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.