“I think the way that we set up and play means we don’t have key players, we have a key system“
Roger Slater discusses his team Wealdstone FC
TT – Hi Roger so how agonising was it waiting for promotion to be confirmed earlier this year?
Roger – Oddly I think for many of the more long-term fans, we were quite relaxed about it. Not because we thought it was a “given”, but because when you’ve been through all the crap thrown at Wealdstone since the early nineties with fraudulent ground sale (time was served!) resulting in no ground (27 years ground sharing), denied promotions (been there, done that) and such like, we’ve learnt to take it on the chin, dust ourselves down and get on with it. You can’t waste effort fighting over what you can’t change. This time, with Points Per Game it worked in our favour, though remains tainted by the fact there were no fans allowed at the Trophy presentation and even now the vast majority of fans haven’t even see the trophy let alone touched it.
How have the Stones coped with the difficulties of 2020?
There are so many different facets to this, so ill try and headline a few…..
We’re fans owned (since 1991), there is no sugar daddy, so what we earn or beg is in the main, what we have. A big chunk financially was the clubhouse. It’s been shut since March. That’s probably resulted in a loss in six figures with no immediate signs of improvement.
That also impacts the playing budget – we won the league with far from the highest budget in the division last year and our budget this year, though much higher is still near the bottom in the division…..I had to chuckle in the summer when a couple of clubs were stating that the impact of covid meant they have to cut the playing budget to around a million. They were cutting by more than we have!
With no fans, matchday revenue – no just the gate but the burgers, the teas and coffee, the bar, the superb range of stuff from the https://www.wfcmegastore.co.uk/ (have a look – a grange range not entirely Wealdstone-centric!)… It’s all money that isn’t coming in and directly affects the club. The recent grant to the NL clubs really has been a lifeline, but the revenue remains zero and the expenses are all now a cost – even paying the Referee and Assistants…
It’s taken a lot of imagination and effort to keep some cashflow; how attractive is any club when trying to sell pitch-side advertising and such like when there are no fans in the ground to see it?
What have the supporters done to help their club?
Being a fans owned limited company has in this respect worked in our favour. We introduced a ‘stoneShare! Scheme, whereby over the length of the season (nominally ten months / forty weeks) allowing fans to make a lump sum pledge or a weekly or monthly Standing Order to buy shares in multiples of £5. The money goes directly into the playing budget and raised just shy of £60,000 in about 8 weeks. The scheme has closed in respect of advertising and marketing, but if anyone reading this wants to help out, email firstname.lastname@example.org for details…..(see, still trying to get a few quid in the bank….).
@WealdstoneFC are extremely grateful to those who have pledged to join 'stoneShare! to buy shares in @Wealdstone_FC. Support has been incredible in 10 days & every penny goes into the playing budget. Can you help push us to the next level & really make a difference? pic.twitter.com/W8jsXUHdbk
How’s your form been heading into the Torquay game?
We had a great and somewhat unexpected run of five wins on the bounce which raised us to the lofty heights of second, then we lost at Eastleigh and drew with Sutton United at home in a BT televised game – if you didn’t see it, as a neutral, watch a re-run. It had everything. Then last Friday night we were beaten at Notts County. We started slowly and it cost us and from then we were chasing the game…On paper that isn’t great but there have been positives in each game – enough to suggest we can still win any game.
What’s been your season highlights so far?
Little old Wealdstone beating the likes of Chesterfield, Wrexham and FC Halifax in the league. These were games that even five or six years ago we’d dream of as cup ties – now look at us!
Who are your key players and why?
I think the way that we set up and play means we don’t have key players, we have a key system. That can be a bit of a struggle if one or two are off their game, and we are still learning and adapting to this level and the challenges it brings – Friday was a perfect example. Our lads worked all week, trained twice, then left mid-day Friday for a trip to play a full time cub in the evening. Not a grouse – it’s what we have to adapt to. For the first time, we really are a very small fish in a big pond and the spread between the have’s and have-not’s is immense..
Who’s the gaffer and what tactics does he like to use?
Dean Brennan and Stuart Maynard head up the management team. Both ex-players at NLS level, young (40s) but with good management experience and a definite style.
We play a wide expansive game and on our day move the ball well using the whole pitch. We play on the front foot and look to go forward when we can. We certainly don’t park the bus home or away….. For the gamblers BTTS is a good bet, and I certainly wouldn’t take any odds on 0-0.
It’s another part of the learning curve. Up till this season we were limited to streams running alongside the ground, now were transmitting to the world!
We tested in pre-season and coped with limited numbers, we changed the set up and expanded for the league games and got caught as the first was poor, but continued improvements have now (kiss of death here) given us a decent quality steam at a decent cost. In addition, we have good commentary that isn’t entirely focussed on Wealdstone. One thing I’d like all clubs to try is to invite an opposition commentator to matches – it would give the streams wider appeal to away fans and increase revenue as most clubs home fans don’t pay, the streams being in lieu of their season tickets….
Who are the best opposition teams and players you’ve faced so far?
One of each. Anyone above Stockport County this season will win the league. They took us to the cleaners in October (similar in fact to Torquay a couple of years ago at our place – after that game we all took 9-1 I think on you winning the league……thanks).
For the player, Harry Beautyman of Sutton. Tireless, great touch, strong and ran the game.
We are delighted to be working alongside @TorbayFood and are excited to be raffling off a match worn, signed @Kylecam97 2019/20 away shirt! Tickets cost £5, and will be drawn on 2nd December. Please follow this link, every £5 you donate gets you a ticket https://t.co/Snlg4EFqUi