WIE Issue 33 (September 2010)
As promised, we bring you the following article in full from WIE 33. And, for those that know him, don’t let the author try to convince you that the last sentence was some kind of prophecy…
What Might Have Been at PVR
The summer of 76 is best remembered for being a long hot summer; lakes dried up; emergency standpipes were set up in streets to provide water for the residents to use. And the government advised us to bath with a friend, which sounds good, but not if they were a fat minger who caused a large displacement when they got in.
But for a handful of people the summer of 76 meant something completely different. It saw the demise of the club they loved. That club was the perennial underachievers Bexley United. They slipped away during the close season, when mounting debts and a court action finally took its toll. Their final home match was watched by just 222 paying customers, so even back then the people of the borough couldn’t be bothered to turn out to watch the local team. Nothing changes.
The ground spent a season dormant. The council – with no revenue coming in – decided to invite applications from clubs wanting to move in and become the new residents.
There were just four applications. Obviously (if you haven’t worked it out already) one was from the current senior tenants – at the time of writing! – Welling United. The other applicants were Alma Swanley, Swanley Town and Corinthian Casuals, which are a mixed bunch to say the least.
What, though, had one of these clubs had been accepted instead of Welling? Would you have become, say, a supporter of Corinthian Casuals? Just imagine it, supporting a team who believed in fair play and sportsmanship. How bloody boring the last 30 odd years would have been! We would have missed so much – mass brawls, psychotic players, pitch invasions, and not forgetting the odd good player.
Think about it – would Corinthian Casuals have signed Paul Collins, a player who seemed to think that the two-footed tackle was the only way to tackle! Derek Somers, whose build was that of someone who had melted a bit from the waist up, but had an arse that stuck out more than J-Lo’s. Once, when coming on as a sub, he ran straight into the penalty area and laid somebody out – hardly the Corinthian spirit!
And there were many more; Colin Ford, Andy Townsend, Adrian Foley, Stuart White, even Gary Abbott who had a particular dislike (as did many others) of Boston United keeper Ken McKenna and he wasn’t afraid to show it. Sometimes this would result in him leaving the field on a stretcher or to a waved red card.
Also, we would certainly have never seen the great Duncan Horton in a Corinthian shirt or witnessed that epic punch-up that occurred on a wet August evening in 87 when we smashed Dagenham in every conceivable way possible. In a brawl that seemed to involve a few people off the bench as well as players, Duncan set about the opposition as if he was on a sponsored thumperthon. Had he been sponsored it would have probably solved famine in Ethiopia! No-one was spared, even Dagenham’s trainer copped it. Well, if you’re going to get a red, you might as well make it worthwhile!
Life would have been tame if Corinthian Casuals had moved into PVR.
As for the other two applicants – Swanley Town and Alma Swanley – I suppose one reason they had in common for applying was that they just wanted to get away from Swanley. Let’s face it, who – whenever they have found themselves in Swanley – doesn’t get the instant feeling of wanting to leave? Swanley Town, unlike Alma, actually played in the town at the recreation ground. To say this ground was basic would be making it sound better than it actually was. Let’s just say they had a pitch with goals at each end.
Alma, on the other hand, did have something that resembled a ground with a bit of cover and a clubhouse. The ground was a bit out of the way and right next to the A20, which on occasions was more entertaining than the football. Its main problem was a lack of space. Down one side was about four feet of grass to stand on, but with a sheer drop of something like 15 feet behind it – so you had to be extremely careful if stepping back to stop a ball going out of the ground.
Both these clubs have long since gone out of existence. Alma were the last to go after merging with Danson and playing under the name Swanley Furness – or was it Danson Furness? I don’t honestly remember as it all got rather confusing in the end. Had they moved into PVR; I think they would have probably changed their name to Alma Welling.
So, who knows what would have happened to those of us who watch Welling. Would we have turned up to watch any of these other teams had they been successful in their application? Or would we have gone elsewhere, say to Charlton, Cray Wanderers, or even Dartford? One thing is for certain, our football-watching lives would have taken a very different path.
Hopefully this situation will not arise again. If it does, my money would be on Erith Town moving in. They already rent a ground from the council and having previously changed their name from Woolwich Town to Erith Town shortly after moving to Erith Stadium they have shown that they aren’t averse to a name change. Would you watch Welling Town?