It's All About The Beautiful Game
Old Meadonians' past, present and future
Originally formed in 1929 from pupils, past pupils and teachers of the then Chiswick Grammar School, now Chiswick Community School, Old Meadonians is an open football club which runs eight teams in the Amateur Football Combination, affiliated to the Amateur Football Alliance.
The A.F.A. caters for just under 300 clubs and is the best ‘pay to play’ football in London and its environs, being just below semi-professional leagues like the Ryman League. The A.F.C. has around 100 clubs and since clubs run several teams each the total number of teams catered for exceeds 400, making the league one of the largest anywhere.
On the centenary of the split between the professional and amateur ranks of football which happened in 1907, the Football Association paid the A.F.A. the honour of playing an A.F.A. representative side with three Meads in it in a celebratory game which the professionals, drawn from the Ryman and similar leagues, worthily won 3-0. Meads themselves have not been slouches in showing how close A.F.C. football is below the lower rungs of the professional ladder, recently passing Albert Adomah to league two Barnet via Harrow Borough and Leon Smith to Ryman North club, Wingate Finchley, where he scored thirty goals last season.
Meads’ first team has been in the premier division of the Old Boys League and its successsor the A.F.C. for over thirty years and it is their first team record in the ten years starting on the eve of the millennium which makes Old Meadonians arguably one of the most successful clubs in A.F.A. history. In this period the club as a whole won thirty-seven trophies. However, of these Meads’ flagship first team has won an impressive sixteen, including four A.F.A. Senior Cups and seven league titles on the trot and, in the process, two triples and three doubles. In season 2005/06 they were unbeaten in open play only losing in the A.F.A. Senior Cup semi-final on penalties and winning the other three competitions entered.
Formerly Meads have had a sprinkling of players ‘capped’ by the league and A.F.A. but latterly this became a steady flow with Meads sometimes having three in the A.F.A. and five in the A.F.C. representative teams. Of these, two have been named A.F.A. player of the year. In 2006 Concillor Paul Lynch presented Meads’ Chairman Derek Barnett and first team coaches Paul Rumley and Rory Vermeulen to the Mayor and Council of Hounslow at the Civic Centre in honour of the social service the club renders to the local community.
Old Meadonians manage and maintain their ground at Riverside Lands under an agreement from Hounslow Borough Council and are joint tenants with Thames Tradesmen Rowing Club of The Boathouse adjoining which provides changing facilities and a finely appointed hospitality suite. Here, in an idyllic setting overlooking the river, post match meals for 200 players and officials are regularly served on Saturdays in the season.
More tellingly, recently a senior club member quietly asked a youngster why he liked playing for Meads. The percipient answer was, ‘Win, lose or draw, it’s a happy club!’ Thus, if, as most right minded supporters of football in England probably think, the F.A. needs to build a new model to support international aspirations, what better way of starting it than with a revival of schools and grass roots football especially with the government announcing the reintroduction of competitive sport in schools. Even the ‘Beautiful Game’ is competitive!
This puts Old Meadonians in at the ground floor for not only have they an ample coaching base with no fewer than fifteen members with coaching badges but the newly appointed Head Teacher of Chiswick Community School, Tony Ryan, has played for Meads since he was eighteen and will be welcome in Old Meadonians’ plans for stronger links with its Alma Mater. In the recent past their most productive source of young talent has been through Meads’ charismatic head coach, Jack Costello, head of PE at Sheen School but there is no harm in developing two springs at the source of the stream.
July 6, 2010