Club History

The Club was founded in 1926, but unfortunately most of the early records of the Club were lost in the devastating East Coast floods of 1953. The Club were very successful during their days in the local leagues, winning many cups and league championships in the process. During these years, the club appointed Denis Neville as manager, his first job after leaving his position as the Dutch National Team manager.

However, the club had drifted away towards the end of the 1980’s, and the very existence of Canvey Island FC was in serious doubt. When it looked as though the end was near, local businessman and former Canvey player Jeff King took over as manager, as well as helping to generate funds to take the club forward.

Canvey the enjoyed a meteoric rise up the football pyramid, the success starting in 1993 where The Gulls won the Essex Senior League and reached the semi-final of the FA Vase.

The Club then gained promotion to the Isthmian League in 1994 and won promotion from Division Three and Division Two in successive seasons. In 1995/96 after beating Conference team Hednesford Town in the FA Cup they reached the First Round Proper and drew 2-2 with Football League team Brighton & Hove Albion at Park Lane in front of a then ground record crowd of 3,400. The replay was lost at Brighton in front of a crowd of over 7,000. As well as winning Division Two the team were also winners of the Carlton Trophy and Thames-side Trophy.

The season 1998/99 was yet another exciting one for the supporters as the Club won the Division One championship and the Essex Senior Cup, beating Leyton Orient in the final. Season 1999/2000 was the Club's first season in the Premier Division of the Ryman League and they finished a very creditable fifth in the League and retained the Essex Senior Cup, defeating Purfleet in the Final.

The following season had seen the team win the FA Trophy by beating Forest Green Rovers 1-0 in the final in front of over 10,000 people at Villa Park and thousands more watching live on television. To win the FA Trophy they had to beat four Conference League teams in succession - Stevenage Borough, Telford United, Chester City (over two legs) and Forest Green.

Earlier in the season the Club had another great FA Cup run and after beating Braintree Town, King's Lynn and Cambridge City they were drawn against Port Vale from the Second Division of the Football League. In an exciting match at Park Lane they drew 4-4 after being 4-2 down with only two minutes left to play. However, even better was to follow as they went to Port Vale and beat them 2-1 after extra time.

They were then drawn at home to Football League neighbours Southend United. To accommodate the number of people wishing to see the game, Canvey agreed to transfer the match to Southend's Roots Hall ground. A capacity crowd of 11,400 people saw the game, with record gate receipts for a game at Southend, and Canvey were narrowly beaten.

These tremendous cup runs took their toll in the League. With a large number of matches being postponed on opponents’ grounds because of waterlogged pitches, it meant they had to complete the season with ten league games in fifteen days and consequently dropped points that may have taken them to the league title and a place in the Conference League. However, it was still a fine performance to finish runners-up in their second season in the Premier Division.

The Club had enjoyed a then record-breaking season the following year when they reached the 3rd Round Proper of the FA Cup for the first time. On the way they beat five teams including two from the Second Division of the Football League, Wigan Athletic at the JJB Stadium, and Northampton Town in front of a full house at Park Lane and five million television viewers on 'Match of the Day Live'. Burnley finally knocked them out in a memorable game at Turf Moor.

They finished runners-up in the Ryman Premier League, despite winning thirty games and scoring 108 goals, and in defending the FA Trophy the team had a fine run before narrowly losing away to the eventual winners, Yeovil Town. The team did, however, end the season with silverware when winning the Essex Senior Cup, beating Dagenham & Redbridge in the final.

Canvey had another fine League season the previous year, finishing runners-up in the Ryman Premier League. Although this was another superb performance, finishing thirteen points clear of the third placed club, it was tinged with disappointment as it was the third season running the Club had finished runners-up in their quest to reach the Conference League. Towards the end of the season the Club had a ground record attendance of 3,553 when playing the eventual champions Aldershot Town in a midweek League game. However, the disappointment was a mark of how far the Club had progressed over the last decade, since winning the Essex Senior League.

The next season saw Canvey reach the goal they had been working towards for the previous four years, as they won the Ryman Premier League by a margin of nineteen points. Canvey also reached the FA Trophy final and the 1st Round of the FA Cup. The League was clinched at Easter with seven games still to play and the team finally finished with a total of 104 points. The FA Trophy run included wins over Conference teams Farnborough Town and Telford United, in the two-legged semi-final, before losing 3-2 in an exciting final at Villa Park against Hednesford United. After a fine run in the FA Cup the team was narrowly beaten at home 3-2 by Third Division neighbours Southend United, after a 1-1 draw at Roots Hall.

Canvey’s first season in the Conference they finished in 18th position in the League table, achieving their initial aim of consolidation. The season started well with a draw at Carlisle United, in front of a 7,000 crowd, on the opening day and just one defeat in the first seven games, against the eventual champions Barnet. After this the Club lost some key players through injury for several months and struggled in the middle part of the season but came back strongly at the end to seal their status for a second season.

The following season saw the club achieve its highest ever league position, as they earned a respectable 14th place. However, the lack of success compared to previous seasons had taken its toll on the attendances, so much so that Jeff King made the decision to withdraw his financial and footballing interests from the club. However, the supporters of the club rallied together to allow the team to continue playing the following year in the Ryman League Division 1 North.

John Batch take over as manager for the 2006/07 campaign, with his reserve side from the previous season making up the bulk of the squad. A learning curve for all concerned very nearly ended up in promotion, though The Gulls narrowly missed out on a playoff place, finishing 6th on the last day of the season.

Canvey went one better the following season, gaining promotion to the Ryman Premier League through the Playoffs. A run of 5 wins from our final 6 games earned us a place in the playoffs, and after beating AFC Sudbury away 3-2 after extra time, The Gulls travelled to Redbridge for the final. After the match finished 1-1 after extra time, Canvey won a nail biting penalty shootout 5-4 to earn promotion. During this season, Canvey also knocked out Ryman Premier League side Maidstone United from the FA Trophy, and reached the final of the Essex Thameside Trophy.

Manager John Batch stood down in January 2012, with the club lying in 10th place in the Ryman Premier League, with first team coach Glen Alzapiedi stepping up to take over as manager. He guided the club to lift the Essex Senior Cup for the first time in a decade with a 1-0 victory against League One side Colchester United at Thurrock FC's Ship Lane. Having defeated another Football League side, Dagenham & Redbridge, on penalties in the semi-finals, a headed goal from Rob King with 7 minutes to play won Canvey the cup without having conceded a goal throughout the competition.

Alzapiedi left the club in July 2012 and was replaced by former-Canvey captain Steve Tilson, who five years previously was managing in the Championship with Southend United. Tilson’s reign only lasted one season before he was replaced with another ex-Canvey player in Danny Heale.

After staying up on the last day of the season in 2015. Canvey were relegated on the same day of the following season for the first time due to league position in 19 years. The club's first season in the Bostik North nearly ended in an immediate return, reaching the playoff final but losing 3-1 away to Haringey Borough.

The Gulls picked up their first piece of silverware in six years ahead of the 2018/19 season, beating reigning Bostik North champions AFC Hornchurch 2-1 to win the Isthmian Charity Shield.

Former-Southend United and Gillingham played Mark Bentley took over as manager in October 2018. After finishing 9th in the Isthmian Division One North in his first season, his next two seasons were cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the 2020/21 season did turn out to be a memorable one, with Bentley leading the Gulls into the 2nd Round Proper of the FA Cup. Wins against Ware, Dereham Town, Biggleswade, Bedfont Sports and Cray Wanderers earned Canvey an away tie against higher-division Banbury United in the 1st Round. Live on BBC television, goals from Conor Hubble and Elliott Ronto saw Canvey progress 2-1 and land a home tie against National League outfit Boreham Wood.

With a home match against Millwall the reward, Canvey were beaten 3-0 at Park Lane. However, much-needed television revenue was brought thanks to the match being shown live on BT Sport.

Manager Mark Bentley stepped down from his role in October 2021 with the club top of the Isthmian League North, leaving to join the new first team coaching team at Southend United. Assistant manager Brad Wellmen stepped up into the role, assisted by coach Sammy Knott.

Wellmen and Knott achieved a second-place finish, earning qualification into the playoffs. A 3-1 win at home to Felixstowe & Walton United in the semi-final setup a final at Park Lane against Brentwood Town. In front of a crowd of 2,532, Canvey fell behind early but levelled before the break through Matthew Price. The two sides could not be separated after 120 minutes, meaning that promotion would be decided on penalties. Brentwood failed to convert two of their spot kicks, while Canvey scored all four of theirs to spark wild celebrations.