In June 2010, the committee of Waltham Forest Football Club was approached with a view of returning to Wadham Lodge Sports Ground, Walthamstow, their home for 11 seasons between 1995 and 2007. The below is a brief outline of the story so far...
Forest FC so close to Wadham Lodge return.
(Friday 26th November 2010, Waltham Forest Guardian)
Waltham Forest FC are poised to complete the club’s long-delayed return from exile to Wadham Lodge.
The site in Kitchener Road, Walthamstow, was finally given the thumbs up by FA inspectors this week.
That is good news for grassroots football clubs in the area, according to the firm which has redeveloped the Lodge over the course of this year.
Matchday Centres director Jason Maguire said: ”We’re made up with the decision and hopefully we can crack on.
“It means other clubs have a step progression so players if they’re good enough can come through the ranks and play for Waltham Forest FC.
“We can get the club back on track.”
He insisted Forest FC is at the heart of Matchday Centres’ plan for Wadham Lodge, even if the Stags get relegated down to the Essex Senior League next May.
Club secretary Andy Perkins predicts the relocation will save the Stags’ season.
“Many players will not come to us because of the pitch at Cricklefields. We cannot play on that pitch, so we are really happy about it.
“Once we are back there, we will have lots of people who can come along. Hardly anyone comes to see us in Ilford,” said Perkins.
But football is also a political game.
An FA committee may be required to approve the inspectors' decision.
Then the Ryman League could yet block the move if the board fears distortion of competition arising from Forest’s mid-season relocation.
A decision is expected by next week. The first home match could be Grays Athletic in the first weekend of December.
Forest await Wadham Lodge ground grading
(Thursday 21st October 2010, Waltham Forest Guardian)
(Tuesday 19th October 2010, Waltham Forest Guardian)
FA overturns Ryman League Decision
(Thursday 12th August 2010, Waltham Forest Guardian)
The Football Association has overturned a decision by the Ryman League which it was feared would spell doom for the club. Figures from Forest FC went to Wembley Stadium last week to appeal the League’s ruling which banned, on a technicality, the proposed move back to Wadham Lodge, Kitchener Road. Now the governing body of football in England has ordered the Isthmian League’s panel to shoo-through a new relocation application by the club.
Forest secretary Andy Perkins was shocked by the good news, which came as a surprise to him. He told Guardian Series Sport: “It’s very important as it means we can go forward now. “It is good because we have had problems with players who did not want to play at Ilford FC (Forest's current home ground), but now we have a pitch and also a place for training young players.”
Forest back home in October?
(Saturday 7th August 2010, NonLeagueDaily.com)
Ryman League Divison One North club Waltham Forest`s appeal regarding the return to Wadham Lodge was heard at the Football Association's headquarters at Wembley on Thursday, subject to written confirmation.
The FA ruled in favour of Waltham Forest, meaning the club must get the Wadham Lodge up to the required ground grading from and have a Lease Agreement in place before re-applying for the league's permission to move back to Wadham Lodge. This may enable Forest to be able to play at Wadham Lodge as early as October, but this is not set in stone and will be discussed at the earliest Ryman League board meeting possible.
FA Appeal Successful
(Thursday 5th August 2010, www.walthamforest-fc.co.uk)
Waltham Forest's appeal regarding the return to Wadham Lodge today was heard today at the Football Association's head quarters at Wembley, subject to written confirmation. The FA ruled in favour of Waltham Forest, meaning the club must get the Wadham Lodge up to the required ground grading from and have a Lease Agreement in place before re-applying for the league's permission to move back to Wadham Lodge. This MAY enable us to be able to play at Wadham Lodge as early as October, but this is not set in stone and will be discussed at the earliest League Board meeting possible.
Waltham Forest won't be playing at Wadham Lodge this season
(Tuesday 3rd August 2010, Waltham Forest Guardian)
A DREAM move back home for Waltham Forest FC has been blocked by the Ryman League. A panel of officials has ruled that because they did not sanction the move, then the club cannot return to Wadham Lodge, in Kitchener Road. That means the Ryman One North outfit now face another season lodging at Cricklefield, in Ilford.
It just had to be that Forest play host to their landlord, while League mulls Wadham Lodge switch.
(Wednesday 21st July 2010, Waltham Forest Guardian)
WALTHAM Forest FC play Ilford on the opening day of the season, on August 21. It is a fixture which proves the fooballing gods are real and that they have a delicious sense of humour. Forest FC have been desperate to end a two-year long groundshare arrangement with Ilford FC and to return home to Wadham Lodge.
Wadham Lodge return no certainty warns Ryman League
(Monday 19th July 2010, Waltham Forest Guardian)
THE dream return of Waltham Forest FC to its spiritual home is hanging in the balance. The Ryman one north club is “95 per cent” sure that league officials will not block its historic move back to Wadham Lodge, in Kitchener Road. But this week the chairman of the Ryman League called the plan to end two years of exile in Redbridge “by no means certain.” Alan Turvey told Guardian Series Sport: “A lot of things are being considered. “The point is that they (Forest FC) are already in a groundshare agreement with Ilford FC. “They have made an application, but the situation is not as straight-forward as it seems.” The sticking point is that Wadham Lodge is not currently in a fit state to pass an inspection by the Ryman League. The club is now in a race against time to finish renovation and improvement works in time for inspection day on August 14. Works have been stepped up at the Wadham Lodge complex in a bid beat the deadline, by owner’s Matchday Centres.
Football club is so close to a return to Wadham Lodge home as new owners invite the Stags back as part of ambitious scheme
(Thursday 6th July 2010, Waltham Forest Guardian)
THE exile is over for Waltham Forest FC with a new deal to return home at last. The Stags have secured a ten-year lease on their old ground at Wadham Lodge. The deal has been done with a firm called Matchday Centres, which now controls the complex in Wadham Road. This brings to an end a two-season long banishment for Forest, which began in 2008.
The club were forced to leave the Lodge and quit the borough, to move in with Ilford FC in Redbridge. So the news this week has been greeted with joy by fans and club staff. Club secretary Andy Perkins told Guardian Series Sport: “I’m very happy indeed that we are going home. “Our place here in the borough goes back to 1868, and we think that every borough should have a club.
“If we had not come home then we would not have lasted much longer,” he said. “We have a chairman who wants to take the club forward, but no money is coming in. “Now we can draw more fans and hopefully get some money in. “Ilford FC were very good to us, but the place was like a graveyard,” he added. “We were on the edge of town and few people came to see us.” One fan wrote on the club messageboard: "Great news. Well done to all the committee and chairman Isaac Johnson for negotiating our return. Now we can concentrate on moving the club upwards, both on and off the field."
Stags to return home
(Saturday 3rd July 2010, www.walthamforest-fc.co.uk)
After the club’s AGM, held on Saturday 3rd of July 2010, the Committee of Waltham Forest FC is delighted to announce their return to Wadham Lodge, their home between 1995 and 2008. The club have successfully negotiated a deal with the new landlords of Wadham Lodge, allowing them to return home after two seasons ground sharing with Ilford.
The last game played at Wadham Lodge was against Ilford on Monday 24th March 2008, towards the end of a troubled season where the side narrowly avoided relegation. However, with a new managerial team in place, the committee are certain that Waltham Forest FC will once again be the largest senior non-league side in the borough.
The club now hopes to re-establish their links within the borough and continue to progress, with the ambition of bringing the club back to glory, for the first time since 2006 when Hakan Hayrettin’s side won the Essex Senior Cup.
The return to Wadham Lodge is subject to a successful ground grading and approval from the Ryman Football League.
Stags set for Ilford Move
(Wednesday 14th May 2008, Waltham Forest Guardian)
WALTHAM Forest look set to move to their new home at Ilford's Cricklefield Stadium as they await the official seal of approval from the council. Club secretary Andy Perkins admitted he had held positive talks with Ilford chairman Roger Chilvers, and that the club were looking forward to playing host to the Stags' home games. "Everything has been agreed," assured Perkins. "The league have approved the documentation and it's just a case of waiting for the official signatures from the council.
"We're very much looking forward to working with Ilford, and having spoken to Roger (Chilvers), they are happy to be holding our matches." It brings an end to the saga that has seen Waltham Forest moved out of their home of 12 years Wadham Lodge due to an increase in rent. The club's final game at their old ground was played on March 24, ironically a 1-0 defeat to Ilford. The Stags survived the drop by just one point, while Ilford were relegated from the Isthmian Division One North. The two teams will now share Ilford's Cricklefield Stadium from next season, although it is not yet known how long Waltham Forest are contracted to remain there.
Ground problem is hampering our plans, says Cofie
(Wednesday 7th May, 2008. Waltham Forest Guardian)
Let us band together to keep Stags playing in the borough.
(Wednesday 2nd April, 2008. Letter to The Waltham Forest Guardian)
Wadham Lodge Trust has been shooting itself in the foot for years.
(Wednesday 2nd April, 2008. Letter to The Waltham Forest Guardian)
UNDER the lease granted by the Wadham Lodge Trust, Waltham Forest FC undertook to administer the ground in lieu of rent (Football club's race to find new home ground,' March 20). This arrangement continued for some years until our then chairman, Harry Ramis, left after having pumped in a great deal of money. The trust stepped in and, without discussion, broke the terms of the lease by setting up a users' committee to run the ground.
(Tuesday 1st April 2008, www.walthamforest-fc.co.uk)
Waltham Forest will play their final two games of the league season at Witham Town FC. Forest will play at Witham on the 12th April against Bury Town & 26th April against Wivenhoe Town. Waltham Forest will be at Witham Town for a third time on the 5th April when they visit Witham for their Ryman 1N match.
Forest bid sad farewell to Wadham Lodge
The goal, scored on a breakaway against a side they defeated 4-2 on Boxing Day, offered up a sad last chapter of a story that started in summer 1995 when Leyton FC moved out of their previous home at Lea Bridge Road and merged with Walthamstow Pennant to begin life as Leyton Pennant, retaining the Isthmian League status enjoyed by Leyton before the merger.
Five years ago, upon the arrival of new chairman Harry Ramis, it was decided to change the clubs name to Waltham Forest to try and establish a local identity, other than using the name Leyton, when the club no longer played in the district of Leyton but in neighbouring Walthamstow. Since the departure of Ramis two years ago the club has struggled to get some stability and on the horizon was the prospect of a renewal of the lease of the ground.
After another change of chairman in November, the current incumbent, Azumah Cofie, set about talking to Wadham Lodge Trust who own the facilities in the Wadham Lodge complex to agree on a fee for rent. Despite agreeing to meet their demands and even agreeing to fund additional money for costs, the Trust felt they were owed by the club over the previous four years, the Trust were still not prepared to offer the lease to Forest and it became clear that the Trust wanted a different club to have the lease.
Chairman Cofie, though was not content to sit on his laurels and wait for the negotiations to conclude and has been actively been working to set up several options for the short and long-term future of a home for the club. When the Trust insisted that the club would have to pay for the use of the pitch for the last few home games and seemed to revise the cost on a weekly basis, Cofie decided to seek alternative arrangements for the final two home games of the season and the club has now de-camped to Witham Town fellow memebers of the Division One North.
It is a bitter end to an association that started well and saw some happy times but has gradually be deteriorating over the last few years. With talks with several certain interested parties at an advanced stage, the club is hopeful of finalising plans for the club`s relocation in the next few weeks.
Forest looking to groundshare
(Thursday 20th March, 2008. NonLeagueDaily.com)
Club statement regarding Wadham Lodge
(Tuesday 11th March 2008, www.walthamforest-fc.co.uk)
Cofie came in and immediately started negotiations. In October, we were asked to pay £6000 a year rent for alternate Saturdays. We agreed to this. That’s the last we heard until early February. At this time we were asked to attend an interview with Mr Mallinson where we had to “sell ourselves”. We had been made aware that Hale End and Waltham Forest Youth would be competing for the pitch. We raised this with the self designated “Chief Executive” of the Lodge Nigel Bonty, who, coincidentally, runs one of the youth team. We raised a possible conflict of interests to which the reply was, “I’ll be standing down at the end of the season.” i.e. after the lease decision had been made.
End of an era as Leyton leave home
(Date unknown, Leyton & Leytonstone Guardian)
LEYTON played their farewell game at the Hare and Hounds ground on Saturday before announcing they are to merge with Walthamstow Pennant next season.
Subject to Football Association approval the new club will play as Leyton Pennant Football Club, based at Wadham Lodge in Diadora League Division One. They are now the only team in the Borough of Waltham Forest playing senior non-league football.
The Lilywhites, formed in 1868, played their first match at Lea Bridge Road in 1901 beating Hampstead 4-0. They moved to Osborne Road in 1905 where they played as professionals before disbanding six years later.
They reformed and returned to the Hare and Hours after the Great War, moved to Brisbane Road in 1931 but were thrown out in 1937 in favour of Clapton Orient – now Leyton Orient. After years in the wilderness they returned to the Hare and Hounds in 1944 where they have remained for 50 years. The lease for the ground expires next year.
The ground will continue to be used for certain matches, training and for reserve and youth football. The facilities will operate as usual.
George Gross, who has been chairman of Leyton FC for 30 years becomes the first president of Leyton Pennant. He says it’s the only way for the club to go forward: “What’s the alternative? We only have the ground for another year and it doesn’t comply with Diadora League Standards. “We’ve got to be optimistic. It’s the only way for us to carry on or we will have to close down.”
Leyton secretary Mike Roberts agrees: “It’s a whole new beginning for the club and an opportunity to go forward instead of backwards. “We’ve done everything requested by the FA and I’m confident they will give us approval.”
Roberts hopes the FA will give the merger the green light in the next few days. Walthamstow Pennant were formed in 1964 and gained senior status in 1983. They have spent 11 seasons in the Spartan Premier Division. The club’s football highlight was the League and Cup double in 1990-91.
Gross added: “It’s in the interest of both clubs. Pennant are being lifted to a very high standard and a position that would have taken them 10 years to achieve.”
On Saturday, the Lilywhites who had already staved off relegation, said goodbye to the ground in style with a 3-1 victory over Wivenhoe. Player/boss Paul Taylor, Ben Barnett and Martin Coats grabbing the goals.
Homeless threat to club
(Thursday 2nd February 1995, Leyton & Leytonstone Guardian)
While Leyton Orient fights for its life, another local football club could soon be booted out on the streets. The borough’s oldest football club – non-league Leyton FC founded in 1868 – will be fighting to save its home in court next week.
The 20-year lease on the Wingate-Leyton Stadium ground in Lea Bridge Road expired on January 10. Ground owner Wingate-Leyton Stadium Limited is now considering a bid from a development consortium to build a nursing home on the site.
The Diadora Division One club, which fields the only semi-professional team left in the borough, will go to court next week to try to avoid becoming homeless. Club officials will claim the protection of the 1934 Landlord and Tenants Act in their bid to renew the lease.
Club chairman George Gross said: “This is a worrying time for football in the area when we might be losing our ground and our neighbours Leyton Orient are also in trouble. We have been in the borough since our formation and are one of the most historic, amateur non-league clubs in the country”
Ironically the non-league club was the original occupant of its troubled neighbour’s Brisbane Road ground. They made way for the professional side in 1937 and eventually made their home at the Wingate-Leyton Stadium in 1975.
While the Leyton club has only distant memories of appearances at Wembley in Amateur cup finals, their professional neighbours are now close to reaching the famous twin towers and a first-ever cup final appearance.
On Tuesday night, 3,000 supporters answered the club’s pleas to watch the O’s beat Shrewsbury Town 2-1 in the Auto Windscreens Shield. That triumph has set up an area final tie against Birmingham. Victory in the two-legged Southern Area final against the Second Division leaders would send the team on a money-spinning visit to Wembley.