Pride in the Name of Welling
On Saturday 2nd November 2002 I turned my back on Welling United F.C. It was nothing dramatic like ripping up my season ticket or saying that I'll
never go to Park View Road again, but it was a conscious decision not to attend our FA Trophy clash at Windsor. Ok, I agree that isn't very
revolutionary but it's the kind of game that I normally wouldn't think twice about going to. I don't watch the Wings on their travels too much
nowadays, however I'm usually there if it's close to the M25 or a cup fixture (except the county cups and league cup, of course!).
So why did I make my stand? Well, take a long hard look around PVR and tell me what you see? A crumbling old relic with a new, if slightly
off-centre stand. Ok, that's one answer, but it's not the one I was really looking for. Oh dear. Thinking about it, the response I'm after isn't
something that's actually tangible. I'll cut to the chase; I'm talking about the general lack of pride about the place.
That's been clearly evident with the players so far this season. However it would be quite unfair to label the current crop of players in such a
way, when it's been true for a few seasons now. The mercenary nature of professional football didn't take too long to filter down to the lower ranks
of the non-league game and we were bound to be affected in some way. What hasn't helped our plight this season (and for future seasons if we're not
careful) has been the club's scrapping of the youth teams. I've always felt there's a chance of players identifying more with the club when they've
come through the ranks. Youth teams (various ages), next the reserve team, then the first team. Of course we're also lacking in the reserve team
department, but that's another story for another day.
Who have we got in this season's squad that could feel this way about the club? In no particular order: Billy Burgess, Paul Lorraine and Dean
Standen. Admittedly three isn't bad, but none of them are dead certs for a place in the side and they will also be the last for a while.
So what about the rest of the squad? Well, I'm not going to start slagging them off here and accuse them of being at PVR solely for the money. For
starters WUFC are hardly the biggest payers on the block. But I do get the feeling (and I don't know why) that some of them are at the club because
there was no better option when the clock was ticking and they thought the time had really come to sign a contract with someone. Of course I could be
completely wrong, and I sincerely hope that I am.
What's the solution? How can we get players genuinely wanting to join the club, and (to get back to the whole point of this piece!) to actually
feel some pride in wearing the shirt? If I had the answers to these questions I wouldn't be sat here typing out this article. But something has to be
done and now is a good time to do it as the tide in football is turning and the players no longer hold all the aces.
A good place to start might be to get the supporters feeling proud about the club again. For that we need to look not only to the club, but also
the supporters' associations. PVR needs smartening up and some reminders up around the place that it's WUFC's home. I don't mean major ground
improvements, they're currently out of the associations' reach, but the odd lick of paint is attainable. The club badge put up in strategic places
would not only look smart but also give a little bit of "brand identity" to PVR. Admittedly it's a long shot, but some of the players might then start
to view the club as something other than just a pay packet.
My suggestions may seem a little on the simplistic side but to me at least, it's the little things that matter. If the club can get this right then
we may stand a chance of rediscovering the club's heartbeat. And if that can be achieved then we'll all have a club that we can be truly proud