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AS MELKSHAM Town Football Club prepare to play their last game on their Conigre pitch after 95 years, a brief Conigre history has been provided by Dave Phillips. A more detailed history is expected to be featured in the match day programme on Saturday.
The Conigre is the third home to Melksham Town F.C. When it was first formed in 1876 the club played at Challymead Common, before moving to The Old Bear Field (now the site of Sainsbury’s) in 1883 where it stayed until the move to The Conigre in 1920.
The Conigre was part of the Melksham House estate which was purchased by The Avon Rubber Company in 1920. The house was turned into a social club for company employees and the grounds, including The Conigre were to be used for sporting activities. The only condition imposed on the football club for the use of The Conigre was that it be renamed Melksham & Avon Utd F.C.
In 1926/27 the club reverted back to Melksham Town. Over the next 47 years in the Wiltshire League, the club finished runners-up on several occasions only winning the League again in 1993/94, a season spent back in County football after relegation from the Western League.
For the 1974/75 season the club entered the Western League. Up to and including the game against Bridport on 28th February 2015, Town have played 768 Western League games at The Conigre, winning 315 games, drawing 195 and losing 258. Goals scored have been 1,252 and goals conceded 1,113. The record attendance for a Western League game at The Conigre is 710 V Chippenham Town on 27th December 1999. The record Western League win at the ground is 9-1 against Brixham Utd in 1977, whilst the record defeat is 10-0 versus Bideford in 2008.
During the first season at The Conigre the Avon Rubber Company spent £1,000 on providing a stand and fencing around the ground. In the late 1960s The Conigre as we know it today took shape with the erection of the covering standing enclosures on two sides. The clubhouse followed in 1976 and then the erection of floodlights in 1986. In the early 1990s the old wooden stands had to be dismantled, a legacy of Health & Safety measures following the Bradford fire in 1985. A new stand was erected in 1994.
Over the past 95 years The Conigre has staged many ties in various Cup competitions. The first of 73 FA Cup ties took place on 10th September 1921 when Melksham and Avon Utd drew 1-1 with Frome Town. Of the 73 games, 27 have been won, 11 drawn and 35 lost. Goals scored 122, goals conceded 168. The record attendance for a FA Cup game at The Conigre is 2,821 V Trowbridge Town on 19th October 1957. Town’s record win on the ground in the Fa Cup is 7-0 V Ilminster Town on 18th September 1980 and the record defeat is 8-1 V Worcester City on 14th September 1991.
The first FA Amateur Cup game was a 2-1 loss to Westbury Utd in 1921. The last game was a 6-0 loss V Devizes Town in 1972.
In 1974/75 Town entered the FA Vase which replaced the FA Amateur Cup. The first game was a 4-0 win against Swindon Victoria in 1974. A total of 42 FA Vase games have been played at The Conigre since then, resulting in 25 wins, 2 draws and 15 defeats.
From 1982/83 to 1987/88 The Conigre saw games in the FA Trophy, the first being in 1982, a 2-1 win against Andover Town. A total of 9 FA Trophy games were staged with 5 wins, 1 draw and 3 defeats.
Between 1979/80 and 2001/02 the club participated in the Wiltshire Premier Shield with 21 games being at The Conigre resulting in 9 wins, 3 draws and 9 defeats.
Over the years The Conigre has been the venue for many County matches, County Cup finals/semi-finals as well as other representative games.
So as can be seen, The Conigre has had a long and rich history in its time as the football club’s home draws to a close. It will always remain in the hearts of all those who have had an association with it.