LATEST NEWS

The club are pleased to announce a Football Festival on Saturday 14th December. The activities, will be before and throughout the 1st team fixture with Ware FC. There will be different information stalls about the clubs community work as well as the members club. There will also be some festive fun with various activities for the children! More details to follow! 

Everyone at Official TMUFC was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former Club Secretary and stalwart, Nigel Sarson earlier today following a period of illness over the past couple of years.

We will post a full tribute to Nigel at a later date. In the meantime the thoughts and sympathies of everyone at Imperial Fields are with his family and friends.

Last year, Vanarama - the official vehicle leasing partner of the BetVictor Isthmian League - teamed up with Prostate Cancer UK and the country’s Non-League clubs to raise a fantastic £150,000 to help the fight.

 

We were proud to play a part and thanks to so many people it was a job well done, but there’s one issue - we soon remembered that the disease kills one man every 45 minutes in the UK.

 

So we couldn’t just sit back a year on think we’ve done our bit. Far from it in fact!

 

We’re back with a six-week campaign and we’ve got a rather famous face to help spread the message as we try to raise awareness as well as much-needed money.

 

Film star and former Non-League footballer Vinnie Jones’ life has been touched by cancer recently and it’s something he was desperate to put his name to.

 

Now he is urging ‘proper football clubs’ and ‘proper supporters’ to raise ‘proper money’ - you can’t say no to Vinnie, right?!

 

He said: “I am beyond proud to back this MANarama campaign. It combines two things which are so important to me; grass-roots football and fighting cancer. I started playing football in Non-League so I know that these clubs are at the heart of local communities. 

 

“I don’t need to explain why the fight against cancer is so important for me.

 

“Non-League football is proper football and I’d urge all Non-League clubs and all the proper supporters out there to raise some proper money for this brilliant cause.”

 

So how can you help? 

We need you! So get involved with the MANarama campaign as we try to combat Prostate Cancer together. 

 

Give... donate to Prostate Cancer via text

Go... then bring others into play by sharing on social media with #GiveAndGo.

 

Donate by texting "MAN £10", "MAN £5" or "MAN £3" (depending on the amount you want to donate) to 70004 & help stop prostate cancer from being a killer. Texts costs £10, £5 or £3 plus network charge. Prostate Cancer UK receives 100% of your donation. Obtain bill payers permission. Customer care 0800 082 1616. Charity No 100554

September Round Up 

After an impressive August period, the Terrors started off September with a FA Cup tie with Sussex based AFC Varndenians on Saturday 7th September. There was 260 in the crowd, including a bus load of AFC Varndenians fans who made the trip to Morden. The visitors started off well, and gave a great account of themselves however the Terrors showed their class throughout and came out winners. Nathan Daly scored the first goal of the game on the half hour mark. David Castanho impressed throughout and was rewarded with a goal on the 58th minute, to really put the home side in the driving seat against a plucky AFC Varndenians side. Nebay Halie came on in the 80th minute and secured the win with a well taken goal with a couple of minutes left of normal time. AFC Varndenians did give their fans something to cheer about with a stoppage time goal from Tim Ford, who scored from close range from a deflected free kick. The game ended 3-1 to the home side as they progressed to the next round.

 

The Terrors travelled to South Park on Tuesday 10th September for a Velocity Trophy tie. The management made several changes, Alex Filipe, Murray Gibb and Nadeem Fosu all making their first appearances of the season. Nebay Halie was also given a start up front after his goal scoring exploits in the FA Cup on the Saturday. Halie made it 2 goals in 2 matches with a composed finish from close range after a fine cross from full back George Ademiluyi on the 20th minute mark. The lead was doubled on the 51st minute, Dontai Stewart getting his first of the season. The hosts did get one back in stoppage time, Stephane Trah scored from 6 yards to make it a tense remaining couple of minutes, but the Terrors saw the game out for their 7th straight win in all competitions and progressing to the next round.

 

It was back to the league and another away day for the Terrors as they travelled to Harlow Town on Saturday 14th September. It was a slow start from the Terrors and were forced into a defensive style as Harlow Town piled on the pressure. Despite having limited chances, it was Rassaq Coleman who scored on the stroke of half time after a decent run, and the Terrors went into half time 1-0 up. The lead was short lived though, the hosts scored 3 minutes into the second half after Harlow’s Tayo Oyebola capitalized on a parry from goalkeeper James Shaw to make it 1-1. There were limited chances for the rest of the game, and the Terrors had to settle for a point and dropping their first points of the season.

The Terrors returned to the Campus Society Ground on Tuesday 17th September for a league tie with Bedfont Sports. The Terrors came flying out of the blocks and found themselves 3 – 0 up at half time, much to the delight of the home crowd. Goals from Danny Bassett, David Castanho and Rassaq Coleman left the struggling Bedfont side shell-shocked. The away side put up a good fight in the second half and managed to tame the Terrors, however the home side did manage to make it 4-0 after Omari Hibbert converted a penalty on the 90th minute to make it a cracking afternoon all around.

 

The Terrors welcomed National League  South side Dorking Wanderers for the 3rd round FA Qualifying clash on Saturday 21st September. There was a bumper crowd of 326 for the clash, the home side very much being the underdogs, which was always going to be a tough afternoon for the Terrors. The home side took their opportunity to apply pressure and were rewarded with a goal after a fine finish from Danny Bassett, who scored his 6th goal of the season to give the home side the lead. What was always going to be a tough afternoon for the Terrors, was made enough tougher when captain Sol Payerson Bohner was sent off on the hour mark. Dorking did get into the game more and created the odd chance, however the 10 men of Tooting & Mitcham kept their cool and secured the win. The win will go down in the history books as one to remember and they progressed to the next round of the historic Emirates FA Cup.

 

The Terrors were back to the Campus Society Stadium for another cup game, this time it was the first round of the London County Cup against Fisher FC. There was a first goal of the season and the senior team for academy player Jamerie Brissett, who put the home side in the lead after just 5 minutes, continuing the Terrors trend of scoring early goals. The lead was short lived though, Issac Nkosi equalised on the 9th minute for the visitors. Nebay Halie popped up with 2 goals within a 6 minute period on the 28th and 34th minute to give the hosts a good lead heading into half time. The visitors applied some pressure, and made it 3-2 via Yila on the 53rd minute. The Terrors showed their class though, and they added a further 2 goals via Hamad Timite and David Castanho on the 86th and 90th minute respectively securing another win.

 

Attention was back on the league on Saturday 28th September, the Terrors traveled to Waltham Abbey who have had an up and down start to the season. Danny Bassett scored his 7th of the season to put the away side in the lead, after a well worked goal and the sides went into half time with the Terrors winning  1-0. David Castanho added the Terrors 2nd goal on the 67th minute for his 5th of the season, as he continues to impress in the middle of the park in his first season at the club. Danny Bassett gave the away fans even more to cheer about with his 2nd of the afternoon on the 86th minute from the penalty spot, he now boasts an impressive 8 goals so far this season. The game ended 3-0 and the Terrors end September in 2nd place with just 2 points dropped.

The Terrors are riding high and have won 11 out of 12 games so far in all competitions, giving the dedicated fans plenty to cheer about. The Terrors start October with 2 home cup ties, they entertain Whyteleafe on Tuesday 1st October for a 19:45 kick off in the Velocity Trophy and then a FA Cup third round clash with Poole Town on Saturday 5th October at 3pm. There are some big games coming up in October, so be loud and proud and get behind the lads!

Emirates FA Cup Third Qualifying Round Draw

The Terrors reward for Saturday's win over Dorking Wanderers is a home tie against Poole Town of the Southern League Premier South.  The game will be played on Saturday 5th October 3pm Kick Off, which means our home game against Staines Town will need to be rearranged.

Emirates FA Cup - Terrors  1-0  Dorking Wanderers

Danny Bassett started and finished a superb 49th minute move, that gave us victory in a fine match, that saw the Terrors go down to 10 men shortly afterwards after Skipper Sol Patterson-Bohner received a second yellow card & Joint Manager Cornelius Nwadialor saw red.  However, the ten men stood firm to chalk up probably our finest moment since winning the league title three years ago, ironically against Dorking Wanderers!

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ian Bullock Lifetime Vice-President

Congratulations goes to Ian Bullock who was presented with lifetime Vice-Presidency at half time against Dorking Wanderers.  Ian has been a tremendous servant to the club in a range of roles over many years. The club is delighted to recognise Ian's support & commitment and we look forward to seeing him at IF for many years to come!

 

Bosses win August Manager of the Month award

Congratulations go to our joint managers Ashley Bosah & Cornelius Nwadialor on winning the August divisional manager(s) of the month award, sponsored by Andersons travel. Fingers crossed this is the first of many awards for the season!

International call up

Congratulations go to our U23's star Shkelqim "Sketch" Sadiku, who has been selected to represent Kosovo under 21's for their match against England in Hull next week. We wish him all the best and hope he enjoys the night.

Fans Forum 

The club hosted the first fan forum of the season on Wednesday 11th September. The first team players in attendance including captain Sol Paterson-Bohner , vice captain Daryl, Coleman, Hady Ghandour, James Shaw, Omari Hibbert and first team coach Marcus Barnard. 

The night was recorded, which you can listen back to here

August round up 

After an extended pre-season, which saw the Terrors play 9 games in total which they won 7 of, the regular season finally kicked off away against Hertford Town on Saturday 17th August. The Terrors took a strong band of away fans up to Hertfordshire for the game, and it was clear from early on that the Terrors style of play would be difficult on this particular pitch. Chances were limited for both sides, however there was a sense that the Terrors were edging closer to getting a goal, and it came late on, on the 85th minute to be precise, after substitute Omari Hibbert’s initial header from a corner was saved by the goalkeeper, but followed up with a shot which ended up in the back of the net. The game ended with some possession Football from Tooting and the game ended with them taking the 3 points back to South London.

 

The Terrors entertained Ashford Town (Middlesex) for their first home game of the season in front of a bumper crowd of 230 fans on Tuesday 20th August. The Terrors gave the fans something to cheer about early on, after Danny Bassett slotted in Hady Ghandours cross to give the home side the lead within 6 minutes. Ashford managed to get into the game more and managed to get the equaliser from Max Webb from a corner on the 29th minute. The Terrors started to played with a higher tempo and played some good possession Football (the pitch, which was described by joint manager Ashley as a carpet certainly helped!) and were rewarded with a tidy goal from midfielder David Castanho on the 41st minute. The Terrors came out in the second half strongly and the game was put out of reach on the 71st minute by Danny Bassett, for his first (not to be his last!) of the season. The game ended 3 -1 to the Terrors, making it a productive first week of the season.

 

The historic FA Cup was next on the agenda, and it was Faversham Town that travelled to the Campus Society Stadium for the Preliminary round clash on Saturday 24th August. It was again another early goal for the Terrors, Danny Bassett made it 2 in 2 games with a clinical finish after some good build up play. There was again another good crowd for this one, 219 fans came out in the sun for the clash. Both teams struggled to create many clear cut chances, but the Terrors put on a disciplined performance to see the game out 1-0 and progress to the next round.  

 

There wasn’t much down time for the Terrors, as they travelled to Chipstead on Bank Holiday Monday ( 26th August)  for their 3rd league game of the season. Danny Bassett, who is fast making a habit of scoring early goals made it 1 – 0 within 4 minutes at High Road, Rassaq Coleman was gifted the ball by the Chipstead goalkeeper, which he then squared for Bassett who tapped it in from a few yards out. The home side managed to get the equaliser after 15 minutes to make it 1 -1 against the run of play though. The Terrors came out in the second half positively and created a few half chances, the management decided it was time for a shake up, bringing on Shamal Edwards and Omari Hibbert for Bebay Halie and David Castanho on the hour mark. It was vice-captain Daryl Coleman that provided the golden touch, his free kick eluded both sets of players on the 64th minute gave the Terrors the lead with less than half an hour left. There was the first red card of the season for the Terrors too, after Omari Hibbert was giving a red card for an alleged stamp on an opposition player on the 86th minute, giving the away side a tricky few minutes of pressure to withstand. There were a few half chances for the home side, but the Terrors managed to keep their nerve and make it 3 wins out of 3 in the league and another 3 points back to the Campus Society Stadium.

 

Saturday 31st August saw the Terrors play their first Saturday home game of the season; and the day was made extra special with the clubs very own Little Kickers being mascots for the game for the Football Festival branded day. There was another great crowd, this time there was 287 making it the highest in the division, the day also included the inflatable bungee run as well as face painting to cater for the influx of youngsters. There was to be no early goal this time for the Terrors, with a stubborn Northwood side proving to be a tricky customer. It was the away side that took the lead in this one, the first time the Terrors have been behind all season. Northwood hit the home side on the break and it was a tidy finish from Alex Withan to give them the lead on the 29th minute. This did prompt a reaction from the Terrors though, who started to get into goal scoring opportunities more and more, however the half ended 0 – 1. The Terrors came out fighting in the second half and were rewarded with an equaliser on the 62nd minute, Danny Bassett with a clever run and a low hard drive beating the impressive Northwood goalkeeper, much to the delight of the bumper crowd. The heavens then opened, and there was a sense it would be one of those ‘if only’ games, however the Terrors continued to press and after a few good chances, it was clear there was one winner in this. Rassaq Coleman stepped up with his first goal of the season, after beating a player and hitting a similar low drive to that of Bassett's earlier goal making it 2-1 with just a couple of minutes left of injury time. There was a roar from the soaked crowd as the ball hit the net, Northwood did try and get back into it, but it was the Terrors day and it ended 2-1 making it a hugely impressive 4 wins in 4 games and putting them top of the table.

You can read all full matches from all the matches here  and you can also hear some post match audio here.

  

So with August done and dusted, the lads have a 100% record in the league as well as progressing in the FA Cup. Off the pitch, the club has had a splutter of new sponsors getting involved with the club, a new chair person in Caroline McRoyal appointed and some successful events including the Football Festival and the Quiz. Now lets see what September has in store…..

Q & A with Vice captain Daryl Coleman

With the new season looming, vice-captain of Tooting & Mitcham Daryl Coleman shared his views on how pre-season has gone, the new look first team and his expectations for the new season.

 

Pre-season has been successful with 7 wins out of 9 games, how excited are you now to get into the new season?

 

We are excited and we are just ready to go now. When you have a long pre-season, it makes you just want to get into the season rather than playing and winning pre-season games, so yeah we feel ready.

 

It will be a new look squad this season, with some big names leaving such as Isaiah Jones and Lexus Beeden just recently. How confident are you in the new boys that have come in?

 

Yeah we have lost some good player such as Isaiah (Jones), Ibby (Abraham Odoh) and Simo (Antonio Simone) but I think we have done well with the replacements as results have shown we haven’t struggled. We are really just buying into what the manager wants, which is what we were doing last season which we want to carry on this season.

 

Off the pitch, the club have sold more season tickets and the crowds have been decent for home pre-season games. How big is that for you guys on the pitch to see more people at the games and supporting?

 

That’s what we are here tonight (referring to the players’ team that attended a club fundraising quiz) as we know the more we come, the more they come to the games and of course meaning we can interact with the fans. We do really appreciate and we want them to keep coming to the games as we do need them there!

 

Around the league a lot of club’s fans have been making their predictions, and Tooting & Mitcham has been popping up a lot  a for high finish. Can we hear your predictions for the season, how do you think it will go?

 

I will be blunt and honest, from what I have seen and from my experience being in this league (and winning it!), I think if we don’t finish in the top 3 we will be upset, well I certainly would be as vice -captain.

 

Out of all the young players that are coming into the first team, who do you think we should keep a special eye out for?

 

Dom (Morgan-Griffiths) is the same every year, he has got the potential to be the best player at the club I think, just really mean if he keeps his head. Pinpointing just one young player, I would say Shamal (Edwards), who has done really well this pre-season. Nebay (Halie) has done well and is still very young and has scored goals this pre-season. Razzaq (Coleman De Graft) is always up there, but I think my pick out of all of them is Hady (Ghandour), who has had a really good season and is doing exactly what the manager is asking of him, he listens and he is my tip for the top goal scorer.

Full Q&A with new chairman Caroline McRoyall  

Can you give us a brief overview of your career to date?

 

After university I worked at a Sports Centre, then for Merton Council as a Leisure Development Officer. I looked after the council’s holiday playschemes, teams for the London Youth Games and the community football programme. It was around the time that Wimbledon moved to Milton Keynes so the borough was keen to ensure community activity continued to be delivered by a local club so I worked with AFC Wimbledon and Tooting & Mitcham to agree boundaries and a programme of activity. After this I worked for London FA as a Football Development Officer, before moving to Surrey FA in 2007.

 

What was your previous role with the Surrey FA?

 

I started at Surrey FA as their County Development Manager. I was responsible for overseeing the football development department whose aim was to grow participation and improve standards. I also managed the County FA’s Facility Strategy, advising Local Authorities, schools and clubs of funding available and worked with them to progress projects, one of these included Tooting & Mitcham’s development of the back 3G artificial pitch and resurface of the front artificial pitch.

 

In Dec 2013 Ray Ward left Surrey FA and I was made Interim CEO before getting the position on a permanent basis in May 2014. During this time, I managed the day to day operations of the organisation as well as ensuring the business achieved its strategic goals. I project managed the relocation of the organisation to the new purpose-built office and 3G artificial football pitch at Meadowbank Football Ground, securing a long-term lease from Mole Valley District Council. As well as steering the organisation to become a registered charity and be the first County FA to achieve the Intermediate Level of the Equality Standard for Sport.

 

What was your impression of Tooting & Mitcham United FC, before you joined the club?

 

I have had quite a long association with the club and have always been impressed by the scale of activities that go on, however I feel because there is so much going on sometimes the club can appear disorganised and due to response times they can miss out on opportunities.  

 

Why did you agree to come to the club?

 

I feel the club has a great ethos and ambitions for the future, which will result in a great community facility, so its an exciting time to join the club with which I have a history and hopefully help with improving the structures and the organisation of the club to ensure its as efficient as possible but continues its welcoming and community feel.

 

Is this a voluntary or paid appointment?

 

The Chair role is voluntary, but I will be undertaking some paid work on a consultancy basis for the club to develop Farm Road Playing Fields, creating extra pitches.

 

Do you have any previous association with T&MUFC – other than through your previous role at the Surrey FA?

 

I used to live in Mitcham and went to Gorringe Park School so walked past the Sandy Lane ground daily and attended a few matches with my mum and brother.

 

Having attended the Charlton and Reading game, what are your first impressions of the club?

 

I was struck immediately by how welcoming everyone was and just how many volunteers are involved in match days. It was great to talk to many members and hear about there association with the club many of whom have been involved since their childhood. In terms of the actual team performance I felt we did well although lacked any clinical finishing (although the strength of the wind didn’t help against Reading). The team looked organised and able to pass the ball well and considering the number of changes for both games everyone seemed to have a good understanding of the system and the way the managers wanted the team to play, showing good strength in depth.

 

What do you see as your main strengths & what attributes are you hoping to bring to this new role?

 

My main strengths are my knowledge of strategy, football development, funding, governance, and inclusion. I also have a few contacts within the game that may be useful. I am an organised and driven person with strong management skills.

 

What do you see as the key functions of your role?

 

I see my key functions to ultimately be an ambassador of the club and to try and raise the profile of the club, through various means such as fan engagement, social media and marketing. I will work closely with the members club to ensure the smooth running of match days, sponsorship and membership and with the Chair of the youth section to ensure there is a pathway for players.

I also hope to support the growth and development of the club and increase the opportunities for women & girls.

  

What will be your immediate priorities?

 

To fully understand the structures and the personnel (both staff and volunteers) currently in place

 

Will your role overlap with Steve Adkins or are there clear demarcation lines agreed?

 

Steve will be concentrating on the strategic plans for developing Imperial Fields and is obviously still the major shareholder of Tooting & Mitcham Sports & Leisure Ltd, who control the budgets for the club but we will be in regular communication to ensure the club is developing as intended.  

 

 

What would success look like for you this season?

 

That the club is well organised and run smoothly in all areas. There is more engagement from fans/ supporters and that the first team perform well, improving on their results of last season.

 

Can we expect you to take an active role in supporting the Members Club?

 

Yes, I am looking to work closely with the Members club and support them where I can.

 

Can we expect to see you on match days supporting the club?

 

I hope to attend quite a few home games.  

 

What is your thoughts on our promotion chances this year?

 

It’s probably too early to for me to tell but I would hope we can get into the playoff places.

 

If you could change one thing about football or the club what would it be?

 

I would like to see more funding for grassroots football clubs. It has increased significantly over the years but when you see the amount of money at the top of the game it’s crazy that more isn’t distributed to grassroots football to support the next generation of players, coaches and referees.

 

Is there anything else we should know about you?

 

I support Tottenham Hotspur and my favourite player growing up was Gary Lineker. I started playing football at the age of 14 and played for Sutton United Ladies and Worcester Park as either left back or central defence. I gained my FA Coaching Certificate in 1998 and qualified as a referee (although I never actually refereed a game as I was still playing).

Lexus Beeden signs professional contract with Reading FC after successful trial 

The club have announced that Lexus Beeden has signed a professional contract at Championship side Reading FC have a successful trial this summer. Lexus, 19 was a regular in the first team last season and put in some impressive performances, catching the eye of Reading where he went on trial for a few weeks in June and July. We spoke with Lexus about his move after he passed the medical on Friday 8th August,

Congratulations on your move to Reading Lexus, how excited are you to get started? 

I am very excited, it has been a long journey, and now I am really ready to get started to be honest.

You have been at Tooting for a few years now, how much of an impact has it had on you playing here and how has it aided your progression?

From developing from under 23s Football, I didn't play their for long but played there long enough to learn little things. I have got to thank Ashley and Cornelius for giving me the chance to play in the first team. You don't really get too many 18 year olds playing first team Football at this level, and it was a bit of a big jump which made me a bit scared at the start. I then learnt little things, developed and the experience really helped me.

You join Abraham, Sam and Isaiah in signing pro deals this year. How was it for you playing with those guys?

 

It was really good, being we are all friends and knowing we are finally getting out of our home environment which isn't the best nowadays and doing well for ourselves and moving on to play professional Football. 

You are going straight into the academy at Reading, what are your goals for the next 6 months?

I am hoping to at least make my debut with the under 23s and regularly train, and then make a great impression and go out on loan for even more experience.

Lexus will be at attendance at Saturdays game against Ramsgate to say goodbye to the club before moving to Reading. We would like to wish Lexus all the best and we will no doubt be hearing more about the talented youngster. 

Caroline McRoyall to replace Steve Adkins as Chair at the club 

Steve Adkins is stepping down as Chair of TMUFC and will be replaced by Caroline McRoyall, formerly CEO of the Surrey FA at the start of the 2019/20 season

After many years as Chair Steve intends to concentrate on the strategic plans for Imperial Fields which will ensure the long-term security of TMUFC and the TM UNITED Hub.  The Organisation is the centre of the local community creating opportunities for everyone in sport, health, education and leisure.  He remains as the major shareholder of Tooting and Mitcham Sports and Leisure Ltd who own the Club

In a statement Steve said:

My time as Chair of the Club has been a roller-coaster, with the highs of promotion and lows of relegation!  My proudest moments have to include creating opportunities for the young people of South London.  During my chairmanship young players have gone on to professional football clubs and many others have been given opportunities to find their place in the community.  The last couple of seasons have been my proudest and the potential of the Club has never been greater.  To be able to pass on the stewardship to Caroline is fantastic.  She has been involved with football throughout her career.  Her knowledge and experience will create even more opportunities for the Club and its community

Caroline responded

 

I am honoured to be joining Tooting and Mitcham FC as Chair and relish the opportunity to support the club in its pivotal role of developing players and providing a wide range of activities for the local community. 

7th August 2019

 

Steve Adkins is stepping down as Chair of TMUFC and will be replaced by Caroline McRoyall, formerly CEO of the Surrey FA at the start of the 2019/20 season

After many years as Chair Steve intends to concentrate on the strategic plans for Imperial Fields which will ensure the long-term security of TMUFC and the TM UNITED Hub.  The Organisation is the centre of the local community creating opportunities for everyone in sport, health, education and leisure.  He remains as the major shareholder of Tooting and Mitcham Sports and Leisure Ltd who own the Club

In a statement Steve said:

 

My time as Chair of the Club has been a roller-coaster, with the highs of promotion and lows of relegation!  My proudest moments have to include creating opportunities for the young people of South London.  During my chairmanship young players have gone on to professional football clubs and many others have been given opportunities to find their place in the community.  The last couple of seasons have been my proudest and the potential of the Club has never been greater.  To be able to pass on the stewardship to Caroline is fantastic.  She has been involved with football throughout her career.  Her knowledge and experience will create even more opportunities for the Club and its community

Caroline responded

 

I am honoured to be joining Tooting and Mitcham FC as Chair and relish the opportunity to support the club in its pivotal role of developing players and providing a wide range of activities for the local community. 

 Tooting & Mitcham United – a hot bed for talented young local players

It is always a proud moment for any non-league club to see one of their academy players sign a professional Football contract; so imagine having 3 of the academy securing deals within a few just weeks of each other. Tooting & Mitcham United last week announced that academy players Isaiah Jones, 20, Samuel Folarin, 18, secured professional contracts at Championship club Middlesbrough after successful trials earlier this year, while Abraham Odoh, 18, signed a permanent deal at Charlton Athletic after a very successful 3 month trial. The news of the deals begs the question, why is Tooting & Mitcham a hot bed for talented young players? 
 

In the summer of 2018, Chairman Steve Adkins made the brave move of promoting joint managers Ashley Bosah and Cornelius Nwadialor to the first team, as well as keeping their coaching duties within the under 23s and the academy. They were also joined by long term serving player turned coach Jordan Wilson, to operate in a dual assistant manager role and player/coach. The news did raise eyebrows amongst some fans, however the chairman was insistent that the pairs experience in the academy and the policy to bleed young players up to the first team was the most sustainable way for the club.  
 

The coaching team of Ashley, Cornelius and Jordan have seen the players grow from the academy at the club to the professionals they now are and reflect proudly on their accomplishments. Cornelius highlighted the coaching team’s passion for youth development and how the recent news has underlined their hard work as well as the players. 
 

“It is a massive achievement from everyone involved at the club, we are really chuffed with it. We have wanted to see something like this since managing the development and the under 23s; it has always been an aspiration of ours to achieve seeing players come through the ranks”  
 

The club has had his ups and down over recent years from a cup winning season to a relegation, but the coaching team believe, with the backing of the chairman, promoting young players within the academy through the first team is an exciting project. 
 

“I think it kind of suits us now that is doesn’t always work, as some clubs that may try it and they fail it would be seen as going against their club way. With our involvement with the youth, we have played them in friendlies, cup games so we get to see their temperament in that environment and of course we know Isiah inside and out now. There is always a risk playing the younger players, as you don’t know what they are going to give you on the day and whether anxiety is going to take over”. 
 

Ashley highlights the club’s locality aligned with the talent in south London as just 2 of many factors behind the success of the young players at the club. 
 

“Locality helps, players can get here easily and also the fact that south London has always had a  pool of talented players. There is definitely an element of bravery from the coaching team to put them out there. It is an element of developing the players and not taking them out of the team as soon as they make mistakes, but coaching them to show how they could of played it differently in those situations. It may cost us a match, points or even a cup which we have experienced as part of the risk” 
 

Fellow coach and first team player Jordan Wilson has coached the players from the start and said he tried to use his own experience in being in the Charlton Athletic academy 10 years ago to give advice to the players.  
 

“I think we (coaching staff) can relate to the players that come to the club, not saying it was terrible but it wasn’t always easy ( growing up in ht surrounding areas) and I think that helps us understand the players as well as them understanding us. We don’t mind having chat with them, staying late and at times boring them to death but I think it works. If they take in 10% of what we say in, then I feel we have done our jobs. I went through the academy system from 9 through to 18; I understand the importance of your coach understanding the player. When I was at Charlton, I was a young and aggressive kid that was fast, skillful and would score goals but I played on the edge and would like to fight, the coaches didn’t really get me and I wasn’t really managed in that environment. All 3 of the lads are technically all good enough to play at this level, it is just that mental side of living like a professional that is the key for them now” 
 

The oldest of the 3 academy players Isiah Jones, had previously had a trial with Charlton Athletic back in 2018 and despite the club showing interest in him, Isaiah felt it was not the right time for him. It was this season that Isiah really made an impression in the first team which ended the season with 10 goals as well as showcasing some breathtaking performances on the wing at the Imperial Fields ground. Isiah also made the Bostik team of the year, and claims it was a discussion with first team coaches after Charlton showed interest for the second time that

caused him to re-evaluate his approach to Football. 
 

“I think it was after a meeting I had with Jackie (club secretary), Ashley, Cornelius and Jordan about how Charlton came in for me again, and Jordan gave me advice saying you are too good to be playing at this level with the ability I had. I knew I had the ability, but I have to admit I wasn’t consistent with my ability, at times I was lethargic and it got to a stage in the season where I didn’t really care about Football as much. I don’t know what the reason was, I just didn’t care as much. After that meeting though, it gave me points to push my game more and be more consistent on a week to week basis, in training and in all the matches. I have to admit the advice I got from the coaching team was very good, and look at me now I am a professional Football player. This is just the start though; I still got to graft more and try to get to the first team”.  
 

Isaiah will be joined by fellow academy and good friend Samuel Folarin in Middlesbrough, who didn’t make as many first team appearances in the first team as Isiah, however caught the eye in the 20 games he did play. Sam admits that when he joined the Tooting & Mitcham academy at 16, he saw Football as more of a hobby. 
 

“I can’t lie, at first I wasn’t dedicated to Football, I just came playing and thinking this is just a hobby as I just don’t think I saw my potential. It was the coaches who said to me that I am actually a really good player; and what really inspired me was that the coaches telling me that this ‘hobby’ can change my life and my parent’s life. It really had me thinking that I don’t want to be staying on Old Kent road, where I live my whole life but living life and be financially free, although I am not saying money is the reason that motivated me, but the chance to earn good money, live a good life and play Football which I like, then why not?”  
 

The young players have had to go a more unconventional route to the professional game via non-league Football, similar to that of the clubs most famous export Michail Antonio, now at West Ham Uninted. Isaiah felt his time in non-league has benefited his game. 
 

“I think the route (non-league) is good, for me I was in the first team at 18 so I could show my talent against older players and see how physical you have to be. I feel, for the next 10 years is the best route in my opinion”  
 

Jackie Watkins, club secretary claimed when she would speak to the clubs after the trials, a lot of then found the players played differently from those based in club academies. 
 

“Since the players have been on trial, they say the one thing the clubs say is that the one thing the lads have from here is a natural flair. When Isaiah went to Middlesbrough, they said he lit up the pitch and brought a new spark to the team. I think a factor is that they haven’t had the academy training, where a lot of known to drill that out of you and you were allowed to express yourself. The coaches here allow them to play their own game, then try to coerce you into being a better player within your own talents”  
 

Jordan believes the non-league route is a more realistic route for players in the local area.  
 

“For players in the area, joining our club is likely to be more realistic route. With the facilities that we have here, and if you want to play Football you have got everything here, with the current coaching team and their backgrounds they are well placed to coach the players we attract. We watched Abraham at Charlton earlier this season, you just knew he has got something these other lads haven’t got. They play a certain way but when you step into the men’s game and non-league you can express yourself but you are getting smashed every week. To go and play against your own age group, it just feels easier. For me, he looked head and shoulders above the other players on the pitch” 
 

With the exits of Isaiah, Sam and Abraham looming, the hard work continues for the coaching team to work with the youngsters at the club to find the replacements; while giving themselves a well deserved pat on the back. The future is bright for all 3 players and with Tooting & Mitcham putting in the work they are, don’t be surprised to see more come through the gates at the Imperial Fields ground in the coming years.  

Club announce Football Festival