Monday 16th April 2018 will mark 10 years since the passing of my Father, Willi Seuke whowas Chairman of Feltham Football Club for many years and a club man since the 1950’s
when the club played as Tudor Park FC.
Ten years ago, was a sad time for everyone as John Pauling the long serving former General
Secretary was also taken from us a few weeks earlier and both men were stalwarts of the
Club working through the rough times and celebrating the happy days.
My Father loved his football. He was a loyal servant of the Club from a player, committee
member and Chairman. He supported the club financially and enthusiastically.
In the 1950’s Tudor Park played in the Parthenon League and facing teams like Boreham
Wood now a National League side, to catching the ferry to Canvey Island. Some Clubs are
no longer in existence like, British European Airways and Paddington Town. In those days
Wapping Sports were the form side but in 1966 the league was dissolved and was replaced
by the Middlesex League.
In the 1960’s he would drive around the town placing posters in key places announcing the
next fixture because in those days when the Club moved from the Surrey Senior League to
the Spartan League crowds of 600-800 were routine and in 1968 nearly 2,000 turned out to
watch a game versus local rivals Hampton FC. My Father would tell me the story of the
1968-69 season when in their first season in the Spartan League the Club finished 3rd, 2
points behind Champions Vauxhall Motors. It was late in the game and Feltham were
leading the motormen 2-1 and Manager Ron Bloom decided to make a substitute (new in
those days) whilst defending a corner late in the game. My Father tells me he went mad
stating ‘never make a sub when defending a corner’ and yes, he was right Vauxhall Motors
equalised and went into win the title with Tring Town sneaking into 2nd place on goal
Into the 1970’s and Feltham finished 3rd again in 1972-73 season some 6 points behind
Farnborough Town who pipped Hoddesdon Town to the title. The latter went onto win the
first FA Vase in 1974-5 defeating Epsom & Ewell 2-1 in the final at Wembley Stadium. In
1972-73 my Father took me to Wembley Stadium for the very first time. I went to watch the
final of the FA Amateur Cup. Two local sides were contesting the final which saw Walton
& Hersham defeat Slough Town 1-0. My Father was really pleased with the result because
his good friend and former Feltham Manager Allen Batsford was Manager of Walton &
Hersham and I remember a few days later going to Stompond Lane to meet Allen along with
the FA Amateur Cup and was allowed to hold the famous trophy.
In 1974-75 Feltham along with many other Spartan League sides resigned from the League
and joined the Athenian League. This was a tough time for the Club and financially they
struggled. The highlight was the opening of the Clubhouse at Feltham Arena moving from
the bar underneath the stand. The Club would put on events to pay for the building and the
Committee had to work voluntary behind the bar. At one event they had to dress up as Drag
Queens whilst serving. I remember him telling me about this journey home. His car stopped
at traffic lights in Hanworth and a group of women crossed the road, stopped, looked and stared at him all dressed up. Hesaid he didn’t know where to put himself.
In 1977 Feltham joined the newly formed Isthmian League Division Two, under the
management of Brian Laing – one of the most successful managers in the club’s history.
The quality of the football and the ground visited were of a high standard and away games
everyone travelled by coach which he would generally pay for. In 1978-79 the Club played
Barnet FC (now a League 2 side) in the 2nd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup losing 3-2 with
former England International Jimmy Greaves netting twice. It was a wonderful experience
for everyone to visit the Underhill Ground and the side was not disgraced. Games like this
allowed the Club to continue and build.
The 1980-81 season started off well with the club losing only 4 League games all season and
winning the Isthmian League Division 2 title, ahead of Hornchurch and Hungerford Town.
The final game of the season saw the club winning 2-0 at Barton Rovers which sealed
promotion and the day only got better with the birth of his first Grandchild. Nicola was born
during the game and he didn’t know until he arrived home and Pauline his wife gave him the
wonderful news. Also prone to an odd drop of Whiskey the bottle was opened and ended up
with Willi sitting on a glass coffee table which broke underneath him. His legs were in the
air and Pauline had to help him out.
The next couple of seasons saw some great football with the club now in Isthmian League
Division One. The wage bill got bigger and the club had to seek sponsors and run its Music
nights on a Friday and various parties on a Saturday. The Committee continued to volunteer
their services, although Willi didn’t like the Punk music or The Toy Dolls singing Nellie the
Elephants with rotten veg being thrown at the band by the crowd, but he continued to serve
the club with loyalty.
Between 1980 to 1984 the Club played superb football just 2 divisions away from
professional football. But Laing resigned to join Aldershot FC in the 4th Division of the
Football League and key players were lost to other Clubs. The club was soon relegated to
the newly formed Isthmian League Division Two South where they remained for the rest of
their time whilst members of the Isthmian League. This coincided with the laying of an
artificial pitch at Feltham Arena as the club hoped with the support of Hounslow Borough
Council this would generate much-needed revenue and for a period it did.
In 1987 Laing returned to Feltham and the Club started to challenge for promotion but kept
finishing 4th. In a home League fixture against Harefield United on 14th January, Feltham’s
was the only game on in the area. A bumper crowd of 547 turned out and Feltham soon
eased into a 3-0 lead. Then the snow started to come down and the problem was see the
touchlines. It was Willi who managed to get a broom and was seen running along the
touchline to keep the game going much to the annoyance of the visiting Manager.
The 1990’s were not a good time for the Club. Laing moved to Hampton FC and Pat
Bennett Chairman of Egham Town took control of the club and there were bitter clashes behind closed doors.
The Club was forced by Hounslow Council to join forces with Hounslow FC to clear both club’s debts but after joining forces the Council went back on its word. This was a dark period for Feltham, but Willi remained a calming influence. TheClub couldn’t meet the new ground grading system instigated by the League and at the end of the 1994-95 resigned their position and joined the Combined Counties League.
In their second season in the Combined Counties League, Feltham reached the final of the
Premier Challenge Cup. A magnificent 5-1 win over Godalming & Guildford at Woking
saw Manager Phill Heggie ask Willi to go up and collect the trophy on behalf of the club.
Health issues took hold of Willi at the start of the new Millennium. But by hook or crook he
would always do his upmost to attend games until his sad death 10 years ago. On that night,
Feltham played CB Hounslow winning 1-0 and somehow CB just couldn’t score. It was
commented that Willi being a former goalkeeper for the club was there stopping the ball
from entering the net.
In 2003 Willi was recognised by the FA for 50 years of service to the Club and his medal
has pride of place at home. Willi is someone much loved by many people still associated
with the club and football and on my own football travels within the Isthmian and Combined
Counties League many clubs have always asked after him or shared their memories with me
and they always stated he was a very generous and genuine man.
I would like to thank the club for allowing his memory to be honoured today.