“It’s been an eventful season. It could have been very different!” were the first words Wallingford Town’s Glenn Goudie said to Football in Berkshire in our latest interview.
The Oxfordshire sides chairman was speaking to FiB this week after the dust had settled on a successful Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Division One that saw manager Lee Matthews lead the side to promotion to Step 5 via the play-offs.
Goudie was of course referring to the moment at the start of the 2021/22 season when Wally were originally placed in the Hellenic League with midweek trips to Herefordshire firmly in their sites.
An appeal to the FA was ultimately successful and the club found themselves added to the much more geographically friendly Combined Counties League: “It was a good appeals process from all angles,” Goudie said.
“We had good people on our side and we had some good energy going into it and I have to thank Paul Whitty our secretary for his support as well as the appeals board for hearing us out fully.
“It wouldn’t really have affected how we ran the club or what we wanted to do, but it would have been a huge challenge for Lee to build a squad like he has. The travelling would have been very different.”
Goudie admitted that the late switch meant the club were going in a little blind to the season which had the added difficulty of a huge increase in the number of league games (which would have increased anyway whichever division the team were in following the FA restructure at Step 6) from 26/28 to 40. He added: “Our desire to be in the CCL wasn’t about ‘ease’ either. It was about us being able to get a competitive team out and build our club.
“We came in to the division not knowing the level and it being unique for any ex-Hellenic Step 6 side to play so many league games. Then we went and added on the FA Vase run and Berks & Bucks County Cup run.”
Whatever happens in 2022/23 for Wallingford Town, it promises to be an exciting and eye-opening season. As Goudie said to FiB: “We beat Step 5 sides in the cup competitions this year so we know we can do it. But the challenge is that we’re going to be facing that level of team twice a week, but we’re looking forward to it!”