Kevin Tye, Commercial Manager
In a football world obsessed with the Premier League, it is sometimes forgotten that local semi-professional football is thriving as more and more fans tune into to the “non-league experience”. Such is the case with Wealdstone FC who play their home fixtures at Grosvenor Vale in Ruislip and are in the National League Conference South Division, just five divisions below the Premier League. There have been a number of Wealdstone FC players who have gone on to play in the Football League, including Stuart Pearce, Vinny Jones and Jermaine Beckford. All three went on to be internationals. With a long rich history Wealdstone have one of the largest fan bases in non-league football.
EARLY HISTORY, THE TELEVISION ERA & FA CUP SUCCESS
Founded in 1899, our first success was in 1905/06 when we became champions of the Willesden & District League. After playing at College Farm and then Belmont Road we moved to Lower Mead Wealdstone in 1922 where we stayed until 1991. In 1946 the club were involved in the first ever televised football match. Wealdstone also took part in the first two “live” FA Cup ties ever seen when our victories over Edgware Town and Colchester Utd were shown by the BBC in November 1949. Later that month Wealdstone met a Football League side in the FA Cup for the first time when we were beaten 1-0 at Port Vale. In 1966, we beat Hendon 3-1 in the FA Amateur Cup final at Wembley Stadium to bring the trophy to Lower Mead for the first and only time.
THE PROFESSIONAL ERA
In 1971 Wealdstone turned professional, joining the Southern League. Since then four major league championships were won as well as five cup competitions. The first league championship won was in 1974 resulting in promotion to the Premier Division where we spent five seasons before becoming founder members of what is now the Football Conference. During the 1977 season Wealdstone reached the Third Round Proper of the FA Cup for the only time, beating two Football League clubs, Hereford United and Reading, before losing to QPR of the old First Division 4-0 at Loftus Road.
Wealdstone were relegated for the first time in the club’s history in 1981 but the following season we won all five trophies on offer in the Southern League and returned to the Conference at the first attempt. The 1984 season was to be the club’s most successful when we became the first of only three clubs so far to achieve the non-league “double”, winning the Football Conference and FA Trophy in the same season.
RELEGATION & THE NOMADIC YEARS
Shortly after this high, the club was relegated twice, dropping from the Football Conference in 1988 and into the Southern League (Southern Division) in 1992. It felt like the end an era when the club had to sell the Lower Mead Stadium in 1990/91 in order to stay in existence. The company handling the sale of Lower Mead went into liquidation and, after lengthy court proceedings, the club received only a fraction of the sum Tesco’s had paid for the ground.
Since then the club has shared grounds with Watford, Yeading, Edgware Town and Northwood and in 1995 fell as far as Isthmian League Division Three. The long process of regeneration started and eventually the club returned to the Ryman Premier League for the 2007 season.
WEALDSTONE MOVE TO RUISLIP
In January 2008 the club had the opportunity to take over the Grosvenor Vale site, then the home of Ruislip Manor FC; so from the start of 2008, Wealdstone once again had a ground we could call our own.
Successive seasons at “the Vale” have seen the club prosper and in 2013/14 season Wealdstone finally achieved promotion returning to the Conference after some 25+ years. Last season Wealdstone consolidated in the National League South as well as reaching the 1st round of the FA Cup where we played the League One team Colchester, a day that saw the club host the BBC’s Football Focus.
As the Club enters the 2016/17 season there is a real buzz of expectation. This season matches will feature on BBC local radio and BT Sport. Why not pop down to Wealdstone Football Club and enjoy the non-league experience?*