Not letting things go quiet

…on so many fronts.

A quick update. We had a call last week involving a number of people  from the Club, directors, officials and other interested parties to discuss our current stance on activities going on with the Prince Edward site. The call really focused on what the Club’s objectives and next actions should be. We had some widespread agreement which was good and one of our priorities is to continue developing our relationship with Harrow Council. We are expecting a meeting with them towards the end of January, early February to follow up the meeting we had with a prominent Harrow councillor just before Christmas. To some extent until we know more definitively what is planned for the Prince Edward site then we can only prepare. So more news when we have it.

Also at the moment we are preparing for an important meeting as we start to properly fuse together the football club and social club entities. As reported at the Club AGM, we have reached agreement with the shareholders of the Ruislip Social Club to bring the two entities together. This is now going forward and is a very exciting development for us. Again more news in due course.

Otherwise I hope everyone is enjoying the football at the moment. Some great passing football, goals, quality defending long may it last! One game at a time though and next stop Horsham.


Is the FA Trophy worth anything these days?

I tweeted this morning that it was a shame that more Blue Square Bet Premier clubs were apparently not taking the FA Trophy seriously, this followed defeats for the likes of Fleetwood, Wrexham, Tamworth, Hayes & Yeading and Mansfield to lower league oppostion while Kidderminster, Stockport, York City also failed to beat clubs hailing from lower levels of the pyramid. All this weekend’s FA Trophy results are here.

Clearly some of these clubs have their eyes on bigger prizes, promotion to the Football League or for Fleetwood (as for Chelmsford City who also went out yesterday) a big FA Cup 2nd round replay due this coming week. But still…

By my reckoning only 11 Blue Square Bet Premier clubs are definitely through to the 2nd Round (though 2 more will be through after all BSBP replays) and the 3 above may get through their replays – meaning that it is very possible that less than half the Clubs at the last 32 stage will be from outside the top level of non league football.

To me reaching and winning a Wembley Cup Final is a highlight; for a fan, for a player, for a manager or coach or for a Club official yet many Clubs now deem it not important enough to bother about, with promotion or avoiding relegation now all important.

I have to say I understand that in some cup competitions it is an opportunity to give squad players a game, where winning is not that important, where avoiding potential fixture congestion later on in the season means getting knocked out of a cup is not always such a big deal.

Few clubs will ever accept that getting knocked out was their aim. They’ll say “we picked a team to win this game” which means “I wanted to give some of the other lads a run out and am not really bothered by this game”.

I have to think this is short sighted. Yes there are probably too many lessor cups that non league clubs have to play in – look at how many ‘bigger’ teams got knocked out in the Middlesex Senior Cup last week. But remember, the FA Cup is over for most non league clubs by October or early November so is it asking too much to play your strongest side in the Trophy? Imagine if we had taken that view in the early round of the FA Trophy in 1985?

Taking cup competitions easy is a modern phenomena that has clearly filtered down from the pro game – and it is not welcome.

Of course it might mean that clubs like Wealdstone have a chance of a run, of a giant killing against a Conference Club’s second string which we’d gladly accept of course. But for those clubs, especially those left in the competition, you’ve got a real chance of glory this season. Take it – it’ll be one of the best things you ever do.

How we got caught up in Poppygate

Did we save the day for England? Well not quite but the way we’ve things have worked out with the England fans team has been great and we have seen once again the importance of developing relationships.

The saga over the past couple of days over whether FIFA would allow England (and the other home countries) to play wearing a poppy is the type of story made for the Daily Mail and the other tabloids and sure enough they’ve risen to the occasion. A happy by product of this has been the coverage we’ve received, as we host the England Supporters in their match against their Spanish counterparts.

We’ve got to know Garford Beck since we’ve been at Ruislip. One of his roles in the game is as manager/organiser of the England fans team. Garford brought the team to Grosvenor Vale for a recent game against the Welsh and as they had a good experience wanted to bring the team back for the games against Spain and Sweden in the coming days.

We’re very happy to help. Anything which brings people onto the site is normally a good thing and the bar take is most welcome too. Following the Welsh game , the two forthcoming matches were both allocated to one of the pitches run by Wealdstone Juniors at the top of the site.

However, as the poppy story broke, the Mail and others were able to report how the England Supporters will be wearing a specially designed kit with the poppy as an integral part of it. This really caught the imagination. Sky are now due to come down and the BBC are also showing interest. High ranking officials from the Spanish Embassy are coming, and we also expect some senior figures from the Football Association. So Saturday’s game is suddenly big news. It will be now played on the main pitch as well and we are keen that not only the players and organisers but all our guests enjoy their experience of Grosvenor Vale and want to come again.

From a practical point of view we might need some help too. Paul Rumens, Peter and Pauline Worby, Fingers and Leo Morris will all be making sure everything is where it needs to be but we might need some others to help too and would welcome any Wealdstone fan who can get along on Saturday to help – we will get any specific message about help required out on the website or Forum.

And these relationships are important. Notwithstanding fees received for use of the site and money taken over the bar, I have no doubt whatsoever that the more good relationships we have with people in the game, the more this can only benefit Wealdstone FC in the long term, whether through future commercial opportunities or just through added interest in the Club.

Stop press!  FIFA have relented and are allowing England to wear the poppy so maybe the press interest in coming on Saturday will fade but let’s hope for some coverage that makes us proud of Grosvenor Vale and Wealdstone FC.


Is tonight’s game the season?

Big game tonight. Some might say that if we lose then we will have nothing much left to play for this season.

Well that is plainly wrong. Firstly we desperately want to win tonight and travel to Banbury in the next round. Much like the Margate tie, Banbury is a tie which both Clubs (or all three as it stands) will think they can progress from.

But whether or not we are in the Trophy after tonight, or by the end of November, we have only played 1/3 of the season so far and are only 4 points off the play-offs (11 points away from the drop zone). What the Ryman League season tells me is there is no outstanding team and everyone is capable of taking points off anyone else. Sounds familiar? seems to happen every year. People said beating Tooting was just beating a bad team but they then beat Lowestoft in their next game.  Similarly we beat an apparently struggling Hastings comfortably but they have now won their last 3 games.

Any team who puts a good run together will quickly shoot up the table. There is no reason why that can’t be us.

And yet, there is a feeling of under achievement so far this season. We know that in too many games we haven’t delivered what we expect. We know there are too many players not playing as consistently as we would all like. I am convinced there is better to come.

Of course the FA Cup was a huge let down – for everyone – and I think it set a tone for the following weeks which we’ve struggled to get away from.

We then had that 5 match run against leading teams, Hornchurch, Cray, Hendon, Lowestoft and Lewes. We were disappointed to only take 2 points from those 5 games, when with a bit more luck and more clinical finishing we might have got draws at Lewes and Cray, taken something from the Hendon game and beaten Lowestoft.  3 straight wins and a courageous draw on Saturday were good come backs and obviously we must keep it going tonight.

So even though from a cup perspective we will only be left in the Middlesex Senior Cup if we lose tonight, the season will be far from over. That said, let’s be clear, victory is what is required tonight and a good performance against a decent Margate side will be a necessity to make that happen. See you there.

We’ve been here before

The outpouring of emotion on the Forum or in the conversations that followed Saturday’s game and our ignominious FA Cup exit have all been justified.

I think we all felt amazed how we could witness a performance that was just so flat and by ‘all’ I include the players, the officials, the management and so on.

But ‘flat’ is what we got. And Saturday to me was no different to the Potter’s Bar game of a few years ago or various other embarrassing cup performances we’ve had to endure.

I was nervous before the game, I worried that a team full of confidence on a great run with a bit of pace about them might cause us problems, but with no disrespect at all to Beaconsfield we couldn’t have been better hosts for them. The only time we got going was at 1-0 down and the second goal finished things off.

I know I wasn’t alone in not being great company and then sleeping badly on Saturday night.

So what do we do about it? Well we have been here before, pretty much every season since I’ve been involved with the Club and I know we will be here again, whether this year, next year or some other time. Ultimately for me you have to ask yourself are you doing the right things? If the answer is yes then all you can do is roll your sleeves up and work harder and things will turn.

Do I think we have the best manager we could have? Yes. Do I think we have the best group of players we’ve had in several seasons? Yes. Do I think they are underperforming? Yes, both individually and collectively.

Will I still say yes to all those questions if we repeatedly perform like we did on Saturday – No!

Football is a game of opinions. I read some of the comments on the Forum and I understand both the emotion and some of the well thought through opinions. Some of those contributors won’t agree with me, I don’t agree with some of them. That’s fine as long as we agree that everyone continues to do their best for Wealdstone FC.

However, to the person who chose to anonymously have a go at Wes Parker on Twitter, let me say that was out of order.

So where do we go now? Well I want to quote from one of the emails I received on Sunday morning from a long term supporter and former club official..

“I’m not trying to be Churchill but we need to respond to this is a way that enforces why we are a special club.  At a time when we all probably feel less inclined and less enthusiastic about finding even more time to help Wealdstone Football Club we must do what we can to manage the consequences of yesterday.

Gordon and the management team will do what is necessary on the playing side of things but we must do whatever we can to influence morale and finances off the field.

Let’s work together this week, next week and every other damn week to make sure we are stronger and more successful each year.”

We are a special club, we have all worked hard to get to where we are, which is why days like Saturday are such a blow.

We still have much to play for this season and our next 5 league games are all against Clubs higher in the table than we are, which given we are 8th tells you what a tough spell we have. Everyone has a part to play in being successful so once the pain subsides we must all dust ourselves down, pick ourselves up and continue to make sure Wealdstone FC continues to be a special club on and off the field.



More vacancies – Matchday operations manager wanted

While I’m writing about situations vacant at the Club, let me mention the role of Matchday Operations Manager.

We would love to find someone prepared to be responsible for everything that happens off the field on a matchday.  Will be a rewarding role for someone interested in getting involved with a football club.

Most importantly it doesn’t mean you do everything – there is a big difference between being responsible and doing everything but it does need someone with good organisational skills and able to influence others. If you are interested or want to find out more please let me know.

Do you think you can run a football club?

Come on admit it, most fans think they can do a better job than those who actually run their clubs!

Well at Wealdstone, we want to give someone the chance as we launch the search for someone new to get involved with the Board and help us continue to improve Wealdstone FC.

And to make this more interesting we are going to invoke a cross between The Director and Dragons Den to help us find the right candidate.

But instead of having to convince Alan Sugar or Theo Paphitis, prospective directors will have to impress some of the Stones’ current Board. Applicants will need to submit an entry containing a document of up to 500 words on how they can add real value to the Club. They will also have to impress manager Gordon Bartlett as to their passion for the game of football.

We are always looking to attract new blood into the club and need to keep looking in different places.  With the almost daily diet of talent and reality shows that dominate our screens we thought we might try something different. Some may see this as a little ‘gimmicky’ but we are serious about finding someone who can demonstrate not only commitment to the cause but new ideas which they are able to see through to delivery.

These ideas could be about raising money, sponsorship or development in some form that will benefit the club and our aims within the local community. We believe Wealdstone has always been a club who create trends rather than follow them.  We are always open to new ideas and ways of thinking that will take us to the next level so we welcome any and all applications.

Applications are welcome from anyone who feels they have the skills and abilities to add real value to Wealdstone FC. This might be from a current supporter or else from local business people or other members of the community, as long as they have a love of football and a desire to be part of a successful club.

I think that whether in office or pub conversations, reading fans forums or listening to radio phone-ins there are always lots of people who think they have the answers for how a football club should be run. So we want to give someone the opportunity to help us. We are ambitious but need to strengthen our club leadership to take us to the next level off the pitch, which in turn will assist our progress on the field.

We’ve always believed we are one of the first ever fan’s clubs, having been owned and run by supporters for 20 years now – and this move is aimed to help bring more support into the club, as well as more expertise and experience.

So, are you interested? Think you can do better? If you are interested or want to talk about it please contact me at or through @howiejk on twitter. I’d love to hear from you.

Behind the scenes at the Non League Show

I got a text from Caroline Barker on Sunday asking me if I wanted to go up to the studio for Monday’s Non League Show. I’ve done this twice before and it is always quite fun so as I was free and it seemed a quiet news day Non League-wise I thought it could be a good opportunity to get some good Wealdstone messages in, so I said yes.

The first disappointment was finding out that regular studio guest, Dave Anderson, newly appointed manager at Harrow was not going to be in (babysitting as his wife was at Take That apparently) as I was looking forward to some good natured banter. Dave is a good solid non league guy. I think he is excellent on the show as he is the one to ask the difficult questions and his regular jousts with Conference spokesman Colin Peake can be good listening. The job at Harrow will be tough mind.

Then as Monday unfurled the story of Rushden & Diamonds withdrawing its appeal to the Conference broke meaning the apparent demise of this Club was likely to dominate the show – possibly meaning less time to talk Wealdstone. So I drove up to Regent St a bit unsure of how things might pan out.

You get to the Radio London part of Broadcasting House by 8.30. The other guests were Willie Wordsworth, a frequent visitor to Grosvenor Vale, and Dave Watters, a non league journalist. Sitting outside the studio Caroline runs through what’s being covered, who is due to be on the phone and any time left is a chance to catch up on any non league gossip.

Into the studio at 9.00 as the news is being read. Even though the mood is relaxed joviality as soon as the theme tune plays its time to snap into professional mode, Caroline runs an excellent ship. There is a good atmosphere throughout the team, and with the benefit of knowing the guys in the studio I found it easy to fall into the prevailing relaxed and upbeat mood.

Straight away I was given some airtime to talk about our pre-season preparations and hopes for the months ahead. Trouble is, Richard Jolly signing apart things have been quite quiet for us so for me the opportunity to paint a positive picture of how we run the Club amidst all the mess of the Rushden story was what I wanted to do. Fortunately I got a few opportunities to do that.

The Rushden story dominated the first half hour. Colin Peake was on the phone and as I’m afraid he usually does he had to comment on yet another difficult story for the Conference. Glorious amateurs is the best way I can describe it. They mean well, the Conference, but seem to lurch from one disaster to another, many I’m sure not of their own making. Fair play to Colin at least he comes on the radio to try to explain things.

Even though he wasn’t there in person Dave Anderson was on the phone throughout the show. I managed to suggest that the babysitting was actually his first Harrow fans forum – with a similar number of people turning up. We can look forward to seeing him later in the season.

All the time texts and tweets are coming in so Caroline in particular has to think on her feet to make sure nothing important is missed. The funniest moment was when Willie Wordsworth gave Fingers a mention and we spent a minute discussing Fingers’ role at the Club. Fame at last.

But before you know it the hour soon flashes by. Brief respites come when the mad groundhopper from the north comes on to talk about some pre-season tournament. What made me laugh were the texts from Wealdstone fans during that bit asking who was this buff?

Of the three times I’ve done this show, I enjoyed this one the most. I felt I had the opportunity to get a few decent messages out about our club, to go on about one of my ‘hobby horses’ badly run football clubs and have a little fun at Dave Anderson’s expense. I’ll look forward to the next time.

And if you want to listen to the show you can find the podcast here

So long David Howell

Apart from the Richard Jolly story, the other ‘shock’ news so far this summer has been the announcement that David Howell had left Harrow to go to newly relegated St Albans, a club in new ownership and under the chairmanship of well known journalist Ian Ridley

This was a shock to all, at Harrow too I believe. Seeing a couple of their officials at the Ryman League dinner last week, one particular concern was what team will they have to put out against QPR in their friendly due early in July.

Whatever we feel about Howell, there is no question that he had a pretty amazing season last year, getting to the first round of the FA Cup and to the play-offs. It will be interesting to see who they appoint and then how many of their players stay. There is no doubt that like all good managers, Howell created a tangible feeling of a close knit team spirit with everyone desperate to do well for everyone else. It will be a tall order for the new man to reproduce that.

What price we get St Albans in the FA Cup?

A statement of intent

I must comment on our recent signing of Richard Jolly.

Of course this is a fantastic and exciting signing for us, not only a player with a proven goalscoring record but also a rarity in someone so popular throughout the Club given his previous exploits with us.

A few people to pay credit to for this pretty amazing news, Gordon for his persistence, Jolls himself for “wanting to come home” and refuse considerably more money on offer elsewhere and of course Jez and so many supporters for helping to make this signing possible with their help.

Richard Jolly, a fit Scott Fitzgerald who underwent a successful operation at the end of last week, and 25 goal Peter Dean looks a pretty good front line especially if we can get Callum fit and able to deliver on his potential this season.

So is it a statement of intent? Every year we try to improve on the last and there’s no doubt a consistent goalscorer could make the difference for us. But remember most other clubs are strengthening too. We know of one local club who have had a big injection of cash to their budget and you don’t have to look too far to read about Carshalton’s spending or the plans at Bury and Lowestoft.

With 8 weeks until the season starts its far too early to make any predictions. But from our perspective the excitement is building.