We think you know what you’re thinking. And, no – you are wrong. Walthamstow Avenue isn’t the BBC’s latest drama series based in a school/hospital/wherever else a young commissioning exec can come up with. No, the A’s are (or were) a fairly formidable non-league outfit in their time. And they are (Were? Ed.) a side with whom we at Boro’ had a fleeting relationship with in the late 1980s. In fact, you it’s not a million miles from the truth to say that we were one of the last to take on the East London club before its 88-year history came to an end.
Walthamstow Avenue: Who Are They?
Now, the origins of this tale start back at the turn of the century. By which, we mean 1900 – not 2000. This is when, of course, Walthamstow Avenue FC came to be. After joining the London League in 1901, the A’s didn’t see it as the competition for them and left after a season. In between 1901 and 1929, however, the trail goes cold until the side pops up as members of the Athenian League. In almost no time at all, the club set itself as a force to be reckoned with outside of League ranks – winning the title at their first attempt.
Other notable highlights before the Second World War Two included their first appearance in the FA Cup First Round (1930-1) and their first League scalp (1936-7), as well as four more Athenian titles. The War, however, proved a watershed, and not just in terms of the European socio-political scene. The A’s moved to the Isthmian League at the start of the 1945-6 season and wouldn’t look back. In the first 10 years of their membership, the club won the title three times; came second twice (once on goal average) and lifted the FA Amateur Cup.
From 1955, second would be as good as it got for Walthamstow Avenue. There were three instances where the club was pipped to the title between then and 1988. One of those seasons was 1960-1; a season in which they did, to be fair, claim the FA Amateur Cup once again. That said, it was a season they were perhaps upstaged by their noisier neighbours down the road in Tottenham. As the years rolled on and the Isthmian League split into two divisions, Avenue’s powers were waning – despite finishing second in 1979-80.
Walthamstow Avenue: Us And Them…
After 1980, the A’s – more often than not – found themselves in the wrong half of the table, but still fighting on in the top flight of the Isthmian League. This stayed the case, however, until they shipped 113 goals in the 1986-7 campaign and finished rock bottom of the Premier Division. Relegation meant tumbling into Division One, though we know you’re familiar with how this sort of thing works. The reason we mention this fact is for the relevance, you understand. For it was in Division One that, at this point in time, Boro’ found themselves.
Admittedly, we weren’t finding it easy. It wasn’t until late on in the 1986-7 Vauxhall Opel League Division One campaign that we were finally safe from the threat of relegation back to Div 2 North. A second chance, then – but not one that was taken. Boro’ lost 22 times on the way back down in 1987-8. Two of those defeats were courtesy of the A’s. The first was a 2-1 reverse at our place in early December ’87; the second seeing them run out 2-0 winners at their place in March. Even if we stayed up, though, we’d not have met again.
Walthamstow Avenue: And Then What?
As a club, Walthamstow Avenue didn’t see in the new campaign. That summer, the A’s were incorporated into Leytonstone Ilford; the result of a merger with a club that had itself been formed from a merger a few years before. And another club against whom Boro’ don’t have a great record. That’s for another day, mind you. The ‘new’ club were denied promotion to the Conference; changed their name to Redbridge Forest; went up to the Conference; and merged once more – this time, with Dagenham FC. Hmmm. Now what became of them?
Walthamstow Avenue: Boro’s Record
P2 W0 D0 L2 F1 A4 – League Points: 0, Cup Meetings: 0, Win Rate: 0%
• BoroGuide’s Walthamstow Avenue club profile – for old time’s sake…