As work starts in preparation for the next season I felt this was a good moment to cover off a few points about where we are as a club currently and our targets going forward.
A good place to start would be at the end of last season where we achieved our minimum aim for that inaugural season in the Ryman Premier Division. This would be a good moment to reaffirm that the plans for our football club is not controlled by fixed term plans or sweeping media statements that cannot be maintained or sustained.
Our plans are about a gradual improvement year on year, learning from our mistakes and ensuring that we provide entertainment for our loyal supporters. At this stage I would like to thank those supporters who have continued to support us and the new ones who we hope will return again next season. This has allowed our average gate to be somewhat higher than clubs who finished a lot higher in the league table than us. This fixed income is key to our success and we are hopeful that if we can kick on this season we can attract more to Bloomfields, particularly as this season must be one of the most exciting for the Suffolk Non-league scene.
|2||Hampton & Richmond Borough||523|
|4||Bognor Regis Town||485|
|6||Burgess Hill Town||390|
|11||East Thurrock United||288|
|19||Wingate & Finchley||172|
Memories from that first season at Step 3 range from great elation to the depths of despair but what was never lost was the belief that we were on the right track. In fact, looking at the stats it would not have taken much to have given us a mid-table position and really the awful start to the season gave us a huge mountain to climb. Our form from mid-November onwards was pretty good as we started to settle the squad down, although the loss of Callum Harrison (who incidentally has earned himself another contract at Colchester United after an excellent loan spell with us) and Jay Davies did knock us back a bit early in the new year.
CALLUM HARRISON SHOWING THE PACE AND DRIVE THAT HAS EARNED HIM A NEW DEAL AT COL U
However, the 3 wins in the last 4 games gave us an indication of our development at this level with an away win at Canvey Island and the last day victory at home to Dulwich Hamlet two of the outstanding results of the season. The form chart for the last 10 games puts us into 8th place and I am pretty pleased with that.
As the manager my first job is to look at where I believe we need to be stronger and make changes that normally means we have to lose some playing personnel. Therefore, we won’t be seeing Jordan Patrick, Ollie Mann and Ollie Brown in a Needham shirt and my thanks and best wishes goes to these lads.
I would like to make special mention to Browny; a decision I know may have not been popular with many supporters. He was one of my first signings on my return to the club back in 2013 and was well known for his surging runs on the pitch and always had time for supporters who spoke to him. I will miss the lad immensely but my job is to make decision with my head and not my heart and I will always make those tough calls if I believe it is for the benefit of the team.
OLLIE BROWN - FAMILIAR SIGHT
So what is in store for us next season? Well I firmly believe that we finished the season in a very strong position defensively and that has to be the foundation to build on. I am really pleased that Danny Gay has signed a new 2-year deal with us; it is no coincidence that the improvement in results coincided with his arrival.
DANNY GAY - WITH US FOR ANOTHER 2 YEARS AT LEAST!
Stalwart Ollie Fenn, after an excellent season, has penned a new deal so has last year’s starlet Jake Dye and despite still having a year left on his current deal I am close to agreeing a new 3-year deal with Kieran Morphew. Although Morph’s came close getting a deal at Portman Road he has always kept his feet on the ground and the new deal will indicate how important he is to us going forward.
MORPHS WINS ANOTHER TACKLE
New to the club are Emmanuel Osei who joins us on a 1-year deal and Luke Reed on a 2-year deal. Manny is well known to me and will bring something a bit different to our front line. Luke joins us following an excellent season at Brightlingsea Regent where he scored 15 goals from midfield and I believe will be an excellent signing for us.
MANNY IN HIS LEISTON DAYS
A key part of the ‘Needham journey’ is bringing our own players through our Academy and I am really excited about the potential of Taylor Bannister who has progressed to earning a 2-year 1st team contract.
TAYLOR BANNISTER PLAYING FOR SUFFOLK U18's
Talking about the Academy we have really raised the bar with the recent appointments making ours one of the best, outside the Professional game, in the Eastern Region. Moving from 1st Team Head Coach to Academy Head Coach is Steve Foley along with Assistant Coach Aaron Hall and Physio Ian Jenkins. Since the formation of our scheme we have been blessed with excellent coaching staff but with Steve now being responsible for the development of our Scholars could be a real game changer for the club.
So with Kirk Denim also leaving the club the 1st XI management team was looking a little light with Munno and Barty sharing the jobs of Assistant Manager, Coach, Physio as well as GK Coach and Dressing Room and Player Logistics Manager?!?! However, I really feel we have made some excellent additions to my backroom staff.
Taking on the responsibilities of player’s medical care is Stuart Bevis. Bevo has worked for me before and spent a number of years at Colchester United as well as looking after the Welsh Under 21’s.
COL U 1988/1989 SEASON - BEVO MIDDLE FAR RIGHT WITH THE PLAYER NEXT TO HIM HAVING JUST JOINED US (SEE BELOW) AND A CERTAIN ACADEMY HEAD COACH ALSO IN THE PICTURE (CAN YOU SPOT HIM???)
Our new Head Coach is Tom Rothery. Tom holds his UEFA B Licence and in recently has been very much involved in the meteoric climb of the non-league football pyramid of Brightlingsea Regent.
Stepping into the Assistant Manager role is Richard Wilkins. Wilks needs little introduction having taking both Leiston and Bury Town to their highest ever positions and brings great experience at Step 3 football. Previously an ex Professional footballer playing for Colchester United (twice), Cambridge United and Hereford United he will be a big part of our club going forward.
MY NEW RIGHT HAND MAN
We welcome these new additions to our club and hope they all have a long and successful time with us.
My Management blue print has always been to have a team of excellent staff and over the 20 years or so of managing at Non-League level I have been fortunate to have worked with a lot of excellent people. I really feel my new look team will carry that on and with an excellent group of players to work with I have a good feeling as we look forward to the new season.
In terms of our pre-season plans, we restart training on Tuesday July 5th and the preseason games are as follows:-
Tuesday 19th July at Match - Away to Ipswich Wanderers 7:45pm K/O
Saturday 23rd July Match - Away to Mildenhall Town 3:00pm K/O
Tuesday 26th July Match - Home v Colchester Utd U21's 7:45pm K/O
Saturday 30th July Match - Away to Bury a Town 3:00pm K/O
Tuesday 2nd August Match - Away to Coggashall Town 7:45pm K/O
Saturday 6th August Match - Home to Maldon & Tiptree 3:00pm K/O
Saturday 13th August - Ryman League Premier Division starts
That just leaves me to wish you all a great summer and we will look forward to seeing you in August.