Football in the Forest

Waltham Forest FC were close to going bust but have bounced back to end the season on a high note, writes Andy Perkins

Waltham Forest FC Veterans

Waltham Forest FC Veterans lift the Essex Sunday Veterans Cup

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the creation of the football club now known as Waltham Forest FC.

We play our home matches at Matchday Stadium in Wadham Lodge, Walthamstow. Founded in 1868, the club was known for most of its life as Leyton FC and has also variably been known as Matlock Swifts, Leyton-Wingate, and Leyton Pennant, before the current name was chosen in 2003.

The club has played at a number of grounds within the borough, including Brisbane Road (now home to Leyton Orient) and the County Ground, probably better known as a cricket venue.

For much of the second half of the 20th Century home games were played at the Hare and Hounds Ground in Lea Bridge Road, now sadly derelict, but in 1995 the club merged with Walthamstow Pennant to play at Wadham Lodge as Leyton Pennant.

Forest have featured in senior non-league football for most of the club’s existence, but in recent years fortunes have taken a dive and the first team currently plays in the Essex Senior League. The current season has not been a good one, with the sudden death in October of chairman Turgut Esendagli and a subsequent threat of closure. However, loyal fans, former players and a crowd-funding appeal have helped raised enough money to meet our financial demands until season’s end.

The introduction of a new major investor, Lee Doherty, should hopefully see the club move forward with some stability for the future. The first team has battled against the threat of relegation, but by the time you read this our division status should have been safely secured.

To provide back-up to the first team, we entered a side into the SCL Youth Development League for the first time in 2017. This will provide 16-17-year-olds with an opportunity to continue their education as well as developing their football skills.

As an FA Charter Standard Club we also have women’s, veterans and under-15 teams. The latter compete in the Eastern Junior Alliance and reached the semi-final of this season’s Essex Rosser Cup, losing to Concord Rangers after seeing off Thurrock, Chelmsford and Witham en route to the last four.

The veterans side was created by our late chairman Turgut four years ago and currently plays in the Garston Veterans League. They won this season’s Essex Sunday Veterans Cup by coming from behind to win an exciting final at Great Wakering. Their opponents Vincitori went into the game with 35 consecutive victories behind them, having already won the Southend Borough Combination Premier Division, and this was the first of three cup finals in their diary.

The Basildon-based team took the lead in the first-half when a left-wing cross was volleyed home, but after the break Forest levelled when captain Adar Turgut’s low drive from the edge of the box eluded Denton in the Vincitori goal. They then took the lead on 75 minutes when a cross from Kuksal was flicked home by Sezai Tasci.

A long clearance on 88 minutes found Tasci on the half-way line and he ran clear to score a third goal for Forest and clinch the trophy. Forest dedicated this victory to late chairman Turgut Esendagli as their run in the competition started the Sunday after he passed away.

Hopefully the club can build on its success to make sure this year’s 150th anniversary sees Waltham Forest FC move forward on all fronts.

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