Sport

ABOUT 2,000 children aged six to 15 took part in two days of football at the Goldsworth Park Rangers annual summer festival.

The festival was attended by Woking FC manager Alan Dowson,  first team coach Ian Dyer and midfielder Paul Hodges, who brought along the Vanarama Promotion Playoff final trophy.

GPR Raptors under-12s team with Dowse and the Vanarama playoff trophy.

Lee Swain, the Goldsworth Park Rangers FC chairman, said the tournament was a great success and thanked the many volunteers who helped to make it happen.

“Also I must say a big thanks to Dowse. For him to drive straight back from Wales having attended the Vanarama presentation evening was unbelievable and to bring the cup with him was a great touch.”

Lee said the club’s community partner Waitrose and grassroots partner Macdonalds made massive contributions to the festival.

The GP Rangers under-10s team the Dolphins with mascot Wishbone

“It’s always a busy but rewarding weekend and I am delighted that all the teams seemed to have a great time.

“Wishbone the mascot made everyone smile and managed to get in nearly every photo,” Lee said.

Andy Morgan, the club secretary and welfare officer, explained that the mascot’s name came from the fact that the pitches are on Wishbone Way.

“The annual event has grown from about 30 teams to where we are now,” Andy said.

He said the club is thriving with 600 members and 42 teams.

For more pictures get the 20 June edition of the News & Mail

LUKE Tuffs says that being named Knaphill’s new manager is the best thing that has happened to him during his football career.

Tuffs, previously head coach at Evo-Stik League South Premier Division South outfit Hartley Wintney, says he is determined to bring success to the Combined Counties League Premier Division club.

Knaphill’s new boss Luke Tuffs during his successful spell on the management team at Hartley Wintney

In an exclusive interview with the News & Mail, the 32-year-old came across as humbled to have been given the chance to lead Knaphill.

Having been part of the management team which guided The Row to a final position of eighth – ahead of more established neighbours Farnborough and Basingstoke Town – in Evo-Stik Premier South this season, he certainly brings to the Knappers some much-needed experience of the higher echelons of semi-pro football.

Acknowledging the wonderful times he experienced at Hampshire village club Hartley, UEFA B-licence coach Tuffs said: “Winning the Evo-Stik (East Division) play-offs at the first attempt (in 2018), the FA Cup run (in 2015) when we got close to the first round proper, knocking out teams from higher divisions, and getting to the fifth round of the FA Vase (in 2016) were great, but the best thing in my career was getting the Knaphill job.

“It’s my first manager’s job (at senior level) and I’ll do my best not to be out of every national cup competition by September or October!

“It’s very exciting and I’d love to emulate what happened at Hartley (the club won back-to-back promotions, climbing from the Combined Counties Premier to Evo-Stik Premier South).

“We didn’t say ‘We’re going to this’ or ‘We’re going to do that’ but we quietly went about our business. It was very much a group effort. We always had a strong group and worked together.”

So, realistically, can Knaphill match the achievements of near neighbours Westfield and become a force in the  Bostik League?

“Of course it’s possible,” said Tuffs, whose day job is Chertsey academy manager at Pulse Premier Football. 

“If we get things right and get people to buy into the club, who knows where we can go? It’s a cliché, but we’ll take each game as it comes.

“I’m going to bring in lots of players but I’m going to be fair to the players who are already at the club.

“I’ve spoken to a few and I’m going to speak to everyone. I’ll give a chance to any of them who want to be part of the group.

“The priority is the league, but as a club it would be great to have a cup run.”

Commenting on the appointment of Tuffs, who has coached in the US, Knaphill chairman David Freeman told the News & Mail: “We’re delighted to have Luke at the club.

“His ideas and coaching abilities are of real quality, and we’re looking forward to the season ahead.”

For the full interview get the 30 May edition of the News & Mail

A WEST End man who took up Thai boxing to help his daughter continue in the sport has raised more than £5,500 for the Woking & Sam Beare Hospices by taking part in a fight, in which he suffered a broken rib.

Kelvin, a lifelong Woking-area resident who runs an electrical contracting company, turned to his business contacts and wide circle of local friends in his fundraising.

Coach Chris Murphy helps Kelvin warm up

He has previously raised £7,000 for the hospice, most of which came from running the London Marathon in 2014.

In January this year, after training regularly for several months, Kelvin noticed that there was to be a Thai boxing show in Guildford in May .

“I thought this would be a great way of raising money for the Woking Hospice. I would be able to sell lots of tickets and due to my age would be the complete underdog in this fight.”

Before he could take part in the full fight, he had to compete in two interclub bouts, which are similar to intensive sparring in which no winner is declared and the referee steps in if someone is getting hurt.

“Mick Murphy, Chris Murphy and Paul Boosey at Woking Thai spent lots of time with me improving my technique and fitness. Everyone at the club was really supportive and helpful in my training.”

The fight, at Rubix Nightclub at the University of Surrey, was refereed by Chris Batcheldor, a former Thai boxer, who was at The Winston Churchill School with Kelvin.

He was drawn against an opponent who had just turned 25. In the third of five scheduled rounds, Kelvin suffered a broken rib, but refused to retire.

“In the fourth round, I couldn’t breathe, and so the fight was stopped. The best man won and the greatest respect to Harry Vito Hale for smashing it and I wish him all the best in his future. This has been one hell of a journey.”

Kelvin said that he had always planned to take part in just one fully competitive fight, but is continuing training with Woking Thai at the Leisure Centre and nearby boxing club and will take part in interclub bouts.

He said that his wife Rebekah said the fight was the “craziest, most stupid” thing he had done.

Kelvin said he has been amazed at the amount of support he has received from friends and family.

“I have also been amazed and overwhelmed at the generosity of people. I was in the barbers talking about what I was doing and the chap next to me who I had never met before just handed me £5 to put towards my cause.

“It is an absolute pleasure to give just a little bit back for the great things that the people at the hospice do for others.”

DONATIONS can be made via https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kelvin-franklin1.

For the full story get the 30 may edition of the News & Mail

REVENGE always tastes sweeter when a local rival is involved, so Byfleet Buccaneers had every reason to enjoy their win over Woking & Horsell Lions in Sunday’s Surrey Slam encounter.

Less than two weeks earlier, it had been the Lions who won comfortably – by six wickets – when the sides clashed in the competition’s midweek NW Region Group B.

Byfleet Buccaneers, purple, and Woking & Horsell Lions line up before their latest encounter in the Surrey Slam

The teams were up against each other again at Brewery Road, this time in the Sunday league, which has been added after the runaway success of the Slam’s inaugural summer.

This time, Byfleet inserted their hosts and kept them down to a modest 116-8, which might have been considerably fewer but for the generous donation of 24 extras. Woking & Horsell owed much to Ali Khan’s 30, lifting them from 45-4 with the help of skipper Elliott McPherson, opener Lloyd Siebert having made 19 earlier. There were three wickets apiece for Andy Pelling and Matt Rannie.

Woking & Horsell Lions’ captain Elliott McPherson hits out

Buccaneers didn’t hang about scoring their runs either, knocking them off in 12.3 overs thanks to Sam Coyne (42) and George Mickley (40), both falling to Khan near the end.

“The new Sunday Slam competition is a great chance for cricketers who can’t spare the time to play on Saturday. For us it’s a different line-up from the midweek league side and there are five Sunday games, so it’s a good challenge for everyone,” said Neil McPherson, the Lions team manager.

For the full report get the 23 May edition of the News & Mail

TWO club records were equalled when Woking AC youngsters starred in the second round of the Youth Development League (Lower Level) South Region Division Two West.

A squad of Woking under-13s and under-15s competed in the meeting at Winchester, Hampshire, last Saturday – and Indiana Marshall stole the show.

Indiana Marshall sprinting to glory in the 4X100m relay

Marshall continued her run of fine form in the under-13 girls’ 75m, 150m and long jump.

In her first event of the day, she equalled Woking’s 150m record with a grade-one time of 20.00 secs.

She showed another impressive turn of speed in the 75m to equal the club record with a time of 10.10 secs.

Needless to say, Marshall won both races – and she achieved a hat-trick of individual victories with a season’s-best 4.48m in the long jump.

Marshall’s super Saturday didn’t end there, either. She anchored the 4x100m team, which also comprised Laura Kersley, Emilia Wazydrag and Alexis Brown, to a success which saw them extend their unbeaten record for the season.

Teddy Gannon hurls a discus

None of the Woking teams finished outside the top two in the other 4x100m relays. The under-13 boys (Walters, Lewis, Oscar Sinnett and Freeman) were second, the under-15 boys (Hayden Christian, George Robertson, Archie Padua and Robbie Thomson) won, and the under-15 girls (Fara Jasani, Freya Standley, Amber Stoner and Oyeyemi) came second.

 Woking athletes fared well in the field, too. Of particular note were the displays of Teddy Gannon and Matthew Smith in the under-15 boys’ discus.

Woking finished in fifth place, with 403 points. Winchester & District won with 681 points, and Chichester Runners (506) were second. Now Woking have a total of seven league points and hold fifth spot in the seven-team standings.

For the full story get today’s (23 May) edition of the News & Mail

WOKING boss Alan Dowson has no intention of doing anything in half-measures.  Just ask the landlord at the Kingfield Arms.

Just four days after masterminding the club’s promotion back to the National League after their 1-0 win over Welling United, Dowson is already assembling his squad for next season.

The Cards celebrate their promotion alongside their well earned silverware

Straight off the back of a 36-hour drinking session to celebrate the club’s play-off final triumph on Sunday, The Cards’ boss is back and fully focused as he steps into unchartered waters.

Dowson, 48, told the News & Mail that he aims to secure Woking captain Josh Casey this week on an improved deal to keep him at Kingfield for another season.

He is a big fan of the defender and believes that Casey is one of just a handful of players who will be able to comfortably make the step up to the fifth tier of English football.

Dowson said: “The players who have been with me this season have done really well.  If I’m honest, though, there will probably only be a few players who will be able to make the step up from National League South to play in the National League, and I’ll be talking to them this week.

“Some players may not have played in the National League before, but it’s amazing how some players adapt. Some might even surprise themselves.

“I will be speaking with Josh Casey for sure to get him sorted, as there’s nobody better to fill that position in my opinion,” he added.

Despite the club’s ambition to get into the English Football League within the next four to five years, Woking will continue to operate on a part-time basis next season.

Dowson has no intention of plunging the club into financial hardship by joining the National League elite, who have all decided to go full-time.

“As far as I know, we’ll be the only part-time team club in the National League next season, explained Dowson. “The players will continue to train two days during the week.

“There will be bargains to be had over the summer, as not every player can or wants to be full-time. There are some very good players out there, like Josh (Casey), who have a good job in the city, but don’t want to give all that up for football in the National League.

“Even though we’ll be part-time, we’ve got to prepare in a way that enables us to hopefully compete, as best as we can, with full-time club. 

“We’ll enjoy next season. We’ll give it a damn good go, I think we’ll be ok.

Prior to putting on his negotiating hat, though, Dowson had to telephone basecamp to speak to his wife, Donna, after she was forced to play second fiddle to the club’s play-off preparations.

Dowson jested: “After the celebrations, the first person I had to contact was my wife to check that we were still together, before phoning the players.  That’s football for you.”

Woking are next in action away to Badshot Lea on 9 July in what is the first pre-season friendly.

See the promotion special, with pictures of players, supports and awards, in today’s (16 May) News & Mail

WOKING Ladies manager Jon Bloomfield wants his players to leave a legacy when they step out against Abingdon Town Ladies in the Thames Valley Counties League Cup this weekend.

Having clinched the Thames Valley Counties Women’s League Division One East last week – following their 4-1 win over Binfield Ladies – The Cards are looking to secure the double with success against Abingdon at Alfredian Park, Wantage this Sunday at 4pm.

Woking Ladies celebrate their win over Binfield Ladies last week

Bloomfield, 55, admits that it will be a good test for his players against a team who are currently second in the Southern Regional Women’s Football League Division 1 South. However, he believes Woking ladies can stand shoulder to shoulder with Woking men.

“I want my players to be able to look back in years to come to see what they started as they’ll be laying the foundations for future generations.

“Women’s football is growing exponentially in England and if there’s anything that we can do to help move it along, we should get involved.

“It’s important that all of us at Woking support and nurture some of the young players coming through the schools and local clubs,” he added.

Woking ladies have proved difficult to beat this season, having lost only three times in 29 league and cup matches. 

However, Sunday’s final against Town is likely to be their fiercest test yet.

For the full story get today’s (9 May) edition of the News & Mail

WOKING Athletic Club long-distance runner Stephen Blake flew the flag for the borough at the Virgin Money London Marathon.

A victorious and exhausted Stephen Blake after crossing the finish line of this year’s London Marathon

Blake, 31, ran the world-famous endurance race in a personal best time of 2:28.13 hours to finish in an impressed 56th place out of more than 40,000 competitors.

Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge ran the second fastest marathon in history (2:2.38 hours) to win the prestigious event for a fourth time. Britain’s Mo Farah finished fifth.

Blake improved hugely on his time of 2:39.17 recorded at the 2018 London Marathon, which saw him finish in 139th place.

FORMER Commonwealth Games gold medallist Sam Skillcorn (née Lowe) is encouraging more youngsters to look at Judo as fitting way to improve their body and mind.

After narrowly missing out on competing at the London 2012 Summer Olympics, Sam and husband Vince set-up Fighting Fitness Judo (formerly Pyrford Judo Club) in 2015.

Coach Sam Skillcorn with students Jack and Amelia

Since opening its doors, the club’s membership has increased substantially, with over 200 judo students now practising the sport on a weekly basis.

The News & Mail caught up with Sam at The Arbor Centre in Pyrford last Saturday to get the lowdown on the club’s rise to the fore.

She said: “Vince and I always knew that we wanted to keep our hand in when we eventually retired from competing, but you’re never quite prepared for when that time comes.

“We were asked if we would like to take over the running of Pyrford Judo Club, which had been running for 30 years by Graham Hoptroff.

“It was a bit daunting at first – to run our own club: however, we haven’t looked back since as we now coach up to 650 children across three centres and at 27 different schools each term,” she added.

Students Jack and Amelia put Sam’s coaching into practice

Following the couple’s decision to retire from competitive sport six-and-a-half years ago, the success of Fighting Fitness Judo is evident for all to see.

Despite competing at the highest competition levels, though, the duo – both third dan black belts – still had to gain their level 1 and 2 coaching qualifications. 

Since then, Vince has successfully gained a masters in advanced sport coaching practice. He is one of only a handful of people in the country to hold the award.

“For us, the main purpose of doing what we do is to make Judo, fun and accessible for all. 

“There’s no point trying to force a child to love any sport if they don’t like it, but similarly if they take to it, it’s important to give them all the encouragement to excel. That’s the ethos that we promote at Fighting Fitness Judo.

“Students take part in lots of different movement skills. As a result, they develop spatial awareness, balance and greater agility. 

After just four years, Fighting Fitness Judo has become a reputable name across Woking and further afield, with more girls now actively participating in the sport.

The club’s Judo players will also be competing in the Surrey under-16s and senior closed trials on 28 April in a bid to make the Surrey county squad.

For more information on Fighting Fitness Judo, or to take up a free trial, please go www.fightingfitnessjudo.com

For the full story get the 18 April edition of the News & Mail

INLINE hockey is making its mark in north west Surrey, thanks to the exploits of the Avalanche club.

Based on the outskirts of Brookwood, Avalanche are fast becoming a hit with freestyle roller skaters, as well as more seasoned ice hockey players.

Members of Bisley-based Avalanche Inline Hockey club with their coaches at the Lord Roberts Centre

While inline hockey may not necessarily be on the tip of most people’s tongue, the sport is one of the fastest growing local sports.

Founded in the 1960s in Texas, USA, inline hockey is proving to be complimentary and an attractive alternative to field hockey and ice hockey disciplines in the UK.

Ashley Tombs, owner and head coach Avalanche at the Lord Roberts Centre in Brookwood, believes that inline puck hockey, which is non-contact, could become common place if more investment is forthcoming.

He said: “I used to watch Guildford Flames (ice hockey) when I was younger, but when I found out about Ash Avalanche, as it was known then, I became hooked on inline (hockey).

“Due to the limited number of inline rinks in the country, it doesn’t receive the same attention as other sports. 

“However, Woking is lucky, as there are two dedicated venues within just a short drive of the town, so there’s plenty of opportunity to try it out,” he added. 

Although the concept of inline hockey is akin to the common rules used in ice hockey, players use inline rollerblades on a hardened rubber surface instead of ice-skates.

Inline hockey is also a unisex sport and is played with four outfield players and one goaltender, which differs from ice hockey and field hockey teams that contain six and eleven players respectively. 

“A lot of players that play inline have come from ice hockey, as opposed to the other way around,” explained Tombs.

Young Avalanche players during a Friday training session

“I’m a big believer that I can improve the performance of ice hockey players through playing inline, not least of all be able to hone their strength and skating abilities.  After all, a lot of players who play ice hockey don’t experience full contact (body checking) until they’re 15 years old now.”

Since taking over at Ash Avalanche five years ago, Tombs morphed the old club into its new incarnation in 2017, which has seen the club grow exponentially.

Such is the rising popularity of the sport locally, Tombs is now working to a five-year goal for Avalanche to have its own purpose-built inline rink within Woking or a neighbouring borough by 2024.

For more information about Avalanche, please inquire via their Facebook page at https://en-gb.facebook.com/avalancheinline/

For the full story get the 4 April edition of the News & Mail