season finishing 4th in the Reserve Premier League.
Roy Staughton 1st Team Manager 2009 to 2010
The 2010/11 season saw a decline in Rangers fortunes and after a lengthy period of bad results, Roy Staughton left his position of 1st Team Manager. After reviewing and interviewing numerous candidates the 1st Team Managers job was offered to Kieron Collins. Kieron at the time was in charge of the Whitehawk U21's and this would be his first job in Senior Football. Although it appeared to be a risk, Rangers were prepared to offer Kieron and his assistant Lee Saunders the chance to develop their managerial career alongside the clubs ambition to offer young players a chance in Senior Football. With the new ground grading rules about to be upheld by the County FA, Rangers financial efforts off the park were vindicated when both the 1st Team and Reserve Team finished in a relegation place but were given stay of execution due to the club receiving the necessary ground grading.
Kieron Collins - 1st Team Manager 2010-2012
2011/12 saw Ian Clewer join the club as Reserve Team Manager. With an improved squad of players expectations were high and rose even higher with a fantastic opening day with at Arundel. The season unfortunately never panned out as hoped and the 1st team only manage one other league victory which came on the last day of the season. There were plenty of draws which could easily have been wins but it was not to be and Rangers finished once again the relegation zone. Once again Rangers found themselves with a stay of execution from relegation when the the Sussex County FA chose to increase the league from 20 teams to 22.
The 2012/13 campaign saw Jerry Gurr return to the club as Physio and Youth Team Manager, Dan Bryan also returned to help Jerry with the youth team. The 1st team started off in the same vein as the previous season, 6 defeats before the opening point was secured away at high flying Peacehaven which appeared to spark belief into the team as they went on a decent run picking up valuable points and moving comfortably away from the relegation zone by the end of October. Ex Brighton player Geoff Pitcher also returned to the club in a playing capacity along with his 16 year old son Charlie and on 15th September they both scored in a memorable 2-0 victory against Ashford Utd in the FA Vase.
Geoff & Charlie Pitcher both in action for Rangers
During October Kieron Collins resigned from his position as 1st Team Manager stating his position was untenable, Lee Saunders also resigned from his position as Assistant Manager. The club acted swiftly and appointed Geoff Pitcher as the new 1st Team Manager and Glenn Chalker as his Assistant.
Geoff Pitcher - 1st Team Manager 2012-