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Wednesday 11th December 2013 ko 19.45

Isthmian League Division One North

WALTHAM FOREST 0 Menga sent off (2nd booking) 65

NEEDHAM MARKET 4 (Townrow 35 Crisp 81 Izzet 83 Mills 90)

Att 55

Entry £8

Programme £2

Team Sheet FREE

I used to live in North-East London, although I seldom headed to this part of the world, just a short-lived job checking bus tickets for an LRT survey on a route from Walthamstow Central to Ilford Bus Station. The job required catching specific buses at specific times which meant a lot of waiting around. In fact I managed to get thrown out of McDonalds for taking just that little bit too long over a cup of coffee!

The area is notable for being the birthplace of William Morris one of the founders of the British Arts and Crafts Movement. Other notable people born in the borough include David Beckham, actor Derek Jacobi, former England cricket captain Graham Gooch, and film director Alfred Hitchcock. The heavy metal band Iron Maiden was formed in Leyton.

It’s a part of London that still feels like it did 20 years ago when I was nursing a cold coffee, the main roads snaking past a variety of multicultural takeaways, a reflection of the almost bewildering array of communities that call the area home. You will never lack ideas for food in this part of the world, even if I did end up at Turkish Fish & Chip Shop.

Upon arrival Geoff, a fellow hopper commented, ” I could write my thesis of the history of Waltham Forest FC.” Certainly the history is complicated, so here’s the potted version.

Firstly there was Pennant FC formed in 1964, but when neighbours Walthamstow Avenue were swallowed up by Redbridge Forest in 1988, Pennant became Walthamstow Pennant in order to keep the footballing name of Walthamstow alive. Redbridge Forest eventually merged with Dagenham to form the Dagenham and Redbridge of today. Walthamstow Pennant became Leyton Pennant when Leyton FC moved into Wadham Lodge and merged in 1995. That merger gained the club Leyton’s place in the Isthmian League, but the club changed names again in 2003, this time to Waltham Forest, which was at least representative of the area they play in.

The intrigue wasn’t over though, as in 2008 with the club struggling on and off the pitch mostly due to a disastrous transfer to the Southern League, the club announced that for financial reasons the club were to leave their home of Wadham Lodge in favour of a groundshare at Ilford FC’s Cricklefield Stadium.

The irony of that, was clear for those in the know, as twenty years earlier the club had incorporated Walthamstow into their name following a merger and were now moving into the ground used by a club formed to keep the Ilford name alive following a merger that involved the old Ilford club being swallowed up by Leytonstone to become Leytonstone/Ilford, who in turn were merged in to Walthamstow Avenue, and well you know the rest!

Meanwhile a new Walthamstow Avenue had been formed in 2000, and they merged with Mauritius Sports in 2007, they used Wadham Lodge until 2012, when they moved to Haringey Borough’s Coles Park, changing their name this season to the bizarre Greenhouse London FC, however there was to be a happy ending for Waltham Forest.

With improvements at Wadham Lodge to allow Isthmian League football to continue completed, Waltham Forest moved back for the start of this season, and now the club’s aim must be for Isthmian football to continue for next season. They’re second from bottom of the table, and this game was a snapshot of the club’s difficulties.

Off the pitch the club are excellent, friendly to a fault, and the programme is exceptional, but on the field at no time did they look likely to beat a 7th placed Needham Market side, albeit one that can call on the likes of former Colchester United professionals Kem Izzet and Jamie Guy (although only Izzet played on this occasion).

In a poorly refereed game Market took the lead when Lee Townrow was first to react to the ball squirting out from a melee of players, after Forest keeper Amadou Tangara looked to have been clearly impeded in the build-up.

It wasn’t that Forest deserved to win, or even draw, but they were suffering from the malaise of being in a relegation spot, where everything conspires against you. Tangara seemed worst affected, at times not knowing when to kick or catch.

Their cause was made more difficult with the dismissal of forward L’Heureux Menga. A heavy tackle caused a bust-up between several players, with Menga being one of three booked. That yellow became red a few seconds later as referee Gary Maskell spotted him sarcastically clapping him.

After that the goals soon racked up. Izzet snaffled a weak Forest pass to feed Ryan Crisp for 2-0. Crisp then fed Izzet to slot home for 3-0, before an obviously shell-shocked Tangara was replaced by David Myers, who punched weakly to substitute Adam Mills who fired into an empty net.

I felt for Forest, who are a decent club fighting in a part of the world where there are many competing attractions for the footballing pound. Hopefully the warmth of their welcome will help attract enough people through the turnstiles to maintain their status. After all, this was a hugely enjoyable night out.