Seymours are passionate supporters of our local community and none more so than in our home town where we sponsor Woking FC.
In 2022 Seymours announced a long term partnership with our favourite National League Football Club Woking FC, and to celebrate launched the freshly re-named Seymours Community Stand.
Leslie Gosden passed away in the year 2000 at the age of 96, but before his death he opened the new two-thousand-seater stand named in his honour in 1996. Tireless efforts throughout Leslie’s life are a big part of the reason Woking FC still stands today.
Knowing how passionate our fellow Woking FC fans are about the club’s history, it’s only fitting we pay homage to local club legend Leslie Gosden – then man who was instrumental to the construction of what is now called the Seymours Community Stand.
As a tribute to Leslie Gosden and our way of saying thank you, we sat down with Woking FC Club secretary Geoff Chapple to remember this great man.
Geoff Chapple Interview
To be able to truly understand and capture what Leslie meant to Woking Football Club and what legacy he left for the community, we caught up with club secretary and former manager Geoff Chapple, to reminisce on Leslie’s life and involvement with the club.
Having previously been the Manager at Woking FC from 1984 to 1997, Geoff Chapple has been serving in the role of club secretary for the past 12 years. Leslie Gosden, affectionately known as ‘Gerald’ to his friends first met Geoff Chapple in 1971 when he joined Woking FC. Geoff recalled how the passion and dedication to the club was evident in Gerald, and despite all the financial resources he injected to help the club succeed he never interfered with football decisions on the pitch.
Recalling tougher times, Geoff told us how Leslie accomplished something incredible at Woking Football Club. He told the story of how, at one point, there was a real risk that the whole ground might be sold and the club might not exist anymore. But Leslie, determined to make things work raised enough money to purchase the ground’s freehold. It was an amazing achievement and Woking Football Club is still here today thanks to Leslie’s dedication and determination to purchase the grounds.
Talking about Leslie’s legacy, Geoff commented
“We owe him a great deal, a great debt of gratitude for what he did. Everybody loved him and he made Woking football club a better place. He enriched all our lives.”
A Tribute To Leslie Gosden
Leslie Albert Gosden MBE, who was affectionately known as Gerald to his friends, was a lifelong supporter of Woking Football Club. He joined the club in 1930 and quickly became involved in its management, eventually serving as Chairman and President. During World War II, the club’s facilities were used to provide recreation for troops, and with Gerald’s support, Woking FC was able to keep playing in the South East Combination league throughout the war period.
After the war, the land owned by Woking Football and Sports Ground Company was put up for sale. Gerald arranged a public meeting to raise funds to purchase the freehold of the site. With the support of shareholders in the company, the meeting was a great success and allowed the club to purchase the freehold title of Kingfield Sports Ground, which at the time included two football pitches, a cricket pitch and a hockey pitch.
One of the highlights of Leslie’s association with Woking was the team’s victory in the FA Amateur Cup at Wembley Stadium in 1958. In 1971, he donated a trophy to the Suburban Football League, which was named after him. Woking FC went on to win the Leslie Gosden Cup in 2009/10.
In 1978 Leslie Gosden was awarded an MBE for his services to export. His organization and funding of ground improvements helped Woking FC achieve promotion to the National League for the first time in its history in the 1991/92 season.
How Leslie Gosden Helped The Woking Community
Woking FC have always been a big community club and whilst things have changed over time, we owe a debt of gratitude to Leslie Gosden and others for saving the ground and giving back to local youngsters interested in football.
Leslie’s legacy lives on in the Seymours Community Stand and his name is commemorated in the cup that Woking won in 2009-2010 in the Suburban League.
Woking FC have gone from strength to strength in recent years, with a growing turnout at matches from both home and away stands, and are benefitting from the commercial advances they’ve made to help promote the clubs up the football leagues.
Although Leslie can’t be here to see it, we’re certain he’s here in spirit and would be proud to see support for Woking FC as healthy as it is today.
Leslie, we thank you. From everyone at Seymours.