'There's more to a club like Wealdstone than what happens on the pitch'
- Credit: Jon Taffel
Whilst what happens on the pitch at a non-league football club is invariably seen as the be-all and end-all during the intensity of the season, that is of course far from the case and never has been for those with the responsibility for running a club.
First and foremost, it's all about survival of the business. Football at this level, whether we like it or not, is a business, whether limited company or committee run.
At Wealdstone FC, community work and continuing to embed the club into the life of the local and wider area is higher on the agenda than it has possibly ever been - and rightly so.
This is an essential part of sustaining the business over the long term. Whilst Stones have been fortunate to retain a degree of traditional and latent support during the years of ground sharing, several younger generations of potential support was lost with the loss of a permanent ground base to be called "home".
It’s the new and particularly younger potential fans that need to be cultivated as the support of the future.
This task is incredibly challenging at non-league level with so many huge professional clubs and so much choice for fans in the Middlesex and London conurbation. Stones can be rightly proud of the support generated since the move to Ruislip in 2008, with various initiatives particularly aimed at attracting lapsed or occasional Premier League/Pro club fans or making Stones an entertaining "different" second choice alternative at affordable prices.
I applaud recent community work announced by Stones to reach out to local schools, very much building on previous schools and other community based activity.
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Ruislip has a strong football loving population and Stones have gradually tapped into this and reaped the benefits of increasing attendances, helped by an improving league status – now at the pinnacle of the non-league pyramid playing in the National League.
Much still needs to be done to sustain the progress made. Significantly aiding this progress will be the resolution to their tenancy challenges at Grosvenor Vale, now 13 years on.
On the pitch, Stones gained a valuable draw and a point at Weymouth on Saturday and now turn their attention to a massive game versus league leaders Grimsby Town on Tuesday evening (October 26) at The Vale. This will be yet another fascinating clash against a full time pro club with the resources to match.