Maidstone Utd: That fateful season

Pictured above, the last time I saw Maidstone United in Football League action. 28 years later the Stones have still not returned, the top division of National League until 12 months ago is the closest they have come. The dream of league football died within three years of promotion, and a club with 95 years of history to be no longer.

After a first season success on reaching the play-offs only to lose to Cambridge Utd over two legs, the second season wasn’t quite living up to expectations for chairman Jim Thompson. The trigger finger got twitchy and manager Keith Peacock who masterminded that play-off run was sacked in favour of the brash northerner Graham Carr, father of the comedian Alan. Carr who had a successful time at Northampton was brought in you felt to replicate that for the Stones, only the north/south mix didn’t quite work.

Ironically for Carr his first game in charge was at Northampton, the team limped to a 2-0 defeat with three players sent off and a sign maybe that performances weren’t really going to improve a great deal. The break up of the side followed over the coming months, Karl Elsey and Les Berry given free transfers, Steve Butler leaving for Watford after handing in a transfer request and Mark Beeney finding his way to Brighton and no disrespect to the squad Carr had at his disposal for the opening day trip to Chesterfield for the new season it was far removed from the one that finished that play-off season.

Five defeats in five games without a goal being scored in all competitions saw the end of Carr and a season that never saw Maidstone outside the bottom six positions. A sure but slow improvement under Bill Williams followed, the Stones though were lacking quality throughout the team, plenty of endeavour but that doesn’t win you games alone.

When you look at the squad list above what sticks out firstly is the huge turnover of players inside three years, eight players remained from that first league season although three of those players were fringe members when joining the club. Tony Sorrell, Jesse Roast and Nicky Johns, all missed the entire season, Mark Gall sold along with Robbie Painter and Lawrence Osborne during the course of the season, first Williams and then Clive Walker working against the tide rather than with it. You might notice a certain Gary Breen at the top of the list, didn’t have a bad career in the end did he!

After the rejection from the council for the new proposed ground in November, the fight effectively was over for the club as a whole, to see out the season was never certain with losses piling up by the day, but there were a few bright spots in a dismal time. The form of keeper Iain Hesford was superb all through the season, including a goal against Hereford, the emergence of Breen who even at 17 you could see there was a decent career in front of him, Stuart Nethercott on loan from Spurs was another who forged a good career in the pro game after time at Watling Street and then onto Barnet before the end of the season.

When you look at that division, Burnley, Blackpool, Cardiff all went upwards and onwards, York, Hereford, Wrexham, Scarborough and many more went the other way, you do wonder if the new ground and complex had been given permission where Maidstone would have gone and be looking from now, but hindsight is a wonderful thing and maybe too much ambition is what cost Thompson the club.

Sat May 2nd was the last time Maidstone Utd played a Football League match, a 3-0 loss at Doncaster Rovers the final line in history. Despite that line, the Stones were included in the fixture list for 1992-93 and poor Scunthorpe Utd were left without an opponent on the opening day despite programmes printed and everything at the ready. A rumoured just five players were on the old London Road training pitch which sat behind the old stadium along with boss Clive Walker, they were soon to be out of a job.

With Thompson having relinquished control of the club to Mark English, he was back in charge less than a week later after English took one look at the books and decided it was not for him. Eventually the club did leave control of the beleaguered chairman and John Waugh looked to move the club to the North East, re-named them Newcastle Browns and share St James Park. Unsurprisingly, the Football League refused and told Waugh the club had to stay in Kent,that was the last throw of the dice and with it the end.

Why and how the Stones disappeared I will look at in more depth in a future blog,

Time to reflect

In the blink of an eye we’ve passed the midway point of what can only to described as a six months we never want to live through again. Personal pain, personal tragedy, mental struggle, loss of life, loss of job, many of you reading will no doubt relate to one of those but sometimes through those times comes a world of good.

And for me thats very true of two things on that little list, but not for this platform. What is starting to become of it is almost an explosion of satisfaction not just here on this blog but writing for me in general. What I’ve felt the past three months or so is tiny victories against the virus, I haven’t suffered from it myself but hopefully this blog has given people a chink of light every now and then to take time out away from things and immerse themselves in ramblings from me and also others.

I love a stat, always have done. What I hope you see and feel as you read through this piece is how staggering this has been in such a short space of time. I’ve have been blogging since September 2017 so it’s coming up close to three years. My dream growing up was to be a sports journalist, nothing else really, but it’s always been on the back burner as so to speak, life gets in the way. The invention of social media channels has given me a pathway into the industry I want to be in without needing to be mainstream about it.

The image above shows my figures for a full year of 2018, a nice little number for twelve months labour of love. I’ll break it down just slightly for those of you who don’t use WordPress what it all means. Views and visitors work differently, each time you visit the site to read on a daily basis you are only counted as a visitor once, but each page or blog you read is a view no matter how many times you log onto the site each day.

Just before I add the second slide I’ll add I set myself some targets for this year back in early January, sensible ones I felt to show a decent increase on 2019, they were to blog a minimum of six times a month, 250 visitors per month, to get 3000 visitors by December 2020 and reach 10,000 page views also by the end of the year. By the middle of May, I’d hit the 3000 visitor mark in less than half a year, April alone had over 1000 visitors! March blessed itself with 978 visitors, the 250 target blown out of the water. By early May 11,000 page views beat that target and in less than half a year all my targets were done. At that point it can be easy to get complacent and think time to put your feet up for the rest of the year, but not me! And then June unfolded…………

One month! I am beyond words when I look at it, as if this isn’t and doesn’t happen to me but it does! To hit that many unique visitors in 30 days when two years ago I had 1543 in a year blows me over, truly staggered by it, how far this has come in two years has really shocked me but in a good and positive way.

I always maintain that it’s not all down to me, it’s down to you reading what I write which I is why I say ‘thank you’ at the very beginning. Of course it is down to what topic I choose to write about and where I promote it too, thats in my control, you all reading it is not and to get these kinds of figures is really humbling.

It’s not just an English blog either, I know I have friends who travel abroad for business and of course people read while on holiday too, supporters exiled in other lands, but we’ve had none or very little travel for three months so to see the worldwide appeal is very humbling and that’s an every month thing, new ones pop up all the time and they might only view one article but I couldn’t be more thankful.

But, me being me I don’t tend to rest on my laurels, this kind of thing makes me hungry for more and to keep taking it places I never thought possible to do, the introduction of doing video interviews on a Saturday afternoon has only added to what I can already do and as more football returns more opportunities will be there to grab, as they say the sky’s the limit isn’t it………….

Styles: The local community and our fans will be extremely vital

Late last week, I caught up with Tunbridge Wells FC boss Richard Styles to find out what had been happening for him over the last three months and a look ahead to a new season:

TK: I think it’s fair to say before football was suspended in March Tunbridge Wells were enjoying their best season for many a year?

RS: Yes, last season had a lot of positives. I think if I had been offered the way the season had unfolded before it stopped, I would’ve been happy with that for a first year at a new club and a new set-up. We were ultimately disappointed when the season came to an end because we felt we would finish the season strong and still had lots to play for in both the league and cup competitions.

TK: How did you view the lockdown period, a chance to reflect or to take stock and plan to improve further?

RS: The lockdown was initially frustrating because the season ended so quickly but understandably so, and safety is always the main concern. We stayed close to the players during the lockdown and had regular sessions delivered over Zoom as well as training plans set to allow the boys to tick over and recover. As staff we had meetings to reflect on the season and to identify ways, we felt we could improve and strengthen to progress when the new season begins. We haven’t stood still since lockdown came in and have very much been proactive.

TK: Now that we are looking at the new season beginning in September, have you been able to step things up a little and start to talk to potential new signings?

RS: Yes, we have been in communication with all the current squad with a view to returning and they are fully aware of our plans going forward.  We have also spoken to several targets to improve on what we already have, and they’ve been very positive talks so far.

TK: Given the financial struggles most clubs have suffered with during the pandemic how vital is it to get the local community fully behind what you want to achieve as a club?

RS: It’s huge! The local community and our fans will be extremely vital in us getting back into it ahead of next season. Every club has been hit hard by this and we’re all in the same boat. We have a real good community behind us and a close relationship with the supporters here and we’re now looking for that more than ever to continue once we’re able to get back on the pitch once again.

TK: Is this the perfect time for football to maybe take a look at itself and work out a way to live within its means a little more?

RS: There is an argument for that for sure, a lot of clubs will struggle and will have been hit very hard by whats happened and some will be unable to commit to the playing budgets they had previously. Players will have missed not being able to complete the season and as a manager you can get a feel of a player’s value in terms of playing and see whats important to them.

I don’t think that will happen next season personally because I think there will always be several clubs willing to have a bigger budget in chasing success.

TK: Are you expecting a similar competitive league once we begin?

RS: Yes, I’m expecting it to be as tough as last season. There are a number of teams who will feel they have some unfinished business, there are a lot of teams who will look to strengthen further and a there will be a lot of players dropping down levels as teams higher up go with small squads. Some big budgets and aspirations will also be out there too.

TK: What will be the expectations from the chairman and the board for Tunbridge Wells this season?

RS: The vision and expectations going into the second season have always been the same. I’ve been in close communication with the chairman ever since the season ended and there’s a clear outlook from both sides. We want to progress each season and push on the best we can, last season we were on course to achieve what we wanted which was to put some stability back into the club, the main objective. We kept ourselves in the top five all season and next year we want to build on that foundation we’ve made and hopefully have a successful season.

TK: And finally, what would be your message to anyone wanting to attend a game next season but nervous about being out in a crowd?

RS: I can fully assure anyone that Tunbridge Wells FC are working currently to put all things in place at the Culverden Stadium to ensure a safe environment and experience for all. By the time the season begins everything will be in line with the government regulations for our level. It will be great to have our crowd and families back to watch us again and I can’t wait to see that!

My thanks to Richard for giving me his time to answer these questions.

Hull: It’s been a challenge

Last week I caught up with Arundel FC boss Simon Hull to gain an insight at how Step 6 clubs have coped with the lockdown period and this is what he had to say:

TK: When football was suspended by the FA back in March Arundel had nearly half a season to play in around six weeks, how much pressure do you think that would have put on the players to manage 3 or even 4 games a week?

SH: It would have been a real challenge and tested the depth of our squad to the limit. Considering our players have full time jobs and aren’t afforded the luxury of rest days it would have been tough undoubtedly.

TK: How did you approach the lockdown period once the season had been marked null and void?

SH: We (the coaching staff and myself) made multiple plans for various start dates, a best guess exercise really. I also kept in regular contact with our players advising them and updating them to the best of our knowledge. It was difficult but everyone has been in the same boat.

TK: Has it been easy or sometimes difficult to keep the players you have close and to approach players you want without a start date in mind?

SH: Our players have been first class, I can’t speak highly enough of them. Almost all have committed to the club for next season too, we have approached a couple of players with a view to adding to the squad and giving us more depth and quality, honesty is the only approach that works in my book. Fortunately, we have been able to offer 1 to 1 sessions and now group work courtesy of my coaching staff. They have been working around the clock to accommodate all the lads and deserve a special mention.

TK: Now that we have a tentative start time as September, is your planning now able to become a bit more through so you are ready to hit the ground running?

SH: Yes, we have things planned for the players which are now ongoing until the season commences, all things being equal let’s hope it is September. We have been training in small groups as per the guidance and also individually for a month now so we’re relatively in a good place.

TK: How do you think the football landscape will look at Step 5 when the season begins?

SH: Purely speculation and opinion, let the powers that be provide guidance and an exact start date ensuring safety is an absolute priority, lives come before football. I expect and hope we mirror last season with the number of promotion places up for grabs and being able to enter the FA Cup and Vase. Whilst I understand there may be time constraints for the Cup there has to be an element of common sense to work around this. Steps 4, 5 and 6 clubs place huge emphasis on being able to compete for prize money and to miss out would be terrible for clubs at the lower end of the pyramid. Whilst be financially important for clubs, it’s a highlight for players and coaches alike. Scrap all replays but don’t devalue the competition by reducing the entry.

TK: Has the club been able to maintain itself over the last three months and be in a position to begin once again in the next couple of months?

SH: It’s been a challenge! We have lost all revenue streams without the bar and clubhouse. Fortunately, sustainability is at the forefront of the Arundel model. It’s an expensive business but we have prudent people  who look after the clubs finances so we should get through it but it’s not easy.

TK: Given the make up of Division One should look the same as it did last season, what are you expecting to happen?

SH: I’m hoping it’s the top 4 being promoted again as was supposedly the case last season for the restructure. Time will tell and we shall see, but I expect to see the same sides challenging again.

TK: Finally, the lockdown period can be viewed as a great time for reflection and for re-set. What things if any have you yourself from a football perspective felt a good time to change?

SH: We have had a slight restructure with regards to the management set-up and introduced a reserve side instead of the Under 23’s alongside our existing Under 18 team. We analysed closely last season what we did well and more importantly areas we felt we could make improvements and have implemented some change we hope is for the better.

My thanks to Simon for his time answering these questions.

Guest series: Jimmy meets….

In the final part of what has been an excellent guest series from Jimmy Langton, the final player in focus is former Rock Jimmy Wild:

JL: Which club have you felt most at home with?

JW: I enjoyed my time at Bognor and have some great memories of the promotion year and playing at the Amex, as well as having a good relationship with the fans who made me really welcome. But I think Chichester is where I would say I felt most at home. Having been there since the age of 11 and then playing for every age group up to the first team, and having been around the club for so long I’ll always look out for their results.

JL: Who’s the best manager you have played for and why?

JW: The one that knew me the best and definitely got the best out of me was Miles Rutherford. Right from the moment he took over at Chichester he was great to me and always looked after me. He gave me a chance to play week in week out, which some managers didn’t, and always wanted me to progress to a higher level. 

JL: Which club are you with now?

JW: Around Christmas time I got given the chance to go and play in New Zealand which was a great experience. Most people know I love travelling and usually go off around the world when the football season finishes so I couldn’t say no. I was playing in their Premier League so I was flying around New Zealand playing football and travelling at the same time. I would recommend to anyone who has the chance to try it, it was a great experience. Unfortunately, the season finished early because of coronavirus but I managed to get home just in time!

JL: Are there any role models you look up to and why?

JW: Peter Crouch is a personal favourite as I have been compared to him by opposition fans for being just as lanky! Being a Tottenham fan I love watching the likes of Bale and Kane and how they play the game. They’re exciting to watch and love scoring goals so they’re good role models to have.

JL: What was the reason for coming to Bognor?

JW: I always wanted to test myself at a higher level so when Bognor asked me to go there when I was only 17 it was a good move for me. Living in Chichester it was local for me to travel to and I already had a couple of connections with the club so it worked out well. 

JL: What’s your favourite football club?

JW: As I mentioned above I am a Spurs fan and have been all my life, all my family are Spurs fans so it’s past through the family. I’m moving to London this summer so I’m hoping to get to watch them a bit more. 

JL: Which coach do you feel you have benefited from most in your career?

JW: I’ve always had a good relationship with Dabba (Darin Killpartrick). He believed in me when I met him at college and then he helped me develop as a player at Bognor too. It was also good to see him at Chichester last season where he definitely helped a lot in the FA Cup run. When I first met him, I never thought I’d be sharing a hotel room with him in Tranmere all these years later! 

JL: Why did you choose to be a forward?

JW: I never really saw myself as a forward as I played centre midfield until I was 17. Then Jim Yeo who managed Chichester Under 18’s at the time put me up front for a couple of games and I did okay, then the first team manager at the time Darren Pearce saw me playing and put me in the first team the following week and I have been a forward ever since. 

JL: What’s your favourite colour?

JW: I’ve always played for teams that play in green and white so maybe I’d have to say that!

JL: Who’s your best player you have played against and why? 

JW: Out in New Zealand I played against Auckland City who usually do quite well in their Champions League and even ended up at the FIFA World Club Cup so it was a good experience to play against top level players and test myself against them. It was always good to play against teams like Portsmouth and Brighton in pre-season, it was fun chasing Christian Burgess’ shadows!

JL: Why did you choose football?

JW: There’s no better sport! From the age of 4 when I first started playing for a team run by my Dad, Andy, right up until now, I’ve always loved playing football. I’ve played quite a few sports to a decent level, cricket being one that I enjoyed too but it got to a stage where I had to choose one or the other and I definitely made the right call.

JL: Who’s the best player you have played with and why?

JW: I went to school with Joe Ralls and even from an early age you could tell he was a player. He’s gone on to play in the Premier league with Cardiff so he’s done alright for himself!

JL: What made you choose to move to Chichester from Bognor?

JW: I’ve always wanted to play the highest level possible so when the opportunity came I had to give it a go. Dabba was the one that made it happen. I had played at the college with him for two years and he told me how he really wanted to get me to Bognor so I have to thank him and Jamie Howell for giving me that chance.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter, @JimmyLangton2

Finally a little direction

At Steps 3-7 the game has been in limbo since mid March when coronavirus halted football everywhere. Within weeks the season was null and void and subject to legal wrangling whilst the National League hung on and hung on, only last week were they at last agreed on the next step in ending 2019/20 for the elite of the non-league game.

So then, what for the rest of non-league. effectively cast aside and left on the back burner? Finally there was progress and a reminder to turn the lights on again and something to look forward to, well at least for Steps 5 and 6. At the same time as the NL settled on 2019/20, the FA finally put together a short guidance package of what it believes is achievable for non-league below ‘elite’ level.

Let’s take a look at it in more detail and what it means for those clubs who we hope will all be in shape to start 2020/21. What is in agreement up and down the country is that all levels of non-league CANNOT re-start with no income from paying spectators, its impossible, clubs would be out of business within 6 weeks and the pyramid in more chaos than looked back in March. Of course guidance has to be followed to ensure it can be safely to begin again. There are a lot of factors in this that can’t be followed as they are for the Premier League and Football League re-starts, for example separate and exclusive changing areas are impossible at this level, social distancing for players will cause a problem but there is time for things to change and if they don’t, thenmore ideas to work around these issues.

For spectators the issue becomes less so the further down you go, smaller crowds give you more room around the ground to stand on your own or with family members. If the limit is down to a metre by then even better, that will help the clubs at say Steps 1-3 who I expect to be operating at 50% capacity for the opening 4 weeks at least, anything less for some and it’s not worth opening the doors and playing.

I still anticipate we start in September. August is too quick for anything other than pre-season friendlies, clubs and leagues need time to get things together and get it right, September is early enough in my opinion. In that time things will change as they are by the week in natural life, some restrictions will be gone by that time. If the ninth month is the return to full action, then some cups will fall by the wayside and in some cases thats not a bad thing. Here in Sussex some teams are in seven cups at the start of the season, yes thats right SEVEN!!! To lose or two of those to get a full season in has to be a small price to pay for one year.

Should we find that the start comes along even later than this, then we would be very lucky to see a full season take place and if we get to 2021 waiting for a start, then half or more of non-league clubs will not get that far. As it is the football landscape has to change, this period has show brilliantly how poorly the game is run and how badly a lot of clubs are too, for every one well run club there are five living outside their means and it can’t continue. Another crisis like this would see the pyramid collapse for good if things don’t change, it has to be different.

These have been some very unprecedented times that we have lived through but we’re coming out the other side again, ultimately we have lost people we clearly shouldn’t have done, and now we have to rebuild and begin once again, this is a chance for the re-set button to be hit and for things to change, time will tell………..

Play-offs, promotion, relegation, its all here

Finally, after weeks of deliberation, no voting forms, amendments and whatever else, we’ve finally got to the bottom of the National League season. It seems like it’s taken a full nine-month season to get to this point rather than two months but with any luck in four weeks’ time we are in for some play-off football.

For some parts of this decision it’s been waiting for the inevitable to happen, Barrow’s promotion to the Football League for instance. For others it’s been a wait to see if the play-offs beckon, relegation is confirmed, or things stay as they are.

As with other decisions from the top of the game to the bottom, the outcome was never going to please everyone unless the decision was across the board, and this has been anything but! I’ve been in favour of points per game (PPG) throughout this, my reasoning being 75% of games had been played by a huge majority of clubs up and down the land. Again, it’s still not ideal and had we been talking less than 50% played null and void in my opinion would have been the only way forward but universally.

The resolution finally voted for this week should have been the one put forward weeks ago, or least one of two or even three options to conclude the season and then once the EFL decided upon their course of action then the NL could have acted much sooner. The fit between the end of this season and the beginning of the next if as expected will start in September must now be thought out and released early enough to allow planning time.

From a personal point of view, I’m pleased for Darren Currie, his staff and the players that Barnet take the final play-off spot. Much has been mentioned about the postponements and games in hand that handed the Bees seventh place, not the ideal way for it to happen at all, but the run of form, two defeats in 18 games prior to the suspension of the season would have got Barnet comfortably into those play offs had that form continued, something we’ll never know though.

At the other end of the table, much sympathy for Ebbsfleet Utd. Relegated by the hair’s width on PPG tells the other side of the story. Having watched the Fleet on a couple of occasions at the back end of the season there were signs they were in the kind of form that was going to get them out of the bottom four, as with Barnet we’ll never know the answer, we do know it cost Kevin Watson his job and a place in the National League South for the Kent outfit.

PPG has given Kings Lynn the title in the North and sent York City to the play-offs should they go ahead for both them and the South division. Clubs understandably at that level are concerned at the cost of testing and all the other measures that would need to have in place, clubs have been told they will face no sanctions if they don’t wish to participate. How that will work if only 1 or 3 decide they want to play is anyone’s guess at the current time.

The South is more clear-cut with no positional changes, Wealdstone confirmed as champions and no changes to the play-off positions. There is a keenness there amongst those clubs to play, cost however is going to possibly be the biggest stumbling block at this level.

For the remaining clubs it now gives them the start they need to get planning for when 2020/21 will begin, that decision is the next one on the cards and a provisional date needs to be released as quick as they can. There is no reason why it can’t be moved if things need to take longer to be set up, but clubs need a date for now to work to, it’s impossible without.

How well these play-offs will go for any side is impossible to tell, no form, three for four weeks maximum training and from what it looks like a two week shoot out to decide Football League or National League, bumpy ride coming up, but we’re on our way………

McKimm: In life you should always look to better yourself and not stand still.

Earlier this week I got in touch with National League South manager Steve McKimm from Tonbridge Angels to find out how things have been progressing for him and the club over the past couple of months, here’s what he had to say:

TK: Despite an early curtailment to last season, were you pleased with how things were progressing for Tonbridge Angels on the pitch?

SM: Yes definitely. With four wins, four draws and just one defeat in our nine games after losing to Dartford on 28th December it was becoming a very good run.

TK: Do you think it took a little while for yourself and the players to get used to the demands of stepping up a level?

SM: I had watched a lot of games at this level after I left Sutton Utd, so I knew what to expect. In all our games bar Welling Utd away we weren’t out of reach in any of those matches, what the players needed was to erase from their game the silly mistakes as we were getting punished for every single one.

TK: Once it was confirmed the season was to be cancelled, did you then begin to start planning for whenever a new season was to begin?

SM: I had a few weeks off and if I’m honest I didn’t really think about football because we had no idea when we’d be back again. The club were excellent with the furlough for the players and I gradually spoke to them after a few conversations with my chairman. More announcements will hopefully follow over the next few weeks.

TK: We’ve seen a couple already announced as leaving the club and bearing in mind the financial restrictions that we expect to see going forward for many clubs, are you expecting there to be a bigger pool of players to choose from?

SM: I believe so, but it depends on what or how you want to move forward. I have my own ideas after a lot of thought and discussion with other staff members. Sometimes a lot of changes don’t always help but we’ll have to see what we can achieve when we get going again.

TK: How great have the chairman and the board been given the need to raise money for the pitch repairs and balancing that with support for you and your staff?

SM: The chairman and the board are excellent towards us, always helpful and supportive, I’m happy with that.

TK: How is the pitch looking?

SM: Pete and the others there have been working hard on it and it’s looking really good, as good as it did until the Hampton game, which should never have been played on it, that ruined it for us and the season.

TK: How do you think the football landscape will look when the game resumes at non-league level?

SM: It could be interesting times ahead, some clubs will struggle, some will remain the same and some may flourish due to finances. Clubs run correctly will always prosper, not necessarily in terms of trophies but will keep running and be a home for their fans.

TK: Is the aim next season to stabilise the club at this level with a view to pushing on the year after?

SM: Last season the aim was to stay in the league and as a club/manager, staff, players and supporters we achieved that, early finish to the season or not.

In life you should always look to better yourself and not stand still, football is no different so we will be looking to improve on last season and try to make Tonbridge Angels an established club in the National League for years to come.

My thanks to Steve for his time and good luck for when the new season begins.

NB. Since the National League decision on Wednesday to conclude the season with play-offs across all three divisions, I contacted Steve with one final question:

TK: Do you think the right resolution has been found following the National League club’s decision on Wednesday?

SM: If League football are having play-offs taking place then non-league should as well. If they can afford the testing and everyone is safe there’s no reason why not. I feel for clubs below these levels though, it’s as if they’ve been dismissed.

Hinshelwood: I thought this club had so much potential and keeps showing me that

At the back end of last week I caught up with Worthing FC boss Adam Hinshelwood to find out where the club is at planning for the new season and his views on the fantastic Crowdfunder appeal:

TK: How have you found the lockdown period personally, a time to reflect, to look forward or a mixture of both?

AH: Initially I think a lot of reflection and I’ve done a lot of reading and studying and now I’m looking forward and planning for the season ahead.

TK: How early did you start to plan for the new season and how far in advance were u able to plan?

AH: Just meeting this Monday to start planning out pre-season, but its hard with not having a start date to work to at present but we know pre-season will be 6 weeks so we can start getting a guide together of what it will look like from day to day.

TK: Have you had good contact with the squad from last season and how many do you expect to return?

AH: Really positive talks with all the squad from last season so far, they all seem keen and raring to go. We also need to recruit for our youth teams so it’s going to be a busy period over the next few weeks, but I am looking forward to it.

TK: How fantastic was it to see the Crowdfunder appeal reach it’s target so quickly?

AH: It was amazing to see and just highlighted to me what a great community club we are part of, it’s definitely given me a buzz to get back and I’m working hard to make sure we are better than ever when the new season kicks off.

TK: What changes do you see coming for non-league football given the financial struggles for many during this pandemic?

AH: Well, clubs are going to have to call upon their local communities to come together and support their local teams. Clubs are going to have to support local businesses, its going to be a hard time for many but the only way through it is everyone sticking and working together. Hopefully coming to a revamped Crucial Environmental Stadium will go a long way to helping everybody.

TK: Do you expect there to be a bigger pool of players available as clubs higher up the chain cut back on squad sizes?

AH: Possibly, but we like to stick to local players as much as possible and developing our own, I’m excited by the young players we have coming through.

TK: As per last summer, do you think you might lose one or two players to a higher level?

AH: Yes, I expect one for sure will be leaving us for a club a few levels higher in the pyramid, but we are quickly getting a good reputation for giving younger players an opportunity and with that we are getting good young players coming to us. It’s something as a club we are starting to become accustomed to, obviously we want to move up that pyramid ourselves and start to hold on to players instead of them leaving to further themselves.

TK: We can’t finish without mentioning the Away Day Boys, 5 years old now from creation, what do they bring to this club?

AH: It’s a following that is just growing and growing and really are the backbone of the club. There was a game against Moneyfields in the FA Cup a couple of years ago where it felt like we had taken over their ground, like a league club heading to take on a non-league outfit. It was the first time I thought this club had so much potential and it keeps on showing me that.

My thanks to Adam for sparing the time to answer these questions.

Guest Series: Jimmy meets……

In another of the popular Jimmy Langton meets series, goalkeeper Amadou Tangara is the player in focus:

JL: Which club have you felt most at home at?

AT: To be fair I’ve been always welcomed at most of the clubs I’ve been at, from my time at (Grays Athletic, Dulwich Hamlet and Merstham)  all these clubs made me feel very welcome, but I have to admit that Bognor Regis have been special to me.

JL: Who is the best manager you’ve played for and why?

AT: I have played for some decent managers over the years such as Hayden Bird, Gavin Rose, Jack Pearce and Robbie Blake here are excellent too, I feel really lucky in that perceptive.

JL: Are there any role models that you look at to and why? 

AT: I look up a lot to my dad because he had such a positive influence in people’s lives around him, he has done so much for our community in the Ivory Coast. Having grown up seeing all he has done for the area around him and his family; I must admit that it motivates me to be a better person and to help as much as I can around me. 

JL: How did you end up signing for Bognor Regis Town? 

AT: At the beginning of the season I joined Kingstonian after a successful season at Merstham but it didn’t work out the way I thought it would so when Bognor contacted me over a possible move I didn’t hesitate because Bognor Regis are well known to be an attractive footballing side. After a couple of games I just fell in love with the club and the fans and  I am so happy to be here. 

JL; Did you have any trials at any higher league clubs? 

AT: I have had some trials with few pro clubs previously but not this year. 

JL: What are your favourite football clubs ( apart from Bognor obviously)? 

AT: Haha! I definitely love Bognor, and I am also a Chelsea fan. 

JL: Which coach do you think you have benefitted from most in your career so far?

AT: My academy manager in the Ivory Coast he is the reason why I am a goalkeeper today and he has been looking after me since I am 8 years old till now, he still does.

JL: What is your favourite colour ?

AT: My favourite colour is blue because it reminds me the natural beauty of the sea 

JL: Who’s the best player you have played against? 

AT: Bertrand Traore (Chelsea) in an international tournament in Burkina Faso JL: Do you intend to go into coaching when you have retired from playing?AT: I am already into coaching on a part-time basis, I will definitely consider going into full time coaching when I will decide to stop playing.  

JL: Who’s the best player you have played with?

AT: One of the best players that I played with in non-league football is Ghass Sow currently playing for Kingstonian, he was a big part of our successful season last year at Merstham. 

JL: Why did you choose to be a goalkeeper? 

AT: I didn’t choose to be a goalkeeper I was a right back, and one day our goalkeeper didn’t turn up so my  coach asked me to get in goal so we can do some finishing, and I was enjoying it so from that moment onward my academy coach started playing me in goal. That’s how it all came about. 

Follow Jimmy on Twitter, @JimmyLangton2