In 1895 Arnold Hills, the owner of the Thames Iron Works, decided to establish his own football team. Francis Payne, who worked for the company, became club secretary. In the first photographs taken of the team during the 1895-1896 season, Payne can be seen standing alongside Hills and Tom Robinson, the trainer. In 1898 Arnold Hills reluctantly decided to recruit some professional players. Payne was given the job of finding the right people. One of his best signings was David Lloyd from the 3rd Battalion Guards. During the 1898-99 season he scored 12 goals in only 11 league appearances. The following season Thames Iron Works joined the top division of the Southern League. According to one report, Arnold Hills, gave Payne £1,000 to find the best players available. Payne employed an agent and former professional footballer named Charles Bunyan to obtain a player based in Birmingham. Bunyan missed his appointment with the player targeted by Payne. He then approached another player he thought might be interested in joining the club. However, this player reported Bunyan to the Football Association. The FA held an investigation into the matter and as a result, Bunyan was suspended for two years. Payne was also suspended and the Thames Iron Works was fined £25. George Neil replaced Payne as secretary/manager of the club.