Twenty five years is a lifetime in football. Back in 1987/88 Liverpool were being crowned First Division Champions (this was pre-Sky of course), Luton Town were still plying their trade in the top division of English football and Swansea City were floundering in the 4th tier. But a look at the GM Vauxhall Conference tells so many stories. Wycombe Wanderers, Cheltenham Town and Barnet are the only current sides from that season now playing in the Football League, although a couple of others have tasted the sweet smell of promotion upwards.
Kettering Town, Enfield, Northwich Victoria, Runcorn, Telford United, Weymouth, Fisher Athletic, Boston United and Stafford Rangers – all teams who would give their first-born to be competing at that level again today. All have been to the brink (and in the cases of a few of them, actually over the edge and re-incarnated themselves) and yet to recover. And then there are the likes of Dagenham (before they found the Redbridge behind the sofa), Maidstone United who are on the rise once again and then finishing in 21st place in that season was Wealdstone.
This was to be the last season they played at the top table of Non League football, but the club could be on the verge of taking another step back to the top table of Non League football. Last season a great run to the semi-final of the FA Trophy built on the foundations of a season that saw them narrowly miss out on promotion via the play offs. This season they are gamely trying to hang on the coat tails of big spending Whitehawk and will fancy themselves to have another shot at the play offs again, and hopefully promotion to the Blue Square Bet South.
Standing in their way on this chilly Monday night would be the Rooks, who would be making the long journey north from the South coast. Recent games between the two hardly inspired the stay at home fans to come out in their droves for this Monday night clash. Two 1-0 victories for Lewes at the Dripping Pan (both thanks to debatable penalties) and a 1-0 win for Wealdstone at The Vale last season had the betters among us reaching for another 1-0 scoreline. The current form of the two teams couldn’t have been more different though. Wealdstone had taken 15 out of a possible 18 points from their past six home games, whilst the Rooks had won just twice on the road in the same period.
Monday night football has been a feature at Wealdstone for the past few years. Whilst their groundsman may not like having just 48 hours in some cases (such as this week) to prepare the pitch, the fans seem to approve of it. Their offer of half price entry for season ticket holders at Premier/Football League clubs has also boosted attendances on a Monday with very few clashes with professional games. Continue reading