WOKING FC’s new training facility at Lion Park, Bisley, heralds yet another sign of real change for the rejuvenated National League outfit, writes Andy Fitzsimons.

For the first time in over a decade, Woking returned to the borough – albeit just outside in northwest boundary, to bring football back to the town.

LIONS PARK: New training den for Woking FC from 1 July ’17.  Picture by: Andy Fitzsimons

After weighing up a few options, The Cards signed a deal last week to move their training ground from Surrey Sports Park (Tolworth), to set-up camp in Bisley village.

Once the former home of Bisley FC before their dissolution in 2010, Lion Park has since played host to Surrey Intermediate League club, Woking & Horsell FC and Woking Cougars (juniors); both of which have the option to remain.

New boss Anthony Limbrick very much welcomes the new rolling deal, as the club will eventually have more privacy to go about their business behind closed doors

And whilst Lion Park has largely been left fallow – and in need of some major renovation work following the demise of the Bisley FC – Limbrick is upbeat about securing new premises.

He said: “I wasn’t familiar with the previous training ground in Tolworth; for me, it was all about having a facility that was close to our home ground in Woking, which Lion Park provides.

“The pitches do require some work, but Colin Galliford (Woking FC groundsman) is working with the owners of the ground

Lion Park is given a new lease of life (as of 27 June ’17). Picture by: Andy Fitzsimons

to help improve the playing surface.

“The owners of the site have been really flexible. We have the option to use two pitches, the clubhouse, changing rooms, a physiotherapy room, and even a small gym, which gives us what we need,” added Limbrick.

However, for some of the Cards’ faithful, moving to Lion Park is 22 years too late. It comes after the club had the opportunity to purchase the freehold of the greenbelt site in 1994 for, reportedly, £85,000.

After rejecting the commercial land opportunity, the site was later acquired by Windlesham-based property developer, David Pearce, for an undisclosed six-figure sum.

For others, though, the past remains the past. It’s what happens today and each day thereafter that dictates the future of Woking Football Club. Having closer links to its birth-town is the cornerstone for this.

Clubhouse is being upgraded to accommodate Woking FC.  Picture by: Andy Fitzsimons

Limbrick held his first training session with his new-look squad last Saturday (1 July 17), which served as a meet and greet, as well as an opportunity to gauge players’ close-season fitness.

As they edge ever-closer to a full-time training model, The Cards will now train on Mondays, *Tuesdays and Thursdays.  It is proposed that the club will go full-time for the start of the 2018-19 season.

* Subject to Tuesday night fixtures

Woking Expelled From League

Cricket club ousted for administrative woes

WOKING XI Cricket Club has been expelled from the Surrey Cricket League just six weeks into the 2017 season, writes Andy Fitzsimons.

The club, which plays at Woking Park in Kingfield, has only played three of its seven scheduled league fixtures; conceding three, coupled with one postponement.

The News & Mail understands that the club’s expulsion is due to an unprecedented number of administrative shortcomings, which forced the League to take prompt action.

Robin Ford, secretary for the Surrey Cricket League, said: “The club did not respond to repeated emails, which included resolving an outstanding fine. As result, the club was initially suspended.

“Under league rules, though, a team conceding more than two matches in a season is automatically expelled from the League; for which Woking have been notified,” he added.

Woking XI conceded their first match [v London Gymkhana CC] on 29 April, which resulted in an initial fine.

The club then conceded two further fixtures (v Ottershaw & Hamm Moor CC and v St Luke’s CC) earlier this month, which incurred further fines and ultimately cemented their fate.

It is not yet known if previous results involving Woking X1 will be expunged to help bring about a level playing field amongst other Division One clubs.

The League will now run with a reduced division of nine teams for the remainder of the 2017 season.

No-one was from Woking XI CC was available for comment at the time of going to print.

A WOMAN who has spent many years volunteering in Chobham was delighted to receive an award in the Queen’s Birthday Honoursby Rob Searle.

Margaret Parry has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to the community.

HONOURED: Volunteer Margaret Parry

“The news was very, very pleasing,” said Mrs Parry, who has run the St Lawrence Club for older people in the village for 13 years. “It was very unexpected.”

Mrs Parry, who lives in Castle Grove Road, Chobham, heard the good news from the Cabinet Office about two weeks ago. “They asked me if I was willing to receive the medal and I replied that I would be happy to receive it,” she added.

Mrs Parry has devoted much of her spare to volunteering since being made redundant from an HR role in BBC television in 1991.

She began by driving for Chobham Neighbourhood Care, giving lifts to local people to places such as hospitals, after being asked by the village vicar to help out.

Then she began helping run the then Chobham old Folks Club, which had been run for many years by Marian Robertson.

When Mrs Robertson died in 2004, Mrs Parry took over and has been in charge ever since. The club has since changed its name to St Lawrence Club and its members are aged from 70.

“But I couldn’t manage it without the fantastic support of the 10 or so people who help me,” said Mrs Parry, who has lived in Chobham with her husband John since 1969.

“What really interests me is how people keep going in their lives and how they relate to other people. The members are those people who have made Chobham what it is and we now have the daughters and sons of some of the original members as members.”

As well as running the club, Mrs Parry ran the box office for the annual Chobham Festival for 10 years, stepping back from that involvement when she became ill last year. John, who she married in 1964, organises the music for the festival.

When not volunteering she finds time to sing with the Guildford-based Vivace Choir and, following her illness, is returning to play full rounds of golf at the Sunningdale Ladies club.

Mrs Parry will be presented with her medal by the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Michael MoreMolyneux, during a ceremony at his Loseley House, near Guildford, later this year.

As a BEM, she will also receive an invitation for three people to one of the Queen’s garden parties at Buckingham Palace.

ST JOHN the Baptist School in Woking continues to go from strength to strength after its head was named in the Queen’s 2017 birthday honours list last Friday, by Andy Fitzsimons.

Ani Magill, 60, who is a national leader of education (NLE) and executive headteacher at the Catholic comprehensive school, has been recognised for her services to education.

HONOURED: Ani Magill, Executive Headteacher of SJB School.  Picture by Andy Fitzsimons

Magill was made a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) and joins more than 130 people across the UK honoured for making an outstanding contribution to education, children’s services or advancing equality and diversity.

Speaking to the News & Mail on Tuesday (20 June ’17), the Woking headteacher was unsurprisingly delighted to be nominated by her peers and named in this year’s honours list, which marks the official 91st birthday of the Queen.

“I am of course very grateful to be recognised for a national honour; however, it’s all thanks to the students and the great people that I work with on a daily basis,” she said.

“I’ve been at St John the Baptist School now for 22 years, and even after all those years I still genuinely love coming to work.

“For me, it’s all about people. One person doesn’t make a great school. It’s about the variety of people it employs and the students who pass through it who achieve the best outcomes.

“I am proud of the team I have around me – and what our students have achieved and continue to achieve.

“We strive to be the best school in England, which is why we’ve developed a strong set of morals and values to help everyone succeed.

“From the young people I meet and speak to on a daily basis, I wholeheartedly believe this country is in safe hands, which inspires me.  This is something to celebrate,” added Magill.

The investiture, which ceremonially honours those who have been recognised for a gong, will take place at Buckingham Palace in September (2017).

Magill will be joined by others honoured from the world of sport, politics, business, charity and entertainment, which include the likes of Beatles’ frontman Sir Paul McCartney, novelist JK Rowling, actress Julie Walters and singer Ed Sheeran.

Woking Are Pitch Perfect

Hockey club will have a new spring in its step for 2017-18 season

WOKING Hockey Club is about to lay down the foundations to bolster its future, writes Andy Fitzsimons.

The Goldsworth Park-based outfit has received the green light from Woking Borough Council to install a second state-of-the-art international playing surface at its facility off Wishbone Lane.

CHAIRMAN: John Hughes

With one premier artificial playing surface already in situ, the club confirmed to the News & Mail (1 June ’17) that it has commissioned contractors to replace the second playing surface as early as next month.

And whilst many other amateur-status clubs are reliant on local authority funding or grant aid to make improvements, Woking has managed to self-fund a second full-size, dressed artificial surface to the tune of £305,110, which includes new high-rise perimeter fencing.

With no less than 38 teams amongst its ranks, including 462 colts (boys and girls), Woking Hockey Club is fast becoming one of the largest sports entities in the borough, and looks set to keep growing incrementally, year-on-year.

In response to the improvement works, John Hughes, chairman of Woking Hockey Club, said: “We’re pleased to be one of very few clubs in the country to be able to get the funding as a result of our business strategy. We haven’t needed any loans or grants.

“The new playing surface will be virtually identical to what we have on the adjacent pitch; it will be a big improvement to the current surface, which has been down for the best part of 18 years.

“The coaching that you can do; particularly with youngsters, on a modern hockey pitch is quite different to a solid playing surface.

“With the softer-type of pitch that we’re laying, you can teach players to lift the ball over another stick, which you couldn’t do on the old style ‘Astro’-type playing surface, so it has a number of performance-related benefits.

“Importantly for us, the resurfacing work will be undertaken throughout July (2017) and handed back to us in time for the first wave of pre-season fixtures, which routinely take place in August,” he added.

The new synthetic turf pitch is being designed and delivered by England hockey’s official facility partner Notts Sport, who recently partnered with the FIH; the international hockey federation.

Cleveland Land Services sports team, meanwhile, have been commissioned to carry out the work to ensure the pitch is up to the highest FIH international standards.

The new sand-dressed surface is a high specification artificial turf surface designed for fast-paced hockey – and is popular with professional and amateur hockey clubs alike.

They’re different to third generation (3G) football pitches; the carpet pile is reduced and the surface laden with sand, as opposed to small rubber pellets. It also comes with a 15-year warranty.

Although Woking is housed on a council-owned site, it is able to benefit from renting its facilities to neighbouring local football clubs, which has provided an additional revenue stream to help the club improve its facilities.

The new synthetic surface could also entertain netball, basketball and volleyball, making it a real hub of the local community.

In addition to the resurfacing work taking place next month, the club is also seeking to erect a small spectator stand to bring it in line with more senior clubs like National League club, Surbiton.

Other pipeline provisions include new team and match officials’ dugouts, new goals, and a camera platform for filming games.

“At the level we play at now, hockey is essentially still an amateur sport,” explained Hughes.

“However, with the level investment that we’ve made into the facilities at Goldsworth Park; and are continually looking to make, we are able to attract some very good players to the club.

“Having the right facilities and infrastructure is important. It means that we can attract players; some of which have favoured us over higher clubs, but also because we are able to offer every player an opportunity to play hockey.

“We’re also fortunate to have a level 3 hockey coach assigned to each age group, from the under-8s, right up to the men’s and women’s senior squads,” he added.

With works due to take four weeks to complete, it is anticipated that the new playing surface will be handed back to the club on 11 August ’17; five weeks or so before the start of the official hockey season.

WOKING College hosted a lively Question Time Debate with students asking five of the six candidates hoping to become the town’s MP next week about their views on immigration, tuition fees, the EU, austerity and the youth vote.

The event, in the heat of last Friday afternoon, drew a sizeable audience of 16-19 year-olds from the student body of 1,300, almost half of whom are eligible to vote.

Reducing the voting age to 16 or 17 was one of the question topics and Jonathan Lord, the Conservative candidate, and Troy de Leon, of UKIP, both said they were comfortable with the current voting age of 18, while the Independent candidate Hassan Akberali, Labour’s Fiona Colley and William Forster of the Liberal Democrats all agreed that the voting age should be lower.

One student said he was turning 18 on polling day and each candidate took it in turns to wish him a happy birthday in advance, accompanied by laughter from the audience and the politicians.

The atmosphere became a little more tense when Brexit and austerity came up.

Woking College Hustlings

The college principal and event chairman, Brett Freeman, had asked that the tone be positive and for the candidates not to attack each other’s views.

This truce was broken when Ms Colley referred to the Conservatives “appearing to be delusional” over a post-Brexit Britain.

Mr Lord responded later by saying that when the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition came to power in 2010, they inherited a huge budget deficit left behind by Gordon Brown and his Labour Government.

The Green Party candidate, James Brierley, was not able to attend the debate as he is a full-time teacher and none of his campaign team was available for similar reasons.

UKIP will be represented by Mark Webber, the party’s candidate in South West Surrey, as Mr de Leon will be visiting his wife who is receiving medical treatment in Thailand, where she was born.

FORMER Woking FC manager Garry Hill has allegedly breached a gagging clause following comments he made to a dedicated non-league football publication last Sunday, writes Andy Fitzsimons.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Former Cards’ boss Garry Hill.  Picture by Andy Fitzsimons

The long-service Cards’ boss, whose contract was not renewed at the end of last season, gave a feature interview, where he spoke candidly about his six-and-a-half years at Woking.

And whilst Hill spoke passionately about the fans, along with many of the backroom staff and players he has worked with, members of the Woking board were left seething over derogatory remarks made about two serving directors, who were not given the right to reply.

Despite signing a confidentiality (severance) agreement earlier this month, Hill went public to talk about the alleged treatment he had been subjected to from chairlady and former Mayoress of Woking, Rosemary Johnson, coupled with fellow director and head of communications, David Taylor.

Hill, 57, claims that, while he and his assistant Steve Thompson were helping to preserve the club’s National League status, which concluded in the 1-1 draw against Dagenham & Redbridge on the final day of the season, the writing was already on the wall for the management duo several weeks beforehand.

HAPPIER TIMES: Former boss Garry Hill and Woking chairlady Rosemary Johnson. Picture by: David Holmes

Yet for some of the Cards’ faithful, Hill’s comments come as a big disappointment and have only served to cast a cloud over what he achieved during what was a successful tenure at The Laithwaite Community Stadium.

After guiding the Kingfield-based club to promotion in his first season in charge, Hill helped the club register four consecutive top-half finishes with limited resources available, which many feel should be his parting legacy.

However, in choosing to break his silence, Hill has defied his confidentially agreement, which precludes him (and Steve Thompson) from discussing any matters relating to his time at Woking Football Club, and leaves no room for ambiguity.

In response to Hill’s public comments, the board of directors at Woking FC issued the following statement on Monday to the News & Mail: “A clear confidentiality clause is a place between Garry [Hill] and the club; both agreeing to maintain full confidentiality of all matters concerning his time at Woking FC.

“While Garry has chosen to break that [confidentiality] agreement, the club will not.  All we will say; as we have always have said, is that we thank Garry and Steve [Thompson] for the incredible success they brought to the club; for securing promotion back to the Football Conference (premier); and ensuring our survival in the National League for this coming season.

“For the record, we wish Garry and Steve the very best in what ever they do next, and in the future.”

FAREWELL: Cards’ fans thank Garry Hill for preserving the Club’s National League status in April 2017.  Picture by: David Holmes

At the time of going print, it is not known whether the club is seeking legal counsel regarding a breach of the confidentially agreement and defamatory remarks made against both Johnson and Taylor.

Hill was not able to comment further on the article published on Sunday, but he did praise the ongoing work of director and major Woking FC shareholder, Peter Jordan, as well as director of football, Geoff Chapple and company director, Ian Nicholson.

The former Cards’ supremo was also grateful to receive texts of congratulations from Kelvin Reay (director, Woking FC), David Curtis (director, Woking FC), Mike Smith (former chairman, Woking FC) and Darren Caskey (football consultant, York City FC) – among others – for helping to keep Woking in the National League. 

All Change At Woking (And It’s Just The Ticket)

Cards' season ticket sales sky-rocket ahead of 2017-18 campaign

AS THE saying goes, you don’t get much for your money these days, writes Andy Fitzsimons.

However, Woking FC continues to buck the trend when it comes to admission prices after extending its unbeatable season ticket deal until 31 May ’17.

The Laithwaite Community Stadium in Kingfield

For just £4:30 for adults (concessions £3.26) and 87p for those aged between 5-19, new and existing Cards’ fans will be able to watch their team compete in the National League next season.

It’s a real sign that times are changing and the turnstiles are turning at The Laithwaite Community Stadium, as the club seeks to draw back the crowds that were synonymous with the 1990s.

Following the launch of the £99 Early Bird incentive (£75 for concessions and £20 for 5-19 year olds), the Kingfield-based club has already sold over 1,450 season tickets, and is hoping to reach a target of 1,700 before the deal finishes next Wednesday.

In stark contrast to some of the League’s big-spenders, Woking can at least rest on their laurels knowing that they have already paid for one quarter of their season prior to anyone kicking a football on 5 August 2017.

Elliot Machin, Sales & Marketing Executive, for Woking FC, said: “We are very excited by the uptake of the current season ticket offer, which has already exceeded our initial expectation and captured the imagination of the local community.

“Our strategy is to fill the ground; to create a good atmosphere, and improve the match day experience; all of which will increase our core fan base.

“A season ticket of £99 for an adult and £20 for a child represents fantastic value at £5.17 per game for a father and son (to give as an example) to come to football.

“What’s more, the more people we have in the ground, the better the atmosphere is for the players and support for the manager,” he added.

Cards’ chairlady, Rosemary Johnson, was equally upbeat about the number of season tickets sold prior to the 31 May deadline.

She said: “We want to go back to being more of a family club; to reach out to more young people, who can come along with their families to watch their local football club.”

Based on the number of ticket seasons sold to date, the take-up for next season’s National League campaign has already risen four-fold against last season’s tally, with more enquiries being processed on a daily basis.

Although a near identical initiative was run by Sutton United last season, The Cards can draw comfort that their own Early Bird season ticket offers the best value anywhere in the National League.

Season ticket holders will receive access to all League games during the 2017-18 season. They will also be given priority to purchase tickets for FA Cup and FA Trophy matches, plus receive other hospitality and retail discounts.

For more information, go to

NEW Woking FC manager, Anthony Limbrick, has wasted no time in the close season transfer market by signing former Dover Athletic defender, Richard Orlu, writes Andy Fitzsimons.

SOLID START: Orlu defects from Dover to join The Cards revival. Picture by: David Holmes

The 28-year old centre half, who was officially announced this morning (19 May ’17) on, is Limbrick’s first signing after just 10 days in the hot seat.

Orlu started his career at Staines Town, before signing for Farnborough in the Conference South (now National League South) in 2011.  He then moved to Canvey Island at the start of the 2012/13 season, which saw him start every match and pick-up six man of the match awards.

After just one season at Park Lane, Orlu joined Conference South side Dover Athletic.  Woking under Chris Kinnear, the former Gulls’ man played an integral role to help The Whites gain promotion to the National League (Premier) via the play-offs in his first season.

During his time at the Crabble Athletic Ground, Orlu narrowly missed out on the play-offs after Dover finished seventh behind Aldershot Town last season.  He is now hoping to go one better with The Cards next season.

He said: “The style and the set-up at Woking suits me.  It’s an ambitious club, which gives me the opportunity to improve and push on.  I wanted a new challenge and I felt Woking was a very good place for that.”

Commenting on Orlu’s signing, Limbrick said: “Richard is experienced at this level of football and, most importantly, he is a winner.

“I felt his style fitted our philosophy and I’m excited to work with players who are hungry and have a desire to develop,” explained the former Southampton and West Ham United coach.

Orlu’s arrival at The Laithwaite Community Stadium signals a positive time for change and more new signings, as Woking gears up a more prosperous 2017-18 National League campaign.

WOKING RFC has been awarded RFU (Rugby Football Union) accreditation at a historic club and annual awards event last Saturday (13 May ’17), writes Andy Fitzsimons.

ACCREDITED CLUB:  Woking RFC.   Picture by Gary Raife

Players and supporters came together to see the Surrey 4 league club receive its award from Surrey Rugby – one of the constitute bodies of the national union.

The progressive West Byfleet-based outfit, who currently ply their trade at Byfleet Recreation Ground, picked up the prestigious accreditation after demonstrating competencies against six key performance indicators.

Prior to receiving the award, Woking had to demonstrate the innate ability to retain and develop players; recruit new players; recruit and retain high quality coaches, as well as volunteers and referees.

It also had to show that its facilities were effective and efficient; it had effective and efficient management and governance, whilst showcasing its integration with the local community.

It was a night to remember for club chairman Andy Burrell, who successfully spearheaded Woking’s accreditation project, but also picked up the presidents’ cup from Stanley Fisher for his dedication and voluntary work over the past 12 months.

Fisher said: “It’s a proud night for Woking RFC.

“There are still many clubs who have not achieved the standards that Woking have been recognised for, which allows us to build for a strong future.

“I would especially like to thank Andy Burrell; without his efforts, the accreditation wouldn’t have been possible.

“I very much look forward to a successful 2017-18 season,” he added.