The club was founded in 1890 as Nailsworth & Forest Green and joined the Stroud & District League where they remained for the first 32 years of their existence. They were founder members of the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League in 1922 which they were to win three times in 1935, 1950 and 1951. In 1968 they were founder members of the Gloucestershire County League where they remained for seven seasons with an average finishing position of 6th. They joined the Hellenic League in 1975. The 1981–82 season saw the club win the Hellenic League championship and the FA Vase under manager Bob Mersell. They moved upwards into the Southern League where they finished third in their maiden season in the Midland Division. However in subsequent seasons they failed to make much impact, and in 1989 the club changed its name to Stroud F.C.. This highly opposed move failed to improve the club's fortune and the name was changed back to Forest Green Rovers for the 1992–93 season. Under manager Frank Gregan the club enjoyed two successive promotions in 1997 and 1998 to the Conference National where they finished 12th in their first season. A run to the final of the FA Trophy saw them lose 1–0 at Wembley Stadium to Kingstonian. They went on to appear in the FA Cup First Round for the first time, defeating Guiseley 6–0 to set up a home tie with Torquay United, which they lost 3–0. Another appearance in the FA Trophy final in 2000 saw another 1–0 defeat, this time to Canvey Island at Villa Park.