woking fc

IF YOU were at The Laithwaite Community Stadium for Woking’s recent home encounters with Eastleigh and Notts County, you may have noticed a film crew in action.

And if you were particularly conspicuous, you may just end up on Dutch television.

Margriet van der Linden sits down with Cards boss Alan Dowson to talk about men in semi-professional football

Margriet van der Linden, a well-known talk show host from the Netherlands, spent almost a week in the closest confines of Woking FC’s management and players creating a documentary that will air in her country next month.

It will be part of a series focusing on men, and this particular episode will look at the sub-culture of football.

In an exclusive interview with the News & Mail prior to the Notts County fixture, van der Linden explained why she came to Woking.

A film crew captures a few shots at the Laithwaite Community Stadium through the rain

She said: “It’s a global documentary – not focused on the Netherlands – and so, to me, when you think about going abroad, of course you go to England.

“We wanted to find a club like this – one that’s semi-professional, with a lot of volunteers, energy, sadness, the works. And if you look around, it’s all here.

“This is about a group of men in a team; the dynamics, the frustration, the joy. What is it that is so fascinating about it? You can even smell it – it’s a special smell.”

Despite being in Woking for only a matter of days, van der Linden has already built up an affinity for the Cards, and has relished seeing football stripped of its elite-level trimmings.

“What is so special about this club is how quickly you feel involved,” she said. “I love them already and I really want them to win.”

For the full story get the 7 November edition of the News & Mail

PLANS to redevelop Woking Football Club’s ground with a larger stadium and more than 1,000 homes are to be reassessed following passionate pleas to councillors by campaigners.

A full meeting of Woking Borough Council on Thursday last week was swayed by a petition seeking to scale down the proposed Cardinal Court redevelopment, which currently includes a 9,992-capacity stadium funded by house-building profits.

South Woking Action Group campaigners got their message across at the full council meeting

The petition, signed by 1,700 people, was presented by Katie Bowes of South Woking Action Group, who said residents who signed lacked confidence in the council. They wanted an assurance that the plans were viable and in the best interests of the club and the community.

Andy Caulfield from the campaign group also addressed councillors, saying there must be a better solution for assuring the club’s future than changing the area from mainly “bungalow rise” to “town centre tower block” with excessive housing.

The campaigners were supported by Liberal Democrat councillor Will Forster, who has the stadium in his Hoe Valley ward. “I’m against the sheer scale of the proposal,” he said after a debate on the petition.

“Ten per cent of the people in the ward have signed the petition against what could turn out to be a white elephant. We should come back with something much more measured and reasonable.”

His motion asking the council, the football club and developers GolDev to reassess the redevelopment in light of the petition and the local plan was seconded by his fellow Lib Dem ward councillor Deborah Hughes and approved without opposition.

For the full story, get the 24 October edition of the News & Mail

ATTACHING the term legend to a footballer is an easily overused habit in these days of ridiculously inflated wages and non-existent player loyalty to a club, writes Mark Doyle.

But when it comes to Woking FC, one name keeps recurring when the word legend is mentioned.

12 April 1958: A triumphant Charlie Mortimore holds aloft the FA Amateur Cup after leading Woking to a 3-0 victory over Ilford at Wembley Stadium on his 30th birthday

That name is Charles (Charlie) Mortimore MBE, who died last week. He was 91.

In what was to be the most noteworthy event in the club’s history since the FA Cup tie against Bolton Wanderers in 1908, England amateur international and former Aldershot player Charlie and his brother John signed for Woking in August 1953. 

Charlie’s arrival at Kingfield and his belief in total football transformed Woking in a few short seasons into a club recognised for always trying to play stylish passing football. 

Swiftly becoming captain, centre-forward Charlie soon began collecting personal honours in a playing and managerial reign at Kingfield spanning 15 years.

These included playing for Surrey, Hampshire, the FA XI, the Isthmian League, Middlesex Wanderers and the England amateur side, holding the club individual scoring record of nine goals in a game – in a 10-3 win over Dorking in 1963 – and becoming the Cards’ all-time record marksman with more than 260 strikes. 

Fortunately for Woking, the Charlie Mortimore legacy of total football lives on at the club.

Future Woking teams went on to play his style of football – not always with great success – but generations of supporters grew accustomed to this approach and demanded nothing less.

For the full story get the 19 September edition of the News & Mail

HIGH-RISE developments could go up across the borough if the current plans for Cardinal Court, the housing development next to Woking Football Club, go ahead, say campaigners.

South Woking Action Group (SWAG) is seeking to scale down the planned building of 1,100 one and two-bedroom flats in Kingfield, which will help to pay for upgrading the Cards’ stadium to Football League standards.

MP Jonathan Lord addresses the meeting alongside Katie Bowes, centre, and Monique van Bellen

“If the development goes ahead as suggested, this sets a precedent for this scale of development in other low-lying areas of the borough and surrounding areas,” said Katie Bowes, a SWAG committee member.

SWAG held a public meeting last Saturday and is planning to ask questions at the Woking Joint Committee meeting at Woking Borough Council next Wednesday (25 September).  The group will also present a petition to a full council meeting on 17 October, currently signed by 584 people, calling on the council to “stop [the] extreme proposal” contained in the development plan.

Katie, who will present the petition, said the group was not seeking to halt any development of the area and football club, but wanted it to be respectful of and in character with the local community.

“We want to work with the relevant parties on the development. We want to be involved and heard and not have decisions made ‘in the interests of the local community’ without our input,” Katie said.

For the full story get the 19 September edition of the News & Mail

WOKING FC manager Alan Dowson has been reunited with his National League South Promotion Final winner’s medal after he donated it for auction to raise funds for Woking & Sam Beare Hospices in June.

The winning bidder, at £1,200, wished at the time to remain anonymous, and the reason has now become clear.

GENEROUS GIFT – Andrew Laithwaite returns Alan Dowson’s medal to him after buying it at a charity auction

In a ceremony before Woking’s home game against Aldershot this month, the successful bidder was revealed as Andrew Laithwaite, from Laithwaite Financial Services, who then presented Alan’s winner’s medal back to him.

“We are absolutely delighted that Alan’s medal has been gifted back to him in this way,” said Phil Wormley, director of fundraising at Woking & Sam Beare Hospices. “It was an extremely kind and generous donation that has helped raise an amazing amount of money for the hospice.

“It has been a pleasure to be invited along to see the surprise presentation.”      

Andrew said:  “I’m delighted that it was possible to reunite Dowse with his National League South Promotion Final winner’s medal, but the real story here is of a man who was prepared to sacrifice a treasured trophy of great personal value for the benefit of those in need. This is the true measure of a man.”

A bucket collection at the match raised more than £600 for the Woking & Sam Beare Hospices.

WOKING midfielder Shaun Donnellan says that he’ll give everything to ensure success for the club this season.

The 22-year-old signed during the summer, and believes his style fits boss Alan Dowson’s template.

Woking FC midfielder Shaun Donnellan

“I’m all heart,” he told the News & Mail. “I pass the ball well, win my headers, win my tackles, and I give everything. Things have gone really well since I joined. The lads are a good bunch and there’s a good work ethic about the club, so I’m enjoying it.”

It didn’t take long for Donnellan to secure his move. So impressed was Dowson after Donnellan’s performance in a full-sided game – in only his second training session – that he was offered a contract as he walked off the pitch.

Barnet-born Donnellan was convinced about the move by talking to Chelsea goalkeeper and friend Nathan Baxter, who spent the 2017-18 season at Kingfield. The pair were at Yeovil Town together last term.

Donnellan comes from rich footballing stock. His father Leo Donnellan played for Fulham and represented the Republic of Ireland at youth level, and his uncle Gary Donnellan played for Reading and Yeovil.

He said: “My old man never forced me into football, there was no pressure. He didn’t send me to an academy until I was 14. He didn’t want me playing academy football – he wanted me to enjoy my football and school.

“When I did sign at 14, school football was still a priority. He said ‘If you’re good at 16 you can have a go at it’. So when I turned 16 I began to pursue it properly.”

It was then that the youngster joined the West Bromwich Albion academy, where he was always playing ahead of his years, making his debut for the club’s under-21s when he was 16.

He also went on to represent Republic of Ireland under-21s, scoring a “crazy” winner in the ninth minute of injury-time of a European Under-21 Championships qualifier against Azerbaijan. The Ireland side featured Declan Rice.

Read the full interview in the 8 August edition of the News & Mail

Public consultations over plans to redevelop Woking Football Club’s stadium have heard a litany of concerns from residents at the impact of such a large-scale building project.

The proposal aims to build a 10,000-seat facility, along with more than 1,000 flats and 10,000 sq ft of retail space to create a new neighbourhood at Kingfield called Cardinal Court. This has given rise to fears of overcrowding, lack of adequate infrastructure and the impact on the quality of life for nearby residents.

A CGI rendering of the proposed Cardinal Court

“Our roads are already congested, parking is a challenge, and our schools and health services are oversubscribed. We recognise that investment in the club and area is welcome, but it must be a considered and balanced approach, with heavy investment in local infrastructure to support it. This is not reflected in the Cardinal Court proposal. Local residents are outraged and oppose this vehemently,” said a resident of Willow Reach development who didn’t wish to be named.

Social media platforms such as WhatsApp groups and Facebook pages of local neighbourhoods have been busy with residents sharing information about the project, discussing ways to raise awareness and organising themselves to oppose the plans. An online petition at http://chng.it/wGg97n67 is aiming for 1,000 signatories and secured 500 names within three days.

For the full story get the 25 July edition of the News & Mail

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

DETAILS of ambitious plans to transform Woking FC’s ground to English Football League standards and build an estimated 1,000 flats on nearby ground in a £10 million project are to be revealed to local residents in a series of public consultations.

The outline proposals were revealed in April last year when Woking Borough Council reached an agreement with property developer GolDev Limited.

Woking FC’s current stadium at Kingfield

In plans that have been discussed and developed behind the scenes since 2002, Laithwaite Community Stadium would become a 10,000-seat facility that would allow the club to aim for promotion at least up to League One.

The ground currently holds a maximum of 6,000 fans, with 2,500 of those seated. There are a number of other improvements, such as greater accessibility and media facilities that would be necessary to qualify the ground to host games in the upper tiers of the game.

The estimated £10 million cost would be financed by building nearly 1,000 flats and 10,000 sq ft of retail space creating a new neighbourhood at Kingfield, to be called Cardinal Court.

The plans, along with images of the expanded stadium and Cardinal Court will be shown to the public for the first time at a consultation held at the Laithwaite Community Stadium next Friday (12 July) from 2pm to 8pm.

There will be two more consultations at the ground next Saturday from 10am to noon and on Tuesday 16 July from 2pm to 6pm. A fourth consultation will take place on Thursday 18 July from 4pm to 8pm at Mayford Village Hall.

Woking FC chairman Rosemary Johnson

Members of the project team will be at the sessions where residents will have the opportunity to ask questions and give their views.

GolDev is due to give a briefing to councillors next Wednesday, followed by a presentation of Woking FC fans the following day.

Rosemary Johnson, chairman of Woking Football Club, said: “We are looking forward to presenting the Woking Community Stadium proposals to the community. We want this project to work for our club, our supporters, and the community to which we belong, and we look forward to hearing your views on the proposals.”

Once the consultations have been held, the plans could then be altered and go through a series of planning applications through the council.

For the full story get the 4 July 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