Woking celebrated promotion back to the Blue Square Premier on Saturday after three years in the lower South division. Amid scenes of triumph – and relief – at Kingfield, they avoided the angst of the play-offs this time by taking the title and going up automatically, a great credit to the work of manager Garry Hill and coach Steve Thompson. All the players also deserve praise – and one in particular. Giuseppe Sole, always a Woking favourite who like the prodigal son had come back home, has notched an incredible club record of scoring in the last 10 consecutive league games, including the penalty – at the second attempt – at Maidenhead that clinched promotion, pictured above. First signed from the Woking Academy, aged 18, in the summer of 2006, Giuseppe immediately became a favourite with the fans, particularly for his trademark free-kicks. He was Woking’s top scorer in 2007-08 and again in 2009-10. But something went wrong with his form. In January 2009 he joined Ebbsfleet United on loan but re-signed for Woking the following summer. He then went to Newport County in the summer of 2010 before going on loan to Dorchester Town and then Havant and Waterlooville, for whom he later signed permanently. Even after being brought back to Kingfield in the summer of 2011 by Garry Hill, he had a loan spell at Basingstoke Town in early 2012. But now this fans’ favourite has really come home – and how! There is a wonderful letter from his mum Carmela on the back page of the Surrey Advertiser that sums up the relationship between the player – known as ‘Gez’ to the supporters – and the fans. It says: “Just after Christmas Giuseppe was telling me how much he would love to be part of of the team to get promotion … being a reserved couple, Pino [his father] and I don’t appear to be as passionate and excited as all you proper fans are, but there is nobody more proud and happy than us right now.”
A successful Woking FC means so much to the town; chests and attendances swell. Now that Woking feel they are back where they belong, hopes are being raised once more, as they were in the 1990s, as to how far they could go. The club has been through troubled financial times in the last few years, and arguably the top non-league tier is a tougher place than when Geoff Chapple’s side went so close to promotion to the Football League. But it’s all to play for next season – and let’s hope Gez Sole keeps cracking in the goals.
Postcript: He scored again in Woking’s last game of the season, a 3-2 victory at Chelmsford – 11 goals in 11 league games!
Picture: By permission of Woking FC photographer David Holmes