In early 2007 a small group of parents whose children were signed on with Hangleton Rangers under 8’s team received their signing on forms for the forthcoming season. They received a note saying that their registration fees for the next season were increasing to £130.
There had been a number of incidents that had occurred that season where the players, coaches and parents had, they felt been treated poorly, when considering they were paying over £100 a season to the club and were receiving little else in return from the club.
The coach of the team, Vince Hammond, spoke to some of the parents and asked if they would like to start a new club for the Mile Oak area and as a result of this on the 7th March 2007, Rob Buckwell, Andrea Hammond, Mark Hill and Carl Gendre held the first ever Mile Oak Wanderers committee meeting and decided who would take what roles.
At that meeting they decided to invite along Emma Buckwell, Sarah Hill and Barry Ranscombe to join the committee and the formal committee was sworn in on 21st March 2007.
The First committee consisted of Rob Buckwell as Vice-Chairman & Fixture Secretary, Sarah Hill as Commercial Secretary, Mark Hill as Parent Liaison Officer, Andrea Hammond as Treasurer, Emma Buckwell as Club Welfare Officer , Barry Ranscombe as Secretary & finally Carl Gendre as the clubs first Chairman.
The club decided to start with one team who would be registered with the Sussex Sunday Youth League in the under 9’s age group for the 2007/08 season. However, the next task was to recruit some players! The club at that time agreed that they would only sign on 14 players for the team and so try-outs were publicised at the local school and also in the North Portslade news.
All home matches were to be played at the Mile Oak Primary school after an agreement was reached with the school.
During the summer of 2007, Mile Oak Wanderers FC entered their first tournament in Lancing and played their first ever friendly against AFC Brighton & Hove.
The very first team consisted of 13 boys and 1 girl, Phoebe Palmer was the first female player to ever play for Mile Oak Wanderers.
For the following 2008/9 season, the club decided to expand. However, no one could have guessed just how quickly the club was about to grow…
Initially, at the end of the 2007/8 season it was thought that the club should prepare the under 9's players for that season for the 11-a-side season the year after next (2009/10), and to ensure maximum playing time for all of the players, the club voted to split the team into a Yellow and a Blue team for the under 10’s age for the 2008/9 season. By now, there were around 19 players signed on to the club. However, one of these was a year younger than the team and so would eventually have to drop down to a younger age group and so the club ran try-outs for a new under 9’s team for 2008/9 which was decided would be coached by Gary King.
Meanwhile, enquiries were beginning to come through to the committee for what would eventually turn out to be the under 7’s and under 8’s teams and by the start of the 2008/09 season, Mile Oak Wanderers FC had quadrupled its size to 5 teams from under 7’s to Under 10’s. Our coaches for this season were U7’s Rob Buckwell, U8’s Steve Thomas, U9’s Gary King, U10 Blue Paul Etteridge and U10 Yellow Vince Hammond.
In 2008 Vince Hammond was also voted in onto the committee in the role of Head Coach, this was to signal the fact that the club now had 5 coaches at the club and they required a figure head and go between on the committee. In September of 2008 Stuart Berry also joined the committee in the role of a dedicated minute’s secretary, a role that was evidently needed as the club was increasing in size and the meetings were becoming more involved.
In December the club held its first Adult five a side tournament and it was played the Mile Oak Primary School. The overwhelming thoughts that day were the cold!! The eventual winners were Vince Hammond's U10's Coaches and Parents team.
2008 also saw the departure of Mark and Sarah Hill from their roles on the committee, this was mainly due to differences in opinion with regards to, amongst other things the speed that the club was growing at the time and this in turn also led to the under 10’s Blues team folding due to their coach and a majority of the team going back to Hangleton Rangers, this was because of a difference in opinion for how the two under 10’s teams were due to proceed for the next season as the under 11’s team. Because of this disagreement unfortunately the club Secretary Barry Ranscombe also decided to resign from the club in early 2009.
Because of these many changes Rob Buckwell was voted in as the new Club Secretary, relinquishing his Vice-Chairman role and in turn Stuart Berry was voted in as the new Vice-Chairman whilst continuing his role of Minutes Secretary.
2009 again had further committee changes, the commercial secretary role was held for a short while by Jacqui Gannaway before being taken over by Becky Berry after the departure of Jacqui.
The coaches we had in place for the 2009/10 season were - U6's Mehdi Ghahvami-Shahidi(resigned)/Gary Paddock, U7’s Den O’Brien, U8’s Rob Buckwell, U9’s Andy Glover, U10’s Gary king, U11’s Vince Hammond and U12’s AD Heffernan.
The club continued to grow and flourish with new teams being added each season and it was at the end of the 2009/10 season that the club decided to look for a new ground to play their home matches and it was from this season that Home games would be split between Mile Oak Primary School and a piece of land owned by Portslade Community College called the Southwick Hill Rec. which is just located inside Southwick in West Sussex.
The club always maintained that its initial aim was to become a Charter Standard club and then to recruit a girls team. The first of these aims was realised in March 2010 when the club were granted with Charter Standard status which was no mean achievement, considering that just 3 years earlier, the very first committee meeting took place and as a Club, Mile Oak Wanderers go down as one of the quickest clubs to achieve ever Charter Standard status in England. A fact we are very proud of.
In March 2010 the Mile Oak Wanderers first Chairman Carl Gendre stood down from his position, however he was not gone from the club for too long as after being asked by Stuart he took on a coaching role at the club for our under 7 Blue team when their coach departed at short notice in October. In the interim period, Carl was awarded with the first Life Time Membership award. Stuart Berry was then voted in as Chairman of the club and Natalie Gendre was voted in as the new Vice-Chairperson. The minutes secretary role was then taken over by Helen King and then by Zoe Boyd. This year also saw the introduction of Gary Paddock to the committee in the Vice-Secretary and Volunteer Coordinator Role and Lois Gilbert and Paul Reagan taking over Fixtures Secretary responsibilities from Rob Buckwell.
In April 2010 the club held its first ever annual sponsored walk; it was a great day and raised much needed funds for club.The funds from that walk were used to subsidise a training kit for all at the club.
It was after this that the club decided that now was as good as any to send out flyers for an open day for girls teams and the club were completely blown away when over 20 girls aged between 8 & 10 years old turned up for try outs and it was then that the club took the unprecedented step of affiliating TWO teams with the county FA – Again, a massive achievement considering that most clubs struggle to recruit players for one team!
Our coaching team had also now grown considerably and for the 2010/11 season it consisted of the following - U6’s (training only)Adam Nelson (resigned)/David Ground, U7’s Yellow Gary Paddock, U7’s Blue Neil Corney(resigned)/Ian Guy(resigned)/Carl Gendre and Danny Merrington, U8’s Den O’Brien, U9's Girls (training only) Jason Vivian, U9’s Rob Buckwell, U10’s Andy Glover, U11’s Gary King, U11's Girls Carla Hall(resigned)/Chris Read U12’s Vince Hammond and U13’s AD Heffernan.
Mile Oak Wanderers Under 11’s girls team were the very first female team from Mile Oak or Portslade to register with the Sussex County Women & Girls League and those players who played their first game for the club against Eastbourne in September 2010 will remain in the history books as being the first Mile Oak girls team to play in a match.
In October 2010 the club decided to cease playing any further matches at the Mile Oak Primary School and all home matches were to be played at the Southwick Hill Rec. from then on.
Again in April, this time 2011 we held our second sponsored walk day, again it was a great success and was even more popular than the first. Although it was present in the preceding years 2011 was the year that a real sense of community began to really show at the club. The funds from that years walk went on some replacements of equipment, in particular replacement of most of the mini soccer goals.
In May there were two further additions to the committee with a new General Member Sharon Thompson and also Malcolm Stuart again as a General Member but in a Club Physio capacity also. Malcolm brought to the club a vast wealth of football knowledge having been the physiotherapist for Brighton and Hove Albion for 30 years.
In June the club held its second Adult five a side tournament. This time in the summer! it was played at the Southwick Hill Rec., it was a well contested day with teams entering from virtually all age groups at the club. The tournament was won that year by AD's U13's Coaches and Parents team.
In July 2011 the club also held it’s first Presentation and Fun Day, the whole event was a great success and we were blessed with perfect weather for the whole day.
This season also brought the clubs first promotion success when the under 13’s team for 2010/11 coached by AD Heffernan were advanced up a division after a fantastic campaign.
AD’s team were also the first club to win a tournament in Mile Oak Wanderers colours when they won the 2010/11 Peacehaven tournament.
The summer of 2011 also saw the departure of our U12’s and Head Coach Vince Hammond. Vince was an integral part of the club, especially at its initial conception and although the reason for his departure was unfortunate he will not be forgotten for the amount of effort he put into the club during his tenure a fact that was not lost on the committee.
In August 2011 Gary Paddock took on the new position of Coaches Liaison and Volunteer Coordinator to replace the Head Coach role so as to keep a go between the committee and coaches.
At the start of 2011/12 season, the club took the decision to begin drop in sessions for children in the Reception and Year 1 school years under the banner of Mini Wanderers, the training with this new venture being carried out by our under 13’s and under 12’s coaches Carl Gendre and Gary King. At the end of this season, we envisage that Mile Oak Wanderers will have 14 teams with 200 boys and girls registered making us the biggest club in our local area.
There were a few changes to the coaching line up for the 2011/12 season and the coaches for the start of that season were - Mini Wanderers Carl Gendre and Gary King, U7’s David Ground, U8's Blue Danny Merrington, U8's Yellow Gary Paddock, U9’s Den O'Brien, U10's Girls Jason Vivian, U10's Blue Gary Peck, U10's Yellow Rob Buckwell, U11’s Del Roy, U12's Gary King, U12's Girls Chris Read, U13’s Carl Gendre and U14’s AD Heffernan.
In November 2011 the Committee again changed, this time again to increase in size to reflect how big the club has become.
Stuart Berry stood down as Chairman and took on a new role at the club of Communications Officer; Natalie Gendre also stood down as Vice-Chairperson but again remained on the committee as a General Member. In addition to Stuart and Natalie, Becky Berry also stood down from the Commercial Secretary role but she too remained on the committee in the Minutes Secretary role and Gary Paddock stood down from the Vice-Secretary part of his roles.
Rob Buckwell was voted in as the new Chairman and also retained the Club Secretary role, Claire Wallis was voted in as the new Vice-Chairperson, Gary Peck was voted in as the new Vice-Secretary, Sharon Thompson was voted in as the new Commercial secretary, with some of the responsibilities being split to create a Social Secretary role with Lisa simmonds being voted in for this position. Sarah Peck was voted in for the Schools and Club Liaison position and lastly Danny Norris was voted in for the Players Registration secretary role.
As a whole, the club continues to grow and is recognised as being one of the fastest growing and one of the most successful youth football clubs in Sussex for the way it is run.
To be continued.......
Rob Buckwell/Stuart Berry November 2011