Todays game is
DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF
PRESIDENT, PLYMOUTH PARKWAY FC
Plymouth Parkway FC at home this Saturday 16th February against Willand Rovers
Kick Off – 15:00
Adults – £6
Concessions – £4
Hot and cold snacks available
Willand Rovers FC History
Rovers from humble origins to today!
Football has been played in Willand for well over 100 years and the first match reports exist from November 1907, when Willand Association Football Club was under the chairmanship of Dr Henry Tracey of the Gables and played their home games at the Pavilion Ground, being the field opposite the Halfway House.
The football club was still going strong by the years of the Second World War, when it was known as Willand Wanderers FC. However a spell in the financial doldrums left Wanderers going out of business and out of the ashes rose Willand Rovers.
There were two members from the football club on the committee of Willand United Services Club formed in 1942 to organize wartime social events.
During the 2nd World War and for a period of time after wards, the club played home games in Henry Eveleigh’s field which is the land that, these days, is opposite the chip shop in Station Road, Willand.
It was in the early 1950′s that the club made the switch to its present home, Silver Street, now known as the Stan Robinson Stadium in deference to its main sponsor, Stan Robinson Transport. In 1972 Willand started the season there against near neighbours Tiverton Town in the Premier Division of the Devon and Exeter League. Interestingly enough, the K. O. was scheduled for 3.15. (To allow the crowds time to enter?) This season saw the first programme produced for match days with 40% of the proceeds on sales going to a prize draw. It also saw the introduction of a refreshment caravan. Whilst it is not clear what was sold from the caravan, the programme advertisers included current programme advertisers, Willand Service Station and Cafe and Spearing’s Coaches, past stand sponsors, Lloyd Maunder, now 2 Sisters food group and the long departed Railway Inn at the original Tiverton Junction station.
For the opening match of 1972-3, the two teams included any number of well-known local football names including, for Willand Rovers, Kenny Freeman and current club chairman, Mike Mitchell whilst Tiverton Town included Colin Campion, a relative of Dave Campion who was to go on and become Secretary of the club in early 21st century, along with Nick Seatherton, whose relative, Mark, was one of the stars of the Rovers Devon County League side in the 90’s.
Legend has it that the current grandstand was built with timber from the then village hall, which also had to make way for the motorway. Despite the stand, disaster followed in 1985 when the Devon and Exeter League ruled that the club did not have adequate facilities to continue to play in the Premier Division and demoted the club to its senior leagues and the reserves went to play in the North Devon League.
Looking at the club and its facilities now, one has to admire the quick and positive way the club fought back from this moment of adversity. As a measure of the progress the club made at that time, inspired by current President and former player and club manager, Peter Ward, “The Rovers” not only got back into the Premier Division of The Devon and Exeter League, it then became one of the founder members of the new Devon County League when it was set up in time for the start of the 1992-3 season.
Rovers hosted their first ever County league match, and Bert Millichip, then the Chairman of the Football Association, was in attendance to witness history being made for the village side.
The manager at that time was Mike Howe, a well-known local former player with both Tiverton Town and Elmore and further proof that “The Rovers“ were on their way.
THE CLIVE JONES REIGN…………………..
Under current manager Clive Jones, the club’s rise continued with the County League being won in 1998-9 and again in 2000-1 followed by promotion to the Western League Division One and in season 2004-5, promotion as champions to the Premier Division of the same league.
Success like this on the pitch can only come with hard work and dedication going hand in hand off the pitch and the club has been blessed with a series of loyal and unpaid servants such as the already mentioned Peter Ward, Dave Campion and Mike Mitchell plus such people as Andy Jarrett, who served for 22 years as Secretary. There are many, in the past and in the present, who have, and do, work tirelessly for the club. The clubhouse, post and rail pitch surround and floodlights have all been put in place by the club members. In 2013 in his last game for the Club Clive lead his men to a 1 nil victory over Hallen in the Les Phillips Cup Final.
ROVERS CLIMBING THE FOOTBAL PYRAMID………………
Willand’s standing in non-league football climbed to new heights in the last few seasons as they lifted the Les Phillips Cup in 2006/07 beating Welton Rovers in the final, after finishing runners-up to Corsham Town the previous year. Their then highest ever league position also followed in 2007/08 with a fantastic third place spot and that was bettered in a magical 2009/10 season that saw Rovers finish second only to Champions Bideford whilst they also reached the Fifth Round of the FA vase. In 2015-2016 after marathon 7 games were knocked out by Gosport Borough of the Conference South in the 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup, just round away from playing in the competition proper.
At the end of the 2013 season long time manager Clive Jones stood down and was replaced by young duo Scott Rogers and Russell Jee. As they learnt their trade the club finished a respectful 8th last year in the league. At the end of the season which was Scott last game in charge of the team we won the Les Phillips Cup beating Barnstable in the final. This season we have had a tremendous FA cup final playing clubs from East London and the South Coast before falling to Conference South giants Gosport Borough.
In 2015 saw Russell Jee taking over as manager with David Steele as his assistant. This exciting pairing will be given time to adjust at the top and improve the club league standing. The season did not start too well with 4 points from the opening league matches and out of both FA competitions. But the club and squad stuck together and went on an unbelievable 12 match winning streak through November, December January and February, by the end of the season we had finished 6th with 70 points our highest points tally in 6 years. We continued our love affair with the Les Phillips Cup with our 6th final appearance in 15 years, unfortunately this year we were the bridesmaid rather than the bride losing to Hengrove Athletic by an odd goal. Our record in the final is now 3 all.
In 2017 the league recognized the sterling services of a few of the ‘characters’ who have been associated with Willand for over 50 years each. Mike (Mitch) Mitchell, Tony (Tacker) Williams, Pete (Duffy) Ward. Mike (Bacon) Mears and Reg Vile have all shown tremendous commitment to the club and have totaled in excess of 280 years loyal services just to one club, Willand Rovers. We do however have some younger blood helping out within the Club, our Treasurer Cath Dinner has had a long involvement with WRFC as her father played her when she was a mere slip of a girl. Simon Dinner is responsible for the clubhouse events and maintenance. Tracey Greening is our General Secretary and keeps a sharp eye on all the stock. Dom Clark has been football secretary for a few years now replacing the sadly departed Tony Baker.
Off the pitch the thriving fully refurbished club-house continues to help provide vital funding and the club also has a range of branded merchandise and local business, despite the hard times of the early 21st century recession continue to support, none more so that local haulage firm – Stan Robinson Transport who have increased their involvement with the club as “The Rovers”, seek to maintain the impetus of the last few years. Other local businesses have continued to support the club and thanks to The Hickory Inn, Devon Tarmaster, Pencarrie for their involvement with us.
In 2017 we welcomed a new team to Silver Street with the arrival of the Bravehearts FC a local side formed to help raise funds for service personnel and founded out of the tragic loss of one of their mates who was killed in action whilst serving with British forces in Iraq. The Saturday side run by Nick Lush finished in mid table in Division 6 their highest finish in their short history but gained success in winning the Carlisle Cup with a late equalizer they then went onto score twice in extra time to secure their first piece of glittering silverware. The Sunday side ably led by Kris Roper put a magnificent late season run together overturning a huge goal difference as the chased the leading side to come through magnificently with a splendid last match win to ensure they ended up as Champions.
For Willand Rovers the 2017-18 season brought the most entertaining attacking football brand we have seen, we were leading goal scorers in the division with some 121 goals in all competitions. Russell and David have brought in exciting young talent in the shape of Luke Mortimore and Brad Ausden and added some experience with Josh Searle and Glenn Gould together with the existing retained squad secured 3rd place with 78 points and a positive goal different of 50+. WRFC were in great shape going into February with games in hand on the eventual league winners, but the wet weather reduced the league programme to a shambles ensuring we are and other clubs were playing 3 times a week. Added to that the loss of 4 key players to serious injury did not help our cause. But as we strive to improve both on and off the pitch this season was certainly taking us in the right direction.
So Willand Rovers stand proudly at the highest point the club has reached in its short history. The next sixty years will bring a different set of challenges, the decision has been made to start to develop the Stan Robinson Stadium, a new stand which can accommodate 50 seats plus turnstiles are being added before the 2018/19 season thus ensuring we meet the requirements of the next step of the football pyramid, namely the famous and historic Southern League.
The Club now has to consider whether to stay at Silver Street or move to a facility fit for purpose, with ever more development going on in the village and surrounding area now is the time to make that decision of where our home for the next 55 years will be The lasts news is that in consultation with a local businessman and land owner we may well be placed to find Willand Rovers a new home in the next 5 years .The story goes on as the dream still unfolds – Watch this space!
Willand Rovers FC Squad
Manager: Russell Jee
Asst Manager: David Steele
Physio: Neil Greening
Goalkeeper Coach: Warren Kileen
Kit manager: Martin Jee/Andy Barnard