Walthamstow v Leyton Athletic – 10 November 2018

In a couple of months when the clock ticks down to midnight and we enter 2019 Waltham Forest will become the first ever London Borough of Culture. And what is more cultural than local football. Leyton Orient may lay claim to being the top club in the borough, but in Walthamstow, a few minutes walk from the Town Hall, are two community clubs linked by history and a shared home.

Walthamstow FC and Leyton Athletic FC are now fully rebranded and benefitting from a new clearer sense of separation. Their former identities, Waltham Forest and Wadham Lodge, fought against and avoided relegation last season to ensure the E17 derby would continue for another season at least. This past weekend they met in the Quarter Final of one of the League’s two cup competitions, the Gordon Brasted Trophy.

Score: 3-0
Competition: Gordon Brasted Trophy
Ground: Wadham Lodge
Attendance: 57
Ticket: £7
Programme: £1
Refreshements: £1 (tea)
Dogs spotted: None

Stop! Gordon Brasted Trophy time

The competition named after the former Burnham Ramblers player was introduced in the 2001-2002 season for Essex Senior League clubs. It is played in addition to the League Cup also known as the Errington Challenge Cup. The trophy replaced the Harry Fisher Cup as Fisher was largely associated with East Ham who became East Ham & Barking and moved into the Isthmian League around this time.

Appropriately, Burnham Ramblers are the only club to have won the trophy more than once (three times). They aren’t, however, in the competition this season following their relegation to the Eastern Senior League. Neither Walthamstow or Leyton Athletic in their various guises have won the trophy, although the now defunct Leyton FC won the competition in its first season in 2002. This was a new version of Leyton FC and as far as I can work out had no relation to the particular strand of the Leyton FC history that led to Waltham Forest.

Walthamstow beat Southend Manor on penalties and Sorting Bengal (4-1) to get to this stage. Leyton Athletic had received a bye in the First Round before a 6-3 victory of Hoddesdon in the previous round. In last season’s competition, Waltham Forest made the quarter-final where they were beaten 2-0 by Ilford. Wadham Lodge were knocked out 4-0 a round earlier by Clapton.

GB trophy winners:

2018: FC Romania
2017: Takeley
2016: Clapton
2015: Barking
2014: Hullbridge Sports
2013: Burnham Ramblers
2012: Witham Town
2011: Burnham Ramblers
2010: Bethnal Green United (Tower Hamlets)
2009: Burnham Ramblers
2008: Concord Rangers
2007: Brentwood
2006: AFC Hornchurch
2005: Waltham Abbey
2004: Romford
2003: Enfield Town
2002: Leyton

Walthamstow v Leyton Athletic
The players in the tunnel

How to stoke the flames of a rivalry

League fortunes have been fairly different for these two sides so far this season. Walthamstow have been challenging near the top of the table while Athletic have once again been fighting a relegation battle. The two sides drew 2-2 in their first league meeting in September, but despite taking points off their rivals Athletic have only won two league games. Life off the pitch has also been a bit of a struggle. Young manager Jason Ngandu left the club earlier in the season to take a job with Wolves. He’s since resurfaced as a handy goalscorer for the increasingly impressive Sporting Bengal United.

Walthamstow boss Ryan Maxwell then poked the beehive a little more in the days leading up to the game as he swooped to sign Leyton Athletic’s star striker Dwade James. James, one of the top scorers in the division, had scored nearly all of Athletic’s league goals, but will now add to their neighbour's significant firepower. He was unfortunately cup-tied for this game, but was present in the stands, with several other new Walthamstow signings, to watch his former and future colleagues.

The sudden flurry in the local transfer market looked to be the result of Walthamstow losing a little bit of ground to sides around them at the top. They drew with Sporting Bengal and lost a tight game to the leaders Stansted in their last two matches. They were also suffering the effects of regular red cards which cost them recently at Hargrave Park as well as Saffron Walden. Leyton Athletic had lost two successive games following their cup win at Hoddesdon.

Gordon Brasted Trophy
Walthamstow v Leyton Athletic

The match

Just as the game was getting underway the rain began. It didn’t let up much for the whole 90 minutes. Luckily, there was only 57 people at the game and not several thousand like the night before and I was able to shelter at one end of the ground. The effect of having one of the top goalscorers in the league watching on from the sidelines was clear on James Peagram who headed home the first goal for Walthamstow. He looked desperate to score throughout the game. On a dryer day, he may have got four or five as a few passes to him were just overshot or underhit.

Matt Brinklow added a second, and the best goal of the game, before halftime. He curled the ball beyond Scammell and into the top corner from outside of the box. Athletic played with a lot of pace and energy in the first half but didn’t create too many clear chances. Peagram then settled the game for Walthamstow just after the restart. He beat the offside trap and passed the ball into the bottom corner.

It would have been easy for Athletic to fade in the torrential rain, especially as Peagram nearly made it four with a lobbed effort from range that hit the post. The visitors were energised, however, and took the game to Walthamstow. They left themselves a little open defensively at times but had plenty of chances to get a goal back. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get the rewards that their hard work deserved. The game finished 3-0 and Walthamstow progressed into the Semi-Final. The next time the sides meet will be in 2019 in the London Borough of Culture.