Football: Wealdstone's tale of woe: Non-league notebook

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The Independent Online
IN 1985 Wealdstone became the first club to win both the FA Trophy and what is now called the GM Vauxhall Conference - a feat that was not repeated until Colchester United did so this year. Since then the Middlesex side have fallen from grace, and now loiter in the Southern Division of the Beazer Homes League. Such is their financial plight that they are on the brink of resigning from the league and going into voluntary hibernation.

The club that gave the football world Stuart Pearce and Vinny Jones were relegated from the Conference three years after winning the double, and slipped out of the Beazer Premier last season - the first year of what has proved to be an ill-fated ground share deal with Watford.

Since August this year Wealdstone have been run by administrators, and Brian Hall - the manager who took them to the double - has been sacked to cut costs, and replaced by a former player, Dennis Byatt.

Wealdstone moved out of their old Lower Mead home in the summer of 1991, when the site was sold to Tesco for redevelopment. The sale did not, however, go to plan. 'Wealdstone had a ground worth pounds 8m, but they ended up with under pounds 3m,' Gerard Goodwin, of the administrators, Buchler Phillips, said. Alleging negligent conduct, the club are suing their former solicitors, Minet Paring, for the balance of pounds 5m, and are also pursuing a lesser claim against Tesco.

Before they knew of the low income from the ground sale, Wealdstone had agreed to pay Watford pounds 2.5m for 50 per cent of the leasehold of Vicarage Road. Following relegation, they are struggling to pay the running costs involved in the ground share - and they need funds to pursue their litigation, which is likely to drag on until 1994. 'We need a sugar daddy,' David Pollock, who has been chairman since September 1991, said.

The club are, however, taking practical steps to raise money, with their 'Blue Ribbon' lottery. 'We need 2,000 members by the end of the month,' Pollock said, 'or we will be forced to put the club into mothballs until our litigation is settled. At present we have 1,100.'

If the money does not materialise, Wealdstone will simply stop playing football. Their future is in the hands of their supporters - of whom there seem to be too few.