Kempston Rovers were formed in 1884 and entered the Bedford & District League. Rover’s first league championship was won in 1908 and twelve months later Rover’s retained the title while also carrying off the Bedfordshire Senior Cup and North Beds Charity Cup.
The Walnut Boys, the club’s official nickname, comes from the large walnut orchard in Kempston around the time of foundation. This identity is carried forward by one of the main supporters’ groups at the club, “The Nuts on Tour”.
1973 saw the start of a new era as Kempston relocated to a new ground further down Hillgrounds Road. A magnificent season saw the Walnut Boys storm to the Premier title losing only once in 32 games. A golden period in the club's history saw League Cup successes in 1975 and 1977; the Beds Senior Cup was again captured in 1977 while the Walnut Boys reached the last 16 of the FA Vase in 1975. In 1986, the club moved again, this time to the current ground, their third in the same road.
Kempston last won the county’s highest honour, the Beds. Senior Cup, in 1992, the fourth time the trophy has come to Hillgrounds.
In 2002 Kempston Rovers and Kempston Colts began an alliance to pool resources/personnel under the name AFC Kempston. The youth teams at Rovers still go by the name “Colts”, keeping the history of youth football in the town alive.
The beginning of 2005 saw the start of major re-developments at Hillgrounds Road with the building of new changing facilities and the building of an artificial training pitch, which is available to book all year round for training sessions, small sided games or just a kick around with friends. The new ground facilities were completed in 2006 and along with a new stand; on-going ground improvements and the existing clubhouse refurbished and ready to hire for functions and events, Kempston now have some of the best facilities in the area for non-league football.
Midway through the 2013-14 season James Stoyles and Gary Flinn took over the 1st Team managerial duties before, in 2015-16, Rovers won the United Counties Football League Premier Division, with a thrilling final win on the last day of the season, a campaign in which they only lost one league game. This resulted in promotion and saw us move into the Southern League Division One which represents the highest level we have attained within the FA pyramid system so far.
Since promotion, the club has twice narrowly missed out on a place in the end of season promotion play offs. On both occasions, finishing above some of the more established sides in the division.
Tony Joyce took over as manager in November 2018 overseeing a mass exodus of players who had pledged to stay loyal to the club. Since he was able to bring in his own players and staff, Joyce has steadied the ship and is looking to keep Kempston progressing as far as they can.
The club currently operates one of the largest youth systems in the county, with over thirty sides at various age groups and a senior development side. There is a supporters’ club that holds various functions throughout the season to support the first team.
Kempston Rovers, 135 years in the making and we’re not done yet.
Kempston Rovers Football Club
Club Cup Honours
Beds County Cup Winners: 1908-09
Beds Premier Cup Finalists: 1991-92
Beds Senior Cup Winners: 1937-38, 1976-77, 1991-92
Finalists: 1926-27, 1927-28, 1928-29, 1992-93
Beds Senior Trophy Finalist: 2008-09
Beds County under 18 Floodlight challenge Cup Winners: 2008-09
Beds Intermediate Cup Winners: 1976-77, Finalists: 1977-78
Beds County Hospital Cup Winners: 1930-31, 1932-33, 1935-36, 1936-37, 1938-39
North Beds Charity Cup Winners: 1908-09, 1934-35, 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2015-16,
Finalists: 1910-11, 1935-36
Hinchingbrooke Cup Winners: 1926-27, 1928-29, 2010-11,
Finalists: 1923-24, 1930-31, 1932-33, 1947-48
Hunts Premier Cup Winners: 1999-2000, 2000-01
UCL Premier Division KO Cup Winners: 1974-75, 1976-77
UCL Premier/Division 1 KO Cup Finalists: 1999-2000
UCL Division 1 KO Cup Winners: 1957-58, 1959-60, Finalists: 1956-57, 1960-61
UCL Division 2 KO Cup Winners: 1955-56, 1974-75, Finalists: 1972-73
Britannia Cup Winners: 1957-58, 1958-59 Finalists: 1947-48
Beds Sunday Junior Cup Winners: 1989-90
Bedford & District Under 16 Cup Finalists: 1995-96
Bedford & District Under 18 Cup Winners: 1983-84
Lisa Slater Memorial Shield Finalists: 2004-05 (AFC Kempston Rovers Ladies)
Eastern Region League Plate Winners: 2005-06 (AFC Kempston Rovers Ladies)
Club League Honours
UCL Premier Division Champions: 1973-74, 2015-16
UCL Division 1 Champions: 1957-58, 1985-86, 2010-11, Runners Up: 1956-57, 1959-60
UCL Division 2 Champions: 1955-56 Runners Up: 1967-68
Bedford & District Premier League Champions: 1958-59, 1960-61, Runners Up: 1959-60
Bedford & District League Division 1 Champions: 1907-08, 1908-09
Bedford & District League Division 2 Champions: 1922-23, 1933-34
Biggleswade & District League Division 1 Champions: 1911-12, Runners Up: 1909-10
Bedford & District Under 14 Colts League Champions: 1985-86
Bedford & District Under 16 Colts League Champions: 1973-74
Bedford & District Under 18 Colts League Runners Up: 1974-75
Bedford & District Sunday League Division 1 Runners Up: 1990-91
Bedford & District Sunday League Division 2 Runners Up: 1989-90
Bedford & District Sunday League Division 4 Champions: 1987-88
Eastern Region League Division 1 West Champions: 2005-06 (AFC Kempston Rovers Ladies)
Eastern Region League Division 1 West Runners Up: 2004-05 (AFC Kempston Rovers Ladies)
Chiltern Youth League Under 18 Division 1 Champions: 2017-18