I’m sure we can all agree, we couldn’t have possibly envisaged present circumstances, with the unprecedented effect this virus outbreak would have on all of our lives. As with many walks of life, the football season of 2019-2020 was brought to a very abrupt pause back in March. From the pinnacle of premiership football to grass root level, no football training or games has been participated as we all experienced lockdown for the first time. So much was on the agenda to celebrate another great season, with postponement of the season conclusion and the more than ever likelihood of not restarting again until the new season in September, probable. We’ve lost ground on so much activity, from the Awards ceremony to the joyful and largest fundraiser for the club, Football Frolics. Nevertheless, it is commendable with the knowledge that we are a well-organised club with the ethos of teamwork throughout the committee and thankfully, we have the resources to get through this challenging time and ensure we are well prepared for football in its full capacity, in due course.
The enthusiasm and commitment extended has been very welcome and has without doubt, keeps the club healthy and viable for the forthcoming years. Much thanks goes to Ellis Cox with the continuation of being there for the young U12s, despite holding down two jobs and senior football. The new contribution by Amy Lewis for the skills group, and the amazing work by Iain Sears and Nathan Hill to grow and run proceedings for the young guns, with possible action in the U10’s Youth league next season. Despite Nathan stepping down in recent days, we thank you for your efforts in supporting Iain throughout. You made a formidable pair!
All other age groups remain in good health, Annette Garnier with the U14 looking to field a 11 aside team next season and Colin Wheal with the U16s continue to grow in strength and ability, with results prior to lockdown becoming ever more fruitful. Although at this time, the closure of the U18s is to be confirmed by the FA and respective league, with perhaps one or two friendly game and a cup run to conclude possibly, it does look likely that we will say thank you and goodbye in terms of team representation, to John Hawkins. John has been a long-standing member of Wickwar Wanderers for more years than I can remember; thanks to having, three boys who have all worn the colour orange and played for the club at virtually all age groups. Although very difficult to get a pint out of him, we will miss his loyal contributions to the club. We will however continue to look out for your youngest in Colin’s team accordingly, and catch up in person soon.
Seniors, well… despite the league deciding to terminate the league season with the games played towards the tail end of March, they’ve miraculously done enough with points scored, to secure promotion to the giddy heights of Division 1. Unless mistaken, never in our 30 year history has the first team, seniors achieved this accolade. Lead by George Whatley, Rob Banister and contributions by Ellis and John Abbott, this highly talented team achievement is credit to all, well done! Not forgetting the well received Curry night thrown in for good measure. I am sure you will have a challenging but enjoyable season testing your ability at the next level. Something for the younger squads to hopefully aspire to, as they make their way up the ladder of age and ability.
On that note, it’s with great respect and thanks on behalf of the committee, to George and Rob, who step down in the management department for the forthcoming season and beyond, for the work and representation of Wickwar Wanderers Football Club. Over the recent years, the bond between Youth and the step up to seniors football has nether been so prevalent, and can be seen on the pitch with the wonderful blend of young players contributing to your gamesmanship. It’s with great pleasure to welcome their new Manager, Graham Fletcher, and fellow assistant, George Winsor, who between them come with a wealth of experience, and UEFA B standard coaching. I am sure this will be a wonderful attribute for the club and we look forward to welcoming in person soon.
Protocol by the FA with how they want a club to be run, remains high, ensuring we retain the very much respected halo of the Charter Standard for the club, Paula Hansen has become invaluable to the club with what is her first year as Welfare officer, ensuring we all adhere to the rules and regulations. Supporting in the role of Treasurer, Penny Thomas has gratefully looked after the finances for the whole club for this year again, and has always been on hand to help with all the activity the club goes through, for many years now. It is Penny’s wish to step down this season end, with assistance in a hopeful handover to a new volunteer coming on board. We very much thank you for your committed services to the club, and hope that you remain in contact and in friendship going forward, you’ve been a star looking after the club’s finances and membership renewals.
Great strides have been underway between the club, the supportive Parish Council, and Wickwar Trust, Steve Billings the club secretary with Andrea Wheal, has gone above and beyond to cement the relationship, as well as being on hand to support the club and members throughout. Plus the amazing contributions be Ellis in regards to the Pavilion to have an appearance like never before with the home team changing rooms in particular, being outstanding in all its colourful glory. Gratitude I hope from all who frequent it. See it’s not all bad news in lockdown! An avenue to free up some spare time has rewarded the club with your kind and thoughtful efforts. Furthermore, improvements to the pavilion continue to be addressed, as well as the playing fields, to ensure we have the best possible pitches to play our national game. In regards to funding, Andrea has done a miraculous job in securing funds in different capacities throughout the year to help support all areas of the club.
As lockdown eventually eases and the kick-start of controlled training adhering to government and FA guidelines starts over the coming weeks, hopefully there are brighter days ahead and we can all get back to some form of normality. What would be a great way to put all this behind us, to celebrate and commemorate the club achieving its 30 years anniversary this year, with fun, laughter and very much needed fund recovery, with the best and most successful Comedy Night to date this coming November.
Thank you to the committee and families involved with the club or players, your continued support and invaluable time extended, is very much appreciated. The village of Wickwar and surrounding communities continue to have the outlet for sports in the form of football. A team sport, promoting healthy exercise, prompting friendship and opportunity to meet others, extended to an expanse of groups and skill sets. From the very young age groups in youth, to the senior players and beyond to the veterans. It is a fabulous sport open to all. Once football is back up to full speed, we can look back briefly to this troublesome year, but predominantly forward, with the hopeful knowledge that players, mums & dads, supporters, and local community, have a wonderful club to acknowledge and enjoy.
Fingers crossed for November Comedy Night, and season start, up the WAR!
Thank you very much all.