We've been a pain in the arse for many teams in our time. But it works both ways too; Welling United one of *our* bogey clubs...

We’ve been a right pain in the arse for many teams in our time. But it works both ways too; Welling United one of our bogey clubs. And it’s never nice to go up against another team if there’s a hoodoo lurking. It’s not even as if the Wings were some form of dominant force in the GM Vauxhall Conference when we arrived in 1994. It’s just that, for some reason, they took a liking to us. And weren’t shy of taking points off us either. More on that later…

Who are Welling United?

To start with, it took a young BoroGuide editor some time to work out that Welling isn’t the same place as Welwyn. We can tell you where that second place is. But, even now, we’re not sure – without looking up – where Welling is. Our guess would be somewhere in Kent. Can we leave it at that?

Now, most of the teams we’ve ever played seem to be decades old. Formed many moons ago, a lot of sides date back to the early 20th century – if not before. But the Wings aren’t one of them. In the grand scheme of things, they’re quite a young set-up. Not as young as us, which is to be expected – although they’re not far off. That’s because it all started for them in 1965; founded by former pro footballer Syd Hobbins initially as a youth side.

After gaining senior status in 1976, the Wings went from the London Spartan League and Athenian League into the Southern League within five seasons. After one campaign in the Southern Division, a restructure placed them in the Premier Division. They took to it quite nicely too; winning the championship in 1986 to secure promotion to the Conference. This was a rapid rise all told; the club now among the very best in the non-league game.

Why do we know them?

It was a sobering experience for the Wings. A mid-table finish represented a good season – with the exception of the 1989-90 campaign, where they came a very credible sixth. More often than not, however, their time as a Conference team was often a struggle. The 1992-3 campaign was the most nerve-jangling yet; avoiding relegation by one point. Ultimately, though, they held on. And that’s why we came to come across them two years later.

What is our record against the Wings?

Like the Wings, we found the Conference hard going when we first arrived; struggling for points at the start of the 1994-5 campaign. Our first-ever meeting came during that stage and they took advantage; winning 1-0 at Park View Road to leave us without a win in the seven league games that followed our opening day success at Stafford Rangers.

We eventually broke that hoodoo after eight matches; back-to-back wins in October 1994 getting us back on track. But the Wings weren’t done with us. And our return fixture came around a month after our trip to their place. We managed to get on the scoresheet for the first time against them when they came to Broadhall Way. Unfortunately, they left with the points after scoring two of their own. Not a happy first introduction, that’s for sure.

As the history books show, the 1995-6 season was a great one for us. Little did we know, however, that it’d be our only purple patch against the Wings too. We won 4-1 at home in October 1995 and 3-0 at theirs in February 1996 as we marched towards the Conference title. And, to back it up, a 2-1 home win helped our title defence take shape in September 1996.

It then all fell apart for us – in more ways than one for the purpose of this tale. A two-goal defeat at theirs in February 1997 was one of many wobbles as our title defence came off course in the back-end of the campaign. Come the end of the 1996-7 season, that three-point haul for the Wings also made a huge difference in retaining their Conference status.

That defeat also kick-started a grim run against the Wings that, for us, is still to be sorted. The 1997-8 campaign saw Boro’ struggle in the league, while the Kent side enjoyed a renaissance of sorts; finishing 10th to our 15th. This was mirrored in our results that term too. Down at Park View Road, we lost 1-0. Back at ours, meanwhile, we still couldn’t find a way past them. We did at least manage to come away with a point, however.

Welling United: Boro’s Record

Our head-to-head: P 12 — W 3 — D 3 — L 6 — F 13 — A 13 — Pts 0 — WR 25%
Our last tango: Stevenage Borough 0-1 Welling United, 11 March 2000

What happened to them?

The 1998-9 season saw normal service resumed in terms of final league standings. But it didn’t do much for our head-to-head record against the Wings. We could only come away with a pair of 1-1 draws as the Wings lurched towards the drop; spared relegation thanks mainly to the demise of Barrow one place above them. There’d be no such salvation at the end of the 1999-00 campaign. But they went down only after taking ALL SIX points off us.

It was their way of having the last word; a joke well and truly at our expense.

The Wings returned to the Southern League in 2000 after relegation; missing promotion back to the Conference at the first attempt after losing in the playoffs. Four years on and they were put in Conference South and trundled on without too much fanfare. Their time soon came again, however; winning the 2012-3 Conference South championship to make their return to the top of the non-league tree.

Again, life in the Conference was a struggle. After finishing 16th at the end of the 2013-4 campaign, the following season saw them survive on goal difference. One year on and the club propped up the division; comfortably relegated after a three-season stay. It put them back in National League South (if you want its current name) – and that’s where you’ll still find them. That’s partly Woking‘s fault too; beating the Wings in the 2018-9 playoff final.

That said, we’re happy enough for the Wings to stay well out of our reach. Judging by our head-to-head record to date, going up against them probably wouldn’t end well for us.

• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Welling United club profile

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