Dorking’s two senior football clubs have reached a groundbreaking agreement to work together and enhance the growth of the game, local players and facilities in the town.
The Dorking Football Development Alliance launches today, following several weeks of private talks between Dorking FC and Dorking Wanderers. The new partnership will see both clubs collaborate to maximise their potential, sharing facilities to ensure they are put to the best possible use for the community and local business, and creating an organisational powerhouse that boosts grassroots football in the town.
Explaining how the two clubs have put local rivalries aside to create the Alliance, Dorking Wanderers Chairman, Marc White, says, “The two clubs began talking following Dorking FC’s recent problems caused by delays to the redevelopment of Meadowbank.
It quickly became clear that, while both clubs have very distinct objectives, we are both passionate about grassroots football in Dorking and both share a view that creating a footballing development structure between the two clubs will avoid unnecessary duplication and create the best possible opportunities for growth of local football and talent.”
In the immediate future, it has been agreed that – subject to league approvals – Dorking FC will play its first team matches at Wanderers’ Westhumble home ground next season. The move will see the club’s return to action in the town after more than two years’ away at Horley, following the temporary closure of the stadium at Meadowbank in late-2013 and the takeover by a new Board of local volunteers.
Agreement has also been reached for Dorking Wanderers’ first team to play at Dorking FC’s new Meadowbank home when it reopens for the 2017-8 season, after rebuilding by Mole Valley District Council. Use of Westhumble will then be scaled down, with the idyllic venue playing host predominantly to youth football, training and some reserve matches.
Further announcements about the two ground sharing arrangements and other plans for the new Dorking Football Development Alliance will be made in the next few weeks.
Dorking Chief Executive Jason Rabbetts says, “Today we’re talking about sharing our facilities, but the Alliance will be about much more than that. This is truly a historic agreement between our clubs and we are working on plans to improve all aspects of football and player development in Mole Valley, creating what will be a unique co-operative arrangement between two senior clubs in the same town.”
He adds, “With the Council’s plans for our fantastic new Meadowbank home and artificial pitch, along with the picturesque setting of Wanderers’ ground at Westhumble, Dorking will boast an enviable range of football facilities – and by working together we can ensure they are used in a way that creates the maximum benefit for the town.
“Once the new Meadowbank reopens, this Alliance means that, whether it’s Dorking FC or Dorking Wanderers, people will know they can come into town centre and see a first team match every single Saturday during the football season. That’s good for Meadowbank and good for shops and businesses.”
The Dorking Football Development Alliance will be identified by a new logo designed by leading creative agency Brand Fusion and, while both clubs plan to display the logo on their shirts, they are adamant that this is just a partnership and will not be the precursor to a merger.
Marc White says, “Both clubs have distinct identities, objectives and proud histories. Dorking Wanderers are a well-documented community success story. Having been formed just 17 years ago, the club’s success has been based solely on the efforts of many local volunteers, who have developed it both on and off the field, enabling exceptionally rapid progress through the divisions to the respected Ryman League.
Dorking FC are an integral part of the town’s rich heritage, established in 1880, the oldest senior club in Surrey, and now focused on making steady progress through the development of young local talent with amateur values.
“Our clubs have very different development plans for the medium and long term and make separate, but complementary contributions to local sport and the community. This Alliance is a means of us supporting each other in achieving our respective aims in a way that will really put Dorking on the football map.”
Looking to the future, both clubs have agreed that they would like to see the Dorking Football Development Alliance expand to include other adult and youth clubs in the town and surrounding area, all working together to maximise the potential for local football at all levels.
Source: Dorking FC