THIS month marks the 75th anniversary of one of Harrow's oldest football clubs. In 1933, 34 years after Wealdstone FC was formed and just months before Harrow Borough, Rayners Lane FC was conceived. Reporter DAVID BAKER speaks to those behind the scenes of the club to find out more about its history and what the future holds.
SIX years before the onset of the Second World War, the newly formed Rayners Lane FC took over The Tithe Farm Social Club, Rayners Lane.
This week the club celebrated its 75th birthday but when it had first entered the Harrow, Wembley and District League its long-term future was far from assured.
Tony Pratt, club secretary, has been helping out at the club since 1969 after a neighbour convinced him to join the backroom staff.
He said: "Although everything was uncertain during the time the club was established, the team continued to play throughout the war.
"Of course it was harder to get play-ers together but there were matches regularly when soldiers were on leave or at any other opportunity really.
"Rayners Lane actually experienced a good deal of success in that time so not even a war could stop our lot from playing."
In the club's first 12 years it won four league titles, two cup competitions and a junior cup, though sadly this success has been hard to replicate in recent years.
Last season, the club finished fifth from bottom in the Hellenic Football League Division 1. The club has now been 11 years without a league triumph.
But the club remains far from downbeat.
President of the club Tom Lynn, who has been helping at the club since his son started playing 35 years ago, said: "At the beginning of last season it was difficult because our manager left and took 10 players with him.
"But given that unusual start we picked up and we are confident about the future and look forward to more success.
"Having been at the club for 35 years I have seen a lot of success here. It has always been the sort of club that people dedicate a lot of time to.
"Our longest serving player, Danny Mills, played 516 games for us, which is very impressive for this level and people find it hard to get away from here.
"We have a long tradition of being a very welcoming club and we will never be the sort of club where players run around for 90 minutes, get in the shower and go home. It's a very close-knit community."
Like many non-league clubs raising the money to keep the club going has long been an issue.
Mr Pratt said: "We are optimistic about the future and despite the difficult climate for any local team to survive in we are confident we can build on what we have. With sides like this it is obviously hard to keep them afloat and they rely
To celebrate its birthday, the club gathered for its timed-honoured tradition of the presentation evening.
It has been holding the evening for the past 30 years but on this occasion the club drafted in footballing legend Steve Perryman to compere the night's entertainment.
He presented the team awards and spoke about his upbringing in the area and footballing career.
Comedian Willie Thompson then entertained the audience before Mr Lynn and Mr Pratt cut a special anniversary cake.
Mr Lynn was delighted with the success of the night and said the club was looking into more celebrations in the summer.
He said: "I spoke to some of the players and staff after Saturday's event and everyone said they had a great time. It was a fantastic evening and a great way to celebrate the landmark.
"We haven't organised anything else as yet but we are talking about the possibility of doing something before the new season starts as an extra little celebration."
Rayners Lane has also had some illustrious patrons in the past, including Monster Raving Loony Party leader Screaming Lord Sutch and, replacing him in 2000, the Observer's very own John Comfort.