Non League Daily

Consolidation is key at Waltham Forest

My club, Waltham Forest FC are a club very much in consolidation, writes NLD blogger Charlie Ward

Recovering from a five year exile from our Walthamstow home, we were humiliatingly relegated last season, from the Isthmian League to the Essex Senior League, for the first time in our history, however, things are much more on an upward curve, off the pitch.

When Chairman, Turgut Esendagli was appointed in January 2013, he was determined to get the club back to the borough of Waltham Forest, after our enforced stay at Ilford FC, as their tenants.

Within six months, he had achieved that goal and we started the 2013/2014 season at Wadham Lodge.

We were dying a slow death at Ilford and although we were grateful to Ilford, for at least allowing us to carry on, but, without the ability to generate any income, other than through gate receipts, we were really just counting down to the end of the road.

The return to Wadham Lodge did not bring immediate advantages, but, at the beginning of this season, we started to reap the benefits of a return to the area, as we secured the sponsorship of two separate shirt sponsorship deals, the first external sponsorship for three years.

The Chairman also has the plan to set up a youth system and to that end has already set up links with sides at under 16, under 15 and under 9, age levels.

Eventually, the plan is to set up youth sides at all levels and then, if possible, turn ourselves into a football academy.
By doing that, we would attract the best young talented players in our area and also, hopefully, we will also see the benefits of welcoming their parents as well.

On gates of barely thirty people at home games, there is no way we will survive on gate money alone and now at least we can get additional income from the sale of burgers and teas, but, we still need to generate avenues of regular, substantial income, to move the club forward.

That is why the Chairman also instituted a share issue and as well as bringing in more money, it also brought two new Directors on board.

Turgut Esendgali, has since stepped down as Chairman and the new man at the helm is Hussain Hussain.

Between the two of them, I think, the main priority is to try and secure a ground of our own for the future, so we can take advantage of the ability to set up income generating schemes, without any obstacles in our way.

On the pitch, the Chairman has also taken over running the team.

Previous manager, Wale Ojelabi had stated that a change in his personal arrangements at home made it impossible for him to attend mid-week training sessions or games, but, in truth, I think there were already problems from the previous season, which made his departure all the more inevitable.

Turgut Esendagli appointed himself as Director of Football and his plans of bringing in youth talented players to carry the side forward with fast attacking football.

Laudable though his ideals were, the truth was much more harsh.

It was clear from very early on that the players were ill suited to the level at which they were playing and by the time we reached September, more experienced players needed to be drafted in.

We were never able to raise ourselves from the bottom two and finished one off the bottom, but, well short of safety.

All of the players from last season left in the summer, with no real anguish from the supporters and Esendagli brought in a whole new raft of players and for a while we did struggle with inconsistency, but, we found the right team in October and for the next three months, we swept most sides away and secured a place, firmly in the top four, albeit, with the teams below, having many games in hand.

But, Christmas put the brakes on our momentum, as postponements, suspension and injuries robbed the team of its cutting edge.
We struggled to get our act together and only recently have we had our most potent strike force back in harness.

Solomon Ofori, Hassana Traore and Jose Agua, were ripping teams to pieces before the festive season and all three had managed hat tricks, but, in our two games that we have featured all three, we have lost 3- 1 and drawn 4-4.

Agua notched his third hat trick of the season, but, it was our unreliable defence that let us down again, a problem we had both last season and this.

Clean sheets are a rarity in our team and if we are to take advantage of the potent force we have up front, we need to start adding steel to our defence.

We do not expect to be in the running for the title and possible promotion back into the Isthmian League, but, we are hopeful of keeping the better players at our club with a real attempt next season to go for the Championship.

So on and off the field, we are bedding down and planning for future success.

Our club cannot survive on a few hard core committee members and despairingly low attendances.

There has to be a progressive plan in place to carry the club forward, but only when the club’s finances can enable it.
On the field, we are still waiting to see if the Chairman has the technical and management skills to get the team playing successfully and get ourselves back in the Isthmian League.

We certainly play football in the right way and the manager is to be applauded for that, but, does he have the contacts to bring in the players, especially in the defence, to get us up to the top of the Essex Senior League – much will depend on if we can keep our attacking force together.

I certainly believe in the way that Turgut Esendagli is proposing to move the club forward is absolutely the right way and it is the only way for the club to prosper and move upwards.

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