Woking Athletic Club History
There are records of athletics on the area opposite the Wheatsheaf pub as early as 1865. That year, on 24 June, 1,200 people came from Guildford, Weybridge and Chertsey to see Moore beat Mills, handicapped by three yards (no first names, as they were professionals!) in a 200 yards race. Moore was contracted to run at Horsell the following year in a 400 yards race, for which he was paid £15; he lost the race, and later ran against Samson over 200 yards for £10, which caused a local resident to write a letter of protest to the Surrey Advertiser complaining of the rowdy behaviour of the crowd of 100.
Cricket had started on the field by 1867, when Horsell (34 and 77) beat Knaphill (19 and 45), followed by a public dinner at the Wheatsheaf hosted by its new landlord. The low scores indicate a less than perfect pitch. As John Craig observes in his history of Eastern Horsell, the 1871 Ordnance Survey map shows a space cleared for a cricket pitch, but only just large enough for the wicket.
Woking Football Club can trace its roots back to a match against Chertsey, on Wheatsheaf Common on 5 November, 1887. The players changed in the Wheatsheaf Inn and had to take their own soap and towel and draw water from the Wheatsheaf well.
The income from their first year was 12/- (60p), which just about covered the expenses for the dressing room at the Wheatsheaf. In all, the Cards appeared to have played a total of 28 (recorded) games on the Wheatsheaf before they moved just up the road to a venue at the corner of Chobham Road and Woodham Road in 1891.
Bill Nankeville training with Terry Evans.
In 1893, at prompting and with finance from gentry from the Kettlewell area, Horsell parish authorities laid down a small recreation ground, half the size of the originally planned 10 acres, which Woking Urban District Council took over by 1910.
In 1921 the park was extended to cover the 10 acres as part of an unemployment relief scheme and after World War II a second football pitch was added.
The ground was seen as both a recreation ground and an area for cricket and football, on a hiring basis, but its glory days were when it was a home for Woking Athletics Club.
The club was formed in October 1947 as the Old Woking Athletic Club and, when first moving from Old Woking, it used the Boundary Road recreation ground.
This tended to be waterlogged, so the club used the Wheatsheaf as its main training ground and the pub, and later the pavilion, as changing rooms, until the track at Blackmore Crescent, Sheerwater, was opened on 29 April 1962.
In October 2018, the club relocated to the new facilities on Egley Road to make way for the first phase of the Sheerwater regeneration.