Happy Birthday everyone, The Hub is 1 Year old tomorrow!
It has been an interesting and exciting year, and one for the record books. A year of record membership; with just under 450 playing members last season and this season already up to 583, as of today.
A year of record promotions – with 5 teams going up – record Cup finalists – a total of also 5, and a year when we have helped a record amount of children, who could not afford to be members, to play – about 80 children in total were subsidized, with a good percentage being fully subsidized. …and for all those records I thank you all so much for enabling us to achieve them.
It was also the year of our first ever tournament, our first ever U23 match and our first ever free, U5 coaching sessions; a year of records and firsts…you should all be so proud.
This Club has grown so very far from where it started. I still fondly remember getting down to the Oatlands Chaser, sitting in between Graham Curzons and Ian Kirkpatrick as we were allowed 5 minutes to talk about our teams, our experience of the season and what we could do to make things better…to do that now would take us nearly 3 and-a-half hours. We are a different Club now and a Club that services ALL of our community and is not just a small group of mates in charge of their son’s teams.
It is because of this, and because we have to look to the future, that in the past few weeks we have decided to consider bringing forward a plan of action that we had started working towards many moons ago. The Hub was built for our community; it houses one Athletics Club, one Community Football Club and two different Senior Football Clubs. All four Clubs are separate organisations.
Due to our shared name, and the fact that we have worked closely in the past, there has been an assumption that our Club and that of the Senior Walton Casuals’ Club are one and the same; this is not so. We have different constitutions, different revenue streams, priorities and ambitions. We are completely separate.
Football is a universal game, but it can inspire tribal loyalties. My concern is that the understandable perception that we are the same organisation as Walton Casuals FC has meant that large numbers of potential members, in the wider Walton and Elmbridge community simply have not considered joining our club. This goes against our ethos of ‘Football for All’ and the very reason our Club is at the Hub.
The Hub was built for the community (!) and not just to provide a ground for two Senior Football Clubs.
Our organisation is the largest user of the Hub, the Club that contributes the most to the Hub’s coffers and in reality the Club which, with all that it is doing and planning, ensures that one day soon the facility will be running at a profit.
To continue this amazing journey and to open up new avenues of funding and membership, it has become clear that our Club profile is too closely associated with the Club whose name we share and so, after consulting with and informing Elmbridge Borough Council, the founder of the Club, previous Chairmen and various board members and managers, we have decided to take steps to rename the Club.
From today onwards we will start the process to become Walton United FC. We will continue to be the foundation Club at the Hub BUT, going forward, our goal is to be recognized as servicing the WHOLE of Walton and Elmbridge and not just be seen as a Junior section of a Senior club, which we are not and never have been. We will have different Club colours, a different club badge and more of an individual, visible presence.
This season, nothing will change – we will remain the Juniors and compete in our existing colours. The plan is to introduce the new name and the new colours next season. The new name will not mean any significant change to the number of teams we field, our pitch allocation here at the Hub, or the level of commitment we ask from our parents or coaching staff. We are simply emphasizing our role in servicing the whole of our community and making clear a distinction which already exists administratively.
I hope to involve the entire membership in deciding the new colours, badge and Club motto, but the creative process will be led by the children, our core membership. Each team will be asked for one or two representatives, and those representatives will meet here, with Freddie and me, and we will put all our ideas together and work it out. It will be the children who decide what and how their United Club should look like and function.
The Walton United name will also solve the problem of the other football related activities that our Club is involved in and that the ‘Juniors’ label is ill suited to represent; such as our U23 Team, the Senior Ladies Team and Mental Health Project – which addresses the horrifying fact that the largest killer of men under the age of 50, in this country, is suicide.
I hope you will embrace this new identity wholeheartedly and enthusiastically so that together we can get across our vision of ‘Football for All’ to the whole of our community.
Now some of you will probably have some questions which I will be happy to take in person after this meeting. I also intend to publish a transcript of what I’ve just said on the club website so that every member is clear as to the direction the club is taking. I will also personally commit to ensuring that every member and every parent, coach and volunteer is kept regularly updated as to our progress in achieving our vision over the next 12 months.
Frank Scannella, Chairman, Walton Casuals Juniors FC