Thursday 3rd May 2000
Woking 0-1 Dover Athletic
WOKING FC - A BRIEF HISTORY
WOKING FC were formed in 1889 and during their formative years played in local Surrey leagues. In 1911 they joined the Isthmian League. They were mainstays of this league for over 80 years, staying in and around the top division for most of their history. Dark days in the mid 1980's saw them relegated twice in a row to find themselves in Isthmian League Division 2 South. Enter club legend Geoff Chappell who got the club back up at the 2nd attempt. 3 decent placed finishes saw them promoted from Division 1 at the 3rd attempt in 1990 and by 1992 they had won the Isthmian Premier to earn promotion to the Conference. The rapid progress continued and they had a series of great finishes, including 2 runners up spots in 1995 and 1996. A slow decline followed however and by 2009 they were relegated to the Conference South after going through 3 managers in a season. After 2 5th placed finishes they won the league in 2012 to return back to the top of the non league tree. Since going back, they have never finished in the bottom half, just missing out on a playoff spot in 2014/15.
The FA Cup was where Woking have made their headlines, no more than in the 1990/91 season. After beating fellow Conference sides Bath City, Kidderminster and Merthyr Tydfil, they faced a 3rd Round trip to West Bromwich Albion. Not many gave them a chance but a Tim Buzaglo hat trick saw them claim a shock 4-2 win. A home tie against Everton was the reward and despite the tie being switched to Goodison Park they did themselves proud in a narrow 1-0 defeat. The FA Amateur Cup was won in 1958 as they defeated Ilford 3-0 at Wembley. It's replacement the FA Trophy has also been a happy hunting ground with 3 Geoff Chapple inspired wins in the 1990's as they beat Runcorn, Kidderminster and Dagenham in Wembley finals.
VISIT 1: WOKING 0-1 DOVER (Conf 3/5/00)
My first visit to Woking came in 2000. This was pre sat nav days and I had a bit of a job to find the ground, though after stopping at a garage to look at a map I was fine. My main purpose of the visit was to see former Wycombe keeper Paul Hyde and he had a good game, keeping a clean sheet as his Dover Athletic side won 1-0.
VISIT 2: AFC WIMBLEDON 4-1 NORTH GREENFORD UTD (CCL Cup Final 30/4/04)
VISIT 3: AFC WIMBLEDON 2-1 WALTON & HERSHAM (Surrey Senior Cup Final 03/05/05)
The second visit drew the biggest attendance of all, with AFC Wimbledon going for a CCL League and Cup double. They had already beaten North Greenford 3-1 on their own patch a little over a week earlier and in a party atmosphere repeated the trick as they won the Combined Counties League Cup on a well worn pitch. It was not improved by the subsequent pitch invasion which I was happy to be part of. The third was another Cup Final, another trophy for the Wombles but not as memorable as the last time.
VISIT 4: WOKING 0-2 WYCOMBE (Fr 15/07/06)
At present my only visit here to see my own team. In front of a crowd of 505, new manager Paul Lambert's first game in charge went smoothly as we won 2-0 thanks to 2 Matt Bloomfield goals in the first 10 minutes. I remember this game for the news of Sam Stockley's signing being announced - the ex Colchester right back had always played well against Wycombe. He signed along with Chris Palmer and Joe Burnell and all 3 would go on to do reasonably well at Wycombe, while not setting the world alight.
More interesting was looking back at the trialists who played. ANTONIO MURRAY was a former Hibs striker who would go on to have a career with various Cambridgeshire and Essex non league sides before moving to Brisbane City in Australia. JASON TINDALL was a former Bournemouth defender who went on to play for Weymouth, even managing them for a while as well as playing a couple of games as a stopgap player and assistant manager back at Bournemouth. Finally JAMES SHARP was a Reading born defender, who had been all over the country, most recently at Reading. He'd go on to make appearances for Rochdale and Airdrie before retiring.So all in all, good decisions by the then boss, though that was not to be the case on every occasion.
VISIT 5: HAYES & YEADING 1-0 TAMWORTH (Conference 04/08/11)
VISIT 6: HAYES & YEADING 3-1 ALFRETON (Conference 13/08/11)
VISIT 7: HAYES & YEADING 2-2 LUTON TOWN (Conference 30/08/11)
VISIT 8: HAYES & YEADING 1-1 BARROW (Conference 17/12/11)
VISIT 9: HAYES & YEADING 3-2 DARLINGTON (Conference 24/01/12)
VISIT 10: HAYES & YEADING 1-4 BRENTFORD (Friendly 18/07/12)
VISIT 11: HAYES & YEADING 2-2 BATH CITY (Conference South 26/01/13)
A number of visits when Hayes and Yeading shared this ground, and I had finished following Wycombe home and away every single game, but not started ground hopping yet. I enjoyed going there, having got to know some of their fans and getting half price entry with my Wycombe season ticket.
Though I had a good time, I regret not starting hopping earlier as I wasted a lot of days when I could have gone to grounds that have now long gone. Probably the pick of the bunch was the 3-2 victory over Darlington where I met up with a few people I knew from the north east. Sadly these were dark days for Darlington, they were struggling to keep the club afloat, though they did have current Sunderland keeper Jordan Pickford in goal for them. Hayes and Yeading during this period had a series of ex Wycombe players and loanees which made things a bit more interesting.
VISIT 12: WOKING 2-2 BARROW (Conference 30/1/16)
After so many visits to Woking, I was getting a little tired of the place, and the chances of a revisit were slim. Especially on an FA Vase day with so many tempting games. However I'd got to know a really good set of Barrow fans, who I'd promised I'd meet at a game one day. Annoyingly, the fixtures had not fallen kindly for a revisit to a ground that I had seen less of, and so the Woking game really was the only option. As such I'd had this planned in for a few months, as I knew I wouldn't be making the long trek down to Devon to see Wycombe play at Plymouth.
As I didn't need to get a programme or get there early, I had the luxury of leaving as late as 1.30 for the game on the Saturday. For once the M25 played ball and I was parked up by 2.30. The first people who I saw were David and Tom who had only met once before and were like best mates all game. After paying a rather expensive £18 to get in I went and met the other Barrow fans. John, Adam, Harvey, Lewis, Javen and Ronan were all as great in person as they were in our big group chat on Facebook and we had a good time on the terraces supporting their team.
Barrow fans travelled in decent numbers and had some great songs. The game was pretty good, with Barrow taking the lead twice and then conceding sloppy equalisers Their keeper Joel Dixon kept them in it at times with some great saves, but they were full value for the draw. I was especially impressed with Jordan Williams - a striker who I'd seen score a couple for Northwich Victoria at Marine back in October. He game the Woking defence a torrid time and looks to have made the step up well.
The most notable point of the match was the linesman getting knocked out by a stray ball and having to be replaced. There was a 15 minute delay while a replacement was sought with an announcement over the tannoy. While all this was going on, there was a bigger story unfolding down in Plymouth with Wycombe. We'd already sold one keeper (Matt Ingram) to QPR recently and so were using second choice Alex Lynch. When he was stretchered off after 13 minutes it was left to 46 year old Barry Richardson who had not played a game in 11 years to take over the goalkeeping duties. Plymouth had scored in every single league game so far and were in second place. But the veteran custodian kept a clean sheet and Wycombe clung on to a great 1-0 victory. The drive home was as smooth as the way there and I was back by 6.30, having a Strongbow and a Chicken Madras for dinner.
KINGFIELD is a fairly decent non league ground, which is halfway towards becoming an excellent one. The best stand is behind one goal, the all seated covered Leslie Gosden stand holds 2000 fans and provides excellent views of the action. At the other end is a covered terrace, another good stand. The 2 sides are not so good - one side is uncovered open terracing, though to be fair, put a roof on it and it would not be bad. The other side is 2 old stands, though pillars and a low roof mean the view is not the best. There is also a bar behind these 2 stands, and a small bit of open terracing towards the Lesley Gosden Stand. There is also a club shop at the ground which sells a decent range of things, and various catering options including a fish and chip place under the Leslie Godden Stand.
For other options there is a snooker club outside the ground that you can drink in, but not a whole lot else. For a wider choice the town is a mile away but I've not really explored it. I know it has a number of pubs and takeaways including a Wetherspoons.