Welcome back to the Lodge for our opening League game of the season, although we have been playing friendly games here for several weeks.
In life in general, you could class me as having a Victor Meldrew outlook (me and the Chairman definitely the UK version of Grumpy Old Men).
When it comes to my football team however, I would call myself a realistic optimist.
Always hoping that this is going to be “THE” season when everything comes together and we start the long-awaited climb up the non-league ladder to success but, tempered with experiences and past knowledge of how things can and usually do, go drastically wrong.
They say “it’s the hope that kills you” – how true that is.
Many times over the years, especially in the last couple of decades, I had the feeling that this was going to be “it”, only to be let down.
Two seasons ago, under “Q”, I thought his young side had enough quality to take the League by storm, look how that turned out.
But, this season it feels different, with the club as a whole having a “feel good” factor about it.
On the pitch, we have managed to keep the majority of the side that finished so impressively last season and strengthened in certain positions as well.
I think the important point is that, last season we recruited players who had, in the main, played in the Isthmian League and I think that some of them failed to adapt to the demands of the Essex Senior League, whilst this summer, we have brought in players who, in the main, have at least one season in the ESL under their belts and know what to expect and what is needed to be successful.
The team have been working like demons in sometimes, unbelievable heat, getting themselves fit and to maintain the level of fitness demanded by the manager and was recognized last season by the Hullbridge manager who said we were the “fittest team in the League by a country mile”.
We also have the “fittest player in the ESL”, playing for us – see manager Ryan Maxwell for details.
Although you cannot always gauge results based on friendly games as a guide to how you will do once the season gets under way, our performances seem to have been impressive, against, mainly teams from at least one level higher than ourselves.
So, on the pitch, it seems at the moment to indicate good things ahead but, off the pitch things have been progressing equally well.
We have tie ins with half a dozen organisations up until now and our main sponsors are not just paying “lip service” to being a sponsor.
As well as providing training tops and bags for the players, BeSpoke have been actively involved in meeting with the club committee and supporters, discussing what new events/incentives can be organized to attract more support to the club.
We have set up a partnership with Ryan FC, one of the most successful youth sets ups in London who will represent us at under 18 level and some of their 17 and 18 year old players have already played for the first team in a pre-season friendly and noticeably, did not look overawed or out of place, which bodes extremely well for the future development of the club.
Added to that, the higher profile of our club which has occurred in recent months.
The addition of Aaron Moore to our media team has raised the bar on the web site content from what was an already, superb level.
Match reports after friendly games have been enhanced by comments from the manager every time and the fantastic content on the Twitter feed as well as masses of photos on Facebook, give isolated supporters like myself as much Walthamstow FC “fix” as I can handle.
Our opening salvo sees the visit of Tower Hamlets, who last season had what I would describe as a “chalk and cheese” campaign.
First half of the season was very successful and they were well up in the top half of the table but, after January they stuttered quite badly and by the time we played them in the final few weeks, they were laying very much in mid-table.
That did not stop them putting an end to our impressive run but, on the night, I think it was a case of “one game too far”, as tiredness set in, plus the realization that neither Stansted or Hullbridge were likely to slip up and let us into the top two.
As I write these notes trying to gaze into my crystal ball to see where will be at the end of the season, I realise, I do not have a crystal ball so don’t have a clue.
However, I am certain that in Ryan Maxwell, we have a manager who sets extremely high standards for himself, the players and the team and he is determined to get us promoted this season and I believe that the squad buys into this and want to play for him, so much so, that several of them turned down opportunities to play ay a higher level in order to play for us.
This season will be tough – last season was a good one and we caught many people by surprise, at least until November/December.
This season everyone will have seen how well we did last season and have seen the additions we have made to our squad, so we will not be the surprise package again, in fact, I dare say, we will be the team that every team wants to beat, so the pressure is on.
Mind you, I bet that, it is exactly the sort of situation that Ryan and the team will relish.
Right so, let’s get with it – “Come On You Stow!”