It’s hard to know where to start with Billericay Town. Before Glenn Tamplin rode into town ‘Ricay were an Essex side that had gone no further than bouncing up and down what is now known as the Bostik League, but with great history in the FA Vase.
Fast forward to 2016 and the landscape of this club changed forever, but it’s hard to work out whether it’s changed for the better, or not, or both! The first view of Tamplin for us all outside of Essex and the club was one of arrogance, almost a Premier League feel of money can buy him anything. And it did, Paul Konchesky, Jamie O’Hara and Jermaine Pennant to name the most high profile signings and of course they weren’t coming cheap! As so often goes in the non-league game, supporters of other clubs do take offence at those splashing the cash for two reasons, firstly their club probably lives season to season and thats no difference all the way through the pyramid, secondly because they know that single promotion place is now looking to be harder to get themselves.
I’ll honestly say my first thoughts and opinions of Tamplin were that another Essex club were going to end up down the same route as others once the novelty wears off and the only ones to suffer were the supporters who were there before he arrived and will be there long after he’s departed. My mind was changed after reading an interview soon after the season started, published in the wonderful Non-League Paper, where he discussed first hand his personal problems, but also his plans to improve the ground for the community, you might say all the right words.
I saw for myself when I visited with Worthing a year or two back that he had in fact created and improved the ground and the facilities. Yes, we all saw the mural, the dressing room video after winning a cup, but he proved true to his word and the club do now have a more updated facility, something a lot of clubs would chomp a finger or two off to have at their disposal.
But, my opinions have changed again. Why? Because the club always appear to be making headlines and not always for the right reasons. The word ‘circus’ is banded around a lot, ‘a farce’ is another description given to the club despite Tamplin not being seen around for months. This weeks re-appointment of Harry Wheeler does little to suggest otherwise, I myself in one of my other columns believed Wheeler to be a good fit for Maidstone after Tamplin had first relieved his man of his duties, but having heard what the Stones were asking of him it’s not a surprise it didn’t work out. Seeing how he managed to work under Tamplin’s interference with the team and deliver the title along with the cups he has something about him and this does appear to be the right club for him having been able to work with high profile players and get a good team ethic going. Depending on which way you view Tamplin, an admission he made a mistake maybe and now given the chance to rectify it, it has to work for him, Wheeler and the club.
From a supporters point of view, there must a mix of excitement and trepidation on a daily or weekly basis. Will the headline be positive news or one that shows the club in a bad light again? No one knows, Wheeler might not see out the season again such is the tightrope you feel the club walks on, stability is not a word Ricay supporters have heard for a while and possibly not a word to hear for a few more years yet, but enjoy the ride if you can……..