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Upton and Waldon unite for merger discussions

By This is Devon  |  Posted: April 13, 2010

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UPTON Athletic, the most successful club in the history of the WBW Solicitors South Devon League, are set to merge with Torquay neighbours Waldon Athletic in time for next season.

Formal talks have still to take place with Barton Cricket Club, who ground-share with Upton at Cricketfield Road, and Torbay Council.

But a joint meeting between the football clubs is scheduled for later this week when a new name — Waldon & Upton Athletic — will be recommended.

At the same time, notice will be lodged with the South Devon League that they intend to field three teams for the 2010/2011 campaign, playing home fixtures at Windmill Hill (Waldon's present home) as well as Cricketfield Road.

Waldon secretary and first team manager Keith Aplin is a key figure behind the proposed merger.

Speaking on behalf of his own club yesterday, he told the Herald Express: "We're a big club with kids coming through all the time.

"And, though the youth and seniors are kept separate, we're fed up treading water and losing players to the South West Peninsula League.

"Consequently, we're keen on the merger. We believe Cricketfield Road is the only place in Torquay where we're able to make the step into the Peninsula League and keep hold of our young players at the same time.

"We've been discussing the prospect with Upton for up to six weeks and met the cricket club and council when unofficial verbals have been exchanged on ground improvements to take Cricketfield Road to the next level.

"Upton keep winning trophies in the South Devon League, yet are in a similar situation to us (Waldon). They're treading water and losing young players to the Peninsula League without being able to make the step-up on their own.

"Also, they aren't as financially sound as Waldon Athletic, so it seems the right way to go."

Commented Upton Athletic secretary, Paul Beckett: "We want to bring South West Peninsula League football to Torbay, but can't do it on our own.

"We have planing permission for certain ground improvements such as dug-outs, but a merger would strengthen our hand to do more at Cricketfield Road in partnership with Barton Cricket Club and Torbay Council.

"Will the merger be in time for next season? I will be disappointed if it isn't."

Upton Athletic started life as a youth team in 1946 almost immediately after World War Two.

As they developed, so they found their way into the South Devon League, reaching the Premier Division in 1960 and going on to become the most successful club in the competition, winning the championship 17 times, lifting Devon Premier Cup on three occasions and chalking up record 10 Herald Cup wins.

Uniquely, they also won five trophies in one season — the SDL Premier Division Championship, the George Belli Cup, the Herald Cup, the SDL Charity Shield and the Devon Premier Cup.

Waldon Athletic were formed 40 years ago and now have ten teams in the Pioneer Youth League in addition to sides in the Premier Division and Division Three of the South Devon League.

The youth section also received the prestigious FA Charter Standard Award in the last two years.

The merger would also be the third in the last decade after Totnes Town amalgamated with Dartington United, Chelston FC joined with Kingskerswell and Galmpton United pooled their resources with Torbay Gents.

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