Walthamstow Avenue FC (the original)

ComradeBT

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Following the merger of Ilford & Leytonstone, the club were to be named Ilford & Leytonstone but the FA objected due to the club playing at Leytonstone. Ilford were to get a new ground at Fairlop (the Berger Isthmian News had a photo of the first turf being cut at the new ground).

I wonder if anyone on here can shed further light and have any articles on the plans for Ilford's new ground? Was this going to be a new ground solely for Ilford FC (to replace Lynn Road) or for the 'new' Leytonstone/Ilford?

And were there any plans at all for a new Leytonestone ground to replace Granleigh Road?
Likewise, any definitive plans for a new Walthamstow Avenue ground to replace Green Pond Road?
 

Manchester Warrior

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Understand that Ilford FC had plans to relocate to some new ground near Fairlop tube station and therefore the club left Lynn Road in the summer of 1977, with the main stand dismantled in order to be moved to the new site.

The FA Non League Football Annual for 1978-79 entry for Ilford FC states "New ground being prepared. Playing at Leytonstone 1978/79".

However, the following season's edition stated: "To amalgamate with Leytonstone FC in 1979-80 season to form Ilford & Leytonstone FC."

Something must have happened inbetweentimes, quite possibly Ilford FC had insufficient funds (believe that the club had not accounted for a land development / capital gains tax bill on the sale of Lynn Road), as the new ground at Fairlop obviously never materialised, hence the decision was made to merge with Leytonstone FC.
 

mxhornet

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A fabulous account that really does play relevance to the period because it reflects the sentiment of a true supporter. I'm sure your opinions are true of many an Avenue supporter from the time too.

A question that I would like to ask about both clubs. Considering the stands and terracing at both Green Pond Road and Granleigh Road were fairly substantial, did both clubs average high crowds prior to the 1970's? Such large main stands with paddocks beneath (I love that classic combo, btw) would intimate crowds of 4-figures must have been common place?
Going slightly off topic, but Ilford's Lynn Road ground was also a decent ground with two large stands and plenty of terracing and straying even further off topic, one of my biggest conundrums was how to resolve my record keeping of matches played by individual clubs when so many of the teams that eventually formed Dagenham & Redbridge I'd seen play each other prior to the various mergers / take overs. I also was too young to be aware of the real ins and outs of what was happening behind the scenes. Having been just 15 when I first visited both Green Pond Road and Granleigh Road and even younger at 12 when first going to Lynn Road and Victoria Road the other two grounds that were part of the joint clubs history that I experienced.
 

Manchester Warrior

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And were there any plans at all for a new Leytonstone ground to replace Granleigh Road?
Likewise, any definitive plans for a new Walthamstow Avenue ground to replace Green Pond Road?
Suzanne Collier's weblog (link upthread in post # 11 ) suggests that a move to some new Leytonstone Ilford FC ground was proposed after Granleigh Road was sold in 1986 and that the ground share move to Walthamstow Avenue (Green Pond Road) was only ever meant to be temporary.

Don't think that Walthamstow Avenue FC ever intended to move anywhere else after agreeing with the developers to sell Green Pond Lane to clear their debts. This was always going to be a prelude to their closing down, and the merger with Leytonstone Ilford FC in 1988, was, to all intents and purposes, the end of the 'A's anyway.
 

ComradeBT

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Suzanne Collier's weblog (link upthread in post # 11 ) suggests that a move to some new Leytonstone Ilford FC ground was proposed after Granleigh Road was sold in 1986 and that the ground share move to Walthamstow Avenue (Green Pond Road) was only ever meant to be temporary.

Don't think that Walthamstow Avenue FC ever intended to move anywhere else after agreeing with the developers to sell Green Pond Lane to clear their debts. This was always going to be a prelude to their closing down, and the merger with Leytonstone Ilford FC in 1988, was, to all intents and purposes, the end of the 'A's anyway.

Thanks. It really was a travesty three amazing grounds were lost without any replacement. Although perhaps mergers on paper, the timeline of Ilford > Leytonstone > Walthamstow Avenue > Redbridge Forest was, in essence a total historical wiping of all the clubs. D&R FC really are just an extension of Dagenham FC via a name change (although that does of course carry substantial meaning to many); Ilford FC at most a vague replication of senior football in the Ilford area and not really a continuation of the Lynn Road club.

On a separate note but continuing with the theme, am I right in suggesting there were vague plans a few years back for the current Ilford FC to move away from Cricklefield Stadium? For those who haven't attended that ground, it's an athletics stadium with poor spectator viewing perspective as a result and not conducive to enticing larger crowds, even with the club in the heart of Ilford, close to the High Road.
 

Manchester Warrior

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Thanks. It really was a travesty three amazing grounds were lost without any replacement.
And, of course, Romford FC lost their Brooklands ground in c. 1977.

The 1970s/1980s certainly seems to have been a busy period for opportunistic property developers in the Essex area.
 

Kirby Knitters

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There are a pile of books in the office at Cricklefields Stadium by Mike Foley charting the history of Ilford FC, 1881-2020. £12.99 a time. Probably one for another thread but i didn't bother purchasing it so can't really comment.
 

Cherryhopper

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Understand that Ilford FC had plans to relocate to some new ground near Fairlop tube station and therefore the club left Lynn Road in the summer of 1977, with the main stand dismantled in order to be moved to the new site.
Is this dismantled stand still in storage somewhere or did it it get get rebuilt again at another ground?
 

Manchester Warrior

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Excellent potted history of both the original and reformed Ilford FC (and various ground pics) at the following link... Written by David Bauckham who has obviously been speaking at some length with Mike Foley.

 

New Forest

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If my memory serves me correctly Ilford sold there ground and then found they had insufficient cash to find another, so ground shared with Leytonstone in 1977. They were amalgamated in 1979 and were to be called Ilford Leytonstone but the FA objected (as usual). Granleigh Road was incapable of being expanded. A decade later the new club moved into Green Pond Road with Walthamstow Avenue. Both clubs continued but some matches had to rearranged due to on going drainage problems, and the ground was in need vast improvement. At the end of the 1987/8 season the three clubs merged. They had hopes of moving to the old Chingford FC Ground (still in existence) and were going to be renamed West Essex United. That failed to happen. The last game played at Green Pond Road was a reserve game in May 1988, I believe the first team(s) were by then having to play on alternative grounds. In 1988 the three clubs had become Redbridge Forest. Moved to Dagenham in 1989. Redbridge Forest gained promotion to the Conference in 1990. In 1992 the 'four' clubs now became Dagenham Redbridge and retained Redbridge Forests place in the conference. Where the money went is anyones guess, but they did manage to get into the conference, and that costs.
 

Sandy Lane

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Many thanks for all the responses, there is truly a lot of interesting info here and it is much appreciated, particularly the eyewitness accounts from supporters of the time, and the links provided which I shall now proceed to.

New Forest, in your post above you referenced the last game (at GPR) being a reserve match in May '88, but I believe it was 1989 as the 88/89 season was when L/I finished champions but were denied promotion. I believe, from what I remember at the time, Brisbane Rd. had been mooted for a possible groundshare, as well as Dagenham's Victoria Rd. and possibly other grounds were also being discussed with a view to playing Conference football?

As I understand it, the last first team game played at GPR was on 6th May 1989 when L/I entertained Farnborough Town and the match ended 5-3 to the hosts. Ironically, Farnborough finished runners-up that season and benefitted from L/I being denied a Conference place by going up in their stead. It would be interesting if that information was known prior to the game or not. Six weeks or so before the end of the season that final fixture looked as if it may have been the top 2 challenging for the title on the last day as they were fairly close at the top of the division, but Farnborough had a few shock losses and L/I coasted to the title with the outcome already determined by the time they kicked off on the final day.
 

paulh66

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As I understand it, the last first team game played at GPR was on 6th May 1989 when L/I entertained Farnborough Town and the match ended 5-3 to the hosts. Ironically, Farnborough finished runners-up that season and benefitted from L/I being denied a Conference place by going up in their stead. It would be interesting if that information was known prior to the game or not.
It was known, or at least anticipated. From one of the earlier linked articles:

"Our final game was at home to Farnborough. I was still selling the match day raffle tickets and had a t-shirt specially printed for the occasion:
LEYTONSTONE/ILFORD VOL CHAMPIONS 1988/1989.

As I went around the ground a number of Farnborough supporters were singing “Going Up” and “We’re going up, you’re not”. But I never questioned in any depth what they were saying, far too caught up in the party atmosphere and our win of 5-2."


(Though records show it was indeed 5-3)
 

Sandy Lane

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Yes, thanks Paulh66 and many thanks to Manchester Warrior who posted the original link to Suzanne Collier's site. I have just finished reading it, and it answered so many of the questions I had raised, as well as being a fascinating piece in itself.

Any memories from Farnborough fans who remember that time would be great too.
 

TrevorT

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My contribution to this thread is that I was at Walthamstow Avenue’s last ever home fixture. I was the fixture secretary at Basildon United at the time and we had the honour of being the last visitors on Tuesday 12 April 1988. WA had 3 further fixtures after this all away at Lewes, Wembley and their last match away to Boreham Wood on 30/4/88.

I therefore have the last ever WA programme where pages from chairman Norman Moss and secretary Gerry Hanning both talk with a degree of nostalgia about the past but also with some enthusiasm about the merger to form West Essex United from the start of the 88/89 season. The chairman’s notes say “we are no longer two clubs, but must work, think and play with no other objectives than West Essex United. All our names, although never to be forgotten, must remain in the background“
 

Lord Lucan

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Six months ago I could have pointed you in the direction of two gentlemen who could have given you chapter and verse on this subject. Len Llewellyn was on the committee of Leytonstone Ilford FC (not Leytonstone/Ilford or Leytonstone & Ilford as they are often incorrectly called - Len was a stickler for that),

This is from the programme when I visited in 1984. Clearly referred to as Leytonstone/Ilford in the Editors Notes & club info box.
LI (2).JPG
 

Sandy Lane

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Thanks both, interesting contributions; I always referred to them with a slash (/) in the middle rather than an ampersand, I believed that to be the official way they were known but interesting from some of their programme covers that sometimes they used neither...

the plot thickens!
 

Bigaitch

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There are a pile of books in the office at Cricklefields Stadium by Mike Foley charting the history of Ilford FC, 1881-2020. £12.99 a time. Probably one for another thread but i didn't bother purchasing it so can't really comment.

Understand that Ilford FC had plans to relocate to some new ground near Fairlop tube station and therefore the club left Lynn Road in the summer of 1977, with the main stand dismantled in order to be moved to the new site.

The FA Non League Football Annual for 1978-79 entry for Ilford FC states "New ground being prepared. Playing at Leytonstone 1978/79".

However, the following season's edition stated: "To amalgamate with Leytonstone FC in 1979-80 season to form Ilford & Leytonstone FC."

Something must have happened inbetweentimes, quite possibly Ilford FC had insufficient funds (believe that the club had not accounted for a land development / capital gains tax bill on the sale of Lynn Road), as the new ground at Fairlop obviously never materialised, hence the decision was made to merge with Leytonstone FC.


I received that very book for Christmas having forgotten I had suggested it to my wife as an ideal present. It covers the merger in surprisingly small detail but does mention the fact Ilford FC, having sold Lynn Road to developers played at Granleigh Road, Leytonstone as a separate club on a groundshare in 1978/79. They had planned to build set new stadium in the North of the borough, at Fairlop however had failed to take into account, and therefore budget for Land Development tax which accounted for about a third of the money raised from the sale. Consequently, there was insufficient to proceed and the two clubs amalgamated.

Also, in response to Manchester Warriors query about the attendances, although my examples relate to the 80s, they may surmise the decline in support relevant in those days.
I remember in 1981/82, under John Still, Leytonstone/Ilford won the Isthmian League Premier Division, The Hitachi (Isthmian League) Cup, The Essex Senior Cup and The London Senior Cup, when all these competitions were treated seriously and were credible honours. However, the following season I saw them play at Walthamstow on a Tuesday night early in the season, as I ticked the ground. Attendance figures in those days were harder to come by, and of course no such thing as the internet. I went to the game via public transport anticipating a four figure crowd and got there early. Had I not seen players and match officials arriving I would have questioned if the game was still on. The turnstiles were not opened until about 30, maybe 40 minutes to kick off and the crowd was about 250, with probably 15 or 20 supporting the visitors. I was genuinely gobsmacked regarding this, which possibly says more about my naivety.
I then saw Leytonstone later in the season at home in a cup replay against Chelmsford, and although they had enjoyed extreme success the previous year, and had started that campaign well, there were less than 400 present, with well over 100 from Chelmsford.

The two grounds were superb, in their own different ways but a huge loss to the world of Football Stadia particularly in London.

Attached is a pic I took on Green Pond Road about three years ago, from around where the halfway line would have been. The flats in the pic were there when the ground was there but the roof has been reprofiled.
 

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Manchester Warrior

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These pics of Ilford's Lynn Road ground in Newbury Park...


Believe 'Groundtastic' also did a photo retrospective of Walthamstow Avenue's Green Pond Road ground in their Autumn 2009 print version magazine. Will see if that's available online anywhere.

In the meantime, Groundtastic's co-editor Vince Taylor recently posted some pics of Walthamstow Avenue's former Green Pond Road ground. Photo credit Malcolm Dixon.

 
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