Thursday, 5 September 2013

Silverware for Wandsworth Athletic

Following a week of eye-watering £85m transfers and £300k-a-week deals, CollinsBeans brings you an update from the gritty, real and grounded world of midweek amateur football. And it’s a story of hope, with Wandsworth Athletic overcoming the first hurdle in the new chapter of their history…

Mission: accomplished.

After the turmoil of administration and the painful departure from Rocks Lane, Wandsworth Athletic did what they had to do. They took the first step back to glory. Wandsworth are back in the silverware, and in impressive style too.

Starting at the bottom in Raynes Park League 5, Wandsworth annihilated the competition, surging to promotion at the first attempt. 27 points, 9 wins out of 10 – the stats make very pleasant reading indeed. This was not the elite, premier competition in Barnes; but a job needed to be performed.

The campaign begun back in early July, Wandsworth grinding out a tough 5-4 victory against a rugged side looking like they’d arrived directly from an English Defence League rally. Loanee Frank Pearce stepped up in his only appearance of the season, helping Wandsworth to start with maximum points.

Administrative problems with the league saw the South West Londoners then handed two automatic victories with opposition sides unable to fulfil fixtures. The points were welcome – the lack of on-pitch action less so. The squad was understandably raring to go again later in the month, and Wandsworth produced a fine display to beat the early pace setters Daddys 8. Alex “Sand Dunes” Platt slotted home four excellent goals in a game that also marked a return to the famous jersey for the recently nomadic Tim “Chang” Rickard. Wandsworth’s number 20 back on the pitch was welcome for all.

Wandsworth continued the momentum next time out, beating Mark Edwards Football Club 8-4, with James Platt and Andy “Pala the Predator” Michel both scoring hat-tricks. 15 points, five wins out of five – this was encouraging. But Wandsworth were brought back down to earth the following week, losing 10-9 to Cauchi FC. The game could have, and should have, been won. But Wandsworth faltered in the second half and were ultimately undone by a toxic goal gleefully claimed by the opposition despite goalkeeper Matthew Snelling lying prone on the turf with a blow to the face following a heroic stop. That goal was distasteful, but it shouldn’t have mattered – the game ought to have been out of sight. It was time to refocus…

And Wandsworth duly zoomed back into form, beating a talented and aggressive side 7-5 with a fine rear-guard action in the second half. At this stage it was played seven, won six – a good haul, but rivals had matched this record. It was level pegging at the top. Toe-to-toe and all very much to play for.

Wandsworth knew even the tiniest easing off the accelerator could be costly, and they demonstrated real character and belief the following week, doggedly winning a tough encounter against PWC Allstars. This was the real crunch point of the campaign. With player availability issues, an old favourite – the Hungarian Hardman Istvan Borbely – donned the Wandsworth shirt and helped guide the team home.

The league was mathematically won following this game but this reinvigorated Wandsworth side were not going to take it easy. Next up was a fixture against Daddys 8 and the squad wanted to leave their mark. They wanted to win in style. They wanted to crush their nearest rivals. And my word did they. A fine 7-1 victory ensued, the football flowing and the defence as solid as granite. Joey “Don” Hancock and Ben Lewis produced particularly fine performances, with unofficial numbers showing Lewis covering double the distance of any other player and The Don looking impressive in a new holding role.

A further automatic victory formally completed the campaign this week. Of course perspective must be maintained – Wandsworth had set a target for immediate promotion and anything less would have been failure. But to win the league in such emphatic fashion will surely provide great encouragement for the future.

Full statistics from the season can be found below, and Dave Skinns should be applauded as being the only ever-present. This was very much a squad effort though, with contributions from a number of Wandsworth glitterati.

Now it’s time for Wandsworth next challenge of League 4. Joining as champions, the South West Londoners need to maintain momentum and drive towards the ultimate goal of restoring the club’s elite status in Thursday night football…

Final season stastics:

Played: 10
Won: 9
Drawn: 0
Lost: 1
Points: 27

For: 70
Against: 33


Snelling: 5
Lewis: 2
Rickard: 2
O’Brien: 2
Skinns: 7
A.Platt: 4
Shoubber: 1
Hancock: 5
Michel: 5
J.Platt: 5
Pearce: 1
Borbely: 1


Snelling: 0
Lewis: 1
Rickard: 2
O’Brien: 3
Skinns: 7
A.Platt: 5
Shoubber: 1
Hancock: 3
Michel: 7
J.Platt: 13 (2 pens)
Pearce: 2
Borbely: 3
O.G: 2

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