Ground #: 135
Ground: St Georges Stadium
Competition: FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round
Kick Off: 3pm
Cost: £5 (concession)
Corby Town 1
Ives 59’, Moreman s/off 20’, Ives m/pen 44’
November is normally a tough time for CIMA students as exams are approaching and they (like myself) start panicking about how they still cannot compare value analysis to functional analysis properly yet. Just before I took residence in a library for two weeks to rectify that deficiency there was just about enough time to get in one more football match.
Wealdstone is a district in Harrow in north-west London. During the Saxon times there was an area of thick woodland which covered the northern region of Middlesex. This was called "The Great Weald" and was unpopulated until the 6th century when it was used for farming. The eponymous Weald Stone is a sarsen stone, formerly marking the boundary between the parish of Harrow and Harrow Weald. Apart from Harrow & Wealdstone tube station (terminus of the best , the area doesn’t have much to discuss upon as it is mainly a residential area.
Wealdstone FC were formed in 1899/1900 but didn’t last that long (only 7 years) as there was a lack of interest among players and fans. While it again reformed 1908/09, WW1 sadly claimed the lives of a number of its members. During the 20s, while they had a large amount of supporters off the field, on the field they achieved little success. This was finally rectified in 1952 when they became champions of the Athenian League before following this up with three Middlesex Senior Cup titles before a 1966 FA Amateur Cup win at Wembley over Hendon. Becoming Semi-pro happened in 1971 and they began to romp the Southern League, first winning Division 1 in 1974 before the Southern Premier in 1982. With an experienced and talented squad, which contained future Wimbledon and Wales midfielder Vinnie Jones, the club started the process of application for election into the Football League. However, as their Lower Mead ground was not up to the requirements at the time, Bath City were subsequently selected as Runners Up and Wealdstone lost out narrowly in the vote.
That failed application started the sad decline of the club as they were promptly relegated from the Conference in 1987 before Chairman at the time, Alan Clifton sold their ground to Tesco, which in the end saw the Stone’s receive not that much money from the deal. This led to years of homelessness as they first shared at Watford where they were charged a massive rent before sharing at Yeading, Edgware Town and finally Northwood. During this time, with a severe lack of funds, Wealdstone asked to move from the Southern League to the Isthmian and were allowed, as long as they dropped to the Isthmian 3rd Division. Working their way up from there, the Stones were back in the Isthmian Premier in 2004 where they still play today. They are slowly starting to reel in success again too which is good as this club easily has the resources to cope with Blue Square South football. A barnstorming run in the FA Trophy last season when they amazingly reached the semi-finals (seeing off Tooting & Mitcham Utd, Margate, Banbury Utd, Uxbridge, Barrow, Dartford and Cambridge Utd) when Newport County beat them over the 2 legged semis. Coming into this game in 3rd and well in with a good crack at automatic promotion, it seems the Stones are on the way back up.
While for some time, Wealdstone had started to build a new ground at Canons Park, project funding had dried up and building work had completely stopped by 2004. It was in 2008 that the Stones finally cut ties with the project as they had acquired a majority shareholding in Ruislip Manor Sports and Social Club who owned the lease to the Grosvenor Vale stadium, used at that time by Ruislip Manor FC (who were dissolved last year after a season sharing at Amersham Town). The Stones have invested a lot of money and a substantial amount of time into the ground to bring it up to a reasonable level. The ground itself is a mix of storage units, stands and terraces which for me, doesn’t give it a solid feel. There is space however (probably too much) for Wealdstone to stick some new stuff in should they require which will bring the ground up to a better standard.
Trying to stop the Stones from repeating their FA Trophy run from last season were Blue Square North side Corby Town. Famous for being a Scottish get-away place, the Steelmen were coming back into form for this game after a difficult start to the season. Caretaker boss Chris Plummer must be in with a good shout to get the job on a permanent basis and the small band of Corby fans that had made the trip down from Northamptonshire hoping to avoid seeing a cup shock against a side that had won 8 out of their last 9 games.
After a tight 10 minutes, the Stones had the first chance of the game when some great work by Alex Dyer who whipped a cross in found Wes Parker. His header was going in at the bottom corner but Corby keeper Paul Walker made an excellent save to keep the scores level. Walker was a busy man as Wealdstone had a wee spell putting the “Corb” under pressure. He kept out a low drive from Peter Dean before Corby, looking splendid in a pink kit, came back into the game. Captain and top scorer Josh Moreman fired a shot over the bar on 18 minutes before a moment of madness saw him sent off just two minutes later. When he felt he was fouled outside the area, referee Michael Blackledge just played on. Moreman took offense to this and shouted “YOU CUNT REF"!” at the top of his voice for the ground to hear. Blackledge clearly didn’t like being called a cunt and promptly sent him off meaning Corby were playing this game for 70 minutes with 10 men. Despite having a man advantage, Wealdstone didn’t really put the away side under pressure for the rest of half and coming up towards half time it was actually the 10 men who were playing the better football and looking more of a threat. Greg Kaziboni managed to get away down the left and forced a good save from Rikki Banks. Corby had an even better chance right on HT. Sam Ives managed to twist his way into the penalty area before he went down fairly easily under a challenge from Parker. It was a soft penalty so maybe justice was done when Ives decided to smash it as hard as he could and saw the penalty cannon off the crossbar.
The start of the second half was fairly bitty as both sides tried to dominate play without much success. Corby had Kaziboni shot saved well by Banks while Wealdstone had chances from Parker and Pett miss the target. On the hour mark, Corby took the lead just as they were beginning to look the better team. From a free kick, Paul Malone had a header brilliantly saved by Banks and while Wealdstone couldn’t clear the ball, Banks bailed them out again saving from Stefan Galinski but Ives smashed home a rebound and sent the 6 Corby fans behind the goal wild. After that it was all one way traffic, all for Wealdstone as they dominated all over the pitch trying to find an equalizer. Firstly Sean Cronin hit an exquisite volley on the turn which Walker saved superbly well at full stretch to his left. Before on 73 minutes, they finally got the equalizer. When Pett received the ball on the right hand side there was not much on so he fed Dyer who began his run into the box. He skipped past two challenges before firing a shot into the bottom corner, a great goal, out of place in this match. Wealdstone could smell blood, they had a goal disallowed on 80 minutes when Richard Jolly finished from close range but he was offside. He also fired a shot just wide a minute later and with Walker well beaten, it rolled agonisingly past the post. While the last 5 minutes were quite frantic, neither side created a real quality chance of note and so they had to go again in a replay later that week.
The replay appears to have been a much better game as Corby managed to nick a last minute winner and win 3-2. They play Blue Square South side Hayes & Yeading in the next round which looks an interesting tie. While this game wasn’t the best and I’m not that much of a fan of the ground, I’d still be happy to see Wealdstone rise back up the leagues again and I may see them on the road sometime in the future. For this game, fellow nutcases, Stu Hyde, Richie Bennett and Stu’s partner Tonia all attended with me. On the walk back to Ruislip tube station, all of them told me that they “couldn’t watch this shite every week”. I’d happily watch this every week – inside the mind of a nutcase right there.
- Match: 5/10 (lacked quality)
- Value for money: 7/10 (reasonable for my discount)
- Ground: 4/10 (not a fan)
- Atmosphere: 7/10 (home fans created a lot of noise)
- Food: 7/10 (good cheeseburger at a good price)
- Programme: 8.5/10 (outstanding effort – more of this please)
- Referee: Michael Blackledge – 5/10 (made some weird calls)