History – Formation and Life in the Conference
Welling United Football Club were founded in 1963. An incredible journey in the early years has seen the club rise from an under-15 Sunday youth team to the heights of the Football Conference where the Wings remained for a remarkable 14 years. History has proved this to be one of the most astonishing journeys in the modern football era.
The Wings are now in their eighth season in the Nationwide Conference South, now named the Blue Square Bet South, following that unbroken spell in the original Conference between 1986-2000. Originally formed in 1963 with just one youth team playing in local league football on a nearby park pitch, the club expanded it’s youth system before embarking on a period of Saturday football in the London Spartan League. Membership of the Athenian League and Southern League (South) followed. For the first fifteen years Welling played on a sports ground at nearby Butterfly Lane, Eltham, before taking their present ground at Park View Road, after the demise of Bexley United who at the time were members of the Southern League.
After progressing from park football to senior football in a relatively short space of time, success was to continue with three promotions within five years. Initially winning the Spartan League and then after three more seasons in the Athenian League, progression and election to Southern League rounded off a marvellous period of success. This continued after just one more season when promotion to the Southern League Premier Division was secured after the league was re-organised. In the Fifth season in this division the Wings romped to the title by a record 23 points after an incredibly exciting season and were promptly promoted to the Conference.
Welling found life in the Conference much more of a challenge and although they were one of the most consistent sides during their fourteen year spell in non-league’s top flight success in the Conference was limited to four County cup wins. Cup football produced many of the highlights during the late 80’s and early 90’s with six successive First Round FA cup appearances, and a Third Round appearance on one occasion at Park View Road, when Welling went out of the Cup by losing 0-1 to Blackburn Rovers.
The Wings dropped out of the top flight when they were relegated on the last day of the season in 1999/2000.
Life in the Conference South
Welling’s first foray in the newly formed Conference South in 2004 was a struggle under the guidance of former Man Utd defender Paul Parker. With the Wings languishing near the bottom of the league for the first three months of the season Parker left the club by mutual consent.
Current Stoke City coach Adrian Pennock took charge of the struggling Wings and guided the Wings to safety in 16th place. The next season was one where it was exciting to be following Welling again with notable success in the FA Cup where they lost in the First Round away to Huddersfield Town. The FA Trophy also proved rewarding where Welling drew Woking away and after a thrilling match narrowly missed out on a place in the Fourth Round when they let a 2 goal lead slip and finally went down 3-2. The Wings spent most of the season in the play-off places but a succession of draws, and a few defeats at the end of the campaign saw Welling finish the season in ninth place.
They improved again with an 8th place finish missing out on a playoff spot by four points. The Wings reached the Quarter Final of the FA Trophy, which had only been managed once before in the clubs history. Grays Athletic eventually knocked the Wings out with a 4-1 win at Park View Road. The final game of the season was the last for the management team of Adrian Pennock and Phil Handford who both departed.
Neil Smith replaced Pennock as manager but struggled and Welling were once again at the wrong end of the table for the first half of the season. Smith left the club and was replaced by Andy Ford who managed to keep the Wings afloat in the league that year. Joined by Jimmy Dack 2008-2009 saw Welling United become a real force in the Blue Square South. Highlights of the season included a 1-0 defeat of AFC Wimbledon, ending the eventual champions 18 game unbeaten streak, a 4-0 win over promotion hopefuls Hampton & Richmond Borough and winning the Kent Senior Cup with a 6-1 defeat of Whitstable Town in the final, the Wings’ first trophy for ten years. Ford’s side finished 7th, the highest ever for the Kent side in this division.
Assistant Jimmy Dack departed in the summer of 2009 and it was a disappointing start to the 09-10 campaign, with the Wings lying in 18th position after 12 games. Andy Ford then resigned from his position as 1st Team Manager on Monday 12th October 2009.
Former Welling United player Jamie Day was appointed First Team Manager in November 2009. Day selected another former Welling player Barry Ashby as his Assistant, with Dean Frost also joining from VCD Athletic as First Team Coach. The midfielder, who took charge as a Player-Manager, not only helped the Wings avoid relegation but steered them to a final position of 9th in the Blue Square South table including a 5-0 away win over bitter rivals Woking FC.
At the start of the 2010-11 season, the Wings were rocked by the news of a winding up order by HRMC on the 12th August. Given 14 weeks to pay the outstanding debt the Wings’ fans showed their devotion to the club raising almost all the £60,000 needed to avoid the club going bust. Despite this they were still deducted five points by the Conference and were handed a transfer embargo lasting until March 2011.
Against all the odds, Jamie Day’s side were in the playoffs positions for the majority of the season playing wonderful attacking football. A fantastic run of results against the Wings’ main rivals looked to have secured their place in the top five but fatigue eventually caught up on the small squad and dropped points at the end of the season proved costly as the Wings missed out on the playoffs by one point. They still finished sixth, their highest position in the Conference South ever and their highest league position for ten years.
2011/12 saw the Wings climb to their highest league position for 26 years finishing third in the table thanks to the early season goals from Andy Pugh and fantastic all round performances by Loui Fazakerley, Jack Obersteller, Loick Pires and captain Jack Parkinson. After reaching the playoff final with a 2-1 aggregate win over Sutton United, the Wings were defeated by their arch rivals Dartford by a score of 1-0 at Princes Park meaning another year in the Conference South.
Last Season saw Welling United finally regain their place in the Conference Premier after Jamie Day’s team set a new Conference South league record of 12 consecutive wins and overcame a 10 point deficit by runaway leaders Salisbury City to win the league away at Boreham Wood on 20th April 2013.