Walton Casuals FC

 

Walton Casuals Football Club is a semi-professional football club based in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. Walton Casuals FC were founded in 1948 and currently play in the Evostik League South. The club is affiliated to the Surrey County Football Association and have been part of the football pyramid since 1992.

 

The club home ground is the Waterside Stadium, Waterside Drive in Walton-on-Thames. However Walton Casual currently play their home football at the home of Whyteleafe FC, while developments take place at the Waterside Stadium. Plans are in place to develop the Waterside Drive Sports Hub by September 2017, which is expected to see the club share facilities with Walton & Hersham FC and Walton Athletics club.

 

1946-1969: Formation and early origins

The earliest roots of Walton Casuals Football Club date back to World War II. Following the conclusion of the war, a group of ex-servicemen returned to their council homes in the Walton-on-Thames and decided to form an "illegal" Sunday football team, who would go on to play friendlies against other "illegal" teams throughout the 1946-47 and 1947-48 seasons. They adopted the name White City FC, due to the outside walls of their houses being painted that colour.

 

In 1948, they decided to become a legitimate Saturday club, and Walton Casuals as they was founded in July of that year. Walton Casuals FC became affiliated to Surrey County Football Association and acquired the use of a pitch at Elm Grove Recreation Ground. Walton Casuals started off in Division One of the Surrey Intermediate (Central) League and gained promotion to the Premier Division in 1952–53. Walton Casuals FC went on tofinish as runners-up on 3 occasions in 1954–55, 1956–57 and 1964–65. The Surrey Intermediate (Central) League disbanded in 1965 and the club moved into the League’s Western Section for three seasons.

 

1969-1992: Various leagues

In 1969 Walton Casuals FC joined the new Surrey Senior League and moved to the Franklyn Road Sports Field which later went on to become known as the Waterside Stadium. Two years later Walton Casuals FCbecame founder members of the Suburban League, playing one season at Walton & Hersham FC’s Stompond Lane ground before moving to Addlestone's Liberty Lane ground for eight seasons. The club then returned to Franklyn Road, where the Reserves had continued playing in the Surrey Combination League. The 1982–83 season saw Walton Casual FC win their first major honour, becoming champions of the Suburban League Southern Section and setting a league record of going 23 games unbeaten under manager Kim Harris. The following year Casuals were runners-up behind Sutton United, and in the 1986–87 season reached the Surrey Premier Cup Final, only to lose to Croydon.

 

1992-2002: Entering the football pyramid

Subsequent years saw the club slip into a steady decline, regularly finishing in the bottom two of the Suburban League. After 21 years of competing in the Suburban League, the club decided to switch to the Surrey Premier League in June 1992 in order to join the pyramid system. A year of consolidation paved the way for major changes at Franklyn Road the following summer as Kim Harris was reappointed as manager after a successful spell at Hersham RBL and the club expanded into both Sunday and youth football. In 1993–94 Casuals won the Surrey Premier League Challenge Cup, defeating Holmesdale after a replay, and in 1994–95 the club finished runners-up to Chobham in the league. They were also were losing finalists to Vandyke in the Challenge Cup.

 

During the summer the club was promoted to the Combined Counties Football League, and the first four seasons of senior football proved a real struggle with Casuals finishing bottom of the table in 1996–97, but able to avoid relegation thanks to the Combined Counties League exercising its prerogative to maintain a minimum number of clubs in the Premier Division. With the help of Walton charities, the installation of floodlights at Franklyn Road was completed in February 1999, a major hurdle overcome as far as ground requirements were concerned. The appointment of Mick Sullivan and Garry Clark as joint managers in the summer of 1999 brought about a dramatic improvement in results. As well as a best-ever finish of 5th in the league, the club won the League Cup in 2000, beating Viking Greenford 4–2 in the final at Farnborough. The following season was also a relatively successful one, with a placing of 7th in the table and another appearance in the League Cup final, beaten on this occasion by double-winners Cove 3–0 at Woking.

 

Although 2002–03 proved a disappointment as the club finished in a lowly 18th spot, the seeds of success had been sown with Spencer Collins taking over as first-team manager in November 2002. As a team capable of much better things slowly began to take shape, ex-West Ham United player Tony Gale installed as Director of Football. After more team-building in 2003–04, and a big jump up the table to finish in 7th spot, the club took the Combined Counties Football League by storm the year after, finishing 26 points clear at the top of the table. After initially failing an FA ground inspection, the club launched a successful appeal and achieved their dream of promotion to the Isthmian League Division One for 2005–06.

 

2005-2014: Starting life in the Isthmian League

The club finished 15th in their maiden season in the Isthmian League, while regularly finishing in the bottom half in subsequent seasons. In 2009–10 the club achieved its best run in the FA Cup reaching the Third Qualifying Round, before losing to Staines Town. The club appointed Neil Shipperley manager in the summer of 2010 and managed to finish in 12th place, their best finish in the league at the time.

 

During early 2011 the club opened a new clubhouse and new changing facilities, with Mick Sullivan returning to the helm in October, following the resignation of Shipperley. After being sacked a year later, Danny Carroll took over as manager. With a reprieve saving the Stags in the 2012–13 season, the club appointed ex-Kingstonian assistant manager Mark Hams as manager, along with his brother Neil as assistant. The duo rejuvenated the squad and impressed, leading Walton to their highest ever league finish of 9th. However, after nine league games led to nine defeats, Mark and Neil Hams left their positions at the club by mutual consent in September 2014.

 

2014-present: Established in the Isthmian League

Tony Gale and Anthony Gale were drafted in as caretaker managers, and immediately picked up the club's first win of the season, securing a 1–0 victory in a trip to Redhill. In November 2014, defender Liam Collins was appointed first team manager, with teammate Simon Huckle appointed assistant manager. Collins and Huckle were able to secure the club's safety with a comfortable 18th placed finish. At the end of the season, Collins announced his intentions to step down from his management position to focus on his last few seasons on the field, while Huckle parted ways with the club to join Redhill.

 

Anthony Gale was announced as first team manager shortly before the start of the club's pre-season campaign. He was joined on the touchline by Jack Johnson, the nephew of Gary Johnson and cousin of Lee Johnson. The duo bought in a number of youth prodigies recently released by professional clubs, and saw their methods result in a number of players signing professional deals elsewhere throughout the season.

 

2017 - Walton Casuals FC relocate to play at the Xcel Sports Hub, Walton-on-Thames KT12 2JP.

 

2018 - Walton Casuals FC are promoted to the Evostik League South after winning the Isthmian League Division One South playoffs on penalties.