There’s some new faces in the Walthamstow squad next season, as well as some more familiar ones. We take a look at the players who have signed so far.
Kubilay Akbayrak: With the extreme turnover in players in Forest’s recent seasons, it’s rare to find a One Club Man, but Kubilay is as close as they come. Making his debut away to Haringey Borough after leaving Enfield Town’s youth system, it took the teenager a while to find his feet. He would however go on to make 17 appearances that season.
2015-16 saw him make 38 appearances, scoring five vital goals, helping Forest avoid relegation. He even donned the goalkeeping gloves and kept a clean sheet in a 3-0 victory over Ilford. Game time was hard to come by in 2016 under Kem Kemal, and this wasn’t helped by a series of injuries. But Kubilay has returned at the start of this season, looking fitter, stronger and more mature than ever before.
Josh Brimacombe-Wiard: Josh Brimacombe-Wiard scored all-important goals against Basildon United and Ilford to secure two huge wins and keep the club in the Essex Senior League. Josh had offers to work full-time at a higher level, but the ex-Barnet man opted to stay with Walthamstow. He said I know something special is happening here.The gaffer has made me fall in love with football again, and that’s more important to at the moment.”
Tony Da Silva: Tony made his debut against Great Wakering Rovers at the end of last season and went on to become something of a cult figure with the Rabble as his performances were key in keeping Stow up at the end of last season. Goals against Southend Manor and Redbridge were key, as was his role in a penalty which got Stow on their way against Ilford in the final league game. Standing at almost 7 feet tall, Tony has the proverbial good feet for a big man and will play a crucial part in Ryan Maxwell’s midfield this season.
Gus Douglas: Defender Gus was one of the most influential players in last season’s run-in. Gus Douglas was an ever-present since Ryan Maxwell took over, making 12 starts and adding to the 16 appearances he had made the season before when he signed from Grays Athletic. Spells at Ware and Hullbridge Sports followed, but Gus is firmly back where he belongs.
Onome Emovon: A solid defender who will add good strength in depth to the back line.
Lee Flynn: Now in his mid-40s, Lee is still probably one of the fittest players in the ESL. This season, he’ll be combining a playing role with coaching too. Flynn made his debut for Walthamstow at the start of the 2016-17 season, and was a key figure in the team which started the season with ten straight wins. His career started in 1991 with Romford, before moving to Hendon, and playing over 150 games for Hayes in the Conference. Spells in the upper reaches of the non-league pyramid followed, winning silverware at a number of clubs, including the Isthmian Division 1 North title at Grays Athletic, where me made 125 appearances.
Necati Gench: Necati signed from Ware at the tail end of last season, and his versatility proved important, being able to play on either wing, both defensively and in midfield. Had a busy summer playing for Northern Cyprus as they reached the final of the CONIFA World Cup.
Jake Giddings: Former Enfield, Barkingside, Waltham Abbey and Romford midfielder where he made almost 30 appearances in the 2014-15 season. Has looked solid in midfield, proving especially useful at breaking down the play.
James Harkin: Aussie native James came into the squad at the end of last season, and stepped up with performances that would keep Stow in the Essex Senior League – only beaten twice, and each time from the penalty spot. Has been keeping up the good form in pre-season.
Rheo Josephs: This will be Rheo’s third season with the club (in two spells) and we’re excited to secure his services for another campaign. Rheo first signed at the beginning of 2016-17 and played a key role in his team’s ten-game unbeaten run at the start of the season. He returned when Ryan Maxwell took over, and played a colossal role in securing the club’s Essex Senior League place, not only with his defensive performances, but also scoring the all-important third goal in the last day win over Ilford. Since his debut in 2016, Rheo, who can play in defence, midfield or up front has made 34 appearances for Forest, scoring five goals.
Jack Leachman: Leachman made his debut for Waltham Forest as a teenager in the 2012-13 season, but already had Isthmian League experience during a short spell at local rivals Redbridge, while he’d also played for Eton Manor. Despite his slight frame, he quickly developed into a good ball-playing midfielder, and was handed the ‘Young Player of the Year’ award. He made 17 appearances for Sawbridgeworth in 2015-16, and also turned out for Barkingside, Enfield, Eton Manor and Takeley, where he was the club’s captain.
Jack was also one of the players who came to our aid at the end of 2017, taking part in our fundraising match.
Chris Lecointe: Reliable forward who featured at the end of last season and looks to share some of his 10-years plus Essex Senior experience.
Christian Owusu: Scored a vital nine goals in ten games at the end of last season and remains with Walthamstow despite a lot of interest from other clubs. Has continued his good form in pre-season too. Christian scored just a minute into his Stags debut against Sporting Bengal and went on to be all-important in keeping the club in the Essex Senior League last season.
James Peagram: James has contributed over 100 goals in the last three seasons to Ilford, Barking and Basildon United, helping the latter two earn promotion in the last two seasons. As well as three incredible seasons in the Essex Senior, Peagram has turned out for Boreham Wood, Harlow Town and Waltham Abbey.
Craig Pope: Centre-back Pope has almost 20 years experience at non-league, having begun his career with Barnet in 2000, and will be Walthamstow’s player/assistant manager.
Craig came through Barnet’s youth ranks making a total of 31 appearances, scoring once in the Conference National over three years with the club. He left Underhill in 2003 subsequently joining Southern Premier League club Cambridge City, helping them reach the Conference South.
After four years at the club, he moved to City’s neighbours Histon ready for their first season in the Conference National. Craig made 69 appearances for the Stutes before signing for Thurrock in December 2009, staying there until last summer when he joined Grays Athletic, eventually making 144 appearances for the Blues.
After a spell with AFC Sudbury, Pope moved to Harlow Town where he was first team captain, helping them earn promotion to the Bostik Premier.
Ross Pope: Craig’s brother, who has looked equally impressive in pre-season.
Billy Sendall: The all-round defender made his debut in the 3-0 win over Basildon United at the end of last season, and put in some huge performances before an injury at work cut his season short. Missed most of pre-season, but is on the mend and should be on the field sooner rather than later.
Ashley Wackers: Versatile player who can play on either wing, in defence or midfield. Has played for Ilford, Barking and Bowers & Pitsea, among others, and was part of title-winning teams in the latter two.
Harry Watkins: Watkins came through several London youth academies including Chelsea and Arsenal, before joining Braintree Town in early 2015; ending the season on loan to Ilford in the Essex Senior League.
An impressive season playing for Braintree Town reserves in the Eastern Counties League saw him catch the eye of manager Danny Cowley, signing first team forms with them in February of this year, before joining Canvey Island on loan.
Then joined Grays Athletic, followed by Ware, and ended last season with a spell at Hullbridge Sports.