Wealdstone chairman targeting promotion, as club bids to return to ‘true place’ in the football pyra
Credit: Steve Foster
“I like to help the underdog” were the words of Wealdstone chairman Peter Marsden, the Wembley born local lad who is trying to bring success back to the Ruislip-based club.
The Stones, who play their home games at Grosvenor Vale, have undergone a steady rise in recent campaigns, winning the Ryman Premier League in 2014 and finishing in 8th place in the National League South last season.
Marsden took over as Chairman in 2016 and in an exclusive interview with IKB Insider, he spoke of his determination to guide the Stones back into the National League, which he believes is the club’s ‘true place’ in the footballing pyramid.
Describing his pathway to Wealdstone Chairman, Marsden said: “About 12 years ago, I joined the board at Accrington Stanley. It was quite bizarre really because I started off at a game at Watford. I was talking to some of the Accrington directors and my father’s side of the family came from that side of Lancashire and I was at a period in my life where I was wondering what I should be doing with myself.
“They said ‘if you like you can get involved with us’. So, I did that at Accrington and I went from being Associate Director to Director, the President, Vice Chairman and then eventually, I ended up being Chairman there, which I did for four years. In my last season at Accrington, the club got taken over by the local multi-billionaire plastics operator. I could have stayed on as Chairman, but I fancied doing something a bit different.
“I’m a local person. I was born in Wembley and went to school in Harrow. When I was much younger, Wealdstone were one of the top three or four non-league clubs in the country. I like to help the underdog and I did that at Accrington and I thought Wealdstone was a club which was deserving of a helping hand to get back to its true place in the footballing pyramid, which is why I’m here today.”
He added: “Personally, I think this club’s true place in the football pyramid is in the National League proper and that’s within touching distance. If we do get there, it will then be a period of consolidation. We’ll do a bit of work to the ground, try and get the gates up so we have a hard-core support of 1500 fans, plus whatever the opposition brings. It would be nice to see regular gates of 2000 at Grosvenor Vale and it would be a terrific atmosphere.”
As a result, it certainly seems like exciting times lie ahead for fans of the Ruislip-based club, who could even achieve their promotion ambitions this campaign.
Wealdstone currently reside in 12th place in the National League South and are just eight points away from the play off places, having recovered from a difficult start to the season, which saw the Stones win just one of their first nine league games.
Club legend Gordon Bartlett stepped down as manager after 22 years at the helm back in August and was replaced by Bobby Wilkinson, whose appointment has certainly led to an upturn in fortunes.
The club are also just two rounds away from playing at Wembley after they reached the FA Trophy quarter finals at the weekend, thanks to Danny Green’s late goal which secured a 2-1 win over Warrington Town.
As a result, the ambitious Wealdstone Chairman is hoping for a play-off-push this campaign under Bobby Wilkinson’s stewardship.
Marsden said: “We didn’t start the season very well, which made us reluctantly change our manager. Bobby Wilkinson has come in and we went on quite a good run. He won the manager-of-the-month award in October and we looked like we were just a hare’s breath away from hitting the play offs. Unfortunately, we had a bit of a bad December, but January has been very good. We’ve been winning games and we’ve won the last four league games and if we continue like that, I suspect we will be in that play-off mix before you know it.
“Without putting too much pressure on anybody, myself and the fans would be a bit jarred off if we didn’t make the play-offs. But there is an awful lot of football to be played and we’re coming into form at the right moment. Let’s see what happens.”
Attendances at Grosvenor Vale have steadily risen in recent campaigns and Wealdstone now have “one of the highest gates” in the National League South, according to Marsden, who is grateful for the support the club has received from local residents.
He said: “Football is all about the community and that’s one of the reasons I love football so much, because it brings people together. It’s great that everybody in Ruislip and surrounding areas has taken to us. We’re your club.”