Hythe Town Football Club was formed in August 1910 although football in Hythe can be traced back into the previous century. The club joined the Folkestone and District Leagues and after the First World War had some success, four championships and only once outside the top three in fourteen seasons. They moved up into the Kent Amateur League in 1936 and were promoted into Division One before the Second World War intervened. The 50s and 60s saw little league success but that changed in the early 70s with three successive league titles and a Kent Junior Cup win. Hythe were granted senior status and elected into the Kent League in 1977, playing at the newly acquired Reachfields, an old army sports ground on the edge of the town’s firing ranges. The club were runners-up in the Kent League on three occasions but it was not until property developer Tony Walton took over Hythe Town in February 1988 that things really started to happen.
That summer saw the ground developed to Southern League standard with seats and a social club, with viewing balconies, above new dressing rooms. Standing cover extended behind one goal and for the whole of the far side, and floodlights were installed. The ground capacity still remains at 3,000 with the majority under cover. The chairman proved to be a high-profile character who attracted much media attention with his high spending on the ground and team. Town won the 1988-9 Kent League title by 14 points and set a league record of 133 goals. The club gained promotion to the Southern League.
The next season saw another promotion as the main aim, but the club’s great run to the FA Vase semi-finals handicapped their league ambitions, with four games a week at times, and a sixth place finish. Hythe lost out to the eventual Vase winners Yeading, winning the home leg 3-2 in front of the club’s record attendance of 2,147, but cruelly losing the second leg 2-0 with the crucial goal coming from a big deflection. They did win the Eastern Professional Floodlight Cup at their first attempt.
The following season was very similar, topping the table in November but runs in four cups again caused fixture congestion and a final placing of eighth. Hythe lost out to Trowbridge Town in a Vase quarter-final second replay, lost to Chelmsford City over two legs in the Southern League Cup final, but won the Kent Senior Trophy and retained the Eastern Professional Floodlight Cup. The club played 40 league games and 33 cup ties.
In 1991/2 Hythe again topped the table in the early months but the money was beginning to run out. With little cup success, the exit from the Vase at Evesham United in February saw many of the team sold and their replacements could only finish thirteenth. The club did reach the final of the Kent Senior Cup, losing in extra-time to Bromley at Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium. That match proved to be Walton’s last game, and he put the club into liquidation soon after.
Supporters rallied round and entered a scratch side, as Hythe United, into the following season’s Kent County League and negotiated continued use of Reachfields Stadium. After three seasons the club regained senior status and in 1995 were elected back into the Kent League but the club would struggle for a number of seasons in the wrong half of the table. In 2001 Hythe dropped the “United” suffix, reverting to “Town” and in November 2002 appointed Paul Fisk as Manager. This proved a turning point and Hythe became a top six club. There was one exception, in 2005/6, when again the Vase was a distraction, winning five ties before going out to Winchester City in the fourth round, in front of 441 spectators at Reachfields.
In season 2007/8 Hythe forced themselves to the top of the table in March and were considered to be favourites for the title. Disappointment was acute therefore when form was lost in the final weeks and the side not only slipped to fourth place, but also lost in the final of the League Cup. The highlight was a fantastic FA Cup win over Andy Hessenthaler’s Dover Athletic before a crowd of 1,109 at Reachfields, and achieving the important Ryman League ground grading.
The club achieved runners-up spot the following season and then Scott Porter, who had been Paul Fisk’s assistant manager, took over as manager for the 2009/10 season with Clive Cook as his assistant. There were many good results but too many dropped points saw Hythe finish in third position. Town also progressed through three rounds of the FA Cup to be drawn against the full-time professionals of Woking who were relieved to escape with a replay after an exciting 2-2 draw at Reachfields. The replay was another tight match until the last few minutes when Woking scored three times to go through 5-1.
The 2010/11 season was possibly the most successful in the history of the club, with Scott Porter leading the side to the Kent League Championship for the first time in over twenty years, and with it promotion to the Ryman League. After a 22-match unbeaten run in the new-year, dropped points over Easter took the championship to the wire and the league was clinched in dramatic style on the last day of the season through a last-minute equaliser at Tunbridge Wells.
This amazing achievement was coupled with the club’s best ever F.A. Cup run, and the best for any Kent League side in over 50 years. Hythe negotiated their way through six rounds, including memorable wins over higher league opposition at Concord Rangers of the Ryman Premier and at home to Staines Town of the Blue Square Bet South. The prize was an away draw in the First Round Proper to League Two side Hereford United. It was one round too far on the pitch, the hosts comfortably winning 5-1 with Gary Mickelborough getting the Hythe goal.
During the 2011/2 season the club maintained their progress and finished in eighth place in Ryman Division One South. Hythe were also able to get their hands on some silverware as wins over Ebbsfleet United and Dover Athletic were followed by a single goal victory in the final at Dartford to win the Kent Senior Cup. The following season ended with a 17-match unbeaten run and a fourth place finish. This brought about the club’s first play-off appearance, unfortunately losing at Faversham Town in the semi-final.
After another eighth place finish Scott Porter and Clive Cook left the club at the end of 2013/4 and Tim Dixon was appointed as manager in May 2014. It was a disappointing season that saw the club finish in 16th position and after a poor start to 2015-6 the club decided to part company with Dixon in September. Clive Cook returned to take over, this time as manager and led a remarkable turnaround from 22nd place to fourth as the club qualified for the Ryman South play-offs for a second time. Defeat followed at Worthing in the semi-final. The hopes of a promotion in 2016-2017 were dashed as Hythe finished in seventh place. The season was notable for the departure of Alfie May who moved to Doncaster Rovers in January 2017.
The club now looks forward to 2017-2018 with optimism of challenging for promotion.
Ground details - Capacity 3,000 (2,400 under cover) - Record attendance: 2,147 (March 1990, versus Yeading, F.A. Vase semi-final)
Kent League Champions – 1988/89, 2010/11
Kent League Runners-Up – 1978/79, 1982/ 83, 1984/ 85, 2008/09
Kent League Cup Runners-Up – 1987/88, 2007/08, 2010/11
Southern League Cup Runners-Up – 1990/91
Kent Senior Cup Winners - 2011/12
Kent Senior Cup Runners-Up – 1991/92
Kent Senior Trophy Winners – 1990/91
Kent Senior Trophy Runners-Up – 2003/04
Eastern Professional Cup Winners - 1989/90, 1990/91
F.A. Cup - First Round Proper - 2010/11
F.A. Vase - Semi-final - 1989/90
Ryman League Division One South Play-Offs – 2012/13, 2015/16