Half ton for Wokingham super-fanBy Adam Lee
October 16, 2008
Loyalty in football, some say, is dead.
It is a term that has cropped up far too regularly over the last 15 years with the emergence of multi-million pound contracts and transfer fees.
However, for the fans that go to watch their favourite teams week in week out, loyalty is still, well and truly, alive.
Nowhere is it more evident than at Wokingham & Emmbrook’s Cantley Park ground, where, sat week in week out on his favourite camping chair, you will find Richard Croydon (right), a loyal Wokingham fan for nearly half a century.
Mr Croydon, who celebrates his 70th birthday today, is currently in his 50th season as a Wokingham fan, and is certainly not thinking of replacing his much-loved club for a more fashionable or richer alternative.
Mr Croydon began going to Wokingham when they played at their old Finchampstead Road ground during their Amateur Cup run of 1958, and he has been hooked on them ever since, travelling all over the country supporting the side.
During his association with the club, he has been a committee member, vice-chairman and director, but now concentrates solely on cheering the team on, both home and away, as nothing more than a fan, albeit one held in the highest esteem.
Mr Croydon has seen Wokingham Town climb the football pyramid right to the brink of the professional game, and has also been there to see them fall right back down to the base of that pyramid.
But he insists his love for the club is as strong as ever, and he hopes to see them compete back in their rightful place soon.
“I’ve always supported Wokingham and always will,” said Mr Croydon.
“My father used to come and I started coming along when we had the Amateur Cup run.
“We played all the big non-league clubs of the time before getting knocked out in the semi-final.
“There was also the trophy run when we got knocked out of the FA Trophy at the semi-finals (1987/88 season).
“We used to be the biggest club in the area and I remember us playing at Hendon where we had to win and Slough had to lose for us to have gone into the conference.
“That was our downfall in that we spent a fortune doing up the ground to conference standards and then didn’t make it.
“This is the lowest we’ve ever been and hopefully we’re going to climb up now.
“We’re here at Cantley, have our own pitch and now we’re building up again from the bottom.
“It’s still good fun and I go to all the away matches.”
One issue that has recently upset him was the opposition from local residents to plans to install floodlights and a 250-seat stand at the club’s new pitch at Cantley.
The club moved out of their Finchampstead Road ground in 1999 and have since struggled to find a new ground.
But Mr Croydon believes that Cantley is the spiritual home of sport in the town and scoffs at suggestions that the building works would encourage ‘football louts’ to the ground.
“Perhaps the lowest point was moving out of Finchampstead Road. That was horrible – playing our last game there,” he said.
“But this is the right place to be. Cantley is a sports area.
“Why is there any rubbish about having football here?
“It’s a sports area, a dedicated sports area and if anyone does have a house here, it’s not necessarily a case of ‘bad luck,’ but Cantley was here first.
“We don’t cause any trouble anyway. Most people here are nearly my age!”