Stones debut in this season’s FA Cup on Saturday at The Vale when they meet a Biggleswade team that play their football in the Southern Premier League. The sides have met once before in the competition’s illustrious 144-year history, and that was back in 2012, when the Stones ran out 2-0 winners.
Just three players, two from Biggleswade and one from Wealdstone (Wes Parker), survive from that fixture. This season, 736 entered the competition, and the Stones join in at the fourth round stage – more commonly recognised as the 2nd qualifying round, preceded by the (1) extra preliminary, (2) preliminary and (3) first qualifying rounds…
2nd qualifying round record – penalties have never been required
Due to overseas business travel there will be no @StonesGoals coverage this weekend. It is also highly likely this will impact next Saturday’s game against Dartford (I’m back in the UK at 7am that morning). I will update where I can.
Please be assured I am continuing to work behind the scenes for ways to improve this service and hope to be able to make an announcement soon.
An early season six-pointer between two sides competing at the wrong end of the table will best be remembered for the wrong reasons. A moment of madness from a Basingstoke player, in which ref Adam Ricketts felt the force of a two-handed shove, went unpunished and was the undoubted pick of a catalogue of contentious decisions.
From The Camrose Soccer AM stadium on another sun-kissed September day…
Wealdstone started the brighter and Scott Davies was lively, hitting the bar from distance inside the first ten minutes. In fact the visitors were on the front foot from the off and took an early lead when Josh Hutchinson, playing in an unconventional role off the right wing, crossed for Matt Ball to fire the Stones ahead inside the first 13-minutes. It was Ball’s first of the season and the Stones are still yet to taste defeat when he’s scored.
Matt Ball celebrates as Stones take lead (photo: Alan Palmer)
A series of debatable decisions followed before Louis had a golden chance to fire the Stones further ahead as he went rushing through clear on goal but instead shot wastefully wide.
Basingstoke worked their way back in and on 32-minutes found an equaliser. First, a free kick from distance was turned away well by North, but the visitors failed to organise themselves sufficiently and the ball back into the box wasn’t cleared allowing Town striker Harrison Gilkes to profit from the slack defending. 1-1.
The hosts were buoyed and the game begun to swing in their favour. Minutes later Manny Williams had a big opportunity but his shot whistled just past North’s left hand post with momentum now well in The Dragon’s favour.
Then came the moment of madness on 36-minutes. A quick free-kick from the hosts was clever and when James Harper shot over the bar he proceeded to charge over to ref Ricketts – clearly feeling the official had impeded his line of movement. What followed was madness. Harper appeared to shove the ref but, rather than reach for an inevitable red, his punishment was a stern telling off. Unfortunately the @StonesGoals cameras failed to capture the incident and one suspects it won’t see the light of day on the official Basingstoke match highlights either.
Bartlett elected to hook Hudson-Odoi at half-time, the wide man had provided a couple of early teasing crosses but otherwise had a frustrating afternoon as Stones failed to utilise the width effectively. Matt Lowe, on loan from Cambridge United, was his replacement and he faired slightly better showing some neat touches.
Debut: Matt Lowe
The second half was a damp affair and neither had any real noteworthy chances until 15-minutes from time when Josh Urquhart was presented with a free header six yards out. Unfortunately for him, and the travelling faithful, his header was tame and parried away by Howe in the hosts goal with the ball falling back to the Stones defender who’s second attempt on the half volley was blocked then scrambled away from danger.
After the game Bartlett, who has faced a torrid time on the Stones forum this week, pulled no punches on assessing his team’s performance:
“I want to express publicly how bitterly disappointed I am at what we saw this afternoon.
“The players have let themselves down and let our supporters down. That performance was completely unacceptable and I have left the players in no doubt about how I feel.
“We have to improve – and fast, they are capable of so much more than this.”
Question marks remain with many believing the manager must can some of the flack for negative tactics against the league’s lowest scorers. Nonetheless, with plenty of the season left to play, purists will point to the same standing as this time 12-months ago for a team that comfortably pulled away to safety. Next week sees the FA Cup return to The Vale and a good cup run could prove to be the vital catalyst for the battle that lies ahead, lose on the other hand…
Last week’s returning heroes of ’85 failed to inspire a Stones side lacking goals and confidence. In a week where history was the celebrated theme, a second 0-0 in succession contrived to return the Stones back to ’97; the last time two successive stalemates were played out by the boys in blue.
Head to head: Stones won this fixture 4-2 last season
It could be worse…
No wins from ten and just seven goals in the process… oh how Basingstoke Town wish Ronaldinho had said yes some 12-months ago. Fact or fiction the PR machine over at Camrose, sorry the Soccer AM stadium, has been working overtime and despite sitting bottom of the league, the side that finished 3rd last term remains a giant waiting to awaken.
Saturday’s game matches the league’s lowest scorers, Basingstoke Town and Wealdstone, who between them have netted just 15 goals from a combined 19 games and whilst the Stones early season struggles have been well documented, Basingstoke’s remain more of a surprise. Saturday’s hosts were imperious last season, finishing third and winning 22 games in the process (only the top two won more) before finally succumbing to Whitehawk in the second leg of an evenly contested play-off semi final. But that was last term and Basingstoke are yet to register a win this campaign, a run of four draws and six defeats leaves them rooted to the bottom of the table and, for the first time in 12-years, puts their stay at this level under serious threat.
Basingstoke skipper David Ray is under no illusions that Saturday’s hosts must reverse their terrible early season form, and quick. Speaking to the club’s website, he said: “We still have the core of the squad that finished third so we can change things and the sooner the better. Supporters live and breathe it the same as we do. They are going to feel the frustration the same as us. The only thing I would say to them is keep the faith. We want to get some points on the board and put a smile back on their faces. We are going through a rough time, no question of that.”
And you can be sure Basingstoke will want to arrest the slide especially with an ambitious chairman and a new stadium on the horizon. In fact you could say it’s been quite an interesting 12-months for The Dragons which began with an audacious bid to sign former Brazilian superstar, Ronaldinho last September .
The Mirror: Ronny
The Mail: yes, Basingstoke
A fantastic piece of PR for a club that seems to know all about self-promotion having earlier last summer agreed a deal with popular Saturday morning football show Soccer AM for the naming rights on their stadium.
And it was a move which delighted club chairman Rafi Razzak who remains keen to deliver a club that is a pillar of the community. Commenting at the time of that deal last July, he said: “This fits incredibly well with our key objective – to create a club that is self sufficient and at the heart of our community.
“The eyes of the nation will be on us this season – and supporters who may not have heard of us before will get to know Basingstoke Town FC pretty well, through our partnership with Soccer AM.”
Good PR or as wet as Max Rushden? Basingstoke and Soccer AM
And on the proposed new stadium, believed to be costing in region of £10 million quid, Mr Razzak said: “Camrose has been a fantastic home for us for well over 60 years and it has seen many great sporting moments. But now it is in such need of modernising that it threatens to become a major obstacle to realising the club’s dreams. The club have big ambitions for the future.”
The club wants to use an eight-acre (3.2 hectares) piece of land owned by Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council between London Road and Old Common Road near War Memorial Park. The club said the money for the new stadium, with a planned capacity for 5,124, double the current ground, would come from the sale of the section of the Camrose ground owned by Basingstoke Town.
So what’s gone wrong this season? Like Wealdstone, scoring first seems to be a big problem. Town have led for a grand total of just 16 minutes over the course of their opening ten fixtures, with the opposition scoring the opening goal of the game on eight occasions. A late equaliser two weeks ago against Hemel looked to be the turning point but things have got worse since then and everything that could have gone against them has.
Speaking of his team’s struggles manager Jason Bristow said: “Scoring first was a big thing for us last year. If we go ahead, the opposition has to open up, which gives us space to play.
“Starting well and taking the lead is important in the way we play, but we have spent a lot of time behind in games this season. That allows the opposition to shut up shop because they don’t have to score.”
Since Hemel, Basingstoke have been hammered twice. First, 1-5 at home to Eastbourne with Portuguese playmaker Miguel Baptista rapidly adjusting to Conference South football making his mark for The Sports. A goal worthy of gracing any game, at any level, the star took the ball on his chest with his back to goal, before swivelling and striking a dream of a volley into the top left corner – it was cruel on Town, against the run of play, but nonetheless set Eastbourne on their way to a convincing victory.
Then came St Albans, a team who had themselves been floundering at the wrong end of the table. Having dominated possession for much of the game Town lacked the penetration to get in behind the Saints rearguard and another inhalation followed. Only alphabetical order had kept them from the foot of the table but even that couldn’t save them from finally accepting their fate when Weston clocked a late equaliser against Truro on Tuesday night.
We started by talking about awakening giants, so perhaps that’s how we should finish. Connor Calcutt – Wealdstone’s on form striker, five goals in his last five games, or Connor Calcutt, five goals in his last 90 minutes of football; both stats are correct – albeit all five came against a park outfit. Not to be knocked, his Tuesday night antics in the Middlesex Charity Cup ensured he became the first Stones player to net five in a game since Mark Graves against Wimbledon in the early 80s.
This week has seen yet more scrutiny placed on the immediate future of boss Gordon Bartlett after the Stones recorded a second successive scoreless draw – the first time they’ve recorded such a sequence since April 1997 (or November 1979 if you take league games only, and a first home 0-0 since Lowestoft visited in April 2014). Last week’s 0-0 was an ill-fitting shot shy performance saved only from being all the more uninspiring by the presence of the greatest Stones team ever as part of the club’s 30th anniversary double celebrations.
And so the question marks remain despite suggestions from some quarters that the criticism is unjustified; particularly as the Stones are now unbeaten in their last three league games – a run that has moved them up to 16th in the form table.
The well documented problem continues to be goals and with just eight this season only Saturday’s hosts Basingstoke (7) have faired worse.
Good news might be around the corner with both pre-season signings Binns and Cadmore featuring in Middlesex Charity Cup action in midweek; a return for both would be welcome.
So what now? Wealdstone’s immediate ambition must be to remain in the division but one issue continues to blight that target. Money. Specifically lack of it.
Be part of it: 12th Stone
Thursday night sees the second instalment of the so far much maligned 12th Stone campaign. The first episode drawing widespread criticism over the unconventional 2130 start time (Woy Hodgson to blame) but ambition remains the same – raise funds for the club and continue to strive towards a long term vision and stable future for Wealdstone FC. What’s the definition of those? Exactly. That’s why you need to attend the meeting…
At the moment, Bartlett and the board are always one game away from a blasting and, although opinion continues to remain very much divided, knives remain sharpened. Against all odds, Wealdstone won this fixture 4-2 in the last campaign – the perfect revenge for a 90th minute sucker punch at the Vale earlier on that term.
As for Basingstoke, they can’t keep losing… Can they? To ship 8 goals to Eastbourne and St Albans is nothing short of calamitous but the hosts have a proud record in this division, twice finishing in a playoff berth and never finishing lower than 19th during their ever-present run as a conference south outfit. The beast must awaken… And that could finally happen Saturday.
2-1 to the hosts. And it’s live… all ya goals and big match highlights via @StonesGoals
Who said we were boring? One week on from the most boring weekend in Conference South history which played out five, yes five, 0-0 draws (Stones were one of them) – questions continue be asked of the misfiring frontline as Stones stumbled to a second successive 0-0 in front of the legends of ’85…
The day will best be remembered for reuniting club legends – an elite band of players rightly regarded as the best assembled team the Stones have ever possessed from a moment in time that club president Paul Rumens acknowledged as “the absolute defining pinnacle of our football club.”
No fewer than 12 faces from the most successful squad ever assembled in Wealdstone’s illustrious history will reunite for the first time in 30-years on Saturday. The ex-players including Andy Graham, Paul Bowgett and Vinnie Jones will gather at the Vale for a lunchtime banquet to relive stories from the famous double winning team of 1985 prior to watching the Stones of today entertain Chelmsford City in the Vanarama South.
A groundbreaking season for a predecessor to the Conference, with a first sponsor and, even more radical, an extra point for an away win.
The long-term significance
The season marked the first sponsorship of the topmost tier of the non-League pyramid, with the sportswear company Gola (which had previously backed Roy Race’s Melchester Rovers) providing financial backing (GM Vauxhall took over in 1986‑87 and the division became known as the Conference). It was also the second year of a three-season experiment in which teams were awarded one point for a draw, two for a home win and three for an away win.
The points system benefited those teams with the best away records, most notably eventual champions Wealdstone, who gained 38 of their eventual 62 points away from their Lower Mead stadium (now a Tesco superstore). The core of the team had been part of the successful Southern League championship-winning side of 1982 and relied heavily upon the central defensive pairing of Paul Bowgett and Dennis Byatt, Robin Wainwright and Neil Cordice in midfield, plus Neil’s brother Alan and new signing Andy Graham up front. The latter scored a spectacular goal, a thrilling overhead kick, just two minutes into the FA Trophy final against Boston United, which Wealdstone went on to win 2-1, thus becoming the first team to complete the non-League double.
Nuneaton Borough finished runners-up for the second season running, thanks largely to the efforts of Paul Culpin, whose 36 goals followed 41 hotshots the previous season, leading to a short-lived stay in the big time at Coventry. Newly promoted Dartford, managed by John Still, were the surprise package of the season, and another team whose away form outshone that at home.
The greatest losers from the points system were Bath City, who achieved what is still their highest position in the pyramid and would have been champions if three points for all wins had applied. Bath were also rejected for Football League membership at the end of the season.
Yeovil called up some 40 players in their unsuccessful attempt to avoid the drop, yet still remained the best-supported club, with an average home attendance of almost 1,300. Frickley Athletic toyed with relegation for some time before reviving, while Worcester City, leaders before Christmas, plummeted in the new year.
Telford United embarked on a brilliant FA Cup run, defeating Lincoln, Preston (in a remarkable 4-1 away win), Bradford City and Darlington, before losing 3-0 in the fifth round to Everton at Goodison Park (and the score was still 0-0 at half-time).
For the record books
Barnet’s 7-0 thrashing of Wealdstone – who had won the title and were resting players for Wembley – was the season’s biggest victory, while Bath contrived to lose 6-1 at home to Kettering.
If, like me, you were born after 1985 you might be wondering what all the fuss is about.
Just who were the men in blue? And why will they rightly receive a huge ovation from all corners of the Vale when they’re paraded before kick-off on Saturday afternoon…?
StonesGoals has done the digging…
Bob Iles – goalkeeper. How good was Bob Iles?
Bob Iles in his Chelsea days
In 2011, Richard Mellor started a thread on the Wealdstone forum: “Best Wealdstone goalkeeper?”
At the time of the question, Jonathan North the Stones current stopper was emerging as the natural successor to former-QPR youth team keeper Sean Thomas – who saw his place under threat following a series of high profile blunders including one against Rotherham in the FA Cup.
North was being talked up as potential modern day giant but the shared viewed was that it was far too early to get carried away. A few names were floated into the mix but all seemed to have one thing in common – the odd howler. Most, it seemed, except Iles.
Attic perhaps summed up Iles perfectly, when he said: “Iles was very much a poor man’s Peter Shilton. Solid, dependable, brave, marshalled his back line, commanded his box, excellent handling. Like Shilton, maybe not as athletic as some of his counterparts but his positional sense usually meant he didnt have to fully extend himself that often. You don’t win the league, as we did in 1985 without a keeper who knows what he’s doing.”
It seemed Iles only fault was his kicking. Prior to Wealdstone Iles played for Chelsea, who paid then-Southern League outfit Weymouth £10,000 for his services in June 1978. With first team opportunities limited at Stamford Bridge, the stopper moved to Wealdstone in 1983.
Iles played 37 times in the double winning season, keeping 15 clean sheets in the process.
So, was he the best? StonesGoals can’t answer that question, but if we go back to Richard Mellor’s question on the forum back in 2011 much of the consensus named another stopper as the ultimate no1. The late Ray Goddard. Goddard was a football league keeper, he played for Leyton Orient, Greenock Morton in Scotland, Millwall and Wimbledon, before Allen Batsford brought him to Wealdstone in 1981. Goddard’s contribution to the double winning season should not be forgotten either, he featured 11-times for the Stones during the early months of that term.
Wealdstone left back who turned out 195 times for the Stones between 1980-1986, scoring twice. Another with football league pedigree, he was a professional at Chelsea and QPR and played for 52 times for Wimbledon after they were elected to the Football League. Alongside Jones, Perkins was the ‘hard man’ of the squad.
Played 40 times for the Stones between 1984-1986. Midfield general Roy started his career in the Isthmian League with Slough Town before signing for Reading in 1977, where he was soon appointed captain, playing alongside Lawrie Sanchez and Gary Peters. After 37 League appearances for the Royals he was bought by Torquay United for £11,000, where he played a further 77 League games before Wimbledon snapped him up. His brother Barrie was a Welsh Amateur International and Roy harboured hopes of a call-up to the Welsh side himself.
During the 1980/81 season he appeared 9 times for Wimbledon before drifting into non-League football with two spells at both Hayes and Wealdstone and a summer in Finland with Pallo-Toverit (PPT) – now known as FC Jazz! Perhaps FC Jazz was an appropriate destination for Roy who was last reported to be working as a musician in the London area.
The man who features in one of the most iconic Wealdstone FC photos of all time, Bowgett was the Wealdstone captain and was instrumental in the double winning side. The central defender was well decorated in blue, featuring 430 times and netting an impressive 65 times (a large proportion from the spot), during his eight years at the club between 1980-1988. He had a brief spell at Tottenham earlier in his career but most notably enjoyed a two-year stint at Wimbledon playing 65 times for the Dons in the Football League.
A highly popular member of the hugely successful double winning Stones side and Bowgett’s centre half partner. He made a total of 369 appearances between 1981 and 1990 as a combative centre half.
The former Fulham, Peterborough and Northampton man later went on to manage the team during the most difficult period in the club’s recent history between 1992 and 1993. In 2008, Byatt, who resides in nearby Hillingdon, returned to the club as Commercial Manager and within a week of his appointment he pulled off a major coup for the club – landing a significant new sponsorship deal with Ruislip electrical firm, West One Services.
Given the difficulty Wealdstone have faced in attracting significant investment over the past few years, any Commercial Manager is always going to be placed under the microscope so perhaps it was of little surprise that following 18-months of hard work, the club reluctantly decided to move in a different direction and the pair parted ways once more.
Brian grew up a Fulham fan and played for the club in the late 70s. He made his first start in front of 55,000 people at Stamford Bridge over the Christmas period of 1976 and before long he was established as a first team regular. In fact, on that day he played in a Fulham team that featured both Bobby Moore and George Best.
Looking back on his career, Greenaway said:
“I had always been an old fashioned winger. I liked to play out on the right and take the full-back on. My pace could usually take me past him and quite often I’d win free-kicks after being fouled. And then if the play was down the other flank, I used to like coming in late, unmarked for a ball across the face of the goal. I got a few goals that way. I’d love to be playing in that role today because wingers seem to be back in fashion and can add an extra dimension to a team’s play.”
Just when everything seemed to be going so well, Brian suffered an injury which changed his career. “It was so silly really,” he explained. “We were training as usual and it was my turn to go in goal. I dived to save a shot but fell awkwardly and I was stretchered off and taken to hospital. It seemed I had punctured a lung and the injury kept me out for a couple of months. While I was out, Sean O’Driscoll came into my position. He played well and the team went on a good run that ended with promotion. I couldn’t get back.”
A spell in Cyprus with Apoel in Nicosia followed, before Brian returned to England. “I came back to the UK and played a lot of non-League football. I had a great time at Wealdstone. In 1984/85 we won the equivalent of the Conference and the FA Trophy at the old Wembley Stadium. We were the first amateur team to do the double, and we were all genuine amateurs. We all had other jobs and mine was chauffeuring, something I’ve been doing now for 23 years.”
He played over 150 times for the Stones. Quotes courtesy of Fulham FC.
The only Wealdstone player in the past 40-years to score five goals in one game when he stuck five past Wimbledon in a friendly back in 1983. He was a prolific goalscorer in non-league football. He was Wealdstone’s leading scorer for five successive seasons – netting 89 times in 191 games between 1982 and 1987. His strike rate is second only to the legendary George Duck.
Before Stones he had tried his luck in the Football League, but scored just three goals in 33 games for Plymouth Argyle over four seasons. He left Wealdstone in 1987 to join local side Hayes and scored 46 goals in 89(+14) appearances over two seasons and interestingly remains the last Hayes player to score 20 goals in a league season – in 1987-8 he totalled 23 goals in 37 games.
Vital member of the double winning year. The winger was as good as any that Wealdstone have seen in the early months of the 84-85 campaign. He began his career as an apprentice with Chelsea and had spells at Watford, Reading and Torquay. He left Wealdstone to join Yeovil Town in 1986.
Testimonial: Wainwright, 1987
Well decorated midfielder played in the Football League for Cambridge United, Luton Town, Millwall and Northampton Town prior to joining the Stones. Wainwright was a skilful and busy midfield man – a pivotal backbone in the club’s most successful era.
The Cordice brothers are rightly regarded as Stones legends. Alan, a striker, played for Chesham, Marlow and Maidenhead United –whom he left to join Norwich City for a fee of £5,000 in 1979 before later joining the Stones. The striker had electric pace and won a string of penalties throughout the double season – some say he was worth the admission money alone.
Just a few years earlier, Wealdstone won the Southern League Championship and Alan was the scourge of opposition defences during that particular title winning campaign scoring 38 goals. In fact, he was so good that Paul Bowgett finished as Stones second top scorer in the Southern League. Why? Because Cordice won a string of penalties.
Neil was the more versatile of the brothers and featured in defence and attack but most prominently in midfield where he added much needed guile assisted by a powerful gun slinger of a shot. No other player has started more games for the Stones than Neil Cordice – 443 competitive matches; Paul Bowgett runs him a close second with 419 and Robin Wainwright third with 410. Interestingly, with 50 appearances from the bench, Cordice is number 3 in the Stones all time sub appearance list behind Ben Alexander 71 and Lee Walker 53. One more? Neil scored the last ever goal at Lower Mead when he netted against Sutton United in a 1-1 draw in the Capital League (reserves) on 7 May 1991.
Infamously scored a spectacular overhead kick within two minutes of the FA Trophy final against Boston United at Wembley stadium – a goal widely recognised as one of the top ten Stones strikes of all time especially given its significance. The other pick of his many great goals was probably his effort against Welling United in the FA Trophy run. Receiving the ball on his chest, on the edge of the box with his back to goal , he turned and volleyed the ball in the top corner for a truly memorable strike.
Some recall that the striker was unspectacular until he got sight of goal but his finishing ability was second-to-none, as was his knack of scoring crucial goals. Another that is fondly remembered was the winner against Kettering Town in the penultimate game of the season to seal the title and cement his status as a Wealdstone hero. Famed for his flowing locks, the striker scored 8 times in 17 appearances during that inspired campaign.
A forward, Holmes began his career in the academy at Division One side West Ham United.He was released without making a senior appearance and dropped into non-league football to sign for Athenian League side Haringey Borough, remaining with the club until August 1979.
Holmes got his chance in league football when he signed for Division Three side Brentford on a part-time contract in August 1979. He scored on his debut for the club in a League Cup first round defeat to Southend United and went on to score seven goals in 30 appearances during the 1979-80 season. His value to the team was such that manager Bill Dodgin offered Holmes a full-time contract, which he declined and departed Griffin Park.
A spell at Enfield followed where he enjoyed a successful spell winning the 1981-82 FA Trophy and the 1982-83 Alliance Premier League championship, before joining Wealdstone in 1984. Success at the top level of the non-league game continued, winning the 1984-85 Alliance Premier League, the FA Trophy – where he scored the decisive second goal in the final – and the Middlesex Senior Cup. He remained with the club until 1987, making 87 league appearances and scoring six goals.
bullet tooth Tony: Vinnie Jones
Undoubtedly the most recognisable of the double winning team thanks to his post-Wealdstone exploits, Vinnie ‘The hardman’ Jones’ career in football began in 1984, when he was 19 years old, at the Stones. He combined football with working as a hod carrier on a building site. In 1986, aged 21, he moved to full-time professional status with Wimbledon, who paid Wealdstone £10,000 for his services. He scored on only his second appearance for Wimbledon on 29 November 1986, in a 1–0 win over Manchester United in the old First Division and within two seasons he was an FA Cup winner. From there, the rest, as they say, is history. Oh, and before Hollywood.. there was a classic appearance in popular Saturday night TV show – Gladiators. Jones even had fisticuffs with the Wolfman…
Remembering the late, great, Brian Hall
Wealdstone remembers: Brian Hall
Brian Hall became Wealdstone manager in 1983. A year and a half later, Wealdstone were crowned both Gola League (now Nationwide Conference) and FA Trophy winners. Most of his critical acclaim came from his excellent tactics, and his gift for finding talented players at cheap prices. He coached Dave Beasant and Alan Cork at Wimbledon, then produced Vinnie Jones and Stuart Pearce whilst at Wealdstone. At Yeovil, whom he managed post Stones, there was Mark Shail and Guy Whittingham. He also inspired extreme loyalty from his players to the extent that many of Yeovil’s most long serving players come from the Brian Hall era. Born in Ealing in 1940, Brian had a brief non-league playing career with Met Police and Dunstable Town before he moved into coaching in 1973. He was assistant Wimbledon manager to Allen Batsford and was pivotal in laying the foundations that took the Dons into the Football League. One of the most respected faces in the world of non-league football sadly lost his fight to cancer in 1999. Below are the words of people who worked with him throughout the most successful period in the club’s history. Wealdstone Football Club will forever be indebted to his work.
Les Reed, Wealdstone coach at the time, still speaks highly of his time at Wealdstone and in particular sings the praises of the late Brian Hall. Recalling the spirit of 85 with fond memories, Reed who went on to coach, and manage, Charlton Athletic had this to say:
“I hit it off with the players immediately; they were as focused as you get on winning and improving. They are still the finest bunch of players I have worked with as a group and sit alongside the Charlton team that were promoted via the play-offs in 1998 as the most enjoyable and dedicated professionals I have had the pleasure to coach.
David Morritt (Stones chairman) had tremendous ambition at that time for the club, Brian (Hall) and I were given as good resources as you would get in non-League at the time. We trained like a full time club , travelled like a full time club and had a mentality to match. I looked forward every week to training after work and enjoyed every 90 minutes of every game because the manager was so good at his job, let me do my job and the players were so responsive. It is such a shame that after all the work and planning, promotion to the League for the country’s best non-League team was down to a vote of the very clubs that were threatened by us. Then the following season it all changed, Scarborough went up eventually under Neil Warnock and look what’s happened to him. I remind him every time I see him. From where we both started, I still commute to work and he goes in a helicopter!”
On the team, and in particular Hall, Reed continued:
“Where can I start, they are all special. Brian Hall will always be dear to me and close to my heart. He really gave me my first opportunity and the game lost a magnificent man and manager, someone I believe would have gone on to great things had tragedy not taken him from us. I would go so far as saying we might even have been together sometime like Clough and Taylor!!
The Championship winning team were all stars and I could just list them as they all bring back memories of great moments, Alan Cordice’s goals, Bob Iles’ saves, Greeners whinging! I could go on. There were the quiet professionals; Neil Cordice, Steve McCargo, Mark Graves. And how do you describe Andy Graham?
The final was the first of many magic moments in the Wembley dressing rooms. I had no idea that Wembley would become a second home to me later in life. Wealdstone gave me the confidence and the desire to drive on as a Coach and belief that I could make it to the top of my profession. I will never forget that.”
Barry Nevill, a former coach at Wealdstone worked under Brian Hall and played for Wealdstone too. He was asked about his time at the club and he recalled:
“I loved Wealdstone, the atmosphere and the people, it was a special time with lots of special people. Some great and funny times, there were so many characters in the dressing room, so many stories and one hell of a good manager. It’s a great shame he didn’t get the chance in the Football League that he deserved.
After the festivities of the morning lunch, the squad of 1985 will watch today’s first team take on Chelmsford City – a side that the modern day Wealdstone claimed a ‘double’ over last season.
A win for the Stones on Saturday would represent the first time since January that Stones have strung together a sequence of two home wins in succession. But Chelmsford arrive at the Vale in good form having won 50% of their opening 8 matches although it might have been better – they did let a 2-0 half-time lead slip against Havant last Saturday, drawing 2-2, when victory would have meant three on the spin for the Clarets and would have catapulted them into the playoff places.
There’s goals in both teams, but particularly Chelmsford who’ve only failed to score once this season but have always netted on their travels; the main threat will undoubtedly come from former-Maidstone United front man, Billy Bricknell, who has netted four of Chelmsford’s 15 league goals.
Head to head: 26 meetings, all comps
Last season’s corresponding match saw Wealdstone win a pulsating game 4-2.
History suggests when these two meet it’s usually an open game, so why would Saturday be any different? We’re banking on the feel good factor of the 80’s mob to aid the efforts of today’s outfit. Goals, goals, goals, it’ll be another thriller at the Vale. 3-2 Stones.