Category Archives: Rants

REVEALED: how the table would look if the season kicked off in October!

Wealdstone had an incredible start to the season, registering just one win in the opening 11 fixtures; relegation looked a certainty. But the Autumn season brought about change and an upturn in fortunes saw the side go 11 league games unbeaten – a run which saw them climb out of the bottom two… so, as we approach the penultimate weekend of Wealdstone’s inaugural season back in the Conference, @StonesGoals asks;  just where would we be if the season skipped the first two months and began in Autumn…

October 2014 – April 2015

October 2014 – April 2015 (table up to and including Friday 10 April 2015)

A 29-game season

Wealdstone’s total league fixture allocation from October – season’s end equals 29.  That means with two-games left-to-play, including one against “play-off rival” Whitehawk, the Stones would still have a maximum 50 points to play for. Winning the final two would guarantee a top-8 berth but the Stones would be reliant on Hemel slipping up and would still need to outscore Concord to usurp them as next in-line for the final playoff position.  For what it’s worth, Hemel have a ‘gimme’ at home to Stortford but finish away to Whitehawk*, who of course are battling to stay in playoff contention themselves after defeat to the Stones shaves their maximum tally down to 53…

It could all come down to outscoring Concord… they’re away to already relegated Staines Town, before finishing at home to Hayes & Yeading*… pessimists would point to the 105 combined net goals both those strugglers have shipped since October…

Oh, and by the way, we won’t mention that we’ve cheated and thrown in an extra playoff spot either… Because if you’ve just enjoyed the permutations of the previous paragraph and are vigilant you’ll know that catching the top-5 would almost be a bridge too far.

*assumes season finishes on 18 April 2015.

Who said the season was dead….?

If they played til 29 games...

If they played til 29 games… (re-ordered in accordance with “max” available pts column)

Advertisements

Weston top for entertainment…

Come on, hands up – who thinks The Vale is a boring place to be this season?  In actual fact there could be worse places to watch a game of Conference South football this term…

Grass greener elsewhere?

Grass greener elsewhere?

…but there could be better…

When value meets entertainment…

With a whopping goal average of four per game, the Woodspring Stadium – home of Weston-super-Mare, is the ‘most entertaining’ in the Conference South. At £12 a ticket, punters pay £3 a goal, though Seagulls fans will be quick to point out the majority come for the away side…

Woodspring: goals

Woodspring Stadium: goals

Bishop’s Stortford is another place to see goals, 3.69 per game to be precise – though that’s unlikely to appease home supporters of the Essex-based club; they’ve won just three at home all season, the lowest tally of any team in the league matched unsurprisingly by bottom-of-the-table Staines Town.

By contrast, Basingstoke Town sit bottom of the goals per ground league – a measly 2.25 goals per game at the ‘Soccer AM’ stadium.  That’s £5.33 per goal. They’re run close for worst value too – St.Albans charge £15 per ticket, which works out at £5 per goal.

TOTAL GOALS PER GROUND – Conference South 2014/15*

table

In other news…

Despite possessing the best home goals per game record, it’s unlikely the cheers from the small following ‘boasted’ by Concord Rangers are heard as far as Canvey Island’s ground.

In Lee Angol, Boreham Wood possess the league’s top scorer to-date (20 goals), so it’s perhaps of little surprise that the current Conference South table-toppers and promotion hopefuls also feature in a prominent position in the team with the most home goals table.

GOALS PER HOME TEAM – Conference South 2014/15*

goals_home

KEY: actual home record league position shown down left hand column

*figures correct up to and including 12 March 2015

Happy New Year from Stones Goals!

2014 is over and a very illustrious year it was in Wealdstone FC’s modern history.  A first league title in 17-years and promotion to tier six of English football nested alongside the rise of the infamous Wealdstone Raider, Gordon Hill, who began the year as a little known recluse, shying away from the limelight generated in the wake of his 2013 Whitehawk moment, but ended it in the UK pop charts with “No fans” which pushed the X-factor winner’s single right to the wire in the race for Christmas number 1 before finally charting at no.5.

Here @StonesGoals recalls the first five-months of the Conference South season…

August

Following a last minute Eastbourne equaliser in the opening game of the season (9 Aug), and after @StonesGoals broadcasting debut ended in a 2-2 draw at Stortford (12 Aug), the Stones travelled to Hampshire hoping it would be third time lucky against Gosport.  Although the game ended 0-0 controversy was not lost as two goals were disallowed, one for either side, in what was a very entertaining stalemate at Privett Park.

Match-day four saw the heavily fancied relegation favourites Farnborough visit The Vale (23 Aug) and this time victory was expected.  It was, however, to be another fruitless afternoon as Farnborough’s Northern Ireland U21 international, Matt Ball, who ended the year a Stones player, scored with two sublime strikes.  As a hail storm took hold, McGleish fired one back late on for the Stones but it was nothing more than a consolation and the Stones trudged off with no wins from four.

An impressive 0-0 draw on August bank holiday Monday away to heavily fancied Ebbsfleet, a professional outfit, followed Farnborough before another one of the league’s most fancied teams, Bromley, visited The Vale – dishing out the season’s biggest hammering in the process (0-4).

September

What was seen as a very winnable set of fixtures followed in September; Hayes and Yeading (6 Sept) ended in a 1-2 away defeat; then-bottom Bath City (home, 9 Sept) ended in the same scoreline; before a 2-4 defeat away at old nemesis Concord Rangers (13 Sept) left the Stones languishing in the bottom-two with no wins from nine games.  The latter of those games, Concord, had fans flocking to the forum berating the selection of personnel from Bartlett and questioning his ability to maintain the club’s status as a Conference South outfit.

So called fans are already after Gordon’s blood. Suggest people look at his non league management before shouting for his head.
The situation isn’t irreversible.
Its a time for calm heads. No one wants to contemplate a return to the Ryman and I’m sure we will see things happen shortly.”

Palmer the Charmer, Sat 13 Sept 2014

Meanwhile, former-Stone Lee Chappell was relishing the prospect of facing a beleaguered Stones side…

Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 14.24.15

At the tenth time of asking, Wealdstone won beating Whitehawk 1-0 (16 Sept), the now-departed Luke Pigden hit the only goal of the game in the 41st minute – the Stones remained bottom of the table but suddenly new optimism was circling The Vale.

“What a result against a Whitehawk squad full of expensive ex pros. Just the shot in the arm the team and whole club needed. I wonder whether Chappell and the rest of the St Albans mob will be quite so bullish about coming to “smash” us after that?”

BornundertheElmslie, Tue 16 Sept 2014

With optimism came despair… a 0-3 home defeat to St. Albans (20 Sept) just days after such an impressive away win had me questioning the worth of @StonesGoals as yet again it was more focus on the opposition and little to show from the continually wilting Stones front line. Meanwhile the first real signs of discontent were surfacing on the supporters’ forum with a minority of fans calling for Gordon Bartlett’s head.

“is this possibly the end of the long winding road for the management?”

dulwichyiddo, Sun 21 Sept 2014

Much of the abuse was aimed in the direction of the club’s summer signings with many labelled as not good enough.  Attacker Tom Collins had already been bombed off, despite possessing an excellent pedigree and expected to shine in a Stones shirt, whilst Jack Mills, who started so promisingly, followed him out the exit door.

The board wasn’t immune to criticism either, as the Stones lack of goal scoring prowess also bore a degree of anger.

“Howard, Please sign a rugged 6’4 Mobile forward,that will score 20 goals a season, thats if you want to hoof it up as we have been doing, Howard please sign a PLAYMAKER that can orchestrate the water carriers in the midfield, Howard, please sign a minder for the afore mentioned players, O’Nien apart,do this and as Gloria Gaynor once said, We will survive. No negativity here, I know even against teams like St Albans their budget far exceeds ours, but, as we all know the players that cost the money are the goalscorers and the playmakers. SORT IT.”

stevo999, Sun 21 Sept 2014

ByJC9uzIgAAUrBv.jpg_large

Bartlett responded to suggestions that Wealdstone’s budget was inferior to other teams in the league by stating in the Kilburn Times:

“My phone is red hot at the moment.

“We are currently under budget and we had some investment last week but we will not rush into anything.

“It is not a case that we can’t do anything, if the right player becomes available we will look to do something. But as I’ve always done, it will only be done if I feel it is the best decision for the club.”

Gordon Bartlett, 24 Sept 2014, Kilburn Times

The club was seemingly in turmoil and with a home FA Cup tie against Concord now being given extra significance, Wealdstone knew that nothing but victory would do.

The first ‘trump’ card came on 26 Sept, stevo999s wishes were answered in the form of a big front-man;  journeyman Enoch Showumni arrived.

Screen Shot 2015-01-03 at 15.47.03

Needless to say, Stones drew the FA Cup tie 1-1 with old enemy Concord Rangers (27 Sept) – a 96th minute equaliser at the end of the allotted five-add minutes added time did nothing to ease supporter concern that the side was mentally weak and incapable of seeing out a game. The Stones goal came courtesy of summer signing Joe Turner who, after a slow start, was beginning to find his feet at The Vale.

On 30 September, Wealdstone lost the replay, 2-0, with O’Nien sent off early for handball on the goal line;  the resulting penalty was converted to effectively end the tie. Showunmni, who started the game before later being replaced, would not play competitively for the Stones again.

Wealdstone finished September bottom of the Conference South table, out of the FA Cup, and ultimately engulfed in a crisis. The 2 October ‘Meet the manager’ evening saw Bartlett assure fans of survival; those not convinced by his remarks would soon have their minds changed over the months that followed as Wealdstone were about to embark on a superb end of year run.

October

Pacy winger Shaun Lucien signed from borough rivals, Harrow, and Dan Brown, previously at league rivals Maidenhead also signed to add steel to the midfield.  The former had an instant impact, terrorising the Weston-Super-Mare defence as the Stones picked up their second league victory of the season with a hugely vital 2-1 away win (4 Oct).  McGleish and Hamblin netting for the Stones.

“Now that was better
Shaun Lucien was a big difference at last someone who can run at people and lay a pass too
Everyone did well today so well done to all
Oh Weston Super Mare do your fans ever make any noise ? what a sad quiet bunch of people
Oh and Mr Weston Super Mare Tannoy man you forgot to play music after our two goals, well if you did it was very quiet.
I think without us The Weston Super Mare Library may have been more noisy than the football ground today
Wealdstone Fans ahh it was like Cambridge Away revisited awesome in that stand second half.”

russpa, Sat 4 Oct 2014

The Weston victory was followed up by a visit from table-toppers Havant & Waterlooville to The Vale (6 Oct).  Despite leading twice, the Stones were pegged back and had to settle for a 2-2 draw but the positivity was beginning to be felt amongst the terraces as four points in three days saw the Stones leapfrog Staines Town to climb off the bottom of the table.  Former-Stone Scott Donnelly, now a Havant player, scored the Hawk’s equaliser and was the subject of much abuse from the home support who felt he shouldn’t have been on the pitch following a two-footed lunge midway through the second half.

An early FA Cup exit ensured no further league activity until 18 October when a last-minute winner for Basingstoke Town condemned the blues to a 0-1 home reverse.

With much of the forum continuing to lambast the lack of goals, Lewis Putman’s whereabouts was questioned.  The striker who dual-signed with Hanwell Town during pre-season was expected to star in the Ryman last term before serious injury put him out for the majority of the season.  Having last turned out for the blues in the previous campaign in a 3-0 victory against East Thurrock, there was much speculation as to whether he could be the answer this time round.  Such murmurings came and went with many writing him off and instead it was another name from the past that was beginning to pass between lips.  By the end of October, the @pressoffwfc Twitter account tweeted that Richard Jolly, who retired over a season ago, was back in training with Wealdstone and contemplating coming out of retirement.

In other news, Stones captured the signature of Matt Ball from Farnborough – the transfer was reported as carrying an undisclosed fee which would make history as Bartlett’s first ‘paid for’ signing.

boots back on? Richard Jolly

boots back on? Richard Jolly

The month concluded with a 6-0 stuffing of Hampton in the Middlesex Senior Cup, on-loan Stevenage striker Connor Calcutt scored twice and looked like the man capable of finally solving the striking conundrums.  Unfortunately, the star’s loan-spell would be short-lived as a serious leg injury in November’s victory over Chelmsford City saw the hitman return to his parent club.

November

The first week of November was disappointing.  A last-minute Maidenhead equaliser cancelled out Lucien’s opener and Stones had to settle for a point (1 Nov) before a disappointing 2-1 defeat away to Borehamwood (8 Nov).  Despite leading for much of the game, Wealdstone conceded two late goals against Wood; many felt that the scoreline was a fair reflection of the home side’s dominance with yet more inspired form from Stones keeper Jonathan North. The stopper had yet another impressive year making a series of outstanding saves.

The following week (14 Nov) saw the announcement from Trinity Mirror that the Harrow Observer was to close after 159 years’ service.  The paper, created by an estate agent in 1855, had long since served as an important outlet for Stones supporters through the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.  The advent of the digitally driven age, incorporating social media, coupled with the borough’s ever-changing landscape, spelt the beginning of the end for the printed title – it lives on in sorts via digital form having officially ended on 18 December.

prince edwards

One of the Observer’s Stones-related pieces

Stones were to snatch their third league win of the season on 17 November with a 2-0 victory at Chelmsford. Elliot Godfrey and the continually impressive Shaun Lucien with the goals. Apparently Godfrey’s strike was a screamer but regrettably @StonesGoals were not on site to capture the moment.  The win signalled the first time in the league this season that the Stones had won by a scoreline of two goals or more.

At the fourth time of asking, Wealdstone would finally beat Concord Rangers this term courtesy of a Scott McGleish winner (22 Nov). The game was notable for a couple of firsts: the first home league victory of the season and the first time the Stones had strung together a run of two consecutive victories in the Conference South as they began to slowly steer away from the bottom two.

A 1-1 draw away to St. Albans (29 Nov) in the FA Trophy represented a huge improvement on the earlier 3-0 thrashing the same opponent had handed out just a couple of months earlier.

December

The month began with the Stones handing out a 3-0 hammering of St. Albans City in the FA Trophy replay (2 Dec) avenging the earlier reverse against the The Saints.  Notably, the game saw the return of Richard Jolly and it was Jolls himself who set up the third goal shortly after stepping off the bench.

A third Conference South victory in a row was recorded on 6 December against nine-man Staines Town – the Swans were, by now, in perilous trouble of their own adrift by some distance at the bottom of the table. The end of the month saw club and manager, Marcus Gayle, part company as the club lay 21st and nine-points from safety.

A goal by captain Wes Parker saw the Stones march past Hayes and Yeading, 1-0, in the first round of the FA Trophy (13 Dec) to set up a home tie in round two against league compatriots Bath City.  Ironically just days before the round two opponents were announced the Stones travelled to Bath on 20 December and came away with a last-minute winner of their own with Joe Turner striking in the 90th minute to send the travelling faithful home delirious and recording a fourth consecutive league victory in the process.

The Raider’s chart tilt saw the star rub shoulders with a variety of more seasoned celebs whilst press rumours gathered pace that Gordon might be about to appear in Celebrity Big Brother come the New Year – we continue to keep our fingers crossed that he tells some irritating American Z-lister that they have No Fanssch.  In the end, musically at least, Gordon charted at a very respectable number five in the race for Christmas number one. A series of night club appearances, interviews on TalkSport, BT Sport and even an appearance at Ally Pally for the seasonal PDC World Darts Championship all played their part in establishing the Raider as a household name #NoFans. It’s also worth pointing out all his single proceeds went to charity – top man.

unlikely celeb? Pic courtesy of @OnlyOneRaider Twitter

unlikely celeb? Pic courtesy of @OnlyOneRaider Twitter

On the field the year concluded with a 1-1 draw at home to Sutton United on Boxing Day – Matt Ball scored a 90th minute equaliser to ensure Wealdstone remain unbeaten on Boxing Day since 2003.

That was swiftly followed up by a 1-1 draw away to title-favourites Bromley with Richard Jolly netting for the first time since his return from retirement.

Wealdstone finished the year in 14th place with 26 points from 22 games.

Tagged , , , , ,

Stones Goals debuts at Stortford

A successful opening night for the newly launched @StonesGoals Twitter account which captured all four of last night’s goals as they flew in.

I’ve set this up with the aim of keeping supporters who can’t make games connected with what’s going on and hopefully this will act as a good supplement for the magnificent @Wealdstone_FC Twitter account.  With social media continuing to play a prominent part in our daily lives (mine in particular!), I felt this would be a good opportunity to exploit and develop the overall Stones match-day experience.  And demand seems to be there too, which is great!

Nothing itself beats being at the game and savouring the atmosphere but hopefully this provides the next best thing.  Meanwhile, I’ll continue to try and refine it, for me quality is key and I’m continuing to explore ways of developing the service.  Watch this space!

The game

Yesterday saw my first venture to the ProKit stadium for 11-years. My last visit was there as a player… and I scored! Ha ha. You read that one right. Slightly built 16-year-old playing in a men’s supporters match; a far contrast from the broad shouldered round belly posterior that my physique adorns today!

But it was good to be back. And for me this was my first sniff of Conference football as a spectator. You can see right away why it’s different from the Ryman League; the quality definitely turned up a notch – there are no bad players at this level… and even car parking costs too!!

I saw a few pre-season friendlies and there were a couple of standouts last night.  It’s still a little early doors to be pulling out the superlatives on players who are early into their Stones careers, but in Jack Mills we potentially have the best right-back since Marvin McCoy.  Physically imposing, marauding runs and dangerous on set-plays, he has to be the early pick of the new signings.

In the middle, Pigden was impressive and on the flank Johnny Wright continues to show why he’s rated so highly.  McGleish was equally brilliant up top – particularly in the second half. One wonders as well whether North could be on the verge of a return to the pro game? Some outstanding saves again last night.

The goals

Bishops Stortford 1-0

Wealdstone 1-1 (Mills, freekick, 45 mins)

Wealdstone 2-1 (Wright)

Bishops Stortford 2-2

When we were winners… (again)

standing in the hall of fame

1997: standing in the hall of fame

1997 was a long time ago.  A lot has happened in the world since that date.  Yeovil Town have gone from football conference to football league championship, South Korea have participated in more World Cup semi-finals than England and Apple have taken over the world.

It was Saturday 3rd May 1997. The date the Stones put Northwood to the sword to begin their ascent back up the non-league footballing pyramid.

In those days, no Twitter, no Facebook, no social media whatsoever.  Even text messages were in their infancy. Mobile phones were very much in their relative infancy too – if you owned one, it was still considered a luxury, but the world was changing. And very soon social media would change the face of football too.

So whilst relying on ‘Dave’ (we all knew one) to ring through the football scores at a rival game, Stones needed to do their business. And how. Braintree Town, an essex promotion rival for much of the season, had crept up on the tail and were heading into the final day showpiece knowing that if they could better Wealdstone’s result, they could nick the title.  ‘Dave’ would have relayed that Braintree were walloping their opponents (they won 7-0 that day) – so it meant the Stones needed a win over a tricky Northwood outfit, unbeaten at home all season, to clinch the title. And win they did. What a day.

Fast forward>>>>

15 April 2014 the date that Wealdstone FC were finally crowned winners of the Ryman League. Here in one place is the remarkable run to the title, told through the power of YouTube.

WARNING: (Some) Videos contain outpouring of emotions and heavy use of expletives

Monday 31 March 2014 – Wealdstone 2-0 Billericay (moving to 85 points following this victory)

Video: Johnny Wright finishes a flowing move as Wealdstone extend their lead at the top of the Ryman League.

Young frontman Charlie Penny, newly released by Millwall, also played a notable role winning the penalty that Cronin converted to send the Stones on their way.

Thursday 3 April 2014 – East Thurrock 0-3 Wealdstone (88 points)

Video: Carl McCluskey, who had an indifferent season at the Stones, nods home Jey Siva’s perfectly weighted cross for Stones’ second goal of the night on the way to a crucial 3-0 victory.

Saturday 5 April 2014 – Met Police 2-1 Wealdstone (stuck on 88)

Wealdstone travelled in hope rather than expectation. Typical annoying football cliche.  It was the Stones’ first stab at finishing the job. A freak set of results married with a Stones victory would seal the title.  But the Stones couldn’t quite manage their part of the bargain.

Video: Cronin smashes home a pen to put the Stones 1-up but slack defending sees the Police rob Bartlett’s men and leave the Stones contingent waiting a little longer for the official coronation.

Tuesday 8 April 2014 – Wealdstone 0-0 Lowestoft (89 points)

The nemesis. Lowestoft Town. The team who Wealdstone can never beat. A point edged Wealdstone closer to the title and for Lowestoft, who sat outside the playoffs at the time, it was seen as a good result as they maintained their top five challenge.  Both would be celebrating promotion come May.

Video: Wealdstone hit the bar, but the supporters waited a little longer for that.

Saturday 12 April 2014 – Grays 1-1 Wealdstone (90 points)

Playing their home games at the uninspiring surroundings of Aveley FC, Grays were the next side looking to delay the champions-elect party.  A large travelling Stones army descended upon Essex once more for the game that was being billed as the this is it moment.

A cagey affair throughout, Grays took the lead mid-way through the second half and held the advantage going into the last five-minutes – Video: Wealdstone’s McGleish, a predator, smashed home Little’s cutback to send some supporters on the pitch believing that a point would be enough to finally wrap up the title. As it was, a late Bognor penalty against beyond-hope Wingate meant it was a rollover and Wealdstone could belatedly finish the job with a Tuesday night victory in Kent over moneybags Margate…

Tuesday 15 April 2014 – Margate 0-1 Wealdstone (93 points)

A party that I sadly missed. Wealdstone finally sealed the league championship with a 1-0 victory.

Video: Penny nets the crucial goal (courtesy of Wealdstone FC YouTube channel)

And the wild celebrations afterwards:

Saturday 19 April 2014 – Wealdstone 0-4 Kingstonian

The hangover. Part one. Jonathan North was harshly dismissed for an innocuous ‘punch’ – it can be debated until the cows come home but the fat lady had already sung, and the tuts around the ground reiterated the inevitable, 10-men and impending defeat. But it didn’t really matter. Although it did end any hopes of 100-points.

Video: a rare treat. Champions league music at The Vale for the guard of honour.

Monday 21 April 2014 – Billericay 4-2 Wealdstone

The hangover. Part two. A bank holiday horror. Another one I missed.

Saturday 26 April 2014 – Wealdstone 2-0 Canvey (96 points)

Video: Peter Dean, who else, nets Wealdstone’s 99th league goal of the season to ensure the champions sign off in the correct way – as winners. (courtesy of Wealdstone FC YouTube channel)

Advertisements