In the first of a brand-new set of weekly features on GFA-affiliated grassroots clubs, we cast the spotlight on Wickwar Wanderers, whose 26-year-old player-manager John Abbott took the big questions from our reporter Simon Parkinson.
Club: Wickwar Wanderers
Ground: King George V Playing Fields, Wickwar
First team manager: John Abbott
League status: Stroud & District League Division 4
Last season’s final placement: First in Division 5
Chairman: Shaun Cox
Secretary: Michelle Jenkins
Where does the club play and what are the facilities and set-up like?
We play at the parish-council owned King George V Playing Fields off the Downs Road in the village and the facilities there are improving all the time.
We have two full-sized 11-a-side pitches, a new nine-a-side pitch and a couple of marked out seven-a-side pitches, and of course we have the pavilion with changing rooms, showers and kitchen.
There’s a dedicated committee overseeing it all which includes me, our chairman Shaun Cox and secretary Michelle Jenkins.
What are the key ingredients in the club’s make-up and how many teams does it cater for?
While we only have the one senior men’s team at this time, we do have superb youth and junior sections for under-6s upwards, which I myself featured in regularly as I was growing up. Our under-18s play in the Bristol and Gloucestershire U18/U21 League which acts as a useful feeder into the senior team.
A lot of emphasis is placed on those departments and every year we hold a Football Frolics showpiece, one of two big annual fund-raising events, which sees masses of people of all ages and abilities, boys and girls, men and women, many in fancy dress, from under-8s and nines up to veterans playing small-sided games on a single afternoon with prizes up for grabs.
The other main and regular fund-raiser is our Comedy Night with professional comedians, the next of which is to be held on Saturday, November 19 at the local primary school.
What are your hopes for the first team this season?
After gaining two successive promotions, last year as champions of Division Five, and reaching a county cup final in recent times, we’re looking to kick-on again.
It’s hard to say whether we’ll be serious promotion contenders for sure because many of the teams we’ll be facing are new and unfamiliar to us but we’re confident of being in the mix again.
We have a very young side and often I, at 26, am the oldest player out there for us! The core of our squad is made up of lads I knew at school, most of them ex KLB pupils.
What is the long-term vision for the club?
Our long-term goals are to keep going as far as we can, to try and keep picking up promotions, although there is no talk about attempting to reach the County League at this time.
One of Wickwar’s key aims is to try and keep pushing along as many of our young players as possible into the first team, and while we have most age groups covered, we’d like to plug the very few gaps that remain so that there’s football for everyone at the age they should be playing at.
We do have girls playing here and maybe that is something that will be looked at in times to come, a section solely for females.
Who scores most of your first team goals?
David Parslow! He is an old school friend of mine and a couple of years ago he scored 60 times in one season and another 35 last season, playing in defence a few times too!
Dave is our captain and while he is not the quickest in all honesty, he has great technical attributes and finishing ability and he scores a wide range of goals.
He has already got three or four for us this season but in truth we have goals throughout the side which is always useful to have.