Sport

NEW signing Sam Howes has told Woking fans to “expect a lot of passion” from him during his time with the club.

The former Watford academy keeper is looking to establish himself at Kingfield after a series of loan spells, including at Eastbourne Borough last season.

New signing Sam Howes with Woking FC manager Alan Dowson

Howes, 21, signed for the Cards on Monday, after his deal with the Hornets expired last Sunday (30 June).

He told the News & Mail: “Every season is a chance to make a name for yourself. I’ve had a few loan experiences which have stood me in good stead, but now I’m ready for the next step forward in my career.

“Woking was the right option for me. I know Dowse (manager Alan Dowson) really well from my time at Hampton & Richmond Borough, and I know what to expect.”

“So for me it’s perfect, it’s an ideal place to further my development and hopefully move on up the ladder in future years.”

For the full interview get the 4 July edition of the News & Mail

GET up close to the Pirbright Cricket Club clock tower that sits on top of its pavilion, and you may be able to make out the letters “JBA” and “ESA”.

These are the initials of club chairman Peter Austin’s parents, a fitting tribute for the service they gave their country during the Second World War.

The pavilion’s clock tower bears the initials of club chairman Austin’s parents

Austin’s father John was a bomber pilot in a secret squadron, and in the latter part of the war dropped agents into occupied France.

The clock tower will be preserved as Austin and club president Derek Bytheway now lead plans to pull down the existing pavilion and create a bigger, modern facility that they hope will re-energise the local sporting community.

It needs it. Bisley and Lightwater are among neighbouring cricket clubs to have folded in recent years – and with Bytheway stating that member numbers have decreased by a third in the last 10 years, it’s easy to see why.

Pirbright’s Peter Austin (left) and Derek Bytheway

“We’re fighting a battle constantly to make sure we’ve got enough players. However, we’ve got to remain optimistic, because we’ve got a great set-up here,” said Bytheway.

“We haven’t historically had the infrastructure – there are two football clubs in Pirbright that play outside the village because facilities haven’t been good enough – but we’re hoping that the youth programme that we’re introducing for cricket will be fully operational at the beginning of next season (bringing in more players).”

In conjunction with these efforts – the club are also running an inaugural colts event on the 27-28 August – the pavilion will be a centrepiece for daily life in Pirbright, as Bytheway explained. “It’ll be the hub of the community and available to all Pirbrighters,” he said.

“There’ll be a cafe, which will be a great help for the people locally. 500 kids come to school in Pirbright every day, and when the children are dropped off, the mums have got nowhere to go to have a coffee. Hopefully they’ll come in here. I would love to see it open seven days a week, nine hours a day.”

For the full story, see the 27 June edition of the News & Mail

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.