106 days after their last competitive match, Waltham Forest return to action this Saturday against Division 1 North newcomers VCD Athletic.
The match also has increased significance as it will be Forest’s first game back at their home ground after five and a half years on the road.
Forest have had to totally rebuild their squad from last season, with only Matt Waldron, Ricardo Ponton, Ahmed Mohamad, Chris Taylor and Manny Sackey remaining. Charlie Hasler has also returned to the club after many years away.
A raft of signings have been made, and though pre-season results have not been overly impressive, there has been some good play along the way – especially in the second half against Potters Bar Town on Tuesday evening.
VCD have made the step up from the Kent League after promotion last season, and include former Forest midfielder Peter Smith in their ranks.
And Vickers manager Tony Russell is looking forward to the new season. Speaking to Kentish Football in one of the most clichéd interviews seen, he said:
“To be a Ryman League manager, I’m buzzing for that,”
“To be fair I’ve worked hard for it. I had a massive decision last year to make. Obviously when they came in for me I was sitting top of the league and I had a call from a chairman who was in fifth-place.
“I said to Razor (assistant manager Ray Powell) at the time that could be the thing that we give up what we were trying to do. I didn’t want to do no more than that.
“I won 27 league games last year, more than any manager in that league, so I’ve earnt that right to get out of that league. People talk about cups. I don’t care! It’s about progression. I’m about to walk out to be a Ryman League manager.”
When asked about aspirations for the season ahead, Russell said: “Just to learn. The apprenticeship is over, that’s the way that I look at it.
Forest have only played VCD twice in competitive fixtures, and hold a 100% record over the Kent side. On both encounters in the 2009-10 season, Forest ran out 2-1 winners.
Admission is £8 for adults, £4 for concessions, and free for under-16s with a full paying adult. There will also be a special commemorative programme on sale, available for £2.50.
If you’re free on Saturday and thinking of coming down to Wadham Lodge, please do. Your local team needs your support on our return to the borough of Waltham Forest
You can follow the match live on Twitter, by following @walthamforestfc.