Have you ever watched BBC TV’s Who Do You Think You Are? For those that haven’t, it’s genealogy documentary series which in each episode traces the family tree of a celebrity. Now you might be thinking what this has got to do with a football book. Well, Roger Slater who has produced a number of books on Wealdstone (Ed: Surely he should go on BBC TV’s Mastermind, with the club as his specialist subject?!) has delved into the history of the club nicknamed The Stones, which was previously thought to have been formed at the start of the 1899/1900 season. Coming out of that research is The Very First Wealdstone FC: A History from 1883-1895, which makes the case for Wealdstone’s very own ‘family tree’ prior to the previously believed formation date.
Within the well-produced and informative 56 pages, readers learn about the teams that were forerunners of the present day clubs and indeed about football in the Harrow area from 1883. Slater’s Sherlock Holmes skills lead to the discovery of links to a factory team, Cogswell & Harrison, formed in 1887, with the club going through various transformations until in the summer of 1888, Wealdstone Juniors and Wealdstone Rovers amalgamated, taking on a number of players from Wealdstone Wanderers to form Wealdstone Albion, who took their place in the inaugural Willesden and District League in 1888/89. At the end of that season, a further adoption of Wealdstone Wanderers was completed, and the ‘Albion’ element was dropped from the name, the club henceforth playing as the Wealdstone FC we know today.
What will be apparent to readers is that in the early years of football, games were on the whole simply friendlies, before the emergence of the FA and County FA cups, with leagues the final piece in the competition jigsaw. Additionally, the growth and interest in football was such that clubs were able to put out reserves sides and in some cases 3rd XI’s.
This interesting journey is supplemented by an appendix which lists all the players from the early Harrow teams through to the Wealdstone FC side of 1888/89. Slater acknowledges that these records are incomplete is some cases and that certain assumptions have had to be made, reflecting the fact that in the early days of football, newspaper reports were limited and often days after the event, with inconsistent information sometimes provided by the papers as well as the fact that through the passage of time many club records have been lost or destroyed.
Given this background it is some achievement to produce what is an interesting addition to the history and lineage of Wealdstone FC and also of the social history and the game in that part of North West London.
(CAMS. May 2021. Paperback 56 pages)