The club emerged from lunchtime kick-abouts between St. Mary Cray villagers and labourers constructing a railway viaduct across the Cray Valley in north-west Kent.
Soon a ground was laid out – on what is now Star Lane Cemetery – and matches were played against Army teams and other local villages.
The players would change into their chocolate coloured strip – hence their Victorian nickname, the ‘Chocolates’ – in Barnard’s Coffee Tavern, which stood in the village high street and walk the quarter mile to the ground.
The industrial belt around the River Cray, especially the paper mills, provided much of the club’s support up till the 1950s.
Sadly, a lack of archival records means that little else is known about them during this period; that is until the 1880s when local newspaper reports began referring to the club simply as St. Mary Cray.
Then in January 1887 the first reference was made to the club being called Cray Wanderers.
This name change could well be attributed to a comment made by one Arthur ‘Bowser’ Price. He remarked after a game: ‘You look like a bunch of wanderers!’ Or it could be because the labourers who helped form the team wandered around the country looking for work. Whatever the reason Cray Wanderers became our official name and from that came the nickname, the ‘Wands’, which remains to this day.