The first match played by a team representing Haywards Heath was in March 1888, which provided the impetus for the formation of ‘Haywards Heath Juniors’. After a brief change of name to ‘Excelsior’ in 1894, the club adopted the name ‘Haywards Heath FC’ in 1895. Without a home ground, the club led a somewhat itinerant existence in its early days, playing most of its games away until 1895 when it was offered the use of the field in South Road which was later to become Victoria Park and the club’s home until 1952.
Haywards Heath FC lifted its first silverware in 1900 when it won the Sussex Junior Cup and played in the Mid-Sussex League of which it was one of the founding members. 1901-1906 saw the club finish as runners-up in the senior division in four of its first five seasons, then division 2 winners in 1911-12 after relegation in 1908. In 1919–20 Haywards Heath were Mid-Sussex League champions without losing a game. They won the title again in 1922–23 and went on to retain it for the next two seasons, losing only one match in each season.
In 1926 the club transferred to the Brighton, Hove & District League and, after winning the league title at the very first attempt, joined the Sussex County League the following year. The first five seasons in the County League (1926-1932) saw the club finish in the top four but they were sadly to finish bottom of the league in the 1932-33 season. In 1941-42, the club won the Sussex Senior Cup and, after the war, were the league’s Eastern Division winners of 1945-46. A single division league was re-introduced the following year which the club won in both 1949-50 and again in 1950-51.
1952 saw the club finally move from Victoria Park to the newly finished Hanbury Stadium which enabled it to join the Metropolitan League which included the reserve sides of professional clubs such as West Ham, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal. After a promising first season finishing in fifth place, the club struggled against the professional opposition and, finishing bottom in 1960-61, elected to re-join the Sussex County League.
The Division 1 title was won in 1969-70 and the League Cup in 1972-73. The club was also runners-up in 1974-75 but were relegated at the end of the 1979-80 season. The Division 2 Cup was won in 1983-84 and, as runners-up in 1985-86, the club gained promotion back into the senior division. In 1988 the present name of Haywards Heath Town Football Club was adopted in its centennial year to reflect the ‘town’ status of Haywards Heath itself.
Two successive relegations in 1992 and 1993 saw the club drop into the third division where they won the Division 3 Cup in 2000-01. The following year as Division 3 runners-up, HHTFC were promoted back to Division 2 but were again relegated after only one season. The Division 3 Cup was won in 2008-09 however and in 2012-13 (again as runners-up), the club gained promotion back into Division 2.
On the rebranding of the Sussex County League to the Southern Combination in 2015, the division was renamed Division 1 and the title was won in that first season, earning Haywards Heath Town FC promotion to the Premier Division. The club finished top of the division the following season and were due to be promoted to the Isthmian League. Unfortunately, promotion was denied following a nine-point deduction awarded the championship elsewhere due to an inadvertent off-field administrative error. The club however responded by winning the Premier Division again in the 2017-18 season and enjoyed a successful 2018-19 debut in the Isthmian League, finishing in a very respectable fifth position which qualified them for the play-offs at the first attempt.
As well as achieving the club’s highest ever finishing position in the non-league football pyramid, Shaun Saunders’ squad also reached the final of the Sussex RUR Cup and the semi-finals of the Sussex County Senior Cup, and this year will be looking to continue that success with promotion to the Premier Division.