What is the connection between George of the Jungle and AFC Wimbledon? Unless you know the answer already it would take the deductive skills of a Miss Marple to work it out. For that matter, what is the connection between Miss Marple and AFC Wimbledon? The mystery deepens. Finally, an easy one. What is the connection between Balham FC and AFC Wimbledon?
There are at least two answers to the last question. Firstly, Balham FC are now at the same tier of the English football pyramid that AFC Wimbledon were when their birthright was so cruelly sold by the FA to the MK Dons. Secondly, they have just drawn each other in the London Senior Cup which will be the first meeting between the two sides at senior level. The game, to be played at Balham FC’s home ground on the A3, will take place in mid November and nobody will be more pleased to welcome the AFC players and staff to the Wibbundane Stadium than Derek Fordham, Balham FC Director and Liverpool fan who once paid to play for Liverpool in a rematch of the 1988 Cup Final to raise money for the Hillsborough Support Fund and the then embryonic AFC Wimbledon.
So, what of George of the Jungle and Miss Marple? Both links come through Greg Cruttwell, Balham FC Founder and General Manager (1st team coach, secretary and all round club dynamo). If you look closely at the sidekicks to the baddie in George of the Jungle you will spot that Greg played one of them during his years as a Hollywood film actor. Greg’s acting talent is unsurprising bearing in mind that his mother is the late, great Geraldine McEwan who played Miss Marple with distinction for many years.
Greg now spends his time running Balham FC. The club he started as Balham Blazers FC in 2001 so that his children would have a team to play football for at the weekend. As his children grew, so did “The Blazers” until, on Feb 26th 2015, Balham FC came into existence.
With 5 promotions in 6 years (the blank year as a result of a lack of facilities rather than a failure to finish in the promotion positions in the league) and hundreds of cup and league titles from the club’s junior teams the club has gone from strength to strength. This year has seen a run in the FA Vase and, next year, the club will play in the FA Cup for the 1st time in its history.
So, what is missing from this story? Firstly, Balham FC are sharing a ground with the good people of Colliers Wood Utd rather than having their own place to play. Secondly, and our readers can help with this, supporters. Passing trade is difficult on the A£ where all possible passing trade is literally travelling at more than 30 miles per hour and yet there, a few years from the dual carriageway plays a team whose ethos is to play the sort of “get it down and pass it” football that has opposition fans and officials cooing over the style of football produced regardless of whether the game has ended in a win, a loss or a draw. All over South London young footballers are seeing Balham FC’s younger teams playing the sort of football that means Greg doesn’t get laughed at when he says they try to “bring a bit of Barcelona to Balham”. 23 teams from U7s to an adult Women’s team are carrying the message that winning football can be good to look at and you don’t just have to be big to play youth football.
So, check out the fixtures for the Balham 1st team, or the Reserves or the Youth Team who played in the FA Youth Cup this season and will do so again next season. Then come along to support whichever team you like. It will cost significantly less than going to Fulham or Chelsea and you’ll see great, pass and move football at close quarters. Who knows, your kids might even get a selfie with the bloke out of George and the Jungle.