Non League Daily

BLOG: Time for reflection at Waltham Forest

As the dust settles on the 2014/2015 season, Waltham Forest will be looking at their future in great detail writes NLD blogger Charlie Ward

On the field, the season was very much an up and down affair and their first ever season in the Essex Senior league, ended with a very disappointing tenth place finish.

The club have definitely moved forward, with two youth sides set up connected to the club, along with a veterans side that has brought a bit of income generation with it.

Also, the club secured it's first external shirt sponsorship deals, for three years.

Moving forward there are plans to re-instate a reserve team, after about ten years and  that would involve a tie in, with the Spurs academy, certainly, a high profile venture, as well as plans to add two more age groups to the youth section - all occurring in the next three years.

But, there is still the one over riding need - for a ground of our own, on which, literally, we can build our future.

Our current home at Wadham Lodge, Walthamstow, is an excellent ground, with good facilities, but, we have to pay for these facilities and with gates at an all time low, the cost is proving a real drain on our finances.

The long term future of he club, very much depends on us being able to relocate to aground of our own, which would give us the resources to generate income through our own facilities and not be totally dependent on contributions from people within the club, who are digging deep in their own pockets to keep the club solvent.

Non-league football in London,  the East End and Essex,  is a struggle, with most clubs at our level and even Isthmian League level seeing  less and less people coming through the turnstiles.

If clubs like ours are to survive and flourish, it needs them to be able to organise fund raising events, which will continue to bring in regular income, to cover the increasing rise in running costs of football at senior non-league level.

Our club is not different from many, at our level and we have to ensure we can continue running the club on more than a wing and a prayer.

The committee at our club are striving to find a site where we can put down some roots and establish our club as a community club that will attract crowds and generate sustainability for the future.

On the field we also have to try and move forward.

We have several exciting players who have thrilled the minute crowds with goal scoring exploits and have set the pulse raising.

Players like Solomon Ofori, experienced at Isthmian League levfel and Jose Agua, our top scorer, Hasanna Traore and Mikke Moussa, who, although new to English non-league football, have risen to the occasion and found the net regularly, have all been outstanding successes for our side this year, as well as Jose Ifil, who has already been watched by a couple of clubs form the Football League.

These players have to be retained for next season, if possible, but, given our limited financial background, that will not be easy and as well as retaining those players, we need to bring in reinforcements, especially in defence, that can raise our level of performance and consistency, so we can achieve our ambition of returning to the Isthmian League.

This season we have not been good enough, for long periods and that has to improve for next season.

The Essex Senior League is a paradox - the much more local fixtures and greatly reduced travelling, has definitely reduced travelling costs, but, against that, there is the vastly reduced following of clubs in the ESL and the reduced lack of interest at our games, which subsequently means reduced revenue.

The dilemma is simple - unless we can re-locate and build a ground which can have a greater impact on our income generation, we cannot be certain of our future, but, if we cannot attract more people to the club than we do currently, we cannot buy ourselves enough time, to find that location.


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