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Non League Football Under The Microscope

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Eastbourne Borough fans celebrate - August Bank Holiday Monday 2003                                Photograph by Sam Hicks

Wokingham & Emmbrook FC

Lowther Road, Emmbrook, Berkshire RG41 1JB
Telephone: 0118 9780209
Nickname: The Satsumas (Sats)
Hellenic League

Note Wokingham & Emmbrook FC was formed in 2004 through the merger of former Isthmian League club Wokingham Town, and Emmbrook Sports of the Reading League. Founded in 1875, Wokingham Town had enjoyed a long history, reaching the semi-finals of the FA Trophy in 1987/88 but never recovered from the loss of their Finchampsted Road ground in 1999, home since 1906. Ironically, it was the search for success that ultimately brought about the club’s demise, with over £500,000 of debt amassed in less than a decade.

In the late 1980s, having almost clinched promotion to the Conference, Town’s eyes were very much on that ultimate goal and it was decided to risk making the required ground improvements. This proved to be considerably more expensive than anticipated (and budgeted for). Short-term loans were taken out to pay for the extra work and this spiraled into a crisis in the following years, culminating in the bailiffs knocking on the door on more than one occasion. The decsion was taken to sell the town centre location ground to pay off the debts and to build a new ground on cheaper land on the edge of town. However, this never came to fruition and the club was left having to make expensive groundsharing arrangements. Having ignominously dropped down the Pyramid to the old Division Three of the Isthmian League, the decision was taken to amalgamate with Emmbrook Sports and play at the latter’s ground in Lowther Road.

The ground, which is shared with cricket, is a very modest affair indeed: some way from the clubhouse and car park, and no more than a partially railed pitch with dugouts on the far side. It is not atypical for the lower divisions of the Hellenic League but to visit it must break the heart of any erstwhile Wokingham Town fans who remember “Finch Road”. DB