Wednesday, 12 December 2018

All change at Woodcote/Stoke Row ahead of new campaign

LAST year’s Thames Valley Premier League Premier Division runners-up Woodcote/Stoke Row kick off their new league season at Richings Park tomorrow (Saturday) with the side under new management.

Sam Tucker will manage the side this season with Darren Russell as his assistant. The duo take over from Ross Weatherstone who managed the side for the last two seasons. Weatherstone has taken up the post of manager of Binfield’s development side.

Tucker, 28, will continue to play for the side in central midfield having joined the club two years ago having returned from travelling and playing his football for St Kilda in Australia. Previously Tucker had played for Westwood United, Abingdon, Didcot Town and Thatcham Town. Last season Tucker won the players’ player and manager’s player of the year award. Meanwhile Russell, 37, a centre back who joined the club in 2013 having formerly played for Henley Town, Reading Town, Bracknell Town and Highmoor/Ibis will play as needed.

Speaking ahead of the new campaign Tucker said: “The Woodcote chairman has given me a target of a top four finish but deep down I'd like to win the league.

“The Thames Valley Premier looks to be extra tough this year with the likes of Marlow, Cookham Dean, Reading YMCA Unity & Mortimer all having strengthened from last year.

“I am looking forward to the challenge ahead — I think the thing I will find toughest is trying to play as well as manage. It is a great group of players and a close-knit well-run club with lots of support.”

Going into their first match of the season Woodcote/Stoke Row will be without last season’s captain Michael Butcher who has taken up a coaching role at Bracknell Town, and 17-year-old goallkeeper Sonny Wheeler who is currently on trial at Exeter as well as striker Michael Davies who has left for pastures new.

Tommy Chapman will take the captain’s armband this season with the side boosted by the arrivals of Ed Gadd and Adam Kingsbeer from Unity, Matt Coddington from Woodley United, Hayden Best from South Reading and Tyler Edwards who has been out of football for a while but was at Wycombe Wanderers as a youngster and impressed massively during pre-season at centre half.

Divisions 1 to 4, that feature sides from Henley Town, Goring United, Rotherfield United, Wargrave and Hambleden will begin their league campaigns next month.

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