The Early Years
Back in the early eighties there was a thriving boys club on Friday evenings at the St John Bosco Catholic Church in Woodley. Boys of all faiths were welcome to attend. The club was organised and run the local parish council led by Jim Glenfield. In 1983 they set up a football team and named it Woodley Saints. The team was funded by the profits from the Boys Club tuck shop.
The team played its first competitive matches as Under 11s in the 1984-85 season. Allan Gleave was appointed to manage the team. His playing squad was: Nicholas Blake, Paul Bolger, Paul Bosanko, Wesley Cohen, Anthony Cook, Michael Coulstock, Robert Di Salvo, Paul Dollimore, Stuart Ford, Adam Garrett, Matthew Gleave, Stephen Glenfield, Miech Godderie, Ben Littlewood, Stefan Niedzwiedzki, Martin O’Donovan, Paul O’Mahoney, Neil Miller, Lee Pearce, Paul Phillips and Stuart Tichener.
A club badge was designed around an image of the stained glass window in the St John Bosco Catholic Church. The club ethos was about enjoying playing football, win or lose, being respectful to the opposition and the referee, being part of a team, and fair play. Over the next few years, several teams were formed from Under 9s upwards.
The Formation of Woodley Saints FC
In 1989 it was agreed to establish Woodley Saints Football Club as an entity independent of the Don Bosco’s Boys Club. Jim Glenfield was appointed as Chairman, and Lesley White as Club Secretary.
The first Saints AGM was held at Woodford Park on 26th August 1992. Jim Glenfield stood down in 1993 and was made Life President of the Club in recognition of his massive contribution over the last 10 years. Bob White, a team manager and husband of Club Secretary Lesley, became our new Chairman.
The club expanded rapidly. In 2003 it became affiliated to Berkshire County Sports & Social Club, giving us access to excellent training and playing facilities.
Over the years Woodley Saints has gained a reputation as a leading light in local football, quick to spot and exploit new opportunities. For example we were one of the first local clubs to support, and adapt to, the concept of small-sided football. The Club now provides football for boys, girls, ladies and men. The size of the club varies from season to season, but we typically have 30-35 teams and 400-500 players.
We were one of the first clubs to support the FA’s new charter initiative which sets demanding standards for grass-roots football. For example all teams must be managed by FA qualified coaches who have been CRB checked and hold child protection and first aid qualifications. Woodley Saints became one of the first clubs in Berks & Bucks to become a FA Charter Standard Community Club, which is the highest attainable level in grass-roots football. So we are now recognised by the FA as providing an exceptional football experience for all ages.
Our club ethos has changed over the years to focus more on the responsibility the Club has to maximize the playing potential of each and every player that joins the club.
In 2010 Woodley Saints were proud to be invited to Adams Park at High Wycombe to be presented with the first ever Berks & Bucks award for FA Charter Standard Community Club of the Year.
Bob White stepped down from his Chairman’s role in June 2010. He has been succeeded by a Woodley Saints team manager, Lee Bennett and then by Mike Bingham, another former team manager.
Annual 6-a-side Tournament
Woodley Saints is one of the best known clubs in the Thames Valley because of its reputation for setting the standard for excellent 6-a-side tournaments. We ran our first 6-a-side tournament back in 1988 with just 32 teams. We invited teams from the 3 other clubs that Father Brian had previously set up, namely Charminster Saints (Dorset), Crofton Saints (Fareham, blue and white stripes) and Rushmoor Saints (Aldershot, green and white stripes). The tournament used 4 pitches and it lasted for just one afternoon. But the tournament was such a success that that it immediately became an annual event.
The tournament in 1989 was limited to the 175 players then registered with Woodley Saints. Age groups were doubled up (U7/U8, U9/U10, U11/U12, U13/U14) and players were split into evenly matched teams. As before it was scheduled for one afternoon. In 1991 we welcomed 184 teams and by 1994 the tournament had grown to accommodate 356 teams playing on 16 pitches. One of the reasons for the rapid take-up was the quick-play nature of the tournament (8-minute games played in 11 minute cycles) and the fact that the playing schedule almost always ran to time.
Applications to enter the tournament were by now coming in from far and wide including Devon, Wales and Suffolk. Consequently the tournament now has to be endorsed by FA Headquarters and it became known as the South of England Championships and Festival.
In 2007 we attracted a record 651 applications from teams from 12 counties, and accepted 427 of them. In 2008 we accepted a record 430 teams from 128 clubs who played 1250 matches over two days. In 2009 we became one of the first local clubs to go electronic for both tournament bookings and payment.
Club records for the 1991-2 season show that Nathan Tyson scored 38 goals for our U10s. In the same season Dwayne Patrick scored 60 goals in 31 appearances for Saints U12s and then promptly emigrated to Canada! But even Dwayne was outscored by Luke Tandy who netted a remarkable 67 goals in 30 games for Saints U13s.
Nathan Tyson went on to play for England U20s, scoring twice on his debut against Germany at Reading’s Madejski stadium. Many Saints players saw this match as, by a co-incidence, Saints were presented with their FA Charter Standard on the pitch at half-time. Nathan has had spells with Reading, Wycombe Wanderers, Nottingham Forest and Derby County. He currently plays for Doncaster Rovers.