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New kids on the block

PUBLISHED: 13:06 30 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:19 24 August 2010

Matt Oliver coaches the new Tolkington FC. Stonebridge Park, The Pavillion, 27/07/08. picture by Carmen Klammer

Matt Oliver coaches the new Tolkington FC. Stonebridge Park, The Pavillion, 27/07/08. picture by Carmen Klammer

©carmenklammer

By Ben Pearce AN AMBITIOUS new football club has been formed with the aim of bringing football back into the Brent community. Tokyngton Manor FC has been created out of the ruins of Ruislip Manor, and they will play their very first match in the Spartan S

By Ben Pearce

AN AMBITIOUS new football club has been formed with the aim of bringing football back into the Brent community.

Tokyngton Manor FC has been created out of the ruins of Ruislip Manor, and they will play their very first match in the Spartan South Midlands Division One a week on Saturday.

But the vision for London's newest side extends much further than the ninth tier of the pyramid, and football director Matt Oliver is envisaging a bright future even before the first ball has been kicked.

"When we started five weeks ago we had nothing but an ad in the paper saying we had taken over a local football club," he told the Times. "Now we've got a squad of 21 and everything's starting to look very positive.

"The reality of the league we're in is that we can reasonably aim for a solid first season and then a realistic push for promotion next year.

"We've tried to set things up in the backroom at a much higher level than we're playing, so the targets we've set for ourselves are very doable."

Oliver, 36, has a UEFA B coaching licence - as do all of his coaching team - and he spent last season as part of the staff at Wingate and Finchley.

And he will need everything he has learnt to deliver the club's five-year plan, which includes successive promotions in years two and three.

That said, after a trial day attended by 54 players and a few training sessions at The Pavilion in Stonebridge, the team sheet already reads well.

Striker Dan Owen scored the goals that kept Leigh Genesis in the Conference North two seasons ago and Andy Watson is a former Scotland under-16 international.

"It's your dream as a young manager to be given a clean slate and a fresh project with a chairman behind you who trusts you," said Oliver.

"We're now at the stage where we've got a player in every position, five very good players and we're just looking to add that little bit of quality.

"Part of the attraction is that it's totally down to me, but at the same time it's down to the players and if they get on board with how we want to play, the sky really is the limit."

That is a message which is heartily endorsed by Wembley-based chairman Terry Springer, 38, and he believes that the key is establishing Tokyngton Manor as Brent's genuine local team.

"There's a need in the area for a Brent-based football club and we want to provide people with the opportunity to play senior football," he said. "Our new captain was travelling out to Godalming in Surrey to play, and another has been playing at Amersham Town. These aren't their local clubs by any stretch of the imagination."

The irony is that, until Brent Council finds the club a location, Tokyngton Manor will play their home games at the Viking ground in Greenford.

"The key part is the response we get from the council in finding a location in Brent," Springer said. "Lots of clubs struggle financially with the very expensive burden of ground sharing agreements, but if we can find our own home then our aims are very achievable."

Those aims are not just restricted to the football field, as Springer is a firm believer that football clubs have a central role to play in the community.

"It's brilliant to be the chairman of a brand new football club, a real dream for me," he said.

"I've always felt that this was the best way to unify the diverse community that we have. Sport has the ability to bring communities together and bring cohesion."

Springer hopes that in future Tokyngton will have a youth team and a women's side, and the club are also in discussions with Cleveland City Stars, a professional team who play in Ohio, USA, about an exchange scheme.

"At the moment the link is there," said Springer. "Their season finishes much earlier than ours so they'll send some players over to play with us.

"They'll also look at some of our younger players who are involved in our youth system, and there may be an opportunity for scholarships if anyone impresses them."

Cheap season tickets are on offer until August 9, when the club are away against Brache Sparta, kicking off at 3pm. For more information on the club visit www.tokyngtonfc.co.uk.


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