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We have reached the end of a momentous season for Beaconsfield Town, with the club playing at the highest level it has ever played, reaching the furthest in the FA Trophy it has ever achieved and equaling the best that it has done in the FA Cup.
At the start of the season we managed to retain the bulk of the squad that had won the League Title the year before and also made some useful additions to the group to give us a good mix of experience and youth. Some were playing at this level for the first time while others had already played at this level or higher and together with the football ability they all have, meant that we had every chance of achieving our pre-season target of establishing the club at this higher level. Notably, we were denied the services of last season’s Player of the Year, Aaron Minhas, due to his summer hip operation, although thankfully, all went well and Aaron even managed a few minutes on the pitch towards the end of the season. Also missing a big part of the season was our talisman, Baz Pashaj. Baz had his season ended following a challenge in the Hendon game which broke his arm. We have also had to deal with several players spending 3-6 weeks on the sidelines regularly which is, believe it or not, a tough period for the manager as an injury because we can't go out and look for a permanent replacement as they will be back soon but it is long enough that you may suffer as our squad isn't the biggest. This was felt by everyone predominately just after Christmas and into March.
I knew it would be an even tougher ask this season as last year, in terms of playing resources, we punched well above our weight to win the title and those resources didn’t change this season. This was something I spoke to our chairman Chris Coyle about in the summer. He then reminded me of a conversation I had with him 10 months prior, when I said "that it wouldn't need to change if we went up, if he gave me a little bit more back then"!. Not only that, I also understand and know that he isn't building the club on sand and along with our new vice-chairman Peter Bromage-Smith we are in good hands and are definitely going in the right direction off the pitch now, so it was a case of challenge accepted. The difference between us and who we would be up against was highlighted starkly in two of the first three fixtures, facing former Conference clubs, Salisbury and Weymouth, who have both achieved 1000+ attendances this season. In the event, we drew both of these games, which gave me confidence that we were good enough to be in this league.
For much of this season we were in and around the play off picture and it was only for a spell in March that we had our brief flirtation with the bottom three, although, in mitigation, we did always have a couple of games in hand. That spell also coincided with our run of ‘rub of the green’ decisions that went against us and which I have no intention of going over again.
I could spend all day breaking our season down - what we did well and where we need to improve and stats for this and that or if we had won this game,that game - but when all said and done the league table tells you exactly where you are. Weymouth were the best team this season, the three teams that got relegated were the worst three teams in the division.
Knowing how tough it is to be a manager, and what we have to go through on a daily/weekly basis, I would like for what it’s worth to mention three managers in our league that I feel deserve some praise. Gavin McPherson and his staff at Met Police for having the courage and faith to give so many younger players the opportunity he has and to succeed in the way they have is brilliant. James Duncan and Michael Murray at Chesham, for them to finish where they have after being bottom when they took over is fantastic. Matt Holmes at Wimborne as well, they didn't even know that they were going to be in our division until very late on due to other circumstances, to then survive is superb.
We are very pleased as a club where we are and we look forward with anticipation to next season. Our attendances are up this year by 20%, which is fantastic but we are still at the bottom of the attendance table. It will take time for us to build our support and we have and will continue to try and get more people through the gate to our games although myself and the players do appreciate the support we have.
I would like to say thank you to the players and management staff for a wonderful year and then a few people need to be mentioned personally as the club itself would not run without them.
Chris Coyle, Peter Bromage-Smith, Mark Brennan, Mark Williams, Robin Woolman, Ann Woolman, Dave Piercey, Helen Piercey, Steve Davis, Jon Brookes, Sarah Sutcliffe, Kelly Hughes, Angelo Nola, Paul Hughes, Kevin Hughes, Neale Blackburn, David Richardson, Chris Curd and Staff at CCD, Brian Lewis, Joshua Bromage-Smith, Lewis Clements, George Gould.
Come On You Rams!