That’s all folks

A satisfactory end to a season full of promise yesterday with one final victory confirming us in a creditable 7th place in the Ryman Premier.  Rather than rewrite lot’s of thank you’s below is a copy of what I wrote for yesterday’s match day programme.

Look back with pride, look forward with confidence

Welcome today to the final match of our 2008/9 season, and we welcome our friends from Hastings United to the last game of our first year in our new home.

We’ve had a great year and I think it is important we acknowledge how far the Club has come over the past year or so.

Let’s step back a moment. In 2005 with Edgware crumbling around us Northwood offered us a workable alternative but the three years there were marked by continual struggles on the pitch and a lack of momentum off it.

Late in 2007 an opportunity arose to move to Ruislip Manor; to take over and try and reinvigorate the fading stadium and the failing social club. Through 2008 the regular work parties worked tirelessly and often without too much recognition to make Grosvenor Vale ready for Ryman Premier League football, and the matches against Watford and Tonbridge marked memorable landmarks for the Club, with the first and first competitive game on our own ground since 1991. The early days of the season represented a massive learning curve but gradually we began to remember and relearn what was required to run our own stadium.

Just outside the ground with a massive effort that continues to this day, the social club began to transform into a welcoming, warm and increasingly popular environment. There is more to do there and (of course) some considerable challenges to overcome but I am confident we are on the right road.

Whether it was the new Macron kit, or the welcome and much valued West One sponsorship or the cosy physio room, we strove to deliver a professional club that looked and felt the part. Promotions to attract kids or local residents helped as we reached out to the local community and made it clear that we are an inclusive and welcoming club with a proposition worthy of support.

And support it people have, with crowds bucking the clear trend rising by over 40%, spurred on of course by a team that have matured during the season and have sensed the upturn in the Club’s fortunes by performing so well and leaving us all with dreams and heightened expectations of what next season will bring.

So many people have contributed to our success this season, and I apologise in advance for missing anyone out but I do want to mention a few individuals. My board colleagues continue to give hours and hours to this Club offering direction, deeds and inspiration. This season we have been joined by Andrew Lane who has stepped up as well as taking on the role of Company Secretary, and we are ably supported by Barry Benveniste, Mark Lloyd and Gordon McKay.

Many people take on important roles on matchdays as a matter of course, including Alan Hill, Andy Burrows, Graham and Pauline Smith, Drew Worby (and others who have helped on the gate), Roy Couch, Nick Dugard and that is not to mention the supporters club who have arisen magnificently this season under David Albert’s expert direction, with an excellent Club Shop and most enjoyable Barry Fry dinner and all the regular support we look for from them.

Tony Waugh as a newcomer to the Club has done a fantastic role as kitman this season adding to the professionalism we offer and Sateesh Khanna has taken on the challenge of running the catering facilities with so much imagination and success. Let’s not forget Adam and Minnie Gloor who continue to produce such a fascinating and enjoyable programme.

Who else? Well perhaps not so much in the public glare Phil Ralston and John Moran have done a great job with the reserves, Phil in his first year with us has made a great impression retaining the Middlesex Premier Cup, as has Micky Johnson and the Under 18s / Pinnacle side who stand on the verge of winning the Allied Counties League in their first season.

We made a big decision last summer when inviting the Ruislip Manor juniors to merge with the Wealdstone junior club. Progress towards a full merger was always going to take time but I am very encouraged by the where we are and I remain convinced that this relationship will become increasingly important to the Club in the future, as are the relationships we are forging under Mark Lloyd’s direction with Ruislip Rangers, Pinner United and Ruislip High School.

Finally in terms of saying thanks I wanted to thank the playing staff – let’s never forget we are a football after all. It has been a most enjoyable and successful season. Travelling back on the coach from Dover last week the spirit and belief the players had was palpable. They want to play for Wealdstone FC and they want to be successful with Wealdstone FC.

But as most people know we have some challenges immediately ahead of us. From now on we have to live within our means and that has meant we have attached a lot of importance to our current fundraising drive 100:400, a drive designed to ensure we can keep as many of this season’s squad as possible. At the time of writing we have just passed the 75% mark in terms of money pledged. If you haven’t come forward thus far – please do now and help us up to, and past our target.

As well as 100:400 we are trying to give Dennis all the support he needs to make our commercial operation more successful. It is not easy in this current economic climate and any leads or suggestions will be most welcome. Leo Morris has been recruited to work with Dennis and we expect more news on our commercial structure in the coming weeks.

So we end a memorable season and we have much to look forward to, including, all being well, our long awaited pre-season game against Leeds United FC here at the Vale. Details will follow soon but I am desperate for the Vale to look at its best, with every ticket sold for that game.

I suspect the non league football world will go through a summer with plenty of turmoil, but although our own financial issues are no secret, cash aside we are fundamentally in the best shape we have been in for many years. I hope many of you will try and come to the presentation evening on 9 May and be involved when the call comes for new work parties to take on the various tasks that are needed around the ground. In the meantime let me wish all Wealdstone (and Hastings) people a great summer and see you back here in just a few short months time.

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