Ryman South promotion-chasers Dorking Wanderers are looking forward to being bigger and better next season as the only club in their Surrey town.
After forming the Dorking Football Development Alliance last year with 137-year-old Dorking FC, the two clubs have agreed that the town of 11,000 is best served by having one team playing in the senior levels of Non-League.
The Wanderers, who announced the news before their 3-0 victory at Chatham Town in Ryman South on Saturday, will now be the only tenant club moving into the £6 million redevelopment of Dorking’s Meadowbank football ground, funded with public money. The town centre stadium is duo to open later this year while the club’s current Westhumble ground will be kept on as a training venue.
The deal agreed by Dorking Football Development Alliance on Frdiay is not a merger as Dorking Football Club (1880) CIC Ltd, the not-for-profit company set up by local businessmen in 2014, will close while the management, ownership and structure of Dorking Wanderers remains unchanged.
In interviews for the Surrey Mirror and backofthenetsouth.com which was broadcast on Youtube, Dorking Wanderers chairman and manager Marc White said the club’s fans, players and officials were looking forward to their expanded community football development role and stable of senior, development and junior sides.
In addition to the first team, they will include a new reserve and development side, an U18 Ryman League squad, a new academy combining football with education, an enhanced local youth section from U7s to U16s and a women’s side. Wanderers will are also planning to feature the town’s iconic cockerel mascot more prominently on their badge and considering a future name change.
White, pictured talking about the decision with Dorking Football Club director Roger Mahony, said: “The history of football in Dorking is a rich and proud one, stretching back to the 19th century when the original Dorking FC was a founding member of Surrey FA, while Dorking Wanderers is a modern community success story rising from park football to the Ryman league in just 18 years.
“We need to change senior football in the town for the benefit of all, but we will do it in a way that embraces and respects the history of the game in Dorking. The Dorking cockerel is already a part of our badge and will, as the town’s recognised symbol, become more prominent.
“Dorking Wanderers and the wider football community owes a great debt of gratitude for the objectivity, pragmatism and leadership shown by the committee and board of Dorking FC. They have genuinely had the good of local football at heart, and their achievements in saving football at Meadowbank with an otherwise unthinkable multi-million pound development for the whole Dorking football community to enjoy must be congratulated.”
He added: “Their project has been a real success and I hope that some of the talent, energy, and vision formerly at Dorking FC will take up my open invitation to make a contribution to the exciting, bigger future of Dorking Wanderers FC.