PENZANCE Association Football Club has enjoyed a very long and proud history, being formed at the end of March, 1888.
At a meeting of 'Penzance Football Club', held in the town, it was announced that it was to become an Association Football Club by the start of the new season. This was the same year as the famous 12 of Accrington Stanley, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Derby County, Everton, Notts County, Preston North End, Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers founded the Football League, and one year later the Magpies became founder members of the Cornwall County Football Association.
Although there had been soccer teams in Penzance many years before that historic year of 1888, they had not featured the word 'Association'.
Penzance's first opponents in that first season of organised association football were drawn from the employees of the Eastern Telegraph Company, Porthcurno and a little farther afield at Truro.
By the end of the 19th century, Penzance had already made their mark on the county's football scene, this due to their unrivalled exploits in the Cornwall Senior Cup competition, that was first played for in the 1892/93 season. The Magpies became the first winners of the trophy, defeating Launceston 5-0 at Liskeard. They repeated that success in 1896, 1898, 1899, 1904, 1908, 1961, 1973 and most recently in 1981.
In 1948, Penzance celebrated a famous double, winning the Durning Lawrence Cornwall Charity Cup as well as the Cornwall Senior Cup. This feat was almost achieved again the following season, the Charity Cup was retained but they lost in the final of the Senior Cup, 2-0 to St Austell in front of what is believed to be a record crowd of 15,000.
Penzance's present home, the picturesque Penlee Park, is situated close to the seafront, and when opened by Sir Stanley Rous in August, 1952, it was heralded as one of the best football venues in the Westcountry.
The first visitors to Penlee Park were Luton Town, who beat the Magpies by ten goals to nil in a friendly. Penzance were founder members of the South Western League in 1951 and have remained in the league for 50 consecutive seasons since then, winning it on three occasions, in 1955/56, 1956/57 and 1974/75.
Several years later, a Mr Harry Blight who at the time was a member of the Penzance AFC committee, as well as being Penzance Borough's Council surveyor, designed the now iconic stand which was later named after Jimmy Dann in tribute to the Dann families long involvement with the club. Harry Blight went on to become the club's President.
The club has been fortunate to welcome several illustrious visitors to the town in years gone by, including West Ham, Stoke City, Crystal Palace, Leicester City, AFC Bournemouth, Brentford, Corninthian Casuals, Wimbledon, Walthamstow Avenue, Plymouth Argyle, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool - and, in an unforgettable Centenary season they enjoyed a unique distinction for a non-league club, playing host to the Champions of England (Liverpool) and Scotland (Glasgow Celtic) in 1988/89.
Penzance AFC - Interesting Facts
The main foursome responsible for the introduction of organised soccer in Penzance were A. A. 'Toff' Amor, who became the first life member of the club; W. B. Walton, G. E. Adson and T. Peak.
The original clubs of the Cornwall County Football Association were: Penzance, Porthcurno, Truro, Probus School, Torpoint, Liskeard, Dunheved College and Millbrook.
Penzance, it is believed, were the first Cornish club to appoint a player-manager. It was early in the 1950's when Charlie Paynter, manager of West Ham United, told the club that he was releasing defender Steve Forde on a free transfer.
The Magpies decided Forde was their man to become their player-manager and he was employed in that capacity. The Penzance commitment was to provide Forde with accommodation, a job and the sum of £5 a week for coaching and training.
During April, 1954, Penzance AFC staged an all Football League game between West Ham United and Swansea Town. In the Swansea line-up were four Welsh internationals: Ivor Alchurch, Terry Medwin and Cliff Jones, who went on to play for Spurs, and Charles at centre-half. More than 7,000 turned out to watch the game.
Penzance's former grounds prior to moving to Penlee Park in 1952 were at Trereife Field, Sona Merg and St Clare.
Penzance were the first ever winners of the Cornwall Senior Cup, when they beat Launceston 5-0 at Liskeard in 1893.
The Magpies were founder members of the South Western League in 1951/52 and this is their 52nd consecutive season competing in the league.
Penzance's first ever match in the South Western League was versus Plymouth Argyle Reserves in 1951/52. Argyle won 1-0.
The Magpies' first South Western League Goal was scored by Lewis Richards, a former West Ham apprentice, in 1951/52.
Arguably the most successful decade in the history of the club was the 1960's, a decade in which the 'Black & White' Club boasted membership in excess of 3,000 and the club announced the scrapping of its former amateur policy by appointing a full-time player-manager in former Arsenal, Cardiff City, Brighton and Torquay winger Mike Tiddy.
Penzance won their first SWL championship in 1956-57, a year in which Stoke City played the Magpies in a pre-season friendly.
The Dann family is part and parcel of Penzance AFC and over the years the name has been to the fore in many a match programme or terrace conversation!
Nat Dann, a former Penzance player once stated that the Dann's were the only family in over 100 years of the club who have produced two consecutive generations of brothers who have played simultaneously for the first team, Nat and Terry Dann in the mid 1950's and Nat's sons Mike and Neil in the early 1980's.
Also according to Nat, he was the first player to break a leg at Penlee Park, and still has the 45 stitch marks to prove it!
Then of course, there is the family connection as far as the club's committee is concerned, Nat Dann in the 1960's and 70's and the famous figure of Jimmy Dann, the ex Club President, who can still be heard in the stand on matchday yelling at the players and shouting 'Come on Penzance!!!'
Professional Clubs who have played against Penzance AFC
Leicester City 1955, 1996, 1997
Liverpool 1988, 1989, 1992
Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) 1992
Sheffield Wednesday 1992
Burnley 1948, 1973
Crystal Palace 1971
Wycombe Wanderers 1957
Stoke City 1955
West Ham 1952, 1954
Luton Town 1952 (Penlee Park Ground Opening)
Swansea City 1952
Plymouth Argyle Numerous times
Torquay United Numerous times
Exeter City 1970’s
Yeovil Town 2011
Swindon Town 2001
Clapton 1957 (5 times Amateur Cup winners)
Walthamstow Avenue 1954 (Famous amateur side)
Corinthian Casuals 1950’s (Another famous amateur side)
Groundworks being carried out at Penlee Park in 1950-51, the new and current home of Penzance AFC. And a photo of the very first game vs Luton Town.
Jimmy Dann (top row, second from the left). 'COME ON PENZANCE!!'
A short but rare video of the building of the Main Stand at Penlee Park, and a photo of how it is recognised today. The Jimmy Dann Stand.
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