One of the youngest sides in the Critchleys Upper Thames Valley League, Woodstock Wanderers, were only founded a year ago, but have already enjoyed significant success on the field.
In their first campaign since the club was formed by current manager Ben Fouracre, Wanderers were crowned Division 3 champions, losing just once all season.
“I never thought in my wildest dreams we would win the league in our first season,” said Fouracre, 21.
“Some of our players hadn’t even kicked a ball before and now I think they could go and play at a higher level if they wanted to. That’s been really rewarding for me as manager.”
Founded in June last year, the club’s purpose was to provide an opportunity to play regular football in Woodstock and has proven incredibly popular.
Fouracre added: “We used to have a couple of players who played six-a-side on a Monday night and there were others who perhaps didn’t have the confidence to play Saturday football.
“So we decided to pull together a team to play on Sundays and we’ve just gone from strength-to-strength.”
Key to the club’s success is the close bond forged between the players, most of whom were already friends before the formation of the club.
As a result, Wanderers have a social programme which has helped to create a sense of community within the club.
“I think it came down to the team ethic we had here because everyone knew each other and got along really well,” said captain Carl Heaven.
“I probably knew about 95 per cent of the players beforehand, some just as acquaintances and friends-of-friends.
“We’re a very tight-knit group. That’s the beauty of being friends, the chemistry was there already.”
And they have maintained the same core of players this season in Division 2, making an excellent start to life at a higher level, despite losing in their opening game.
“From the first two games this season we picked up only one point, but I think that woke everyone up and their attitude has been spot-on,” said Heaven.
“We think we can get promotion again this season; it’s going to be hard, but we have the attitude and ability to do it.”
And the club has big plans for the future.
“Ultimately, we’d like to make the step up to become a Saturday team and that’s our main ambition,” said chairman Tom Willoughby.
“But the club is still very much in its infancy and we’d like to move up the ranks in this league and build the club up before we start to think about that.
“There’s a lot of stigma attached to the Sunday leagues and people view it as being of a lower standard than Saturday leagues, but I disagree that the standard is inferior,” added Heaven.
“We have some great players here and I’m sure we’d be a match for lots of Saturday teams.
“Perhaps we could run a Saturday side and aim to press on up the leagues and run a reserve team on Sundays for people who aren’t interested in playing first-team football.”
Whatever the club ultimately decide, it appears the future is bright for Woodstock Wanderers.