LATE 60’S AND EARLY 70’S
Typically the club was formed in 1965 by a bunch of Indian boys that were kicking around a ball in the local parks as part of unorganised football. The lads wanted to become a team and play in the local leagues like all their English friends were at school. Not having a pitch, kit and a manager didn’t obviously help. In the 60’s there was also a racial problem which didn’t help with applications to the league. That racism certainly does not exist anymore today.
Finally in the late 60’s The Gravesend Football League accepted our application. Amrik Sall and Jarnail Bains (Jelo) were the main front men for our club. Our first coach was a teacher (Mr Gool) of Colyer Road School , he used to train us in the Colyer Road Gym Hall after school, one of the lads had asked for his help.
In our first season being beat 5-0 was seen as only being beat 5-0, in another words a good result. As we learned more about the game and how to play it we developed. We started to work our way through the Divisions from Division 4. In 1969 the Sikh Community raised enough money to buy a Gurdwara (temple) on Clarence Place . GNG then formed links with the Gurdwara and soon they started to fund us and became our main sponsor.
We had about a 20 man squad and about 30 players watching, the competition was fierce. This is when it was decided to have a Reserve side and even a Sunday Team. The Saturday Team though at this time was always our main side though, the Sunday Team was more like a Reserves.
In those early days we had to put up with a lot of racism in the League and also a lot of biased refereeing. But soon we started to win everyone’s respect not only in Gravesend but in the whole country. We were the first Team to start running Asian Tournaments with some proper rules in the early 70’s. We would invite teams from all over the country. Other towns then started running their own tournaments too.
The first ever trophy the Guru’s won was in the 1973/74 season. We played Prince of Wales in the Final of the Dampier Palmer Cup in front of a crowd of 600 people at the AEI ground. We had just played them the Tuesday before in the League and they beat us 4-0, so the signs were not good. However, Surjit Bungar (Sarge) scored to give us a 1-0 lead at half-time, in the second half Prince was awarded a very dubious penalty, Dalbarg Singh had clearly chested the ball on the goal line, but the referee gave a penalty for handball. Their centre half (Waghorne) blasted the ball over the bar, justice was done. About 5 minutes from the end Jasbir Bains (Sheera) rounded the keeper to make the final score 2-0. Guru’s had won their first ever trophy after 9 years of existence, many more were to follow. The team on the day was :
Surjit Nijjer (SS)
Narinder Thandi (Junior)
Jasbir Bains (Sheera)
Jaspal Mann (Sub)
Manager : Amrik Sall
The following Saturday we played Bellevue in the Final of the League Cup B, the crowd was even bigger than the previous week. It was a very physical game – always the case when you played a team from Denton . Amrik Sall kept faith with the same side as the previous week, and was rewarded with the same score line. Surjit Bungar scoring both goals, so in the space of one week we had won 2 cups. This was a very young Guru Nanak side, 6 players were 18 years old.
The highlight of the year was the Gravesend Tournament, we went into the tournament with our 2 non Asians, Bob Strickland and John Aldous. We played the best ever football, thrashing everybody in sight and winning our first ever A Section Cup. We played Khalsa ( Birmingham ) in the First Round, we went 1-0 down but were 4-1 up by half time. By the end of the match we scored another 7 goals to make the final score 11-1. In the Second Round we beat Reading 9-0. In the Third Round we won 9-1 against Sikh Temple . In the Semi Final we faced Sapna Leicester and avenged a result from a few years earlier, when they beat us 10-1, this time we won 9-0. In the final we played Sikh Hunters Walsall and in a very exciting game going from one end to the other end, we won 3-2. John Aldous scored 24 goals in this tournament. I don’t think these score line and top scorer records will ever be beaten.
The Saturday First Team won promotion to The Gravesend Premier League by winning Division 1.
The Saturday First Team missed out in 2 Finals, coming Runners Up in both The Mallison Hospital Cup and The Gordon Charity Cup.
At the Wolverhampton Tournament Guru’s played 5 rounds of football with the temperature well in the 90’s. In the First Round we played Santos Derby, after being 3-1 down, we managed to pull the score back to 3-3 after extra time and win 5-4 on penalties. The Second, Third and Semi Final rounds all went to extra time and penalties, we won the lot. In the Final we played the home side Punjab United. We were 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go, Amrik Sall made 2 inspired substitutions. Jasbir Bains (Sheera) and Gurdev Singh came on, and in no time at all we pulled it back to 2-2. In extra time we had enough chances to win the game but for the 5 th game running were involved in another penalty shootout. We lost 10-9, but when we were leading 5-4 our keeper Joga Bains saved their next penalty but the referee gave a retake as he adjudged our goalie to have moved, that’s where I’m afraid home advantage comes into the equation, so we had to settle for Runners Up.
A few weeks later we recorded our first ever win at a Birmingham Tournament, we won 4 rounds to get to the Final and we only used 13 players in the whole event, with the same 11 players starting every game. We had some great results on the way to the Final including beating Santos Derby 5-0. In the Final we played hosts Khalsa Birmingham watched by a crowd of several hundred, we stormed into a 3-0 lead early in the second half and that’s where the manager made a big mistake, making 2 substitutions thinking the game was as good as over. Khalsa scored 3 times and hit the bar in the last few minutes to take the game into extra time. There was no further score and fortunately we won the shootout 5-4.
The Saturday Team come Runners up in The Presidents Cup. We were 3-0 down at one stage and pulled it back to 3-3 at full time then lost 5-3 in extra time. Ranjit Johal (Joey) scored twice and Satnam.
We were Runners Up at Bedford Tournament.
The Saturday First Team won The League Cup but come Runners Up in The Gravesend Premier Division.
The 1979/80 season is arguably Guru’s finest ever season. In the tournaments of 1979 we won Gravesend in May, then we went to Barking where the 2 non Asian rule did not apply, we beat a very strong Singh Sabha Barking side in the Final 5-4 on penalties after the game had ended 2-2. Then we went to Birmingham tournament with several players missing due to Surjit Nijjers’s wedding, in the First Round we again played SS Barking with all their West Indian players but we still managed to win 2-1. The Second Round was against Sapna Leicester we again triumphed 3-1, in the Semi Final we played Khalsa Birmingham, the game ended 0-0 and with 3 minutes left of extra time Narinder Thandi scored to put us into the Final. The Final was a very one sided affair we completely dominated and won 4-1 against Santos Derby. Ranjit Johal aka Joey scored a hatrick that day, he moved to California after this season, in 2009 he has reported to been running a successful team there for some years also under the name of Guru Nanak FC. However, 3 A Section Tournament wins in one season, a record at the time.
So we went into the domestic season full of confidence. This was the season Suki Bhatti signed semi-pro with Chatham Town . We came Runners Up in the League and reached all 3 Cup Finals : League Cup A, Mallinson Cup and Gordon Charity Cup and we finished Runners Up in the League by goal difference. We won the League Cup 1-0 against Beauwater Sports. We were beaten in the Gordon Cup by Old Saxians 3-1. The Mallison Cup Final was played at Beauwaters against Clifton Utd. Clifton lead at half time 1-0 but Jasbir Bains (Sheera) levelled matters in the second half. Clifton went ahead again only for Sheera to make it 2-2. The game went to extra time and then B Nijjer (Cooksie) scored in the first half of extra time to put Gurus 3-2 up. But with about 10 minutes to play the referee abandoned the game due to bad light – the sky was as blue as the sea (so rumour has it), in the replay Clifton won 2-1.
At the end of the season Ian Jones (goalkeeper) won the League Player of the Year. Sheera Bains was Guru’s Player of the Year.