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Review - Game 19: Tooting & Mitcham 0-2 Horsham
A freezing November night saw me hop on both a train and a tram as I journeyed into the dark heart of South London. The club is easy enough to get to and there are many gym/recreational facilities adjoining the ground, similar to Staines Town FC.
Imperial fields has an impressive main grandstand with decent facilities either end behind the goals, however most of this passed me by as I looked on with incredulity as a man with crutches, glasses and an all too familiar jacket and balding head came into view, yep, my stalker had come down to a re-arranged game mere days after seeing Welling play at a last minute game.
I have promised myself that next time I see him I will talk to him but I am a little scared so may need some dutch courage and/or some bodyguards. "Big" Chris came down with me as the ground is fairly local for him and he also had some contacts within the club who had promised a player to chat to us and sign my t-shirt. Before you cheer at this news however I must regretfully point out that no-one came to meet us after the match and we went home disappointed.
As previously mentioned the weather was fairly Arctic and I wasn`t wearing nearly enough layers so spent almost the entire game shivering and jiggling around as if I had a weak bladder, we also had the loudest five year old girls in the Northern Hemisphere screaming just to our right which made conversation between me and Chris nigh on impossible.
The game started and Tooting didn`t look to have recovered from their FA Cup hangover which has seen some good early season form turn into a desperate run in which they can`t seem to buy a point. Despite working hard the Tooting team were second best to every ball, their passing was poor, especially to the front players, and they never really threatened or got going during the first half.
Conversely, Horsham were playing with confidence and guile, easily able to nullify Tooting`s struggling midfielders and forwards and able to cut decisively through the home teams defence. Despite their apparent dominance there was little in the way of goalmouth action until midway through the first half but both keepers were well up to the scuffed shots that came their way.
Then just on the stroke of halftime an unfortunate turn of events saw the home side go behind. Horsham forward Claude Seanla burst through the Tooting defence but an onrushing Dave King saved the ball at his feet at the edge of the area, however the ball bounced of Horsham`s Par Harding and looped over a second despairing effort from King. The handful of Horsham support went mental and the sense of "not again" from the Tooting support was palpable.
The second half started and the night was obviously not an auspicious one for the home side as they were soon looking at a two goal deficit. A sliced clearance led to a Horsham clearance which was driven in and blasted straight into the top corner by the creator of the first, Seanla. A cracking goal at any level it allowed Horsham to relax and Tooting seemed to admit defeat despite only a few minutes having passed from the restart. The rest of the half was mainly pedestrian with Tooting trying but unable to create anything remotely close to a chance whilst Horsham played well within themselves.
As we scampered into the clubhouse bar to avoid frostbite it seemed that Tooting will need to do an awful lot if they are to regain their decent form and league position whereas Horsham we will see a few times more this year and on the evidence of that night are progressing nicely. After waiting for over half an hour an apologetic Chris led me to his car and kindly gave me a lift home which probably saved at least half of my toes so ta very much!
Build Up - Game 20: Wealdstone v Dartford
Wealdstone have had a difficult but nonetheless interesting history. Formed in 1899 and nicknamed 'The Stones` or 'The Royals` the club can boast a number of rivals from Barnet and Enfield, to Hendon and nearby Harrow Borough. The club lasted a mer seven years before winding up in 1907, amusingly down to a lack of interest from fans AND players! However the team were reformed in 1908 until the Great War where again they were closed down and lost a great many people to the conflict.
After the war the club continued but in spite of drawing large crowds didn`t see much in the way of success until the 1950`s. They won their first silverware in 1952 when they won the Athenian League title. They built on this success throughout the 50`s and 60`s with a number of cup victories including the FA Amateur Cup in 1966 at nearby Wembley beating rivals Hendon. The club were the first to play in a televised match when they took on Barnet in an Athenian League tie in 1946, and the first to play a live televised FA Cup game when they took on Colchester United in 1949.
Success was not to last however and despite more success during the 70`s and early 80`s, where they were the best non-league club in the country, the late 80`s were to prove a turbulent time for the club, the repercussions of which are still being felt to this day. In 1987 the then chairman sold the ground to Tesco and the club received little in the way of money and were forced to move around and groundshare for 17 years. Audaciously the new owners agreed a groundshare with Watford FC but this was far too costly and almost ruined what was left of the struggling club. Groundsharing then occurred at Yeading, Edgeware Town and Northwood.
The team initially slipped down the leagues as the minimal finances were put into place but eventually started to creep back up the footballing pyramid. Frustratingly however the club were denied entry into the Isthmian Premier League in 1999 as Edgeware Town`s ground wasn`t up to the required standard. They eventually attained promotion in 2004 however following a restructure of the league the cub found itself back in the Southern League in 2006.
The club started building it`s own new ground in 2003 but again were hampered by financial problems and work was halted in 2004, the chairman then acquired the rights to Ruislip Manor sports facilities and the club now play at 'The Vale` with no completion of the intended ground in Harrow insight.
The club seems to have been unlucky throughout it`s history. Despite winning the "Gola League" (Conference title) they were unsuccessful in their application to join the football league, yes, that's right, winning a title didn`t mean you would definitely go up! A crazy state of affairs and the beaurocratic FA seems to have punished and frustrated Wealdstone FC at many a turn.
So far this season;
The club have been storming through the league. They are currently in 7th but this is only due to the fact they have played between two and five games less than everyone else! They also were narrowly beaten by Rotherham 3-2 in the FA Cup first round and are currently competing successfully in a number of other cups. Dartford however are currently top of the league by 8 points with two games in hand over their nearest rivals. Two of the top teams in the league come the end of the season methinks.
1905/06 .Willesden District League Division 1 Champions
1912/13 .Willesden District League Division 1 Champions
1912/13 . London League Division 2 Champions
1951/52 .Athenian League Champions
1965/66 .FA Amateur Cup Winners
1973/74 .Southern League ( First Division South ) Champions
1981/82 .Southern League (South ) Champions
1981/82 .Southern League Cup Winners
1981/82 .Southern League Championship Shield Winners
1981/82 .Southern League Championship Cup Winners
1984/85 .Gola League Champions
1984/85 .FA Trophy Winners
1984/85 .Capital Football League Champions
1986/87 .Capital Football League Champions
1996/97 .Isthmian Division Three Champions
1997/98 ..Promoted to Isthmian Division 1
2003/2004 ..Promoted to Ryman Premier League as winner of Play-off`s
Middlesex Senior Cup Winners; 1929/30, 1937/38, 1940/41, 1941/42, 1942/43, 1945/46, 1958/59, 1962/63, 1963/64, 1967/68, 1984/85, Runners up 7 times.
Middlesex Charity Cup Winners; 1929/30,1930/31,1937/38, 1938/39, 1949/50, 1963/64, 1967/68, 2003/04
From the M1: Follow Signs for Heathrow Airport on the M25. Come off at Junction 16 onto the A40, come off at The Polish War Memorial junction A4180 sign posted to Ruislip, continue on West End Road, right into Grosvenor Vale after approx 1.5 miles, the ground is at the end of the road.
From the M25: Follow Take Junction 16 Off M25 onto A40. Then Come Off at The Polish War Memorial junction A4180 sign posted to Ruislip, continue on West End Road, right into Grosvenor Vale after approx 1.5 miles, the ground is at the end of the road.
From the M4: Junction 4B, take the M25 Towards Watford, come Off Junction 16 and join A40, come off at The Polish War Memorial junction A4180 sign posted to Ruislip, continue on West End Road, right into Grosvenor Vale after approx 1.5 miles, the ground is at the end
From Heathrow Airport: Follow Signs to M4. Follow M4 Towards Reading. Take Junction 4B onto M25 come off at Junction 16 and join A40, come off at The Polish War Memorial junction A4180 sign posted to Ruislip, continue on West End Road, right into Grosvenor Vale after approx 1.5 miles, the ground is at the end
By Tube: From Ruislip Manor Station (Metropolitan Line/Picadilly Line) turn left out of the station, then 1st right into Shenley Avenue, 3rd left into Cranley Drive, the ground is 50 yards on the left. From Ruislip Station (Metropolitan Line) Turn left and walk up the stairs turn left again and go over the bridge into West End Road, walk down approx 200 yards and turn left into Grosvenor Vale. From Ruislip Gardens (Central Line). Turn right into West End Road and keep going for approx 1/2 mile turn right into Grosvenor Vale, the ground is at the end of the road
By Bus: The E7 bus runs between Ealing Broadway and Ruislip Stations. There are stops on both sides of West End Road by Grosvenor Vale.