Club History

Club History

Cray Valley (PM) FC - Club History 1919-2023

Records held by Kent FA show that Cray Valley Paper Mills FC (CVPM) was founded in 1919 - the team originally playing in green and white, matching the livery of the paper mills vehicles and company banner - and was supported by the Nash family who owned the paper mills until its closure in 1981

Playing in the newly formed Sidcup and Kent League Division 2, the Club’s first match was a 1-0 victory against Hamilton House FC on September 20th 1919, followed by a 7-0 victory in our first away match at Sidcup Invicta. CVPM went on to win the division in their first season - gaining promotion to the Bromley & District League Division 1. The following season they were again champions - also winning the Kent County Junior Cup, defeating Sittingbourne Paper Mills 3-0 in the Final. Their next success came as members of the Kent Amateur League Western Section in 1932/33 - winning the Divisional title that season before finishing runners-up in 1936/37.

Records between the late-fifties and the early-seventies are scarce, until 1975 when CVPM joined the South London Alliance League, winning Division 1 in 1979/80 and the Premier Division in 1980/81 - their final season playing at the sports ground of the mills at St Pauls Cray in Kent. Following a “nomadic existence” CVPM arrived at their present home at Badgers Sports Ground in Middle Park Avenue, Eltham for the season 1998/99, when “Paper Mills” was abbreviated to “(PM)” in the Club’s name. The Club continued to enjoy success in the South London Alliance - winning Division 1 in 1983/84 and finishing as runners-up in the Premier Division in 1988/89 - before joining the Spartan League, gaining promotion to Division 1 in 1990/91 by finishing as runners up, only missing out on the title on goal difference. They moved to the re-structured Spartan Midland League in 1997/98, - finishing as runners up in their first season – and became founder members of the London Intermediate League – reaching the Final of the League Cup in 1998/99 – before, under the management of Mark Edwards, being elected to Division One of the Kent County League in 2001/02.

During Edwards’ reign, CVPM enjoyed regular success – winning Division 1 West in 2002/03 before winning the Premier Division by 11 points in 2004/05. They were also victorious in the London Intermediate Cup in 2003, 2004, 2010 and 2011. Willie O’Sullivan became manager in season 2009/10, before leaving in January of the following season 2010/11, at the end of which the Club effectively gained two “promotions”– moving from the “Step 7” Kent County League to the “Step 5” Kent League. With Steve Chapman having taken over at the helm, their first season at that level saw them finish in a highly creditable 11th position - also reaching the semi-final of the Kent Senior Trophy. The following two seasons saw further progress, with 8th and 7th placed finishes, while reaching the semi-final of the London Senior Cup - narrowly losing to eventual winners AFC Wimbledon.

2012/13 saw The Millers make their debut in the FA Vase, before their first appearance in the FA Cup the following season - beating Lancing away in a replay, before losing to Redhill in the Preliminary round. After Paul Gross took over from Chapman for the 2014/15 season, CVPM finished 7th in the newly named Southern Counties East Football League (SCEFL) - a late season slump resulting in a disappointing 10th place finish the following season. James Collins then took over the reins, enjoying considerable success on the field. The 2016/17 campaign saw The Millers finish in a very creditable 4th place in the league, and reach the Final of the Kent Senior Trophy - losing 2-1 to League Champions Ashford Town. They also became the lowest ranked team ever to win the London Senior Cup when, on a memorable night at Dulwich Hamlet, The Millers beat Ryman Premier Division opponents Metropolitan Police 2-1. It was also a successful season for the Club’s youngsters - the Reserves under Mark Dobson winning the Suburban League South Division and narrowly missing out on doing the double, losing to Metropolitan Police Reserves in the League Cup Final.

Early in the 2017/18 campaign Kevin Watson was appointed manager. A very successful second half of the season saw The Millers finish in 6th place, while again reaching the final of the London Senior Cup – on this occasion being beaten by Balham. The Club’s centenary season 2018/19 saw The Millers again scale new heights – winning the SCEFL title by a single point, accruing 91 points from 38 matches while scoring 108 goals with a goal difference of +72, and securing promotion to the Isthmian League. CVPM also made their first appearance at Wembley – Combined Counties League side Chertsey Town beating them 3-1 after extra time in the FA Vase Final in front of a crowd of 42,962. When the Club’s first season in the Isthmian League South East Division (Step 4) came to a premature end due to the Covid-19 outbreak, The Millers were placed in 3rd position looking set to challenge for further promotion. While the 2020/21 season was also curtailed in December 2020 due to Covid-19, there was still time for The Millers to embark on a record breaking run in the FA Cup. Progress to the First Round Proper will live long in the memory – in particular a famous 3-2 victory at National League side Maidenhead United in the Fourth Round Qualifying. Season 2021/22 finally saw a full season completed at step 4. An excellent first half of the season unfortunately lost momentum but The Millers still managed to achieve their highest ever finish in 5th place to secure a play off spot - a 1-0 defeat in the semi final at Ashford United ended any promotion hopes.

Following Kevin Watson's departure in November 2022, his assistant Tommy Osborne took over the reigns and continued to gain plaudits for a pleasing on the eye passing game but narrowly missed out on a play off spot, finishing in 6th place. A new era now beckons with a complete managerial change in preparation for the coming 2023/24 season with the appointment of Steve McKimm and Barry Moore.

The club continues to operate a thriving youth section which saw both its Isthmian Youth U18's and Kent Youth league U16's crowned champions of their respective divisions under their managers Graham Knight and Steve Axam.

Updated June 2023


Club History updated June 2023