Most players and coaches would concur that the 2022-23 season was one which began with a lot of uncertainty.
The Men's teams held their first open trials session; The Men's 1s looked forward to a new home ground; The Women's team and the Men's 2s both had a new manager in charge; The club moved their Men's 3s from Saturdays to Sundays; We had another summer without an overseas tour.
In the end, there was plenty to be proud of - and many areas in which we can improve.
During pre-season, we received nearly 100 applications to attend our first Trials Day in Battersea. From those applicants, we invited 70 players to attend. With thanks to the coaching volunteers - especially Che, George, and Ryan - and the administrative volunteers - especially Tom, Rob, Lily, and Evelin - we had a fantastic afternoon of football, with 30 players invited to join the club.
Of those, the notable new recruits who have seen out their debut season with us are energetic wing back Aaron Lunguma, versatile all-rounder Matt Hunter, Bulgarian defender Dani Grigorov, American midfield dynamo Dan Menendez, combative midfielder Max Smith, not to mention the handful of others who have played a part in this season. We appreciate the commitment shown by these and other new recruits.
Unfortunately, after just two matches at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, it became clear that Better / GLL were either negligent or unable to properly operate the football pitch. Whilst the changing rooms would be best described as by estate agents as 'functional' or 'a fixer-upper', we had expectations that the pitch would at least be cut and marked and that, in the case of an emergency, there would be a responsible adult on site to support our designated first aider. Neither of these came to be the case and so we were relocated back to Prince George's Playing Fields, Raynes Park.
Chedee Alexander's team ended a perfectly balanced season with 7 wins, 6 draws, 7 defeats and 0 goal difference, finishing 6th in Junior Division 2, and a cup run to the Intermediate Shield semi-final. They started strongly with only one defeat in their first 8 matches, including beating Sporting 50 6-2 and Junction Elite 7-0. Ryan O'Neill came third in the race for the golden boot, with 19 goals in 16 games. Deshaan Ferreira featured in 24 of the team's 26 matches.
Tom White led the Men's 2s throughout the season, the highlight of which was three wins in a row in November and December - 4-2 v Motspur Park, 6-0 v AFC Malden, and 5-1 v Mitcham Park. The team finished 9th in Junior Division 4 with Pete Harris netting 11 times and Rob Huskisson turning out 22 times out of 24 games. Tom will be stepping down as manager due to the arrival of his first child. The club and players pass on our congratulations and thanks for his endeavours.
Flo Saulnier moved from the Women's manager to the Men's Sundays but had to step back due to work commitments a few games into the season. However, Rob Huskisson, Pete Harris, and others ably stepped in to lead the team to a strong finish in their debut season. The team ended up 3rd in Southern Sunday League SELKENT Division 10. They opened their campaign with a win against Dynamo London. Whilst the lowlight was a 9-0 loss to runners-up Broomwood, this was preceded by five match unbeaten run from October to December. Pete Harris scored 9 times in 13 games whilst Kayenne Grant-Evans scored 8 in 10 games.
The Women's team was to be led by club secretary, Mark Wilson, before he unexpectedly relocated to Germany. Jen Flippance stepped in, assisted by captain Evelin Pitisci. The team started strongly in their league campaign before the operator of the Clapham Women's Saturday League (since renamed), Suresh Shan, autocratically and undemocratically ejected the team from the league. The team have not let this ludicrous behaviour damage them - since their expulsion, the team has attracted even more members and played several friendly matches against teams from across London. Jen has now decided to retire from football after being with Wanderers since 2012 - at 46 appearances before the start of the season, she can look forward to being inducted into the Wanderers Hall of Fame!
Now that the season has concluded, there are a wealth of exciting new initiatives and events planned for the close season and beyond. Keep your eye on our social media channels to see more.
Lastly, a big thank you to all of the volunteers, players, and supporters who have made this season another one of progress and improvement.