woodley united fc

Photo by Tony Incenzo

By Tony Incenzo

I had been booked for Saturday evening radio reporting at Reading FC in the Championship so I wanted to find a nearby Non-League match to precede this in the afternoon. The Thames Valley Premier League is based around that area and offered plenty of options.

I have great respect for The TVPL as they were one of the competitions that played all through last summer to complete their fixtures after the Coronavirus lockdowns. Some people said in advance that this wouldn’t be possible due to pitch unavailability, the grass growing season and players preferring to play cricket. But all of these obstacles were easily overcome by grassroots football clubs who happily continued playing right until the end of June.

I enjoyed very competitive summer matches in the TVPL at places like Mortimer FC, Burghfield FC and Reading YMCA FC. Helped by the milder weather, some very encouraging crowds flocked to these games and I helped promote the fixture at Reading YMCA in the TVPL Division One on my Twitter account.

YMCA were thrilled when some 177 spectators turned up – a truly excellent attendance for level eight of the Non-League structure with people travelling from all over the country to watch. Maybe summer football will become a permanent option at grassroots level in the future.

Anyway, with The TVPL reverting to a more regular calendar this season I decided to visit Woodley United Royals as they were playing less than five miles from my evening gig at Reading FC. The town of Woodley has a population of 35,470 and it was a 140 mile round trip for me.

Where was it played?

The Bulmershe Pavilion is owned by The University Of Reading and stages uni football in the British Universities and Colleges Sport League. Woodley United Royals share the facilities and their main pitch has some covered standing at the front of an impressive pavilion building which houses the dressing rooms.

What’s in the programme?

There was no programme issued. However, for matches at this level I am always able to print off a teamsheet from the FA Full-Time website with matchday details and squad lists. This provides an adequate souvenir in my groundhopping collection of memorabilia.



And the match itself?

Just when it seemed that we were heading for a stalemate, all the goals came in the last 16 minutes. Wraysbury scored twice through Billy Hart (74 minutes) and Dean Papali (82 mins) before Woodley pulled one back courtesy of Richard Kearsey (85 mins).

Facts and figures

Score: Woodley United Royals 1 Wraysbury 2

Where: The University Of Reading Bulmershe Pavilion, Woodlands Avenue, Woodley, Reading, Berkshire RG5 3HE

Competition: Thames Valley Premier League – Premier Division

Attendance: 17

You can follow Tony on Twitter at @TonyIncenzo

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