Football in the town of Brentwood has a long and colourful history going back to the 19th century when the original Brentwood FC reached the quarter finals of the FA Cup in 1886, where they were beaten 3-1 by the eventual winners Blackburn Rovers.
In the 1950s and 1960s the town had a successful amateur club, Brentwood & Warley, who were three times winners of the Delphian League. In 1965 they turned ‘professional’, becoming Brentwood Town and rapidly rose to the heights of non-league football. Brentwood Town became a force in the Southern League Premier Division and produced some heroic performances in the FA Cup, reaching the third round proper in 1969-70. However, at the end of that season the club effectively folded and amalgamated with another Southern League club, Chelmsford City.
The current Brentwood football club was founded in 1954 under the name of Manor Athletic and the first ground was at King George's Playing Fields (Hartswood). In 1957 they moved to Larkin's Playing Field where they played in the Romford and District League, the Southern Essex Combination and the London and Essex Border League before joining the Essex Olympian League in 1967. Here they won the League Cup in 1968 and were then runners-up four years in a row.
Following the demise of Brentwood Town in 1970, Manor found themselves the most senior club in the district and adopted the town name, changing from Manor Athletic to Brentwood Athletic, and then becoming Brentwood FC in 1972. In 1974 they joined the Essex Senior League. For many years there was a question mark against the club's senior status and in 1976/77, although they were allowed to stay in the Essex Senior League, they were deprived of their senior status for a year. In that season Brentwood created history by winning the Essex Intermediate Cup in the same season as the Reserves won the Essex Junior Cup. In 1992 Larkin's finally lost its senior status and the Club had to enter a ground sharing arrangement with East Thurrock in order to continue in the Essex Senior League. With the help of the local council Brentwood at last found a new home at The Brentwood Centre and the first game there was played on October 9th 1993.
Undoubtedly, the most famous player ever to have played for Brentwood was Jimmy Greaves. Greaves had been a friend of David Emerick, who was the Brentwood Manager in 1975, since their school days at Hainault. James Peter Greaves, who was living in Upminster, and had retired from West Ham in 1971 at the tender age of 30, signed for Brentwood on 21st December 1975, aged 34. He played against Witham Town on 27th December but it was the only time that he did not score on his debut as they lost 0-2. On 12th May 1976, Jimmy played at Billericay with a temperature of 83 degrees and 887 turned up for a midweek, 6.30 pm kick off. In fact when Greaves played, his presence always added 150 to the normal gates of Essex Senior League clubs. Gates at Larkins also increased even though the club were not able to enforce an admission charge at their unenclosed ground to which the Club had to allow free
The biggest game that Jimmy played in for Brentwood was his last, at the end of that season, before his July 1976 move to Chelmsford City. It was the Essex Senior League Cup Final against the all-conquering Basildon United, played on 22nd May 1976 at Bowers United FC. Greaves had already been mainly responsible for despatching Bowers 5-3 in a second round replay, scoring a hat-trick in the process and replying to a wag in the crowd who shouted " Three lucky goals!" that "they don't bother to describe them in record books, they just count them!".
The pen picture for Greaves in the cup final programme was very laid back, describing, arguably the greatest player ever to appear in the Essex Senior League as "a great asset in midfield". Brentwood trounced Basildon United 3-0 and the goal scorers were Dave Jeffs and Doug Young (2).
Brentwood finally won the Essex Senior League title for the first time in season 2000-01. They had previously been runners-up on no less than four occasions. The Senior League Cup has been won on three occasions in 1976, 1979 and 1991, and they were cup runners-up in 1984. Derrick Stittle holds the record as the league's longest serving manager having been in charge from 1978 to 1999, one of the longest reigns in the history of English non-league football. 1995/96, in their second season in the FA Vase, Brentwood reached the third round, further than any other Essex Senior League club. They also won the Harry Fisher Cup after a penalty shootout with Fords at Barking F.C.
1996/97 saw the launch of an Under 18 side and the club now runs six youth teams from the U13 age group through to U18 in the Eastern Junior Alliance, plus under-21 and vets teams. The youth teams have been particularly successful in cup competitions and in 2014 the Under-18s reached the final of the Essex County Cup for the third season running. In 2015 an amalgamation with the Doddinghurst Olympic youth football club saw the club’s youth section expand further to include teams from under-7 upwards.
The start of the 1999/2000 season saw the most significant changes since the move to the Brentwood Centre in 1993, with the installation of the club's first floodlights and the appointment of Paul Delea as first team manager following the retirement of Derrick Stittle. The floodlights meant a return to the FA Vase after a two-season absence and entry into the FA Cup and FA Youth Cup for the first time ever. In May 2001 the championship race came to a thrilling end in the final game of the season at Southend Manor where a 4-3 victory, after trailing 3-0 early in the second half, clinched Brentwood's first ever Essex Senior League title.
In February 2004 the Essex County FA officially gave permission for the club to change its name and re-adopt the title of Brentwood Town.
There was some success in 2005/06 as Brentwood reached the final of the Essex Senior League Cup, losing 2-0 to Hornchurch in a closely fought battle, but 2006/07 season saw a remarkable upturn in the club’s fortune. In the most successful season in the club’s history, Brentwood Town won the Essex Senior League treble of league title and both league cup competitions. The title was won by six points and Barkingside were beaten 4-0 in the final of the Gordon Brasted Trophy, while Romford were finally beaten in a penalty shootout in the Essex Senior League Cup final. This success was matched off the field where a tremendous effort saw the facilities at the Brentwood Centre improved to enable the club to successfully apply for promotion to the Isthmian League.
The management team of Steve Witherspoon and Amin Levitt led the team to more success 2007/08. There were good runs in both the FA Cup and FA Trophy but, despite amassing an impressive 77 league points, they finished sixth in the Isthmian Division One North and just missed out on a play-off place.
Owing to family commitments, Steve Witherspoon stood down at the end of the 2007/08 season, and new manager Carl Griffiths and assistant Scott Canham had to rebuild the squad after a number of that successful team moved on. Despite this, the team made a tremendous start to the Isthmian League season, remaining unbeaten until mid-November, and eventually finished in third place, but were beaten by Waltham Abbey in the play-off semi-final.
The start of 2009/10 season saw another change of management with the experienced Les Whitton taking over and aiming to build on the success of recent seasons. A season of consolidation ended with a mid-table position but in January 2011 Les stood down and Steve Witherspoon once more took over and he led the team on a remarkable run that only ended with an extra time defeat in the Ryman North play-off final at Wingate & Finchley.
The next two seasons saw a mid-table finish and for the 2013/14 season, Les Whitton returned as 1st team manager until he stood down in November. Adam Flanagan and Danny Dafter were then appointed as joint managers and the team made good progress, picking up enough points to move them comfortably clear of the Ryman North relegation zone by the end of the season.
In 2014/15, with much of the same squad from the previous season, including ten players that had progressed through the youth setup, they exceeded all expectations by finishing fourth to reach the Ryman North play-offs. The season then had a perfect ending with a penalty shoot-out win over AFC Sudbury in the semi-final and an amazing second half performance resulting in a 5-0 win against Thurrock in the play-off final, meaning promotion to the Isthmian Premier for the first time.
The two managers, Flanagan and Dafter, both moved on after this success and the Club appointed Dean Holdsworth as their new manager. Dean played for Wimbledon and Bolton Wanderers and had previously managed at Redbridge, Newport County, Aldershot Town and Chelmsford City. But in November 2015, Dean stood aside due to increased business commitments and the experienced George Borg took temporary charge until Mick Flanagan, father of Adam, was appointed for the rest of the season. However, that first season in the Ryman Premier ended in relegation back to Ryman North and for the 2016/17 season former Wadham Lodge manager Tony Ievoli was appointed.
Tony stood down in March 2017 and Craig Shipman took over as manager and steered the team away from relegation for the next two seasons, followed by a mid-table finish in 2018/19. The 2019/20 season sees a new committee and a new manager in Ryan O’Rawe, a former Brentwood player who returns in a player/manager role.