My love affair with Tooting & Mitcham United
by Ian Bullock
I started watching my beloved Tooting & Mitcham in 1958, I have to thank my late father Geoff for that he followed the club for over sixty years. One of the first matches I saw was the home FA Cup Third Round tie against Nottingham Forest in January 1959. We were packed in like sardines and the pitch was frozen solid. I still have bad memories of when Forest were awarded a dubious penalty for handball late on, which gave them an undeserved replay, they would go onto lift the Trophy at Wembley. My Dad tried to console me but the tears flowed, one question I have always asked why did the referee come from the Midlands, also every report said it was never a penalty.
A happier occasion came in May 1960 when we became League Champions after beating Oxford City 3-1 at Sandy Lane. In March 1962 our new floodlights were switched on as we entertained an Arsenal Eleven for the grand opening, the match was superb and the lights lit up the sky. Our former star player Paddy Hasty who had joined the pro ranks with Aldershot guested for the Terrors scoring one of our goals in a 4-2 victory. In February 1963 another game which springs to mind was our record 11-0 victory against Welton Rovers.
As I grew older I started my renowned Tooting & Mitcham scrapbooks which would become my pride and joy. I was always interested in the club’s history and years later became Historian. During the late 1960’s I was asked to join the Supporters Club Committee and will be remembered as one of the Terrace Tea Bar Crew along with my pals Roy Rumens, Eddie Epps, Steve McTaggart and Bruce Lewis doing this for nearly 30 years, our square sausage burgers were world famous. Having been a qualified referee I sometimes had to dash from canteen duties to run the line if an official got injured, I then became Secretary of the Supporters Club.
In the early seventies the club introduced a Pools scheme to raise funds it was hard going being a collector especially on cold winter nights although the people were very welcoming and at Christmas time I had the odd mince pie and tipple with them. In the 1970’s there were memorable home FA Cup ties against Crystal Palace which we lost narrowly and Swindon Town which we won after a replay, a solo effort from Alan Ives gave the Terrors victory. After the game was over everyone piled into the clubhouse to see the winner on News at Ten.
At the season end I used to help out with the ground maintenance, my dear friend Frank Jannaway who was on the General Committee was at the helm he lived to be 103 a great man. There were many jobs that needed doing including weeding the terraces which played havoc with my hay fever. During different home first team matches at Sandy Lane several bizarre moments occurred, when playing Woking in the fog someone was riding a bicycle on the pitch, also when a player was being stretched off the pitch one of the clubs steward’s trousers fell down, another incident saw a hedgehog on the pitch which was taken off by shovel one wag shouted out “he’s moving faster than some of the players”, during an FA Cup match against Whitehawk a huge gust of wind blew one of the lights down from the stand hitting the visitors sub who had to go to hospital. In 1985 I became joint editor of our match day programme being involved ever since. I also had a couple of commemorate books published namely Facts & Figures and Halcyon Days. In April 1977 we won the Surrey Senior Cup defeating Croydon in the Final, I remember the night well as two days later I got married in Huddersfield (becoming a fan of the Terriers alongside the Terrors).
Around this time the club needed someone to help out at Reserve home games nobody could be found so yours truly volunteered, I was even physio in one match thankfully no one was injured.
In 1990 tragedy struck my family when my daughter Jayne died aged just six with Leukemia, she had only been at a game just a few weeks earlier. The club were wonderful, thank you Steve Adkins and Jackie Watkins who set up a Memorial Trophy in her name played for annually, also I would like to thank Lyn Catchpole MBE for all her hard work to make the day such a success.
An emotional afternoon for me was Tooting’s last ever league game at Sandy Lane when we entertained Wealdstone, I remember sitting on the terraces after the final whistle thinking of all the happy times their, plus a few sad ones.
In 2002 we moved to our new home at Imperial Fields, a few years later I was invited to help out in the Boardroom. Under Keith Kelly’s leadership plus his excellent team of helpers we have built up a reputation second to none for our hospitality. Keith has done many jobs at the club and is another wonderful servant.
In recent years Programme Editor David Penn asked me to be his assistant, he produced an excellent programme (thanks Dee Pee you are a top man).
For a number of years now, I have supplied our match reports to the Non-League Paper but I have decided now is the right time to step back from that role and that of assistant programme editor (although I would still like to do the occasional piece).
Last season the Club made me a Life Vice President which was a very proud moment for myself and family my Wife Wendy, Son Andrew, his Wife Margaret plus our lovely Granddaughter Erin were all in attendance, a day I shall never forget. I only wish my Parents and Jayne could have been there to. There would be some Terrors giant-killing on that day also.
The thing that I love most about my club is all the many friends I have made over the years most of them being supporters, plus all the managers, players, visiting officials and match officials I have met. One of closest friends Nigel Sarson died during the past season he was a yet another loyal servant to the club who is sorely missed.
As I finish, life is very hard in these unprecedented times with the coronavirus and I pray we all stay safe and well to meet up some time in the future.
The club have launched a crowdfunding page to help support the club during this difficult time. You can read the full press release here and access the crowdfunding page here.
We thank you for your support!
Thank you to our sponsors for the season
At Tooting & Mitcham United, we have been very lucky to have a number of great sponsors this season and over the years. During this difficult time for all, we wanted to show our appreciation and support by sharing updates with our fans:
Arrow 1066 Mortgages – Arrow 1066 Mortgages are supporting people with their finance during this difficult period, giving guidance on fiancial decisions. If you feel you need guidance, Arrow is here available for help. Website - www.arrow1066fs.co.uk Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Playfinder are our pitch booking provider service, and administer hundreds of hours of sport across our ground every season. Due to the government restrictions, currently pitches and spaces are not bookable. Playfinder are very active with their blog posts, discussing topics including ‘Did we take sport for granted?’ and latest updates about grass root sports. You can check out their content at playfinder.com/blog
The Ramble Inn – The Ramble Inn have been a sponsor of the club for several years and owner Jimmy and members of his family are regulars down at Imperial Fields. Although the pub may be currently closed, we do recommend a trip down to the Ramble for one of their weekly events soon, including live music on Sundays, Quiz on Thursdays (£100 pot!) and they also have Sky Sports and BT Sports! AT the Ramble, you will always be greeted by a smile and they are one of few pubs that offer table service! Check out the Ramble website at www.rambleinnttoing.com
Predator Pest Solutions – Predator Pest Solutions continue to support T&MUFC and provide their critical pest control services through this challenging time. They have introduced risk mitigation measures to do this and can work with the customer to ensure social distancing is maintained throughout their visit to your property. If you have a pest issue affecting you, please do not wait until the situation gets worse! Call the Predator team now and they would be delighted to help. In addition, if you mention Tooting & Mitcham United when making a booking, they will donate £10 of their treatment price to Tooting & Mitcham Untied FC. Check out their website at www.predatorpestsolutions.co.uk for more pest information or call 0800 112 3480 to book an appointment today.
Virtue drinks are now available direct on Amazon for purchase straight to your door, and for first time buyers, enter ENERGYME and get 25% off! https://virtuedrinks.com/
Footy Addicts are one of our new sponsors this season and have been affected by the recent COVID- 19. They provide casual games of Football around the capital, including one every Sunday on our 3G and in the Mitcham area. The app is perfect for those who can’t commit to a regular league and just fancy a game here and there! Find out more at www.footyaddicts.com
100 club draw made
Video courtesy of Sean Newsom!
1st Prize £50 –No. 22 Emil Harkness
2nd Prize £30 – No. 92 Roy Sisley
1st Prize £50 – No. 117 Stephen Reynolds
2nd Prize £30 – No. 14 John Cooper
End of Season:
£250 - No. 57 Pat Cooper
Catch up with Shkelqim "Sketch" Sadiku
Shkelqim Sadiku, known as Sketch is another development squad player who broke into the first team this season, making 3 first team appearance;while also being a big player for the under 23s team, who were out to defend their title from last season. Sketch also caught the eye of the Kosovo National under 23 team coach, and got called up to the squad back in September for a game against England under 21s. Sketch has shown his desire to follow in the footsteps of his former team mates, who have gone on to sign professional contracts at clubs, however his main focus is earning a regular place in the Terrors first team. We caught up with Sketch to ask him a few questions about the season!
You have been a big player for the under 23s development team, which has had good success over the last few years. How has it been playing with the group of players?
It has been great, the boys are a great bunch of lads with a lot of potential to play in the first team and higher. We had a slow start to the season this year, but picked up some good and important wins mid way through the season as we were aiming to keeping the title for another season. The win at Carshalton Athletic and draw at Hastings United put us in good spirits for the upcoming fixtures.
The clubs academy has had the spot light shined on it in recent years due to the success of players such as Lexus, Isaiah and Sam. What do you think it is about the academy which brings out so many of these players?
The Academy speaks for it self, number of players moving onto clubs. At Tooting there’s a track record of if you are playing well you will get your chance in the first team regardless your age. It’s a structure the management team at tooting have built and it shows it working.
You recently made the jump into the first team for some appearances, how different is it playing there compared to the development squad?
Playing in the first team as always been my target, the difference is the tempo and the 3 points on the line; because the league is so close and if you are in top 6 the more games you win the better as teams are always slipping up. You always trying to keep your place in the team, which means you have to stick to the tactics and make things happen throughout the game.
This season you got a call up to the Kosovo National under 21 squad, when did you find out you had been called up and how was the experience?
I found out when I received a call from the team manager of the national team, the experience was a very good one. Playing for your country is one of the highest achievements a player can do. I was itching to get on to show the world what I can do against England. Overall it was a very good experience and it gave me a lot of exposure.
The league have confirmed that this season has been nulled and voided, meaning preparations for next season have started, after speaking to the management team last week. How big of a season is it for you personally?
The season will be a big one as I’m looking to earn my place in a team and make a impact week in and week out.
Do you have a message for the Tooting & Mitcham fans?
Stay Safe and Healthy⚫️⚪️.
End of season thoughts by the management team
With the FA ratifying their decision to bring the season to an end, it sees the end of an eventful season at Imperial Fields. The season has seen emphatic away wins, to some frustrating home results and players making their way through the ranks and lining up in the first team. Safe to say, there was never a dull moment at Imperial Fields! We caught up with managers Ashley Bosah and Cornelius Kwadialor to find out their thoughts on the season.
On the season being officially ended
Ashley – It is a shame of course for the season to end, particularly as we were confident, after the bad run, we were going to go on a good run leading up to the end of the season. With regards to the league, there will be financial repercussions for all clubs so will be interesting to see what happens.
Dealing with isolation and managing the players from afar
Cornelius – We speak to the players a lot, in the WhatsApp group and on the phone. The players are keeping themselves fit, but they are missing the game for sure, even training! Some have said, I know why you ask for that extra 10% now and why you push us so hard. It is a challenging time for all.
On the Dorking FA Cup win
Cornelius – I was literally doing flips heading into that game, the sun was shining, we was being interviewed by the Surrey FA and I just got a hair cut!
So I was confident in what we can do, players wanted to prove themselves as they know and we know they can play at this level. We outworked Dorking, the atmosphere around the changing room was like we won the league! We tried to calm it all down a bit, but to be honest even for us it was a massive accomplishment.
Ashley – The pre-season was beneficial to us, as we know we could work on systems and see what works and what may not. We also wanted to look at players, as we had a lot of players moving on from the season. We had 9 games in the end; as well as the opportunity for us to play Charlton and Reading under 23s which put us in good stead for the start of the season.
On players moving on
Cornelius – We are always very honest with the players when they join us, whatever the age. We ask them what do they want to achieve, play non-league and study or try and join an academy, so myself and Ash know that a player can leave whenever so we have to plan for that. We know what players will get picked up and how many scouts come to games, we are now at the point where scouts don’t come all season, they come to one or two and trust our judgement.
Ashley – We know that scouts are at a lot of games, and we even say to some players that they should be playing at a higher level than this, as Cornelius said we are always honest with all the players. If an opportunity does come up, it wouldn’t be right for us to stop them and we wouldn’t want to, so for us, there is a sense of pride.
Ashley – I have a few to be honest, Northwood away in the last minute, the win at Hanwell last month, beating Bedfont 4-0 at home but I think the Dorking FA Cup win just
tops it for me.
Cornelius – The Dorking win for me, just a great day for the club and after what happened away at Woking last year and the hammering, it was good to get the win.
On re-building in January with new signings and departures
Cornelius – Signing Illic as he showed his dedication going to Lewes and wanted to return home, Duncan being a proven striker, can score link up and bring others in and Danny Williams not getting other chances and not having any other clubs approach him, we knew we needed more goals. We spoke with Stefan, and he said he wanted to come home, we knew how focused and dedicated he was as he has been travelling down to Lewes 3 times a week, so that really made us realise he was ready.
Ashley – The Hanwell win was a big one for us, as we knew that once we got a result we would go on that run. With the draw away at Westfield, their goal was a bit of a blur but we felt the tide turning into the second half and we knew we could push on away at Hanwell, that one was for the fans!
On next season
Cornelius - We will keep planning until told not to, life is of course the most important thing but there is nothing wrong with planning for the future in my eyes. Myself and Ash speak every day about what we think we can do, what players we would like and which ones we think will stay. I do think it is going to be a very different start to the season after all what it currently happening. Players are keeping themselves fit physically, but I think that players will be mentally strong. There won’t be any time for jokers of the pack and all that, we need all players to be completely focused.
Rassaq Coleman De-Graft- Climbing the ladder
We caught up with former Terror Razzaq Coleman De-Graft this week, to discuss his highlights of the season. Razzaq, known as Zaq around the club is another product of the academy; and who has become a firm fan favourite with his energy out wide, his knack of scoring important goals and also arguably producing the clubs goal of the season with a sublime chip in the home win against Bedfont Sports back in October. Zaq made 36 appearances for the Terrors this season, chipping in with 5 goals. Zaq was signed by side Hampton & Richmond in the Conference South in February.
You are one of many young players who came through the academy at Tooting & Mitcham United, how did you find your time developing in the academy?
T&M have giving me the best start and some of the best of memories and have played with some of the best players; under great management which has contributed to the player I have become.
You recently signed for Hampton and Richmond in the Conference South, which is a 2 leagues above the Isthmian league. Granted you haven’t had too much time there, but how has the transition been?
I’m still learning, and I intend to rise to the challenge.
You were a big part of the fine run in at the start of the season, scoring some important goals within that period too. What was it like around the team during this period?
As mentioned it’s contributed to some of my best memories. They were definite highlights and the team were always up for the battle and always rose to the occasion.
You played 36 times at T & M this season and became a fan favorite time here, what are your 3 personal highlights?
1. FA Cup win against Dorking FC
2. Last minute winner against Northwood FC
3. Goal against Bedfont FC at home
What are your goals for the next 3 to 5 seasons?
To push myself to reach my peak and to be the best possible player I know I can become 6.
Do you have a message for the T & M fans during this time?
Keep flying the flag for T&M, thank you for all the support you have given me and please stay safe.
Catch up with Hady Ghandour
How has this down period been for you and your training?
This period to be honest has been boring to say the least. We get a weekly programme from Charlton with different running/sprinting sessions/core sessions/body weight leg and upper body sessions. No down time though, training pretty much everyday to keep fit and get fitter!! Its a good opportunity to go even further fitness/speed wise so I'm trying to take advantage of that. Nothing beats football though.
You played over 30 games for Tooting & Mitcham last season and scored some vital goals for the club. What is your evaluation of your performances as well as the teams?
Last season was a tough but very enjoyable first season in senior football for me. I have to thank the gaffer’s ash and Cornelius first for trusting me at 18 to play my part. I think I repaid that trust after the positive result at Egham haha. To play over 30 games was vital experience gained for me especially at 18/19. Performance wise, I think I did well, the 2-2 draw with Bracknell and me scoring the equaliser as well as the 2-1 win vs Waltham abbey where I scored 2 stand out the most, especially the latter as if I remember we were both one the same points looking to break into the play offs. In terms of the season just passed, my performances got better as the season progressed. I sort of hit a wall mid-season and I was on the bench for 5/6 games. As much as I didn't like being on the bench at the time I think it was important for me as when I got the chance again I was hungrier and I began scoring again. A big thanks to the fans for their patience with me throughout the season that just passed. I’ll never forget the miss vs Harlow away that would've won us the game, but they stayed patient with me and backed me even more which really motivated me and pushed me on.
Arguably your best personal performance was when you scored 4 goals away at Chertsey, did you wake up that morning knowing everything you touch would turn into gold?!
Haha yes. I’ll never forget that Chertsey game, my first senior hat-trick and another goal to add to that. To be honest no, I remember that day waking up thinking I want to make the difference in a big game (I knew how big that game was given where we both were in the table and what we were both fighting for). I had hit the post many times before that game and I knew it was only a matter of time before they start flying in and thankfully on that day they did. It was a surreal feeling especially with the good following we brought to celebrate with them was brilliant. Big credit to James too for that penalty save- it changed the game and we really dominated and kicked on from there.
You forged a good relationship up top with Danny Bassett, how much did you enjoy playing with Danny?
I love playing with Danny. I have been for about 3 years now and we always naturally had some sort of link up. His pace is unreal and you can always rely on him to score- especially when the team needs it the most. He really helped me when I was going through a rough patch this season so I really appreciate that.
The season has had ups and downs, yet started with a blistering start to the season, with a notable win against a Conference South team in the FA Cup. How was it being in the team and around the club during that period?
Beating Dorking was massive especially for a team 2 leagues below. We were very confident going into that game and throughout the week in training we had a good feeling we could cause an upset. We know the quality we have and it showed with a result. Even after going down to 10 men it showed our character as a team to defend solidly and work tirelessly to seal the win. It was a brilliant feeling and the vibe was so positive after that, especially for me as it was exactly 1 week after my terrible miss at Harlow. What a difference a week makes!
You are proving to be another young player destined for big things from the clubs academy, like Isaiah, Sam, Odoh and Lexus. How much motivation was it for you to see your peers moving to pro clubs to get there yourself?
Of course, it was a huge motivation to see those players I played with make the step up into the professional game. I felt like I play better when I don't think about the future, focusing on the team, working hard for the team and getting results was my only priority for the season, anything else would be a bonus and thankfully this opportunity with Charlton came up which I'm very grateful for.
You have recently been on a trial period at Charlton Athletic, how was your development under Jason Euell there?
Yes, my time so far at Charlton has been brilliant. Originally it was a 1 week trial however I did well so it got extended 2/3 times before they said they want to keep me until the end of the season and we take it from there. Jason has been a huge help, especially being a forward himself and playing in the premiership. I’ve learned a lot from him and I hope to learn even more hopefully!
Do you have a message for the Tooting & Mitcham fans during this downtime?
My message to the fans: Stay safe, stay at home and be sensible (I'm sure everyone is doing that!) Enjoy time with the family, and rest well. Football will hopefully be back as soon as possible but at the moment this matter is more important and we should focus on getting through this safely so everyone can get back to enjoying Saturday 3 PMs!
I hope to see all of the fans very soon once this is done, and a massive thank you for all the support for me and the team during the season. You enjoyed the ups with us and stuck with the boys during the downs, we really appreciate your support and the noise you make both home and away, it really does give us a lift and allows us to give a little more when were tired.
Quick fire round
Player that you think you resemble in the premier league?
Player I think I resemble: I’d love to say Firmino (although I wish I was as good as him) but mainly because he does a lot for the team despite not scoring as much as Salah/mane
Quickest player at the club? Danny Basset by far
Toughest? Rooney (Daryl Coleman)
Funniest? Probably Dontai/Deano
Moment from last season that sticks in your mind? Northwood away last min goal- was a scrap and to score the winner after coming on was a great feeling
Home game with the best atmosphere? Dorking/ Northwood home last min 2-1 win
Best away ground? Best in terms of facility is Bracknell for me. In terms of my favourite it’s Chertsey. Always scored there with u18s and great memory there this year with the first team.
Fan questions –
What did you miss the most and least about Tooting & Mitcham while you have been at Charlton?
I miss the Saturday 3pms a lot to be honest and the team/managers most who I've been with for 2/3 years. Miss least, probably finishing training late evenings on Tuesday(if no game) and Thursday. Its refreshing to finish the day by 3/4PM and get to spend those evenings at home. (nothing the club can do about that though! its the nature of non league)
What are the top 3 goals you have scored? Can include the under 23 goals too!
1: First goal vs Waltham Abbey 18/19 season I enjoyed that with my left foot
2: Carshalton away this season was nice to give us the lead and more pleasing to score with my left too
3: Chertsey 3rd goal (my 2nd header of the game) just because I had been working on my heading and was happy with how I directed it into the net (great cross from bass though!)
Best individual performance of your career so far?
Best individual performance has to be Chertsey away
What are you goals for the next 1 to 3 years?
For the next 1-3 years, obviously I’d love to be a pro footballer in one of Europe’s top leagues (that’s more the aim in 3 years’ time) within a year I want to sign my first professional deal as I haven’t signed one at Charlton yet. Otherwise, as football doesn’t work out for many, I’d aim to graduate from university and hopefully secure a good job (alongside semi pro football)