Remembering where we once were.
London-based Welling United are on the rise, somewhat, after they ended their thirteen year exile from the top level of non-league football last season.
The Wings, as they are affectionately known, returned to the Conference National division in 2013 and after winning the Conference South and consolidated in their first season back.
Having been relegated at the end of the 99/00 season – ending a 14 year stay at non-league’s top table – United are making strides.
However, they only met Rovers on four occasions and are yet to defeat the South Yorkshire side.
The first meeting between the clubs brought about a 1-1 draw at Park View Road as the hosts’ Darren Adams levelled Mark Hume’s first half opener.
March 20th 1999 provided the date for the return at Belle Vue and Ian Snodin’s men were on a run of just 3 defeats in 16 games and put Welling to the sword in a 4-1 romp. Ian Duerden’s opener was equalled quickly by Neil Trebble before Tommy Wright sent the hosts in to the break with a 2-1 lead.
Two goals in the last two minutes of the game from Andy Watson and Dave Penney rounded off a satisfying afternoon and Rovers would go on to finish 4 places higher than their visitors, who, after been technically relegated, were issued a reprieve after BARROW were axed from the division.
Rovers were to record four points against Welling the following season as well, as the latter didn’t take advantage of their escape and succumbed to relegation on the final day of the season despite beating HEDNESFORD TOWN as FOREST GREEN had a superior goal difference.
A point apiece was gained in October ’99 as Jason Minnett’s penalty was equalised late on, while the return provided a win for Rovers who came away from the east end with three points as Mark Barnard’s eleventh minute strike a week before Christmas ’99 ensured a very festive period around Doncaster.
Because Welling finished reasonably well the following year in the Southern Premier League, they were founder members of the Conference South, but struggled to mount a serious promotion challenge for some time.
When a promotion push did come (and United finished sixth), it was against a backdrop of financial uncertainty and in the face of a winding up petition, however the fans dug deep to raise £60,000 and stop the Club from going under.
2012 brought a play-off semi-final defeat, but the renewed optimism in the area stayed and the Club won the sixth tier title in 2013 before their respectable 16th placed finish in the Conference National last term.
*Jason Minnett wheels away in delight after scoring from the spot at the Rossington End of Belle Vue during a 1-1 draw against Welling United at Belle Vue in front of nearly 3,500 fans*