Thursday 16th December 2004

The Kent Website
Supporting Kentish Football

Erith find it tough without any financial backing

WILLIE O'SULLIVAN has admitted he finds it difficult attracting quality players to his club as they have to pay to play Go Travel Kent League football, writes Stephen McCartney.

The Erith Town boss said it's an un-level playing field when they play clubs such as Maidstone United, who are alleged to have the highest budget in the league.

However, the Dockers can boast the best playing surface in the Kent League and excellent changing facilities at their ground - the Erith Sports Stadium.

That is the huge incentive for players to sign for the club as well as their training facilities at a local school, which provides an indoor gym.

And there is good news for supporters too.  Currently the club has no cover for the 1006 green back-less seats at the ground.

With the adjacent leisure centre undergoing a rebuilding programme, Erith Town are expecting a cover to shelter supporters against the elements to be erected within a year.

O'Sullivan, however, is finding it tough when most sides are throwing money at team strengthening rather than ground improvements.

He said: "All games are going to be tough now, we say it week in, week out.

"It's very hard to compete with all these sides that are throwing money about.

"They tell you that they're not but you know they are because of the player's they've got."

The Kent League has seen a high number of former Ryman and Southern League players drift down.

So, what persuades players to sign for Erith Town, when they can join a high number of local clubs for financial gain?

"Maybe it's the ground, the facilities and the club wanting to push them on to a higher a level," said O'Sullivan.

He revealed: "Good training facilities as well.

"We play at a school which has floodlit Astroturf and an inside gym.

"Everything here is excellent.  It's just the club has to grow - but it has got to grow slowly."

O'Sullivan has probably written to Father Christmas asking for a benefactor to waltz into the club to provide the funds so he can also sign the players that can take the club to a higher level.

"I would like us to entice better players and to do that we've got to move into everyone else's capacity and able to offer players something.

"We can't offer anything but what we've got here now.

"The lads pay before every game to play - so that's the difference.

"It's an un-level playing field but it's something we've got to deal with and we do deal with."

One thing though, club's that aren't blessed with high finances are always blessed with loyal players.

Midfielder Alan Hanlon and defender Steve McAlpine, who both joined the club in 1995, and are still  registered with the club, have played over 400 games between them and goalkeeper Craig Clark is approaching his 150th game after signing for the club during the same season.