Non-league football: Stuart Wardley returns to Saffron Walden Town FC

SAFFRON Walden Town have been given a double boost this week in an important milestone in the club’s re-emergence.

Fan favourite Stuart Wardley has re-joined the club as player-coach... AND the club’s application to re-enter the Eastern Counties League (ECL) has been backed by the Football Association.

Wardley, arguably the finest player to have pulled on a Saffron Walden Town shirt, joins the Bloods new management team of Colin Wallington and Nicky Smith.

The move will delight Walden fans who saw Wardley play for the club in the late 90s before he was sold to Queens Park Rangers who were then playing in the second tier of English League Football.

He made his debut for QPR in August 1999 when he was a late substitute in a 3-1 win at home to Huddersfield Town. In his first season at QPR he scored 14 goals and was voted the Supporters` Player of the Year for 1999/2000.

Wardley, who played almost 100 professional games for QPR, Torquay United and Leyton Orient among other league clubs, is delighted to be returning to Saffron Walden Town after a spell with Haverhill Rovers.

“I have tremendous affection for the club,” he said.

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“I have been really impressed by the support the club has received locally as it is being rebuilt and – after meeting Nicky and Colin – I can see that there is real ambition at the club.”

In further good news, the FA Leagues Committee has agreed to recommend the club be admitted to the national league system at Step 6 of the football pyramid for this season, and in particular allocated to the Eastern Counties League.

The club withdrew from the ECL First Division before the start of last season, but a delegation met with FA officials last Thursday at Wembley to discuss re-entering the league.

Secretary Brian Wilson, club president Paul Daw and committee member Melvyn Seymour gave a presentation, describing the amount of progress being made, both on and off the pitch, at the club.

Discussions will now take place with ECL over the entry requirements for the league.