Prior to 2018, no one would have heard of Woodford East. The club were formed just 3-years ago after a number of friends came together to form their own team. The originals came together and agreed they would create something of their own.
“The idea of forming the club came from Harry Savva, Sean Bellamy and a few of their good friends, who played for Sean’s brothers mates Sunday League team. That gave them the inspiration to start there own team,” said Chairman-manager Halil Hassan. “It was decided that once everyone returned from University, they would start their own Saturday team, which consisted of Sean [Bellamy] being Chairman, Jimmy Collier as manager and Harry [Savva] as treasurer.”
Once the friends had put together a team and got players interested in their idea, they needed to choose a league to perform their trade with them opting to feature in the Essex Alliance League, a league outside of the National League System. The reason for the choice was down to personal experience.
“Sean played for the Three Colts football team, who competed in the Essex Alliance League and this gave him a good indication of the league and how organised it was. The league consisted of 5-divisions which offered a good standard of football, where they could progress through the divisions.”
The club’s debut season in the Alliance League came in the 2019/20 season, when they began their journey in the Fourth Division.
It was one of the toughest seasons to get started in, as the 19/20 season was curtailed due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Woodford East were heavy affected by the FA’s decision to halt competitive sport as they sat top of the division when the decision was made. After 12-games, the Peacocks held a 6-point lead over Loughton Lions and a 7-point lead over Lymore Garden Reserves, having played the same amount as the Lions, but two-more than Lymore. With just 6-games to play, it was incredibly frustrating for everyone at the club.
“It was extremely tough to take for the club, considering there were only a handful of league games left. They were very confident that they would have won the remaining games and secured the league title. The team were also still involved in two cup competitions, which they were very confident they would do well in both.”
Despite a tough outcome to their debut season, ahead of the 20/21 season, the club were elevated to Division One, given them a chance to compete at a much higher level. What they had shown in their debut season was enough for the league to promote them.
“The club were extremely proud of all the players efforts for making it possible. Everyone played their part in helping the club become a competitive side, which proved to the Alliance League that the club could compete at a higher level. We knew that the competition would be a lot stronger from their previous performances in the previous season. The players had the confidence that the squad could compete at that level.”
The club found themselves in a similar position to the previous season. Once again, they had found themselves top of the division, this time after 15-games, but without an end to the season as the following season was also curtailed. The gap to 3rd-place Leyton Royal and 4th-place Chadwell Heath was 6 and 7-points respectively, while Kit Out London were within 4-points of the Peacocks. Again, those at the club were confident that had the season continued, they could have won the division and won promotion.
“It was again extremely hard to take and to be fair, it wasn’t just Kit Out London. There was Leyton Royals and Chadwell Heath Spartans, who I’m sure would have been up there throughout the season and would have been very interesting to see who would of come out on top.”
“With the position we found ourselves in when the season was stopped because of the Pandemic, we were incredibly confident of either either winning the title or coming runners up giving us the desired promotion we want to the Senior Division.”
When Spring had come around, Halil joined the club. He was offered to take over the club as chairman, which he opted to do, while also taking over the role of manager, after having previous experience, just before he joined. Having the chance to be a part of the club was a no-brainer.
“Just before the Essex Alliance League and many other leagues around the country were either allowed to continue with the season or do a cup competition to get some football played after a depressing halt, I was approached about taking over the reigns of the club and become the chairman-manager.”
“It was a decision I couldn’t really refuse as I was managing Bush Hill Rangers at the time in the Herts Senior League, but the lure of having my own club was too great. What also made it easier was knowing a lot of players from when they was playing for me or against my team at youth level. I had a great insight on the quality in the squad and the other big factor was wanting to watch my son Cuney Hassan play as this was the team he played for before I took over. I also brought in Gary Wotton as my assistant and Hakan Hazircinas my goalkeeper coach, who have been a great help to me and the players.”
Without an end to the 20/21 season, the Essex Alliance League announced their constitution for the coming season, with several new clubs and others moving between the divisions. That was welcome news for Woodford, who were elevated for the second time, joining the top-division. They were certainly pleased with the outcome as it meant the club were officially a Step 7 side in just their second season after the league had successful been granted feeder status.
“It was excellent and well deserved news [that we had the chance to play in the Senior Division. Although it was amazing to be promoted, there was an issue with our home venue as it wasn’t going to be fit for purpose for Step 7 status.”
“The search was on for a secure facility and within a week or so, we were fortunate enough to secure a venue at the Hackney Marshes Show Pitch. This was very good timing as many clubs know finding a suitable venue isn’t easy at all.”
With the new season fast approaching, Hassan had to think what he wanted to achieve with his team. He wasn’t thinking too far ahead, and new that cementing his sides place in the Senior Division was his first target.
“I’d have to say one step at a time. Our goal is to establish ourselves firstly in the newly established Step 7 of the Essex Alliance League, but of course, we can dream and who knows what could happen in the future; possibly getting a ground-share and pushing on for promotion.”
The club would face some familiar faces in the Alliance League following their promotion, with the Spartans, Kit Out and the Royals also being promoted, but plenty of new sides too with DTFC and FC Baresi being two of the most notable names. The Peacocks boss was keen to see feature again all sides and seeing where they stood as a Step 7 side.
“We are looking forward to facing all the 13 other clubs in the league. It’s a new beginning and a new status, so this will encourage new players to joining every side and this will only make them stronger and tougher to play. We have played a few teams recently in the league cup format and enjoying some good results.”