Just down the A1 there, the Citizens from Welwyn Garden City are right up there with the nearest of our neighbours. Off the pitch, at least. But what about on the pitch? After all, you can live right next door to someone for years. It doesn’t mean you ever see them or talk to them or pop round for sugar. So, do we know little more than the fact they exist somewhere off J6? Or is there something more? Because everybody needs good neighbours…
Not for the first time, we have a club history that (to start with) is less than straightforward. But, hey, we’ll give it a go. The Citizens formed in 1921; a time when the ‘city’ itself was in its fledgling stages of development. After going it alone at first, the club merged with local rivals Shredded Wheat in 1934. It was in part due to cash concerns at WGCFC – plus the fact that SWFC were miffed at no more works teams being let into the Spartan League.
The Citizens’ offy site tells us how the deal worked: “City would be regarded as the team representing the town… in the Spartan League and have first call on players, while Shredded Wheat would play in the South Midlands League. Separate committees would be retained and both teams would play at Shredded Wheat’s ground.”
Disaster hit a year later; the use of SWFC’s ground withdrawn and debts totalling a score forcing the Citizens to resign from the Spartan League. In July 1935, the club was wound up. But things have a funny way of working themselves out. In 1937, company managers wound up SWFC; still miffed about not being let into higher leagues. Instead, they offered use of the ground and financial help to bring WGCFC back to life.
In the years after World War Two, the Citizens were mainly found in either the London or Spartan Leagues. But that all changed in 1973; the South Midlands League came calling. And they won the title at the first attempt. Yet, that was the peak of their achievements in the 1970s and 1980s. So, how the hell did we end up on the opposite side to them? It all comes down to the Herts Senior Cup and, later, the Knights Floodlit League.
How to get to Welwyn Garden City – Travel Information – Distance: 7 miles
Head down the A1(M) and exit at Junction 6 for the A1000. Take the first exit at the roundabout for Hertford Road and then the second exit after half-a-mile for Bessemer Road; still the A1000. Once on the Mundells one-way system, go around and take the left for Herns Way towards Panshanger. The ground is on the left.
The club’s own car park is for players and officials on game day, so be prepared to look elsewhere. You can try immediately outside the stadium, where there are (currently) no restrictions. Otherwise, Panshanger Golf Course and the nearby shops are options for fans to consider.
Station: WELWYN GARDEN CITY
Services to: STEVENAGE
At 1.8 miles, do you really want to walk this? If you do, leave the station on the long bridge across the railway that leads to Hydeway on the side of the old Shredded Wheat factory. Go left and head up Broadwater Road. Keep going up here to the one-way system, using the pedestrian walkways to go in the opposite direction of traffic to Herns Way.
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