Football Club History

The Boatmen have a long but fragmented history, running teams from the Woolston Works as early as 1884, when they are recorded as being refused permission by the Hants & Dorset FA to introduce fresh players as substitutes at half-time.

In March 1887 they were finalists in the first Portsmouth Challenge Cup, beaten 1-0 by Portsmouth Association Club. The Club were only beaten twice in 16 games that year (goal tally 72-6) and won the last Hants & Dorset Challenge Cup before these Associations split.WoolstonWorks

Woolston Works won the first ever Hampshire Senior Cup Final in 1888, beating Winchester 2-0. There was some controversy that year concerning Woolstons professional attitude, which was infamously referred to as "Kesson's Boots'. Andover were beaten in an earlier round by Woolston, in which a Glasgow - based player called J. Kesson played a prominent part.

Andover protested that Kesson should be disqualified on the grounds of residency - although he had played for Woolston Works earlier that season, he had since moved back to Glasgow. Woolstons appeal rested on the fact that Kesson had left a number of clothing items at his lodgings in Woolston, and this should be interpreted as his intention to return. The Hampshire FA upheld the appeal and allowed Kesson to play.

Re-forming after World War 1 as Thornycrofts (Woolston), they were admitted into the Hampshire County League from 1919/20 to 1925/26. in 1920 Thornycrofts reached the FA Cup First Round proper, meeting first Division Burnley at The Dell, and held them to a 0-0 draw in front of over 10,000 spectators, before losing 5-0 in the replay, three days later. Burnley were Football League runners-up that season before winning the Title the following year.

After the War, Thornycrofts Woolston re-formed in 1947 but were only able to keep going until 1952.


The Club were re-formed as Vosper Thornycroft FC in 1960 and joined the Southampton Junior League.

VTFC1975After several successful years, Vospers were promoted to the Hampshire League Division 3 in 1991. The following season they were promoted to Division 2. 1997/98 saw Vospers as Hampshire Division 2 Runners-up and also Hampshire Intermediate Cup Winners. In 2001/02 Vospers won the Southampton Senior Cup.

2002/03 Vospers were re-named as VT FC (after the parent company), and saw the Club as Runners-up in the Southampton Senior Cup.

2003/4 saw VT as Hampshire Premier League Champions, Southampton Senior Cup Winners and promotion to the Sydenhams Wessex League Division 1.

2005/06 VT Reserves won the Southampton Senior Cup at St Mary's Stadium

2006/07 The first team finished in third place and the reserves finished runners-up in Combination 1 and they also won the Southampton Senior Cup again. The Club's 4th victory in 6 years.

 The 1st team were Runners-up to Totton in the Premier League and the Reserves won 3 out of 4 trophies. They are the Sydenhams (Wessex) Combination 1 League Champions, the Southampton Senior Cup Champions (for the third consecutive year) and the Sydenhams (Wessex) Combination Cup Champions. 

2008/09 The first team were again Runners-up in the Wessex Premier, but they were Wessex League Cup Winners with a close 2-1 victory over Hamworthy United. Runners-up in the Hampshire Senior Cup with a narrow 1-0 defeat against Fleet Town. Reserves again won Wessex Combination 1 and the U18 Youth team made a clean sweep winning four trophies i.e The League, The League Cup, The Hampshire FA Youth Cup and the Echo Floodlit Cup.

2009/10 In our very first season in the Zamaretto Southern League we finished a creditable 4th (play-off position) in the South & West Division and finished Runners-up in the Red Insure League Cup after losing on penalties to Cambridge City. The Reserves regained the Southampton Senior Cup at St Mary's defeating Team Solent 2-0.

The Club changed their name in July 2010 to Sholing FC after the parent company VT Group were no longer in existance.  We decided to reflect the name of the area of Southampton nearest the ground and adopted the Red & White stripes so associated with the City.

2010/11 In only our second season in the Southern League South & West, the 1st team finished 2nd. Also, we were Hampshire Senior Cup Finalists. The Reserves gained a double by winning the Wessex Combination League and League Cup in its Final year.

2011/12 For the third season on the trot we once again reached the playoffs only to fall at the first hurdle by a 1-0 away defeat by Gosport. The reserves copied last year's achievement by winning the League and League Cup in the newly formed Wyvern League.

2012/13 Despite being bottom of the league just before Christmas, the first team went on an incredible run in the second half of the season and finished 7th in the Southern League South & West.  The Reserves once again won the Wyvern League, this time going unbeaten the whole season.

The club made the difficult decision to voluntarily drop out of the Southern League South & West (step 4) and into the Wessex League Premier (step 5).

2013/14 Back in the Wessex League Premier Division we made a storming start to the season and it wasn't to be until February until we were first defeated.  However, due to terrible weather & cup commitments, the club barely played in January & February, meaning a huge backlog of fixtures in the final weeks of the season.  Despite having to play 20 games in 30 days, including NINE successive away games, Sholing won the League with 104 points and a goal difference of +105.

The Reserves made it a hat-trick of Wyvern League titles. They also won the Southampton Senior Cup at St Mary's to become 7 time Cup Holders.


Of course, the FA Vase win will be what most people will remember from this season.  The greatest honour in the club's history.  Back in October as we faced Winchester in the 1st round, no one was dreaming of Wembley, but as the rounds were ticked off, we started to get the feeling that this would be our year.  So on the 10th May 2014 at the home of football, Wembley Stadium, backed by over 3,000 fans, Marvin Mclean scored the only goal and Byron Mason & Dave Diaper lifted the Vase. 

In a whirlwind of activity that followed, the team paraded the FA Vase in front of 30,000 Southampton FC fans at St Mary's, were given an official reception by the Mayor of Southampton and appeared on both local TV stations.

We then said a fond goodbye to players Marc Diaper, Tyronne Bowers & Lee Bright, who all decided to "retire at the top" after Wembley.

The Full story of the FA Vase run is on this section of the website.


2014/15 Club were granted promotion back into the Southern League South & West division. Sholing finished in 17th position having been in that position for 32 weeks. The Boatmen reached the final of the Hampshire Senior Cup losing out 3-0 to Gosport Borough at Fratton Park. Ground grading issues saw Sholing controversially relegated back to the Wessex League. The Reserves won the John Stimpson Memorial Shield beating AFC Totton.

2015/16 Sholing finished runners up in the Sydenhams Wessex Premier League. A storming finish to the season saw us win our last 8 games to pip Blackfield & Andover to second place. 

2016/17 Boatmen achieved a remarkable 2 Cup Wins in the space of 3 days at the end of the season. Firstly winning the Wessex League Cup with a 2-1 win over Baffins Milton Rovers, then defeating Team Solent 3-1 at St Mary's Stadium to lift the Southampton Senior Cup for the 8th time.  Sholing finished 3rd in the Wessex Premier and Dan Mason continued his scoring exploits, smashing in 45 goals in all competitions.


At the end of the season, it was announced that Budweiser & the FA had selected Sholing to receive a £100,000 grant towards improving facilties (full story here). The club appeared on Europe wide Budweiser TV adverts and Dave Diaper, Byron Mason, Kev Harnett & Micky Travers were guests of Budweiser at the FA Cup Final where a cheque was presented on the Wembley pitch before kick off.

2017/18 Sholing finished 3rd in the Wessex Premier for the 2nd consecutive season, scoring 100 goals in the process in the league campaign.  Work continues with the FA & Budweiser to advance plans for a new clubhouse and associated ground improvements.

2018/19 Sholing were crowned Sydenhams Wessex League Champions with 8 games remaining. The Boatmen finished with a record title winning margin of 31 points and also the Wessex record for points per game (2.763). Club will be promoted to the Southern League Division 1 South for 2019/20.  Work is expected to begin in the summer on a new clubhouse with associated ground improvements.  Boatmen rounded off the season by winning the Russell Cotes Cup for the first time.