THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Blackstones the opposition

icon sadfan31 October ~ On Saturday April 7, 2012, Northamptonshire- based Woodford United beat my local team Chertsey Town 2-1 towards the end of their Southern League Division One Central campaign. That was their last win in all competitions. Following Saturday's 6-2 loss at home to Rothwell Corinthians, themselves hovering just above the relegation zone, Woodford have now suffered a staggering 61 defeats in a row. As with many teams playing in the lower levels of non-League, the club's finances – or lack of them – are a huge problem.

Last season they struggled on an average gate of only 64 at Byfield Road, a ground that has seen better days and is in desperate need of a lick of paint. When it comes to attracting players they have stiff competition from local clubs such as Brackley Town, Daventry Town, and Banbury United, along with a host of clubs further afield in Northampton, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. With a virtually non-existent playing budget, the club fulfil their fixtures with a mix of youngsters and older players who, by rights, should have already retired

Last season Woodford were a shoe-in for relegation well before Christmas. In losing every league game, including two 10-0 thumpings, they scored only 21 goals and conceded an eye-watering 185. The closest they came to a draw were a couple of 1-0 defeats to North Greenford United and Aylesbury. Woodford were relegated to the United Counties Premier Division, but before the start of this season they volunteered for a further demotion to the First Division, citing illness of manager Mark O'Callaghan as the reason.

Club chairman Andy Worall explained at the time "We're all concerned about the health of our manager. That's far more important than anything else. Football is firmly on the back-burner at the moment." In August, headline writers had a field day, declaring the first relegation of a yet-to-start season.

But playing at a lower level hasn't made it any easier for Woodford. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Northampton ON Chenecks and Bugbrooke St Michaels, they have failed to secure a single point and are already out of the FA Cup, the FA Vase and the Northants Junior Cup. This Saturday Woodford travel to Blackstones (near Stamford), who are only two places above them in the league and with only two wins to their name. Whisper it quietly, but there is talk of Woodford finally breaking their losing streak; a draw would be a significant achievement. But with a goal difference of minus 47 after only 12 games, don't bet on it. Andy Ollerenshaw

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