Arcticterntalk.org

The blog of a travelling psychiatrist and football lover. Who happens to be a halfway decent photographer. Takes a cynical view of the world

The Sad Demise of Walton and Hersham Football Club


For those unfamiliar with Walton and Hersham football club they are a Ryman South club needing only four promotions to achieve football league status. A simply astounding but mathematically correct statement. For many years they  were my “non league” club and in fact I have been watching them for around 50 years.

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Most people are unfamiliar with their claims to fame of having won the FA Amateur Cup at Wembley in 1973, and perhaps their greatest “achievement ” was getting Wimbledon into the football league many years ago. The Walton manager and most of the decent players simply moved to Wimbledon and it was that team that got promotion to Division 4. The manager was Allen Batsford and the players included Dave Bassett. Since then things have changed substantially for the worse. In fact their last meaningful club honour stated in the programme is Ishmian League Premier Division Runners Up from that same season they won the FA Amateur cup. The last meaningful thing I recall was a 0-0 result against Brian Clough Brighton at their ground Stompond Lane in front of 4000 spectators and a 4-0 victory in the replay at the Goldstone Ground.

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I cannot summarise their subsequent history in a simple article but the club has been in almost constant decline in the 40 years since then to the extent that they need a new ground and there is a debate going on as to whether that should be a rebuilt Stompond Lane or a groundshare with the other Walton club Walton Casuals.

On weekends when I am not watching Brentford I will visit and often photograph at non league matches and I took the opportunity to see Walton and Hersham v Hythe Town on 27th February and came away maybe more demoralised and sad than from a game for many years. The simple facts are that Walton lost the game 1-3 and the reality was it that should have been more like 1-10, that the ground was in a dreadful state of disrepair, that there were no smiling faces and if I was looking for a welcome, then I had come to the wrong ground. The standard of football was frankly of a park standard and a glance at the league table suggests that relegation is a real probability this year . There must also have been a changing of faces at the club with new players coming in ( and in my opinion soon going out) as the tannoy announcer could not pronounce many of the Walton players names. A few players stood out as being less dreadful than others. Alfie May for Hythe looked like he could play football and could play certainly one division higher. Richard Parquette for Walton is still a box finisher and looked in fact the only player capable of scoring for Walton.

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Admission costs £9 which is a reasonable price for Ryman South football, combined with free parking, £2 programme and £3 Burger , gives a total cost of around £15. The lady at the turnstile entrance was friendly enough but there it stopped, there were a small group of maybe 3-4 men giving an impression of guarding the “free” gate nearby glaring at anyone daring to enter. I counted a crowd size during the dismal game of 67 spectators and the stated crowd was just under 100.

The ground potentially is a decent ground, with terracing behind one goal and in the past covered terracing alongside the whole of one side of the pitch. The stand is also of reasonable size but has been allowed to decline to a sad state. A few new red seats have been installed but the majority of seats were covered in bird mess, mud and unspecified debris, and no one in their right mind would have chosen to sit on them. The old terracing stand has been covered up and closed down due to danger with the roof structure, and fences had blown down behind the goal making passage around the ground troublesome.

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The clubhouse was boarded up and inside was more like a damp cupboard than a clubhouse with maybe 3-4 souls drinking beer before the game. In short the ground was unfriendly, as were most souls I came across, even the nice ladies in the burger bar were wishing the end of half time when they could close their van ( nice burger in a toasted bun was the highlight of my afternoon), and the general state of all the standing areas was poor.

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Seats in stand

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Xmas tree growing on the terrace maybe?

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Rear of Condemned Stand

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The only set of toilets outside the clubhouse. Boarded up

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Clubhouse Boarded Up

This is a club and a ground in total demise. Would I return here? Not in the distant future to be sure. The football and welcome at other local clubs, who also have problems, like Molesey FC is far superior.

I don’t know what the future holds for Walton and Hersham but decisions need to be made. Frankly 2 separate grounds for 2 separate teams in one town in Walton does not seem a viable option, when the total of both clubs home support combined is less than 200. But things need to improve or this club will die. The worst memory was of the astonishingly poor standard of football played by Walton and of a comment, serious I think, from a Hythe town player during the warm up ” only 90 minutes to the bar lads….”. Maybe he had not been inside the bar there?

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18 thoughts on “The Sad Demise of Walton and Hersham Football Club

  1. Well done on your story from a notts county fan

  2. no mention of the council desperately trying to get rid of the club and build more houses for Conservative voters?
    Been many times and don’t find it unfriendly the opposite in fact.

    • not into politics only into the football. So cannot appraise what I hear on social media, which is not a lot recently. What i would say is that if the club tried to create a larger fan base, that might help.

      • How true. I have never known them reach out to the local community. Esher rugby club up the road are always putting things through our door for example. Just got a text to say Hams is sacked so maybe we can still turn it around.

      • Not surprised he is sacked. Clearly not a man motivator. Two things struck me. The keeper was the worst non league keeper I have seen. And Richard Pacquette is a decent box finisher. Hope you do turn it around but doubt it. I may come to the Dorking game as Brentford not playing that day. Good luck

    • Peter on said:

      Of all the club’s problems the biggest is the negative image presented throughout the town by a small group of so-called supporters who use social media to make ludicrous allegations and level a stream of abuse against anyone who supports the proposed Elmbridge Borough Sports Hub which promises to provide a modern sports complex complete with a football ground (to be shared by the two Walton clubs), additional 3G pitches and separate running track.

      What sounds a better proposition – the sports hub or the football ground as it is today described in the article?

      Sadly the football club seem devoid of any proper off-field management and that along with the antics of the “supporters” mentioned above will inevitably lead to the club disappearing into obscurity mourned I’m afraid by very few.

      • I totally agree. Two clubs in a town like Walton cannot generate 200 home fans between them. This means one club or at minimum one ground is sensible. But the club could help itself of course. Try and gain new fans. Offer pay what you want for a game. Make the clubhouse appear less of a cross between a cupboard and a prison but at the very least try and be a little friendly to supporters.

  3. combyne on said:

    good little article.

    Walton & Hersham though did not get Wimbledon FC promoted. They contributed four players plus one connection plus the manager to the seven already there from the previous administration.

    Those players played a massive part in that promotion and supporters will be forever grateful.

  4. RebelBee on said:

    I’m a bees fan living in WoT also – there are quite a few Bees here who also follow the local non league scene and have been regulars at Stompond Lane over the years. It is very distressing to see the demise of Walton’s team (forget the Casuals), we don’t bother much any more since the Bees takes a lot mote more time and money. Was at the Molesey away game and they were a shambles – a Sunday park side at best.

    A town with more than 25K population unable to interest more than a hundred spectators – this says as much about the football world post the Sky money and and the P.

    Sad subject but good on you for shining a light on it.

  5. Running track looks fine

  6. David Martin on said:

    Very interesting (though thoroughly depressing) article. First went to The Lane in 1973 & have been a fairly frequent visitor since, though not managed to get along this season. Got such fond memories of the ground, though to see it as it is now is horrible.
    Still, i’m going to the Three Bridges game on Sat, hoping my presence will inspire a (rare) victory. Here’s hoping…

    • They just sacked their manager yesterday so maybe an upturn? If he was the problem of course. You do need to bring some luck as it not clear where their next point is coming from.

  7. All pretty depressing whichever way you look at it!

  8. Cardinal Red on said:

    Remember when the Woking v Walton & H ‘derby’ was quite a crowd-puller back in the early 70’s and when the Swans were by far the more successful outfit.

    Have not been to the Lane for quite a few years but it never seemed to change much and success became something of a stranger. Probably not helped by the location of the ground in a ‘leafy’ suburb and the value of such ‘assets’.

    Sadly, it’s all about the money, now – but will be sorry to see W & H go if that is the final outcome. Good luck to those who are fighting on.

  9. David Terry on said:

    Just come across this article. I am another Walton and Hersham Fan/Brentford Fan. Now I live in Kent supporting as usual my local side Herne Bay. I always look out for the Swans results but the ground and relegation last year (so I cant even see them in Kent!) is very sad. I still have my 1973 cup final programme (I was 8 at the time) in pristine condition. Brentford are doing better (I was a regular at all home games in the 80’s before university)

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