Hellenic Premier preview: Wokingham & Emmbrook FCBy Adam Lee
August 10, 2010
The future’s bright, the future’s orange
Once the top dogs in local football, Wokingham’s fall from grace in the past seven years has been meteoric.
However, under their new guise of Wokingham & Emmbrook, the club have slowly built a fine reputation in local footballing circles thanks to their stylish brand of play and their willingness to put faith in their talented youngsters.
Since Wayne Wanklyn (pictured right) took over in 2007, the club’s fortunes have risen dramatically – on the field at least.
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Having just missed out on promotion in 2009, few can argue that they were the best team in Hellenic Division 1 East last season, and had they not lost their momentum due to the extended Christmas break, then they would have almost certainly claimed the title.
In the end, however, they had to settle for runners-up spot behind Thame Town, but in terms of earning promotion to the Hellenic Premier, it was job done for the Satsumas.
With the majority of the team still 23 or under and with the club’s U18 Allied Counties team also continuing to punch way above its weight, it is a side that can only get better.
It seems the only thing missing for Wokingham is a ground to call their own – an ongoing saga that can only be described as a black mark against the local council.
It would be a disaster if the team fail to fulfill their potential this season and struggle in the new division, but under the guidance of Wanklyn, this seeems unlikely.
Granted, the loss of Richard Bland, the team’s top scorer for the past three seasons, is a bitter blow, but with four other strikers waiting in the wings, it is by no means a travesty.
In fact, should influential target man James Wise recover from a long-standing knee ligament injury, then the Sats will be overflowing with options up front.
Also, the addition of former Finchampstead players Tom Hopper and Nick Rumsby are shrewd signings by Wanklyn.
Hopper has been outstanding for Finch in recent seasons, and Wanklyn has long admired the defender, while keeper Rumsby will provide some much-needed competition for current No.1 Stuart Harris.
And, like his fellow local managers, Wanklyn is relishing the added interest from the Wokingham and Bracknell area.
“I don’t have a huge plan this year, but I think we’ve got enough to compete and with a bit of luck I’m sure we’ll be in the right half of the table at the end of the season,” he said.
“If we could combine all four (of the local clubs) together we would have a very good side.
“If you look back 10 years and think of the pecking order then, you would probably put Wokingham top, then Bracknell, Binfield and Ascot.
“But if you look at it now I think Binfield have been the most improved and dynamic club.
“At Wokingham we have a great heritage and committee, but we’re homeless, Bracknell have lost their way in the past few years while Ascot are a real up-and-coming club.”
Last season: 2nd in Hellenic Division 1 East (promoted).
Prediction for this season: Wokingham’s young side have enough talent to go far, and will look to more than consolidate in the Premier Division this season. Final position – 11th
New signings: Tom Hopper, Nick Rumsby, Adam Cornell, Jon Summer, Fower.
Key player: Nick Bateman: The young midfielder came back to Wokingham, following a brief spell at Bracknell Town, a completely new player. Has added a goalscoring touch to his commitment and eye for a pass, and with the availability of fellow midfielder David Bellis uncertain, Bateman will have to take on a leading role.
One to watch: Alex Luis: The teenage left wing-back was an almost ever-present last season, showing great maturity both in defence and attack. Plays an integral role in Wokingham’s system and is vital if the team aims to add width to their game.
First match: Kidlington (a), Tuesday, August 10.