Friday, 28 August 2009

FORGOTTEN FOOTBALL - WOODFORD TOWN 1937-2003


Snakes Lane as it stands presently

Woodford Town were evicted from there Snakes Lane ground in 1993 and a fire destroyed the main building in 1996. They played their final game on 7th May 2003 losing 6-0 to Bowers United in the Essex Senior League, the League decided not to re-elect them for the 03/04 season. The 02/03 season was a struggle for Town playing at Clapton FC's Spotted Dog ground which is around 3 miles from Woodford.

The ground in Snakes Lane is still visible with the floodlights still standing and nothing built on it…yet!!!!

another view of the ground with the floodlights still in place

The club were formed in 1937 and played in the Delphian and Metropolitan leagues up until 1971 when they were elected to join the Southern League Southern Division. The first and only season at this time was a disaster winning only 4 games and the club dropped into intermediate football for a few years before joining the Essex Senior League in 1976.

They tried again in the Southern League from 1982 to 1987. Finishing 16th, 19th, 11th, 16th before a glory year in 1986/87 where a 3rd place finish was attained winning 22 out of 38 games. This season was the best on record for Town having a great FA Cup run beating Hertford Town, Grays Athletic, Harwich & Parkeston and Kings Lynn before entertaining local league rivals Leyton Orient in the 1st round proper loosing 1-0 in a very close match.

The club dropped into the Essex Senior League again for the 1987/88 season and were members of the Spartan/South Midlands league from 1993-1999 (playing at various non-league grounds around East London) and they returned to the Essex Senior League for the 1999/2000 season .

Enfield Town fans will be aware of Woodford’s poor record from then on finishing bottom of the pack in 00/01, 01/02 and their final season in 02/03. In 00/01 they went 26 matches without a win.


the old entrance to the ground
It was a struggle for the club to stay alive losing most of their fan base playing outside of Woodford. There was talk of a return to Woodford with a planning application being put in to develop Roding Lane North sports ground (a stones throw from Snakes Lane) to an Isthmian standard. The ground formerly used by Amateur side Old Monovians was in the Roding Valley conservation area so these plans unfortunately never came to fruition.

The start of the 01/02 season was disaster losing 9-0. 7-0, 3-1, 5-0, 6-5, 5-1, 12-2, 3-0, 6-1 before gaining a first point with a 1-1 draw and 2-1 win versus Stansted who had beaten them in the 6-5 game. Sandwiched between these games was another 1-0 loss. By the time ETFC in our first season got round to playing them they had improved slightly with Town winning 3-0 on a extremely terrible Spotted Dog pitch on the 12th January and the return game being won 6-1 at on the 18th February. The game played under the lights at Goldsdown Road is remembered by the cold end as future town favourite Asa Pamplin equalised for Woodford after Town had gone 1-0 up through an OG. Rudi Hall was on the score sheet for ETFC that night.

In the 02/03 season ETFC beat Woodford 3-1 on the 9th October at Golsdown Road, Woodford’s goal coming from Delroy Forde. Woodford included future Towner Steve Baldwin in their team. The return game in Forest Gate on 21st December was won by ETFC 6-1. Woodford’s problems of raising a team at the time was outlined as in the 2 and ½ months between games their starting line up was completely different.

In this last season in 02/03 the club suffered numerous problems with two games at the end of the season being awarded to their opponents with no games being played culminating in the club not being elected for the 03/04 season and subsequently folding.

The club’s last season in the FA Cup was 87/88 (the season after their historic cup run) when they lost to Harlow Town 1-0 away. Their final season in the Vase was 02/03 when they lost to Soham Town Rangers 4-1.


So, Another club in the East London area to be put to the history books alongside Walthamstow Avenue, Leystonstone, Ilford (the first time round) and Chingford Town amongst others.

In 2006 there were reports that a group of supporters were looking to reform the club with applications to several step 5 leagues. However, nothing further came of this announcement and there has been no more news.

The cold end hopes this famous old club will return soon.

27 comments:

  1. hi and thanks for this great blog post!
    there is currently quite a bit of local interest in Woodford Town FC and many people are looking for as much info as they can find on the team.
    do you have any images of the team badge and the team kit? (or indeed just simply know what they were)
    any help you can offer would be greatly received

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    1. As an ex Woodford Town player I have many happy memories of the few seasons playing for the Town. I played in the 1956/57 era when the club Secretary was Bob Gulden and the Manager was Les Male brother of George Male the Arsenal player. On a few occasions Alec Stock, then the Orient Manager and later with Arsenal took training sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I have a number of club programs and newspaper cuttings. Here is one team that I recall, Peter Syrett, Tony Berrecloth. Terry O'Shea, Brian Lees, Ted Williams, Derek Rigg, Tony Orciel, Ted Rogers, Eric Stevens, Les Blackett and Fred Oram (me). Happy days.

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    2. I have a programme from 8 Feb 1958, Delphian League senior Selection v Berkhamsted Town. Players include Syrett, Rogers andWhite. Excellent condition...open to offers!!

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  2. I used to live in Woodford in the 50s about five minutes walk to Snakes Lane and watched their games regulary. They played in white shirts and black shorts at that time.
    Brian

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  3. Dear old Woodford. One thing worth mentioning is that Johnny Haynes and Jimmy Greaves both played for them, though not quite at the same time. Haynes played as a youngster around 1953, Jimmy finished his career there in the Athenian League in 1979, playing alongside a rather rotund Joe Kinnear. I believe Jimmy's final 'proper' game was at Dorking in November. The likes of Glenn Roeder and Laurie Cunningham also showed off their skills at Snakes Lane with a club known as Orient FC (Woodford), which was in fact Orient's under-18 team based at Woodford for one season (73-4, I think) while Town were either defunct or playing Sunday football. Presumably Woodford was chosen because of the swamp-like qualities of the pitch, good preparation for playing at Brsbane Road in those days before the sainted Charlie Hasler became groundsman.

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  4. As a result of Woodford Town reaching the 1st round of the FA Cup I and playing I spent a lot of time in the late 80s and early 90s watching them; even going to East Ham on a tuesday night when they were groundsharing there as they couldn't play on Saturdays for some reason. I believe there is a covenant on the ground that prevents it being used for anything other than sporting reasons which has stopped it becoming housing. However the fact that it has been left to rot is heartbreaking. That corner of East London and Essex is a bit moribund non league wise and the bottom of the Isthmian Div 1 North table suggests there isn't a lot of mileage in resurrecting the Town. Which is a shame. Love the blog by the way, in spite of what Paul Furlong and Dave Howell did to Orient!

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  5. ernie morris7 April 2011 15:24

    my worst moment in my football career was woodford town 1966, I was playing for loughton town as goalkeeper and after a trial at woodford was signed on as no.1 I trained all summer with them and on the first game I was not contacted didn't turn up and was horrified reading the local press [Goalkeeper fails to turn up] the replacement ended with 10 stichtes in his head agains west ham. I was so horrified I bottled and never went back playing after that for chigwell town. I have regretted that day all my my life.
    ernie morris

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  6. dear ernie can you tell me bout chingford town

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  7. any photos of chigwell anyone and is it true they only played four years

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  8. I am extremely glad I found this blog! I am absolutely fascinated with Woodford Town F.C. right now. I am from the US, and a huge football fan [there are indeed some of us here ;-)]- and after a long discussion with my grandmother about where she comes from (she was born and raised in Woodford, Essex and came to the US in her twenties after meeting my grandfather during WWII) we got to talking about her "hometown club". It was a wonderful conversation, and sparked my interest in acquiring more info about the club. Unfortunately, with the small size of the club and it's later unfortunate demise, information isn't the easiest to come by for someone across the pond. So this was some great reading for me. Thank you for sharing, and the blog comments were incredible! Johnny Haynes and Jimmy Greaves? Remarkable - those are a pair of bonafide English football legends! I would never have known they played for Woodford FC if it werent for what I read here!

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  9. why dont people get together and get it going

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  10. Is this the stadium Lenny McLean faught at ?

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  11. I recall going to the opening of Woodford Town's new - redeveloped - stand in a match against Walthamstow Avenue, probably around 1952-4. Think the score against was about 7-0. Huge crowd - some thousands.

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  12. PS I may have the Woodford Town v Walthamstow Avenue programme somewhere.

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  13. Hi guys,
    any idea who to contact re Snakes lane ground?
    I represent a communtiy club very local to this area .
    Our numbers are growing and we dont have our facitlities.
    Would love to develop this place whilst retaining all its previous features.
    Please drop me a call or a text if u have any useful info
    07860432137 - Dan

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  14. Hi guys how interesting this is ,my father helped build the original enterance in snakes lane in the late 40s/early 50s two tunstiles walk down past the car park to the pitch main stand in front of you opposite side was a corrigated metal stand .There was a enterance in finching field ave on the corner.Yes i can rember going to watch Woodford play in the delphian league ,does any body rember peter syritt in goal colin flatt going down the wing{went to orient]yes great times and some good results.Home colours was whie shirts black shorts away strip red.I think the orig badge had somthing to do with woodford council ? yes i did leave local to snakes lane . keith

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  15. good old woodford town ho the memories come flooding back i was one of the lucky players to work for peter syrett and what a pleasure in 60s good players like colin budd terry morris brian jackson david hyde duncan neal who went newcastle/plymouth eddie moran

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  16. Did you play for woodford town or did you watch them play ?

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  17. I lived in the children's home in Crescent road. Happy memories watching woodford in the early 60's

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    1. I too lived in the childrens home in the late 40s and early 50s and spnt many happy Saturday afternoons at snakes lane watching the likes of Peter Bessex Johnny Bee and George Durie and others Such memories








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  18. I played for Woodford Town 1980/81 with Joe Kinnear as player coach. We even had Martin Chivers come to watch us. I've got some old programmes & cuttings from the local rag with highlights etc. I remember scoring in a friendly against Oxford City when Bobby Moore was their manager & we drew 3-3. Lovely times down Snakes Lane. Night club was called Woody's & money helped pay the players wages.

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    1. My name is Neil Robertson son of the recently passed Joe Robertson. He was a treasurer and a secretary and a ground man so many time and years that I have lost count. He was awarded a life member from the club for his contribution at a very early age. Our family have very fond memories of the coach away trips and great new years eve parties. He was a great friend of Peter Syrett who is the last of the friends that are still alive that I recognise. Thank you for this post.

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    2. Does Woodford still play anywhere please

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    3. Hi Neil I have a message for youplease get in touch.
      mickwoodfordtown@aol.com Regards Mick Wakeling.

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  19. Hi, My Mother in Law died very recently and amongst her possessions was a letter to her dated 15/6/1943 from the Secretary of Woodford Town Football Club. It says how sorry they were that her husband, Bill Davison', was 'reported missing'. He was, in fact, in a Prisoner of War camp and eventually died in 2001. He was Captain of Woodford Town FC prior to the war and I have a Woodford Town FC Captain's medal of Bill's. I'd be delighted to hear from anyone who knows anything about Bill and I can be contacted on richard_lehman@hotmail.com

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  20. Hello Neil Robertson, My name is Mick Wakeling. Firstly so sorry to hear about your dad,your dad and I could have wrote a book on the goings on at Snakes Lane, I shared many highs and lows over the years doing many of the jobs that your dad got involved in.
    Its sad that only a fortnight ago I was speaking to Peter Syrett, and your dad was mentioned, did he know about your dad. I remember well your brother and sister, and of course your mum Vera. Sadly WTFC no longer exist packing up in 2003.Ihave an e-mail address, yes you guessed it mickwoodfordtown@aol.com if you wanted to contact me. I am the club historian unofficial these days, and have spent the last 20 years collecting anything WTFC and have recently managed to get hold of the Sid Limmer collection who was a previous secretary. Well Neil bye for now Regards Mick.

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  21. Really quick comment. What an interesting set of comments. I am the nephew of Vic Hammerton, sadly now passed, who was the club secretary for many years in the 80s particularly. As a result, I did lots of stuff for / around the club, including selling tickets, looking after refs, ringing in the results, public address (in fact, I was the announcer for the Orient cup tie), etc. etc. I refereed a few friendlies for the club too. I remember the day the club scored 10 versus Tonbridge as a highlight.
    Very sad to hear of Joe's passing. I knew him well in that time and he was kind to me.

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