The club was founded in 1987 by Retfordian Brian Jackson to give the town a senior club after the original Retford Town had gone out of business. The clubs inaugural season was in the Gainsborough & District League which was successful so it applied to join the Notts Football Alliance the following season and competed in that league up until 2001, when they joined the Central Midlands League. Just three years passed before another milestone was reached and the club joined the Northern Counties East League.
The success continued, finishing as runners-up in the Northern Counties East League Division One in 2005–06, gaining promotion to the Premier Division, which they won at their first attempt. They were then promoted to the Northern Premier League Division One South, which they won two years running, gaining promotion to the Premier Division in 2009. In all, between 2000 and 2009, they won a total of six championships, of various leagues and divisions, in nine seasons.
However, at the end of the 2010–11 season they finished bottom and were relegated to the Northern Premier League Division One South. Due to financial constraints, the club opted to resign from the Northern Premier League and now compete in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division where they again won the title in the 2011/12 season but they rejected promotion opting instead to continue in NCEL.
Retford reached the fifth round (last 16) of the FA Vase in the 2006–07 season, while their best run in the FA Cup has consisted of one appearance in the fourth qualifying round, in the 2008–09 season, where they were defeated 3–1 by Alfreton Town. Their first season in the FA Trophy in 2007–08 took them to the first round where they were defeated 5–2 by Histon.