Walthamstow Avenue FC (the original)

Sandy Lane

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Yes, 'Groundtastic' I think it was issue 58; I could find various issues for sale online, including 57 & 59 but not 58!

Typical... will keep searching.
 

Sandy Lane

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I did see Vince's pics on Twitter, thanks; I devour his content!
 

Sungater

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Ilford’s Newbury Park, Leytonstone’s Cranleigh Road & avenue’s Green Pond Lane were old large grounds, fine when they, as leading London Amateur clubs, could count on attendances in the thousands but not really ideal for crowds of a couple of hundred at best.

Add the cost of maintaining these old structures to all the other costs involved in running a non-league football club and it easy to see why clubs, even big, famous ones, felt they had to do something before the receivers were called in. The very high land values in London (even back them) meant they could, by using the club’s only asset of value, possibly keep something going. Arguably, as they are now part of Dagenham & Redbridge means they have, in part at least, succeeded.

I don’t think either of these clubs could be accused of having “grandiose plans”, they were simply trying to survive without the availability of a nice cheap greenfield sight a mile or so away or much in the way of support from the local council or community. Blaming “Ineffective elderly club boards” also seems to me to be unfair. I am not clear what else they could have done.

These tgreee grounds were local to me at the time and would still be now and I miss them. All three rank near the top of my favourite non-league grounds. But I am afraid their end and the merging of the clubs was, in the absence of a wealthy sugar daddy, inevitable.
 

Ladderman

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I was a bit young to remember Ilford and Leytonstone, but history seemed to repeat itself with only a brief stay at Walthamstow before "merging" and they weren't at Dagenham for long before yet another merger. There were rumours that they talked to Leyton-Wingate about stealing their ground merging, as well.
LI/Redbridge were hated by many fans for killing off Avenue. While their ground was falling apart, it was worth enough to get a replacement or -at the very least - pay for a long-term groundshare. I went to the game when they won the isthmian, the crowd was pitiful and the late (great) Pete Butcher did a piece in the Recorder titled "Redbridge are champions, who cares?"
I remember in the season of the absurdly named "Leytonstone-Ilford (incorporating Walthamstow Avenue)" two old boys kept the WAFC shop open. I doubt they ever went to a game at Dagenham.
It was a great old ground, though my first visit was spoiled by someone throwing a dog out of the sixth floor of the flats behind one goal
 

Manchester Warrior

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I don’t think either of these clubs could be accused of having “grandiose plans”
You are probably right there, perhaps "unrealistic plans" would have been more appropriate. Ilford FC failing to account for Capital Gains Tax when selling Lynn Road on 1977 seems to have been a rather poor show.

It was a great old ground, though my first visit was spoiled by someone throwing a dog out of the sixth floor of the flats behind one goal
What?! o_O
 

Bigaitch

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Ilford’s Newbury Park, Leytonstone’s Cranleigh Road & avenue’s Green Pond Lane were old large grounds, fine when they, as leading London Amateur clubs, could count on attendances in the thousands but not really ideal for crowds of a couple of hundred at best.

Add the cost of maintaining these old structures to all the other costs involved in running a non-league football club and it easy to see why clubs, even big, famous ones, felt they had to do something before the receivers were called in. The very high land values in London (even back them) meant they could, by using the club’s only asset of value, possibly keep something going. Arguably, as they are now part of Dagenham & Redbridge means they have, in part at least, succeeded.

I don’t think either of these clubs could be accused of having “grandiose plans”, they were simply trying to survive without the availability of a nice cheap greenfield sight a mile or so away or much in the way of support from the local council or community. Blaming “Ineffective elderly club boards” also seems to me to be unfair. I am not clear what else they could have done.

These tgreee grounds were local to me at the time and would still be now and I miss them. All three rank near the top of my favourite non-league grounds. But I am afraid their end and the merging of the clubs was, in the absence of a wealthy sugar daddy, inevitable.

I think you make valid points regarding the upkeep of the grounds. However, I think the problem was that Green Pond Road had been allowed to deteriorate without anyone really doing much. Had the work been kept on top of then who knows what may have happened? Granleigh Road I always felt was kept in very good condition generally, and both grounds had decent clubhouses that did a good trade. Apparently, the firefighters at the local fire station in Leytonstone were such good customers at the bat after their shifts that the L/I club used to let them play matches at the ground without charge!

I would query however your claim re non of them having grandiose plans. I always felt that Redbridge Forest had big ideas and seemed to spend silly money, way more commensurate than their crowd figures, before that trait became ‘Fashionable’.
 

Manchester Warrior

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The question was raised upthread as regards what sort of gate figures Walthamstow Avenue would have got during the 1980s. Data from League fixtures is a little tricky to get hold of, but here are some attendances from home FA Cup games in the 1980s.

1980/81 v Clapton (H) 1Q Att: 250 Receipts n/a

1982/83 v Wooton Blue Cross (H) 1Q Att: 181 Receipts £137
v Woodford Town (H) 3Q Att: 243 Receipts £187
v Carshalton Athletic (H) 4Q Att: 352 Receipts £270

1983/84 v Sudbury (H) 1Qr Att: 188 Receipts £137
v Billericay Town (H) 2Qr Att: 363 Receipts £316
v Lowestoft Town (H) 3Q Att: 251 Receipts £175
v Burton Town (H) 4Q Att: 422 Receipts £310

1984/85 v Crawley (H) 2Q Att: 200 Receipts £144

1985/86 v Dunstable (H) 3Q Att: 139 (*) Receipts n/a

(*) The attendance for this fixture was the smallest in the round.
 

New Forest

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It wasn't always like that. With the ending of Amateurism attendances did start to tail off. In the case of Walthamstow Avenue they had to compete with two major local non league side and three Football League clubs - Tottenham Hotspur, Leyton Orient and West Ham United all within easy reach. Post war attendances would be around the 2000 mark. During the 1952/3 FA Cup run the Avenue drew in 12,400 for the visit from Stockport County in the third round. So the replay against Manchester United had to be played at Highbury in front of 53,000.

Walthamstow Avenue and Leyton jointly hold the record for the largest attendance for a non league match, Wembley 1952 98,000.
 

Ladderman

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Ilford’s Newbury Park, Leytonstone’s Cranleigh Road & avenue’s Green Pond Lane were old large grounds, fine when they, as leading London Amateur clubs, could count on attendances in the thousands but not really ideal for crowds of a couple of hundred at best.

Add the cost of maintaining these old structures to all the other costs involved in running a non-league football club and it easy to see why clubs, even big, famous ones, felt they had to do something before the receivers were called in. The very high land values in London (even back them) meant they could, by using the club’s only asset of value, possibly keep something going. Arguably, as they are now part of Dagenham & Redbridge means they have, in part at least, succeeded.

I don’t think either of these clubs could be accused of having “grandiose plans”, they were simply trying to survive without the availability of a nice cheap greenfield sight a mile or so away or much in the way of support from the local council or community. Blaming “Ineffective elderly club boards” also seems to me to be unfair. I am not clear what else they could have done.

These tgreee grounds were local to me at the time and would still be now and I miss them. All three rank near the top of my favourite non-league grounds. But I am afraid their end and the merging of the clubs was, in the absence of a wealthy sugar daddy, inevitable.
Hmmm, There the sale of the grounds produce enough money to get a new one built, even if a couple of the clubs (probably Leytonstone-Ilford and Walthamstow) had shared it. Certainly a scaled down ground on Grandleigh Road would have left enough land to be built on to fund it.
But after spunking all of Ilford's cash on players, the officials of LIFC (mainly Leytonstone, I think) got the taste for winning and the easiest way of funding such excesses was selling grounds and bouncing around East London on the proceeds. Obviously that stopped when they reached Dagenham as it's council owned and they even insisted that the "new" club had to have Dagenham at the start of the name.

As has been mentioned, the changing demographics of London meant that none of the Ilford, Walthamstow or Leytonstone were ever going to get the kinds of crowds did they earlier in their histories. Even D&R have dropped back down to their natural level.
 

Beano

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Walthamstow Avenue and Leyton jointly hold the record for the largest attendance for a non league match, Wembley 1952 98,000.
Didn't a number of subsequent FA Amateur Cup Finals achieve capacity (100,000) crowds? I'm thinking particularly of Pegasus 2-1 Bishop Auckland, the following year and those which followed.
 

Beano

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Hmmm, There the sale of the grounds produce enough money to get a new one built, even if a couple of the clubs (probably Leytonstone-Ilford and Walthamstow) had shared it. Certainly a scaled down ground on Grandleigh Road would have left enough land to be built on to fund it.

Flawed as it is, the rebuild of Champion Hill shows that it should have been possible to rebuild a smaller ground whilst also releasing enough land for sale to fund the project and clear debts. It might even have been possible for two clubs to share the ground but have their own facilities, as has happened at Park View Road where Welling United and Erith & Belvedere cohabit.

Sadly, the 1980s weren't a great time for non-league clubs who were sitting on land. The folding of Addlestone & Weybridge Town triggered dark mutterings in the bit of Surrey where I grew up well into the 1990s and the story of what happened to Wealdstone has been well documented.
 

Davetherave

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Some clubs folded with dark mutterings who weren't sitting on land. Does anyone know the story of what happened at Willesden FC?
 

Haywain

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Sadly, the 1980s weren't a great time for non-league clubs who were sitting on land.
This has been the case not just in the 1980s but ever since - a combination of debt and land ownership are not good for football clubs, especially in non-league.
 

Beano

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This has been the case not just in the 1980s but ever since - a combination of debt and land ownership are not good for football clubs, especially in non-league.
You're absolutely right. Another example would be the demise of Wokingham Town, whose Finchampstead Road ground is now a retail park. The saga of Hayes & Yeading United's birth and interminable groundshares is perhaps the most recent example of a club which should have emerged from a ground sale with a bright future and substantial nest egg, but seem not to have done so.
 

Ricardo

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Very interesting thread, what no one has mentioned is the changing potential clientele for non league clubs over the years in London especially, the poorer parts of the city mostly East and West have become places where people from other cultures live who if interested in football at all are limited to Liverpool or Man Utd, the likes of Southall and Hillingdon in the West have all but disappeared too whereas the more affluent South and North of London has kept the likes of Tooting, Kingstonian, AFC Wimbledon, Finchley, Barnet and Enfield going as there is more money there, potential fans have moved out of London to Essex/Kent and Berkshire/Surrey
and havent been replaced hence the decline.
 

MiddxSaint

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Leytonstone's ground was small already. There was no way any part of it could have been sold off for housing. It only had 3 sides (like Marine) and railway arches behind the main stand. The covered bit of terrace at the clubhouse end was made of scaffolding and corrugated sheeting.
 

New Forest

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Didn't a number of subsequent FA Amateur Cup Finals achieve capacity (100,000) crowds? I'm thinking particularly of Pegasus 2-1 Bishop Auckland, the following year and those which followed.

The attendances were always listed as 100,000. That was probably more like 98,000. As with every attendance stated it is mainly guess work. 100,000 was just to precis.
 

Romboro35

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The attendances were always listed as 100,000. That was probably more like 98,000. As with every attendance stated it is mainly guess work. 100,000 was just to precis.
Wasn't the first ever Amateur Cup final crwd at Wembley - Bromley v Romford in 1949 recorded as being well over 100K?
 

Manchester Warrior

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Wasn't the first ever Amateur Cup final crwd at Wembley - Bromley v Romford in 1949 recorded as being well over 100K?
Don't think so. Various sources have suggested 90,000 or 93,000 or 96,000. But almost certainly not more than 100,000.

Think we are straying a bit off topic now, though.

The demise of the old Romford FC club probably deserves its own thread.
 

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