Maidstone United were formed in 1890 as Maidstone Invicta, playing at first at Penenden Heath, then Solomon’s Field, then the unenclosed Postley Field. In 1897 they took the name Maidstone United and a year later, just before the turn of the century, they moved into the far more impressive Athletic Ground off London Road. They played their first game here as Maidstone United against Chatham from the Southern League. The sad end of the Athletic Ground came in April 1988.
Ironically it left Maidstone United without a home of their own at their finest hour, promotion to the Football League, and they were forced to groundshare with Dartford FC. Thus Grimsby Town’s claim to being the only team never to have played a League game in their home town was diluted for a few seasons. But while Grimsby’s ground is just over the border in neighbouring Cleethorpes, the ‘Stones’ as they were nicknamed had to travel twenty miles up the M20 to Watling Street, giving an entirely new meaning to the expression ‘only a stone’s throw away’.
Maidstone had pottered about the non-league scene until the 1970s when the involvement of local newspaper company director Jim Thompson saw the club take a more professional outlook. The Stones switched from the Isthmian to Southern League and League football became the aim. This feat was achieved in 1989 when the Stones became champions of the Alliance Premier League. In 1990 Maidstone United reached the play-offs where they drew at Cambridge only to lose the second leg at home. The following seasons they finished in 19th and 18th place respectively. The consolidation was over, Maidstone were aiming for a revival as they prepared for the 1992/93 season. Unfortunately, it never happened. On August 17th 1992, Maidstone announced they were resigning from the Football League, heavily in debt and unable to guarantee fixtures, the opening day game at Scunthorpe having been postponed. The dream was over, the Stones were no more.
Maidstone United were reformed in 1993 (as Invicta for four years before again taking the name United), inheriting the nickname ‘Stones’ and the traditional colours of gold and black, gold being a predominant colour in the clubs’ long-standing emblem, the arms of the town. The chief in the top of the shield bears a golden lion passant on a red field. The ancient and neighbouring cities of Canterbury and Rochester have a similar charge, signifying a Royal Charter. Below the chief is a gold field bearing three red roundels or torteaux and a blue horizontal wavy band.
This fess represents the River Medway and the red roundels are from the arms of Archbishop Courtenay, who built All Saints Church at the end of the fourteenth century and who is considered to be the founder of the late medieval Maidstone.
To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Maidstone’s first Charter of Incorporation in 1949, an application was made to the College of Heralds to add a crest and supporters to the Coat of Arms. Above the shield the blue and gold mantling now bears a horse’s head, recalling the Kentish Invicta with a chaplet of hops alluding to the produce for which the district is famous. The mural crown represents municipal government The two supporters are, curiously, an iguanodon and a golden lion rampant. The iguanodon was one of the earliest known inhabitants of the area, the remains of one found locally in 1834 are now exhibited at the Natural History Museum in London. The lion is derived from that in the arms. The supporters originally had scrolls hanging from the collars about their necks bearing the dates 1549, when Maidstone received its first charter of incorporation and 1949, the 400th anniversary.