Ramsgate has had senior football teams within the town since the late-1800s, with the current club (then called Ramsgate Athletic) taking over the Southwood Stadium in 1945.
Youth football also featured at Southwood during the years immediately following he 2nd World War, with the Club hosting (and producing matchday programmes for) the Ramsgate schools’ matches in the English Schools’ Trophy and Kent Schools Football Federation competitions.
Ramsgate Schoolboys who played Woolwich at Southwood, December 1947
The Club took this a stage further in 1949 when, in realising the value of ‘home grown’ footballers, it formed a Colts XI to compete in the Thanet League. The idea of adapting local ex-schoolboy talent for the purpose of future team building and to give them the benefit of experienced coaching, which was unusual for its day, became the responsibility of the then 1st Team captain (and former Spurs and Aston Villa wing-half) Johnny Browne. The young ‘Redskins’ soon established themselves with the adult teams of ‘junior clubs’, with many promising youngsters of ‘schoolboy’ fame among the personnel of the Colts. Their football closely followed the ‘Browne’ pattern and a lot of time and effort was put into the Colts experiment, which eventually paid the dividends expected, with players progressing into the 1st XI. Records of the Colts’ own matches are now scant however photographs of these teams exist from the start of the 1950s. Later in the 20th century of course Ramsgate’s Under 18s did the League and County Cup double in 1988/89.
Ramsgate Colts – 1949/50
Ramsgate established its own junior section in 1994 when local youth club Westgate Sports, established in 1956, joined the senior club to become Ramsgate Youth. These teams continued to compete in the East Kent Youth League, although when they reached 16 years old they had the opportunity of competing in the Kent Youth League as Under 18s owing to Ramsgate’s senior status. The teams playing as Ramsgate Youth flourished and began producing players that played in turn for Ramsgate’s Under 18s, Reserves and 1st Team, and beyond. In 1998/99 a particularly strong squad came through that won both the League championship and the County Youth Cup. The squad included Liam Hatch, who is now with Peterborough, and Stuart Vahid who, having scored for Ramsgate’s 1st Team when they won the Kent Senior Trophy Final went on to score in the County Youth Cup final the following day (and celebrated the 10th anniversary of his 1st Team debut for the Rams in the Ryman Premier Division in 2007/08).
Kent League Champions & County Youth Cup Winners – 1998/99
In 2001/2002 the Club embarked on a new policy of using local players only in the senior teams and developing the Club’s youth football. To achieve this Ramsgate entered a team in each of the then four age categories of the Kent Youth League, starting at Under 14s, while youth football for all ages continued in the East Kent Youth League under Ramsgate Youth. This season saw more silverware for the young Rams, with the Under 18s joining the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Gillingham by winning the John Ullmann Youth Cup. The following season the Under 18s became Kent Youth League champions and progressed to the 1st Round Proper of the FA Youth Cup (where they lost 4-3 to Leyton Orient after extra time).
In 2003 the FA introduced a new initiative to ensure appropriate levels of administration and child protection, as well as coaching, in grass roots football, and Ramsgate Youth were one of the first clubs in east Kent to achieve the Charter Standard.
The Kent Youth League added a fifth age group to their competition in 2005 for Under 13s, but it was not until the following season that Ramsgate entered this younger category as part of a new Youth Development Programme, with the youngsters winning the U13 League Cup in 2006/07. The Under 18s again reached the 1st Round Proper of the FA Youth Cup that year, going out to Brighton & Hove Albion, and the Under 16s finished runners-up in the League.
Under 13s lift Kent Youth League Cup – 2006/07
In 2008 Ramsgate was the first club in Thanet to achieve the higher FA Charter Development Club Standard for its Kent Youth League teams as well as its senior sides, recognising the high standards maintained at all ages. The 2008/09 season also saw Ramsgate entering teams in the East Kent Youth Football League direct in a wider range of ages when the former Youth Section decided that having an independent committee from the parent club was not sufficient to pursue their own separate objectives (although they continue to use the Club’s logo), and all direct links were severed after 14 years. The season ended with the East Kent Youth League Under 18s reaching the final of the Albert Moore Memorial Cup.
The Club’s Football Academy opened at Sandwich Technology School in September 2009, and with the appointment of former professional footballer and well known local coach Mark Weatherly as Head Youth Coach at the Club, the future of youth football at Ramsgate was set to go to new strengths. 2009/10 saw the Kent Youth League Under 16s win their League, as did the Under 16 EKYL team, showing that the Player Development Programme was reaping rewards.
Even greater success was achieved in 2010/11, where in the Kent Youth League the Club’s Under 16s and Under 13s finished as League Champions, the Under 18s and the Under 15s as League runners-up, and the Under 13s also reached the final of the County Youth Cup. In the East Kent Youth League the Under 13s and Under 12s both finished as runners-up in Division 1.
Post-War Youth Football Honours
FA Youth Cup 1st Round Proper – 2002/03, 2006/07
John Ullmann Youth Cup Winners – 2001/02
Kent Youth League Under 18 Champions – 1988/89, 1998/99, 2002/03
Kent Youth League Under 18 Runners-Up – 2010/11
Kent Youth League Under 16 Champions – 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12
Kent Youth League Under 15 Runners-Up – 2010/11
Kent Youth League Under 14 Champions – 2011/12
Kent Youth League Under 13 Champions – 2010/11
Kent County Under 18 Youth Cup Winners – 1988/89, 1998/99
Kent County Under 13 Youth Cup Finalist – 2010/11
Kent Youth League U13 Cup Winners – 2006/07
Dresden International Youth Tournament Winners – 1997