Friday 11th November 2005

Switch to rivals causes rift in the Cumberbatch household

There have been heated exchanges in the Cumberbatch household recently after 21-year-old defender Marc, told his father John that he was moving from Ashford Town to their Ryman League Division One rivals Dover Athletic earlier in the week, writes Stephen McCartney.

But Cumberbatch senior, has arranged a friendly at Southern Premier League club Chesham United tomorrow to cast an eye on players that can replace the former Colchester, Crystal Palace, Barnet and Erith & Belvedere central defender - and influential skipper.

"Football players come and football players go, it is a matter of course from the highest Premier League clubs to the Sunday League reserve sides," John Cumberbatch told www.ashfordtownfc.co.uk.

"It is unfortunate that the player departing that has caused some uproar happens to be my son.  Make no bones about it, I am disappointed to see him go both personally and more importantly professionally.

"However, I could not, and indeed would not, have prevented him from leaving.  Actually, that's not totally true.  I did try to prevent him leaving and the atmosphere on Sunday in our household drifted between frosty acknowledgement and responses, to cajoling, to very heated debate.

"Marc came to Ashford from Erith & Belvedere when Ashford were facing their relegation battle.

"He could easily have stayed with Erith as he did not see the sense in leaving one struggling side to join another, but came down to Ashford to help me and on the strength of what I told him of the potential of the club.

"He took a cut in salary in the process and chose to stay for the new season.

"About a month ago, Dover Athletic submitted a seven-day letter of intent to approach him.  Nothing came of this approach, although obviously Marc aware that they were keen to talk to him.

"For reasons personal to Marc and following a very tense weekend at home, he told me he wished to leave the club.  Apart from Dover, Marc knew there were several other clubs keeping tabs on him in case he became available.

"I obviously discussed this with (chairman and fellow manager) Tim (Thorogood) on Sunday.  On my return home following training on Tuesday night, having informed the squad that Marc was leaving, I finally discovered for whom Marc was signing.

"It has always our opinion not to prevent a player leaving once they no longer wish to play for the club."

The joint-manager of Ashford Town was critisised for not informing fans of the transfer switch after the news was broken by www.doverathletic.com   followed by www.kentishfootball.co.uk  earlier in the week.

"I am, however, staggered by the feeling that we have been keeping everyone in the dark," he said.  "Unfortunately due to business commitments, this has been the first opportunity I have had to keep the fans updated.

"You have to also consider the emotional pain I feel of knowing that my son I have coached and guided is now going to be giving his services to a rival manager and club.  Though I fully understand his reasons, it makes it no easier for me to accept."

Looking ahead to their game at Amy Lane tomorrow, Cumberbatch added: "This game was arranged last Tuesday and, with the moves of both Marc and Eddie Achoko, gives us an excellent opportunity to try different options in the line up and prepare for the coming week's matches," at Bromley (Kent Senior Cup) at Hayes Lane on Tuesday night (if Bromley avoid a draw in their FA Trophy tie at Boreham Wood tomorrow) and for Fleet Town's visit to Homelands next Saturday, 19th November.

Chesham United v Ashford Town
Saturday 12th November 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at The Meadow, Amy Lane, Amersham Road, Chesham, Buckinghamshire HP5 1NE