So here we are still in the Essex Senior League after a nail-biting end to last season. Over the last decade or so, we nearly always seem to endure a closed season of turmoil – change of manager, or, change of Chairman, the usual massive player churn and on a few occasions, a change of ground.
Even compared to some of those turbulent seasons, this closed season could be viewed as a seismic series of changes.
Manager Harry Houdini, otherwise known as Ryan Maxwell is still here, but we have managed the following sine the relegation saving win against Ilford.
In no particular order, we have changed our name to Walthamstow FC, installed a new Chairman, changed our colours (slightly), and seen our squad transformed from a set up where one or two players had made appearances at Isthmian or ESL level, to one that has players of thousands of accumulated appearances in senior non-league football.
Lets take each change at a time and start with the name change.
I understand why it was done, in order to connect to the local area and hopefully generate a bigger fan base – I am a great believer in try something to see if it works.
But, I hope we go the whole hog – not just change our name and badge and adopted a few catchy slogans like Your Community – Your Club. We need to go at this full bore – get out to the community and project ourselves, otherwise it will be so much wasted effort.
My one reservation is that those people who have a rather long knowledge of non-league football, will see us as a reincarnation of Walthamstow Avenue FC, we are not, our lineage goes back to Leyton FC/Leyton-Wingate/Leyton Pennnant, prior to our name being changed to Waltham Forest.
Walthamstow Avenue sold their ground along with their soul to join up with Ilford/Leytonstone and Dagenham to become the hybrid that is now Dagenham & Redbridge.
Our Chairman, albeit in an acting capacity, is Andy Perkins and I cannot think of a better person to hold that position and certainly if the appointment becomes permanent, it will be rightly deserved.
I don’t know about the acting bit, though – I was in the school play with Andy at Ruckholt Manor and I was not impressed – have you seen his Macbeth?
The change in emphasis on players is not totally unexpected – most people agree that you need experience to get out of the ESL and we have got it in shedloads.
Ryan has brought in James Peagram a promotion winner in the ESL in two successive seasons – let’s hope he gets his hat trick with us.
At the back, we are no less experienced, with former Harlow Town skipper, Craig Pope signing and for a third time Lee Flynn, who, I would estimate, has more senior appearances than all of our other experienced players, put together.
The clever thing that Ryan has done is, he has brought in Craig and Lee, who has worked with many times previously and is good mates with, as his back up management team, Craig is player assistant manager and Lee, player coach.
All of the experience and contacts that all three have, has to be good news for us in recruitment. We have also managed to re-sign, some of our stand out players from the final games of last season
Rheo Josephs, who has proved a most versatile player, down the left flank, Gus Douglas, a tower of strength in the centre of defence, James Harkin in goal and Josh Brimacombe-Wiard, who both played vital roles at different ends of the pitch, Chris Lecointe, who looked good in the games he played in the run in.
Jack Leechman is back for another spell in our colours, he impressed when he first arrived and played in central midfield, but, has since proved adaptable in the back four, in the intervening years when he has played in the Isthmian league and the ESL finally, Christian Owusu, who managed on a goal inside the first 30 seconds of his debut and who, I am sure, will push Peagram for the role of top scorer.
He has certainly built up a fine reputation in the last few seasons and will add to our attacking options.
That line up looks really competitive to me and I am sure that there will be a few more quality additions to the squad before our game kicks off today.
The one downside of all of our recent well known signings, is that expectations go up, as does the club’s profile and every side will want to put one over on us, but, if we want to do well this season, we have to cope with that, which is something, I am sure that Ryan and his management team will have instilled into the players.
Our visitors today will be one of many to be facing us under our new label and we have not met them since the 1990’s when we met in the Athenian League.
I am sure they will find this season interesting, having been moved across from the Spartan league.
We hope they enjoy the experience and other than when they meet us, manage to have a successful season.
For us, it could well be one of enormous importance.