History - New Beginnings

 
NEW BEGINNINGS
 
In 2002, after many years of financial frustrations and setbacks the club were left with little option but to sell their Sandy Lane home to developers and move into a purpose built stadium at Imperial Fields for the start of the 2002-03 season. However despite the new surroundings further financial difficulties beset the club and by 2005 are only able to continue as a result of being taken on by its current owners, Tooting & Mitcham Sports and Leisure Ltd.
In 2002, after many years of financial frustrations and setbacks the club were left with little option but to sell their Sandy Lane home to developers and move into a purpose built stadium at Imperial Fields for the start of the 2002-03 season. However despite the new surroundings further financial difficulties beset the club and by 2005 are only able to continue as a result of being taken on by its current owners, Tooting & Mitcham Sports and Leisure Ltd.
 
After going close to promotion in 2005-06, losing to Tonbridge in the Play-offs, manager Richard Cadette was replaced by the hugely experienced Billy Smith (who was skipper of Tooting's 1975-76 F.A. Cup side) and George Wakeling. In the duo’s first season, the Club won both the London Senior Cup and the Surrey Senior Cup and an unbeaten league run which began at the turn of the year saw the club finish just one point behind league champions Maidstone Utd. After beating Fleet Town in the play-off semi-final they faced Hastings United in a home final. Sadly this proved one game too far for The Terrors as Hastings United ran out 2-0 winners. However, the 2007-08 season would see Tooting reach the Play-off Final again and this time there was no slip up as a Paul Vines goal resulted in a 1-0 victory over Cray Wanderers in the final and welcome return to the Isthmian League top flight after a gap of 19 years in a season that also saw the club retain the London Senior Cup.
After going close to promotion in 2005-06, losing to Tonbridge in the Play-offs, manager Richard Cadette was replaced by the hugely experienced Billy Smith (who was skipper of Tooting's 1975-76 F.A. Cup side) and George Wakeling. In the duo’s first season, the Club won both the London Senior Cup and the Surrey Senior Cup and an unbeaten league run which began at the turn of the year saw the club finish just one point behind league champions Maidstone Utd. After beating Fleet Town in the play-off semi-final they faced Hastings United in a home final. Sadly this proved one game too far for The Terrors as Hastings United ran out 2-0 winners. However, the 2007-08 season would see Tooting reach the Play-off Final again and this time there was no slip up as a Paul Vines goal resulted in a 1-0 victory over Cray Wanderers in the final and welcome return to the Isthmian League top flight after a gap of 19 years in a season that also saw the club retain the London Senior Cup.
 
At the same time, a future star who had worked his way through the club’s junior teams was emerging and making a name for himself in both the club’s Youth and Reserve Teams and after just a handful of First Team appearances a young Michail Antonio was snapped up by Championship side Reading. (After being signed by Reading he subsequently moved to Sheffield Wednesday and then Nottingham Forest before making his big money move in 2015 to West Ham Utd).
At the same time, a future star who had worked his way through the club’s junior teams was emerging and making a name for himself in both the club’s Youth and Reserve Teams and after just a handful of First Team appearances a young Michail Antonio was snapped up by Championship side Reading. (After being signed by Reading he subsequently moved to Sheffield Wednesday and then Nottingham Forest before making his big money move in 2015 to West Ham Utd).
 
In 2009-10 the club reached the First Round of the F.A. Cup again for the first time since the mid 70s. The reward for their win over Conference side Eastbourne Borough in the final qualifying round was an away trip to struggling League Division one side, Stockport County. Despite their best efforts Tooting could do little on the day to prevent the full timers running out 6-0 winners. The management duo of Billy Smith and George Wakeling decided to call it a day at the end of that season and were replaced by former Millwall star Mark Beard. After a mediocre first season and a poor start to the 2011–12 season Beard was relieved of his position in December 2011. Along with some new investment, former West Ham Utd player Kenny Brown was brought in to try and steady the ship however as many players came and went the results went from bad to worse and Tooting were relegated once again after just 4 seasons back in the Isthmian League Premier Division. The following season saw a succession of managers (Roberto Forzoni, Jamie Martin and Phil Simpson) none of whom were able to turn the club’s fortunes around. After narrowly avoiding another relegation, former captain Craig Tanner was appointed manager for the 2013-14 season at the age of just 27.
In 2009-10 the club reached the First Round of the F.A. Cup again for the first time since the mid 70s. The reward for their win over Conference side Eastbourne Borough in the final qualifying round was an away trip to struggling League Division one side, Stockport County. Despite their best efforts Tooting could do little on the day to prevent the full timers running out 6-0 winners. The management duo of Billy Smith and George Wakeling decided to call it a day at the end of that season and were replaced by former Millwall star Mark Beard. After a mediocre first season and a poor start to the 2011–12 season Beard was relieved of his position in December 2011. Along with some new investment, former West Ham Utd player Kenny Brown was brought in to try and steady the ship however as many players came and went the results went from bad to worse and Tooting were relegated once again after just 4 seasons back in the Isthmian League Premier Division. The following season saw a succession of managers (Roberto Forzoni, Jamie Martin and Phil Simpson) none of whom were able to turn the club’s fortunes around. After narrowly avoiding another relegation, former captain Craig Tanner was appointed manager for the 2013-14 season at the age of just 27.
 
In his first season Tooting finished in 11th position, repeating this the following season and also reaching the final of the London Senior Cup, losing 3-2 after extra time to Hendon. Despite this it was decided that further change was required if the club were to progress which led to Tanner not being re-engaged for the following season. This saw the appointment of former Reserve Team Manager Frank Wilson for the start of the 2015-16 season along with former player Mark Hams as his assistant. This experiment though did not last long and after a series of poor results Mark Hams opted to end the partnership and stepped down from his role 3 months into the season. Wilson then brought in Paul Dale, Head Coach of the British Army FA, who had just left Godalming Town, to assist him. However despite some much improved performances during the latter part of the season the side struggled to convert those performances into victories, finishing the season in 17th position in the league despite only accumulating one point fewer than had been achieved the season before. The season finished on a high however as the team went one step further than 12 months previously by defeating Ryman Premier League side Hendon by 2 goals to nil at Imber Court to win the London Senior Cup for the 7th time, having beaten two other Ryman Premier League sides en route to the final
In his first season Tooting finished in 11th position, repeating this the following season and also reaching the final of the London Senior Cup, losing 3-2 after extra time to Hendon. Despite this it was decided that further change was required if the club were to progress which led to Tanner not being re-engaged for the following season. This saw the appointment of former Reserve Team Manager Frank Wilson for the start of the 2015-16 season along with former player Mark Hams as his assistant. This experiment though did not last long and after a series of poor results Mark Hams opted to end the partnership and stepped down from his role 3 months into the season. Wilson then brought in Paul Dale, Head Coach of the British Army FA, who had just left Godalming Town, to assist him. However despite some much improved performances during the latter part of the season the side struggled to convert those performances into victories, finishing the season in 17th position in the league despite only accumulating one point fewer than had been achieved the season before. The season finished on a high however as the team went one step further than 12 months previously by defeating Ryman Premier League side Hendon by 2 goals to nil at Imber Court to win the London Senior Cup for the 7th time, having beaten two other Ryman Premier League sides en route to the final