Charlie Wheatley Remembers

Club legend and founder member Charlie Wheatley has provided us with some memories he penned back in January and has kindly allowed us to share this on the club website.  Everyone who is a regular down at the Hub will recognise Charlie, who sells the raffle tickets for the 50/50 draw before most home games by the turnstiles.

To coincide with our recent return to Walton, I would like to give a bit of additional background to the formation of the Club. I was present at the age of almost 17 when a considerable number of us were playing cricket in June 1948 on Selwyn Green in Walton-on-Thames, when the idea of setting up Walton Casuals arose. Amongst those of whom I can remember who were in attendance at that historic time were my late brothers Arthur and Alan, Ted Johnson, Joe Mayo, Bill Cole, plus some of the following who were the Brewer’s, Strong’s, Lickfold’s, Milbourne’s, White, Collins, Crysells’, Lucas, O’Halleron, Keywood’s any many more. If my memory is correct I believe we played the first game in Woking somewhere. To get there we all went by train from the middle platform at Walton Station which was used considerably back then.

In those day we were able to have at least 30 to 40 of us playing football and cricket on Selwyn Green and a number of us also played for Walton and Hersham as well as the Casuals.

On return from the forces when I was 21 and again playing football on Selwyn Green I was delighted to be approached by the late Ron Jones who was Secretary at the time, to play for the Casuals instead of returning to Walton and Hersham whom I played for in their youth team. Sadly my time as a player was finished when I received a serious ankle injury.

After this my wife and I moved to Basingstoke and then Farnborough and with young children to keep, as well as other commitments, it became impossible to watch the Casuals until some 15 to 20 years ago when family commitments enabled me to return to my favourite club.

In conclusion I believe many of those stalwarts of the Casuals who are no longer with us would be proud to see how far we have gone, thanks to the sterling work over the last few years of Tony Gale, Graham James, Paul and Duncan Saunders, Anthony Gale, Brian Drucquer and others who I have failed to mention.

One other bit of news from the past. I was unfortunate to be in the team when we lost by 15 goals to nil at Walton Rec which will always stick in my mind. What happened was that we lost our goalkeeper early on in the game through injury, followed by the loss of another player almost immediately leaving us with 9 players, as subs were not allowed in those days. We were only 2 nil down at half time but in the second half we kicking up the slope on a mud heap and facing torrential rain. However our heavy defeat was put right when the following week we defeated a very strong Wimbledon reserve side 3 by goals to nil in the Surrey Intermediate cup , this was also played at Walton Rec, which was a mud heap at most times.

During the three years when our new ground was being developed I travelled from Farnborough to Merstham in the first year to do the gate. In the second year I also travelled to Whyteleafe where we were playing our home games to do the gate, which entailed 48 miles journey each way which I was always pleased to do.

Finally a little bit of history of some of the teams we played in the early years of the Casuals, we have come a long way since then which has astonished me. We now have our own bus for the players and support staff. I am pleased to see my name in the match day programme along with others who assist with the many jobs on match days. My task now is running the 50-50 draw where half the money goes to the club and the other half to the winner. This entails a considerable amount of work such as totalling up the cash, tearing the stubs off the tickets to going, into the revolving drum before we get one of young children to do the draw.

My first game was played against British Thermostat in Sunbury. I myself played in every position for the Casuals and was delighted to do so. I can also recall some of the teams we played against, some who are no longer in existence. Andre Rubber Company, Addlestone, Byfleet, Bookham, Barnes, Claygate, Hersham Claremont, Molesey, New Haw, Ripley, West Byfleet, Weybridge, Pyford, Chase of Chertsey, Egham, West End Esher and Cobham Downside.

In those early days we went by coach everywhere to away games, each player paying his own fares. We also had to pay a £1 a week to play in order to help with the club finances, as you can appreciate a pound was a lot of money in those days in 1952 and onwards. The club committee who chose the teams to play met in the Builders Arms each week. This was later changed to the Kiwi. During the last 15 years in which we were at our old ground at Waterside Drive, I assisted on ground work, travelling 25 miles each way from Farnborough to Walton-on-Thames twice a week.

I hope you have found this article on the history of the club interesting.

Charlie Wheatley

7th January 2019

A big thanks to Charlie for sharing his memories.  We are in the process of trying to compile a more thorough history of the club so if anyone has any information or photos they feel would be useful then please get in touch at info@waltoncasuals.co.uk