Wealdstone F.C.

Wealdstone Football Club (/ˈwldstn/ WEELD-stone) is an English semi-professional football club based in Ruislip, London Borough of Hillingdon, and affiliated to the Middlesex County Football Association.[3] They currently play in the National League, the fifth tier of English football, having been promoted as champions of the National League South for the 2019-20 season. While established in 1899, it has roots dating to 1887 and was created through a series of local mergers in Wealdstone, then in Middlesex.[4] For most of its existence the club was based at Lower Mead stadium in Harrow, until 1991. After a long period of homelessness and ground sharing with various local clubs, since 2008 they have been based at Grosvenor Vale. Their traditional colours are royal blue and white, and they are nicknamed "The Stones" or "The Royals".

Wealdstone
WealdstoneCrest1-1-.png
Full nameWealdstone Football Club
Nickname(s)The Stones, The Royals
Founded1899; 123 years ago (1899)
GroundGrosvenor Vale
Capacity4,085 (709 seated)[1]
ChairmanRory Fitzgerald[2]
ManagerStuart Maynard
LeagueNational League
2020–21National League, 19th of 22
WebsiteClub website

The club were the first to achieve the famed non-league 'double', winning both the FA Trophy and the Alliance Premier League (now the National League) in the same season (1984–85). The latter happened two years before automatic promotions to the Football League began;[5] Wealdstone has never been a member of the Football League so far. The club also have the distinction of appearing in the first ever football match to be televised in the UK, when the BBC showed part of their league match against rivals Barnet in October 1946.[6]

HistoryEdit

Early yearsEdit

 
Approximate location of what was the original ground of The Oaks F.C. in 1887

The club was formed at the start of the 1899–1900 season, joining Division Two of the Willesden & District League.[7] A previous "Wealdstone F.C." existed, for workers at a local gunsmith in Wealdstone, a Middlesex village to the north of Harrow Hill - itself has its origins in a club called The Oaks. An article published by the Harrow Observer states that the Wealdstone football club formed in about 1890, playing home games in a field in Hindes Road (present-day Harrow) and meeting at the Railway Hotel, close to Harrow and Wealdstone station.[8] This club merged into another local club called Harrow Athletic F.C. in September 1894, while other clubs bearing the Wealdstone name soon formed. The present Wealdstone F.C. formed in 1899 as Wealdstone Albion, a merger of Wealdstone Rovers and Wealdstone Juniors and using the same blue and white striped colours of the old Wealdstone F.C. - the Albion name was soon dropped.[4] At this time their home turf was a field between Headstone Drive and Marlborough Hill, Wealdstone.[9]

Their first game was a friendly match on 7 October 1899 against Northwood, which they won 6–1. They were promoted to the league's Division One for the 1900–01 season after Division Two was scrapped.[7] In 1903 they moved to the College Farm Ground in Locket Road, Wealdstone, and soon after another nearby ground in what is now Byron Park.[9] In 1905–06 the club won Division One, but on 20 October 1906 a notice was posted in the local newspaper stating that the club was to be disbanded due to 'a lack of interest' from players and supporters.[7]

The club was soon reformed in time for the 1908–09 season, rejoining Division One of the Willesden & District League.[7] In 1910 they moved to Belmont Road, and won Division One again in 1912–13. Following World War I the club joined the London League and the Middlesex Senior League.

At the start of the 1922–23 season, Wealdstone F.C. switched to the Spartan League and at the same time moved south to a ground called Lower Mead in what is now central Harrow;[7] this would become the permanent home ground of the club for 69 years.[9] The club had their record win on 13 October 1923, beating the 12th London Regiment 22–0 in an FA Amateur Cup game.

Athenian League years (1928–1964)Edit

In 1928–29 they switched leagues again, this time joining the Athenian League.[7] In 1929–30 the club won the Middlesex Senior Cup and the Middlesex Senior Charity Cup for the first time.[7] On Saturday 16 November 1929, Wealdstone played Dulwich Hamlet in the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round, with the match ending in a record-breaking 7–7 draw; there has never been a 7–7 scoreline in any other FA Cup match before or since, and none either in the top four divisions of the League Pyramid (including play-offs), the League Cup, League Trophy, FA Community Shield, FA Trophy or FA Vase. Four days later, Dulwich won the replay 2–1.

During World War II the club continued to play, playing at Wembley Stadium in the final of the Middlesex Senior Red Cross Cup in 1942. In December 1944, they recorded their heaviest defeat ever, losing 14–0 to Edgware Town in the London Senior Cup. In 1946 the BBC showed part of Wealdstone's Athenian League match at Barnet, the first time a live match had been televised.[7] The club also appeared in the BBC's first two live FA Cup match broadcasts, with their games against Edgware Town in the third qualifying round and Colchester United in the fourth qualifying round being shown on television during the 1949–50 season.[7][10] After beating Colchester, Wealdstone reached the first round of the FA Cup for the first time, losing 1–0 to Port Vale.[11][12][13]

In 1951–52 the club won the Athenian League, and went on to win the Middlesex Senior Cup in 1959, 1963 and 1964.

Amateur Cup win and turning professional (1964–1979)Edit

In 1964 they switched to the Isthmian League. In 1965–66 the club reached the first round of the FA Cup again, losing 3–1 at Millwall, but went on to win the FA Amateur Cup, beating local rivals Hendon 3–1 in the final.[11] The following season saw Wealdstone entered at the first round of the FA Cup, losing 2–0 at home to Nuneaton Borough.[11]

The club joined the Division One North of the Southern League in 1971, turning professional.[7] They were moved to Division One South the following season, and won the division in 1973–74, earning promotion to the Premier Division. In 1977–78 Wealdstone progressed beyond the first round of the FA Cup for the first time; after beating Third Division Hereford United 3–2 at Edgar Street in a first round replay, they went on to defeat Fourth Division Reading 2–1 at home in the second round, before losing 4–0 at First Division Queens Park Rangers in the third round.[11]

Conference and non-league double (1979–1988)Edit

In 1979 the club were founder members of the Alliance Premier League, the new national top division of non-League football. After finishing 19th in 1980–81 they were relegated back to the Southern League, but then made an immediate return after winning the South Division of the Southern League the following season; a play-off ensued against Midland Division champions Nuneaton, with Wealdstone winning on penalties after winning the home leg 2–1 and losing 1–0 away.[11]

In 1984–85 the club had its most successful season to date, winning both the Alliance Premier League and also the FA Trophy, beating Boston United 2–1 in the final at Wembley Stadium.[11] This was first ever occasion that the non-league "double" had been achieved by any team.

However, a period of sharp decline soon set in; after finishing tenth the following season with an aging team, they finished 19th in 1986–87, and were eventually relegated at the end of the following season.

Decline and ground loss (1988–2004)Edit

By the end of the 1990–91 season financial problems caused by boardroom impropriety were seriously exacerbated by the owner selling the club's Lower Mead ground for commercial development, for which the club, after protracted legal wranglings, received only a very small share of the sale proceeds.[7] They then signed up to an expensive ground sharing arrangement at Watford's Vicarage Road, and at the end of the 1991–92 season the club were relegated again, dropping from the Southern League Premier Division into the Southern League South Division.

Seeking to reduce expenditure, in 1993 the club began a two-season ground sharing agreement at The Warren, Yeading's ground. In 1995 the club re-joined the Isthmian League in order to further reduce its travelling expenses, having to agree to drop a level into Division Three in the process, and yet again they moved grounds, this time beginning a ground share with Edgware Town at their White Lion ground that was to last ten years.[7]

After winning the Isthmian League Division Three in 1996–97, they finished second in Division Two in 1997–98 and were promoted again, this time to Division One. However, after having finished third in Division One in the 1998–99, the Isthmian League then denied the club promotion to the Premier Division after required ground improvements at the White Lion ground were not completed until six days after a specified deadline.[7]

Home search and recovery (2004–2019)Edit

 
Grosvenor Vale in March 2016

The club attempted to redevelop the local disused Prince Edward Playing Fields at Canons Park, owned by the London Borough of Harrow, into a new home ground. Construction of the new stadium started in 2003 but, when over 30% completed, building work was suddenly halted in April 2004 when the private company who were co-financing the project in partnership with the club went into insolvency. Unable to afford to complete the new stadium on their own, Wealdstone were forced to leave the site unfinished for two years, until Harrow Council, frustrated that the site was still unused and falling into disrepair, eventually sold the site lease to Barnet F.C., who used it as a training centre before later moving permanently in to what became The Hive Stadium in 2013.

In 2004 Wealdstone were promoted to the Isthmian League Premier Division as a result of the creation of the Conference North and South and winning a play-off final on penalties against Dulwich Hamlet.[11] In 2005 the club began a further new groundshare arrangement, this time moving to Northwood's Chestnut Avenue ground.[7]

In 2006 they were switched under FA reorganisation to the Southern League Premier Division for a single season, before returning to the Isthmian League the following season.

In January 2008, Wealdstone acquired Ruislip Sports and Social club and the associated lease at Ruislip Manor's Grosvenor Vale ground, starting the 2008–09 season there.[7] With the ground share agreement at Northwood coming to an end and still no specific completion date in sight for the club's Prince Edward Playing Field project, Wealdstone instead decided to invest in the Grosvenor Vale stadium to upgrade the playing facilities as a priority, in order to meet the necessary ground grading requirements to play Isthmian League Premier Division football in the 2008–09 season. The Vale continues to be improved with the introduction of new terracing, safety barriers and in 2009 a new covered stand ('Brian Collins' Corner).[citation needed]

In the summer of 2012 a new club shop was added, along with a new tea bar located behind the dug-outs on the half-way line as well as additional raised terracing. In the summer of 2013, the supporters paid for and built a new mobile stand ('Bulla Stand') which has been positioned behind the goal at the old 'Tea Bar' end and more cover has been added at the Gun Turret end ('Roy Couch' stand) providing further covered accommodation for the fans.[citation needed]

In 2011–12 the club reached the FA Trophy semi-finals, losing 3–1 to Newport County. They also reached the promotion play-offs in the Premier Division, but lost 2–1 to Lowestoft Town in the semi-finals. The following season saw them losing in the play-off semi finals again, this time against Concord Rangers. However, in 2013–14 the club were Premier Division champions, earning promotion to the Conference South.[11]

Since moving to Grosvenor Vale, Wealdstone have seen steadily increasing home attendances year on year, and currently has the highest average home attendance for any non-league club in North London. During the 2013/14 season, Wealdstone had the second highest average home attendance in the Isthmian League (after Maidstone United) and the highest average away attendance (closely followed by Maidstone United and Dulwich Hamlet).[citation needed]

The summer of 2016 saw the club change ownership when Peter Marsden, previously chairman of Accrington Stanley, took over the club in late July.[14]

 
Wealdstone vs Sutton United in the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round in 2018

On 21 August 2017, Gordon Bartlett stepped down as Wealdstone manager after 22 years.[15] A day later, Bobby Wilkinson, formerly of Hungerford Town, was appointed manager.[16] Wilkinson's first season at Wealdstone ended an unremarkable 11th-placed finish in the league, although the club reached the semi final of the FA Trophy, where they lost 3–0 on aggregate to eventual winners Brackley. In January 2019, chairman Peter Marsden was voted out of his position, and replaced by Rory Fitzgerald.[17] On the final day of the 2018–19 season, Wealdstone rose from 10th to 7th on with a 2–1 win over Hemel Hempstead to ensure a place in the playoffs.[18] Wealdstone began their playoff campaign with a win away at Bath[19] to secure a semi final against Woking, which Wealdstone narrowly lost 3–2.[20] Wilkinson subsequently left the club at the end of the season,[21]

National League (2020–present)Edit

On 21 May 2019 Dean Brennan was appointed as new manager.[22] 10 wins in the first 11 games of the 2019–20 season saw Wealdstone rise to the top of the league.[23] On 26 March 2020 the season was suspended due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, with Wealdstone still top of the league. On 17 June it was confirmed that the club were to be promoted to the National League as champions of the National League South, on the basis of points won per game.

The club's first season in the fifth tier for 32 years started positively, with 5 wins in the first 8 seeing the club rise to 2nd in the league.[24] However, following a slump in form, Brennan departed his role as manager on 2 February 2021.[25] The club subsequently appointed assistant manager Stuart Maynard as manager, with Matthew Saunders as his assistant.[26] On 5 April, Wealdstone defeated local rivals Barnet 5–1.[27] The club ended their first season back at National League level in 19th place.

In their second season in the National League, Wealdstone defeated Barnet 1–0 in front of a record crowd of 2,662 at Grosvenor Vale.[28]

Club crestEdit

The club's crest first appeared on team shirts in the 1960s. It contains four quarters representing the traditional colours of the club (royal blue and white); the "Three Lions" representing England; a football representing the club's sport; and the emblem of Middlesex, the historic county of the London Borough of Harrow where the club is from.[29]

RivalryEdit

 
Wealdstone's old and current grounds in blue, and those of Barnet in orange

Wealdstone's main rivals are often considered to be Barnet. The clubs were both founding members of the Alliance Premier League[30] and played each other regularly throughout the 1980s, although games were rarely played after that with the clubs being in different divisions. The rivalry came back to prominence when Barnet moved into The Hive Stadium which was initially meant for Wealdstone.[31] The two clubs do now play in the same division.[32] Other rivals have included Harrow Borough (with whom the "Harrow derby" is contested[33]), Enfield and Hendon,[34] with Wealdstone beating the latter in the 1966 Amateur Cup final[35]

PlayersEdit

Current squadEdit

As of 11 January 2022

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK   ENG George Wickens (on loan from Fulham)
2 DF   ENG Jack Cook
4 MF   ENG Ashley Charles
5 DF   ENG Connor Stevens
6 DF   ENG Jerome Okimo (captain)
7 FW   ENG Craig Fasanmade
8 MF   ENG Matt Buse
9 FW   ENG Josh Umerah
10 FW   ATG Rhys Browne
11 DF   SLE David Sesay
12 DF   ENG Andrew Eleftheriou
No. Pos. Nation Player
13 GK   ENG Alfie Marigliani
14 DF   ENG Connor McAvoy (on loan from Fulham)
16 FW   ENG Ira Jackson Jr.
17 DF   CRO Nikola Tavares
18 MF   MSR Alex Dyer
19 MF   ENG Zach Dronfield
20 MF   ENG Medy Elito
23 DF   ENG Jaydn Mundle-Smith
24 MF   ENG Charlie Cooper
25 MF   ENG Jamie Mascoll

Out on loanEdit

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
3 DF   ENG Dan Wishart (on loan at Hemel Hempstead)
29 FW   ENG Tecane Shrowder (on loan at Northwood)
30 DF   ENG Eli Hearn (on loan at Kings Langley)

Notable former playersEdit

For all Wealdstone F.C. players with a Wikipedia article, see Category:Wealdstone F.C. players

The club's all-time leading goalscorer is George Duck. Duck scored 251 goals for Wealdstone in 370 appearances between 1972 and 1979, and additionally set unmatched scoring records for penalties and hat-tricks.[citation needed] In every season he played for the club Duck was top scorer in league and cup competitions.[citation needed]

Amongst former players who have gone on to notable careers at the highest level of professional football are Stuart Pearce, Vinnie Jones and Jermaine Beckford. Harold Smith was the first ever player to leave Wealdstone FC for a professional career, joining Notts County in 1930.

Non-playing staffEdit

As of 20 August 2021

Position Staff
Manager Stuart Maynard
Assistant Manager Matthew Saunders
First Team Analyst Nathan McCann
First Team Coach Craig Saunders
First Team Coach Kenny Mutsanya
Goalkeeping coach Jason Scannell
Fitness coach Rachel Hill
Sports Therapist Ellie Pritchard
Kit manager Richard Bone

ManagementEdit

As of 29 March 2021[36]
Name Role
  Rory Fitzgerald Chairman
  Dominic Whyley Vice-chairman
  Mark Randall Executive Director Communications
  Andy Lavin Executive Director Commercial
  Darren Linden Executive Director Engagement & Community
  Paul Rumens President & Assistant Director
  Peter Worby Assistant Director
  Paul Fruin Club Secretary
  Chris Woods Head of Media
  Harvey Hicks General Manager

Managerial historyEdit

  • Pre 1961 Team selection committee
  • June 1961 – April 1968 Vince Burgess
  • May 1968 – December 1969 Dave Underwood
  • December 1969 – June 1970 Howard Moxon
  • June 1970 – March 1972 Alan Humphries
  • March 1972 – March 1974 Syd Prosser
  • March 1974 – March 1976 Eddie Presland
  • April 1976 – February 1977 Geoff Coleman
  • February 1977 – September 1979 Alan Fogarty
  • September 1979 – November 1980 Ken Payne
  • November 1980 – August 1983 Allen Batsford
  • August 1983 – January 1987 Brian Hall
  • February 1987 – September 1987 Colin Meldrum
  • September 1987 – November 1987 Terry Burton
  • December 1987 – October 1989 Tony Jennings
  • October 1989 – December1990 Alan Gane
  • December 1990 – September 1992 Brian Hall
  • September 1992 – September 1993 Dennis Byatt
  • September 1993 – June 1995 Fred Callaghan
  • July 1995 – August 2017 Gordon Bartlett
  • August 2017 – May 2019 Bobby Wilkinson[21]
  • May 2019 – February 2021 Dean Brennan
  • March 2021- Stuart Maynard

Records and honoursEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Ground Grading and DCMS Funding Application". Wealdstone FC. 28 March 2021.
  2. ^ FC, Wealdstone (16 January 2019). "STATEMENT FROM THE EXECUTIVE BOARD". Wealdstone FC.
  3. ^ Find a Club Middlesex County FA
  4. ^ a b "Potted History". 13 August 2011.
  5. ^ "Wealdstone boss wants to emulate heroes of 1985". 11 September 2015.
  6. ^ "BBC Television - 19 October 1946 - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Today's visitors: Wealdstone – club history" Boreham Wood Football Club
  8. ^ "Although Wealdstone Football Club as we know it today was, it is generally agreed, founded at beginning of the 1899/1900 season, records reveal that two clubs bearing the title were in being many years before that time". Archived from the original on 26 October 2021.
  9. ^ a b c "Grounds". 13 August 2011.
  10. ^ "Port Vale's Amateur Opponents in F.A. Cup". Evening Sentinel. Stoke-on-Trent. 19 November 1949. p. 4. Retrieved 8 May 2019 – via British Newspaper Archive. Wealdstone share with Barnet the distinction of having been the first amateur club to be televised—in 1946. They were again before the television cameras last Saturday in their Cup-tie with Colchester.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h Wealdstone at the Football Club History Database
  12. ^ "Wealdstone defence held under heavy pressure". The Essex Newsman-Herald. Chelmsford. 15 November 1949. p. 8. Retrieved 8 May 2019 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  13. ^ "Wealdstone's Great Cup Victory". The Observer and Gazette. London. 17 November 1949. p. 7. Retrieved 8 May 2019 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  14. ^ "Appointment of Wealdstone FC Chairman". 20 July 2016.
  15. ^ "Announcement – Gordon Bartlett". 21 August 2017.
  16. ^ "Wealdstone announce Bobby Wilkinson as new Manager". 22 August 2017.
  17. ^ "Wealdstone remove Chairman from post". 16 January 2019.
  18. ^ "Wealdstone vs. Hemel Hempstead Town - 27 April 2019 - Soccerway". uk.soccerway.com.
  19. ^ "Bath City vs. Wealdstone - 1 May 2019 - Soccerway". uk.soccerway.com.
  20. ^ "Woking vs. Wealdstone - 5 May 2019 - Soccerway". uk.soccerway.com.
  21. ^ a b FC, Wealdstone (10 May 2019). "Club Statement: Bobby Wilkinson". Wealdstone FC.
  22. ^ FC, Wealdstone (21 May 2019). "Wealdstone FC appoint Dean Brennan as manager". Wealdstone FC.
  23. ^ "England - Wealdstone FC - Results and fixtures - Soccerway". uk.soccerway.com.
  24. ^ "First Team 2020-21". 10 July 2021.
  25. ^ "Club statement:Dean Brennan". Wealdstone FC. 2 February 2021. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  26. ^ "Wealdstone appoint Maynard as boss". BBC Sport.
  27. ^ "Wealdstone thrash fierce north London rivals Barnet | Kilburn Times".
  28. ^ Nicole Cho-Yee (14 November 2021). "Wealdstone 1-0 Barnet: Brennan's big return ends with late defeat".
  29. ^ "Wealdstone F.C. Crest & Club History".
  30. ^ "History Corner: The Inaugural Alliance Premier Season - the Vanarama National League".
  31. ^ "MP and council in row over sale of football stadium for £2million". 12 September 2017.
  32. ^ "Wealdstone thrash fierce rivals Barnet to wrap up a strong Easter weekend". 5 April 2021.
  33. ^ "Wealdstone FC History » Harrow Borough 2 – 4 Wealdstone".
  34. ^ "True blue: Harrow, Enfield or Hendon - who are Wealdstone's real derby rivals?". 23 August 2013.
  35. ^ "Programmes and moving pictures: Hendon v Wealdstone, FA Amateur Cup Final, 1966 - the Pitching in Isthmian Football League".
  36. ^ "Wealdstone FC Company Details". www.wealdstone-fc.com. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  37. ^ a b c d e f g h i Mike Williams & Tony Williams (2020) Non-League Club Directory 2021, p511 ISBN 978-1869833848

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 51°34′09.85″N 0°24′59.90″W / 51.5694028°N 0.4166389°W / 51.5694028; -0.4166389