Saturday 04th June 2005

Please credit article to Stephen McCartney - www.kentishfootball.co.uk

Erith Town can offer me more stability

THE PROSPECT of another season of uncertainty at Greenwich Borough has persuaded manager John Kasapi and his backroom team to jump ship and join Kent League rivals Erith Town, writes Stephen McCartney.

Kasapi, his assistant Keith D'urso and secretary Bob Harrall have left the struggling Harrow Meadow outfit to replace Willie O'Sullivan and his assistant, former QPR and Charlton Athletic goalkeeper Nicky Johns, who served the Dockers well for the last two seasons.

And Ian Birrell, Erith Town's general manager, thanked O'Sullivan and Johns for their efforts, which saw the club taste successful runs in both the FA Cup and FA Vase last season.

They reached the third qualifying round of the FA Cup before going out to Ryman League division one side Horsham and in the FA Vase, where they reached the second round proper, they lost an epic tie at Tunbridge Wells 4-3, despite going into the last ten minutes with a 3-1 lead.

"It's certainly the fact that John Kasapi and Keith D'urso are the first team management team for Erith Town for the forthcoming season replacing the services of Willie O'Sullivan and Nicky Johns, who managed the first team for the previous two seasons," announced Birrell.

And when asked why O'Sullivan and Johns left the club, Birrell added: "I think it was that they took the team as far as they could, a change of personnel and to freshen up generally. 

"Obviously our thanks go to both Willie and Nicky for the services and commitment to the club in those two years.

"During which we've enjoyed our best ever runs in both national cups and we wish them all the best in the future."

Birrell also thanked Lloyd Bradley for his services to the club in his three seasons with the Dockers.  Bradley has resigned to take up a first team role with Blackheath based local side Tudor Sports and the club are looking for a replacement reserve team manager.

But the future of Greenwich Borough hangs in the balance following the departure of Kasapi and his backroom team and probably most of last season's team.

"We had a meeting with the Erith Town chairman last Tuesday and he said that Willie (O'Sullivan) and Nicky (Johns) had left the club and asked if we were interested in taking over," revealed Kasapi.

"So basically we had a constructive meeting for an hour or so.  We went out and discussed the pros and cons and we decided to have a go next season at Erith Town.

"On the playing side, we are quite happy with the players at Erith Town.  Obviously we'll be looking to improve on last season's league position (they finished second from bottom and only four points better off than bottom placed side Lordswood) and hopefully we'll bring in some players from elsewhere as well."

So why did the Sidcup based manager decide to leave Harrow Meadow?

"The thing that sold it to us was Erith Town appears to be a much stable club than Greenwich, with a reserve and youth team - they have a much better structure than Greenwich.

"Greenwich only had another year on their lease and the feller there pulled out and to me it seems an unstable club. If we stayed there we would have had financial difficulties.  There were possibilities the ground would have been shut so there's an unclear future there.

"Their chairman Tamer Hassan is normally out of the country working, and basically between the three of us (Kasapi, D'urso and Harrall) we were doing everything."

It now seems Denise Moul, who works tirelessly for the club,  is left carrying the can at Greenwich Borough and even she doesn't know what the future holds for the South East Londoners.

"I don't know anything at the moment," she said when asked what the current managerial situation is at the club.  "There are a few in the pipeline but we are not sure what's what at the moment."

She wasn't prepared to make a statement regarding the lease.

Kasapi, however, is looking forward to his new job at the Erith Sports Stadium outfit.

For those unclear about Kasapi's background, the 49-year-old lives in Sidcup and played for Catford Wanderers in the Spartan League before progressing into coaching, where he achieved his UEFA B coaching badge.

Going from coaching boys teams he went to Welling United to coach their youth teams.  He ran Dulwich Hamlet's under 18's side in the Southern Youth League for three years, where he also helped to run their reserve side.

He tasted success managing the London under 16 representative side and in three season's he finished runners up in the Home Counties Championship in his first year but went one better in his next two campaigns.

Whilst at Corinthians, he helped them win the Kent League division one title, but his progress was halted as they declined an opportunity to move up to the premier division.

Taking over at Greenwich Borough last October, he helped Borough climb off the bottom of the Kent League table to finish in 9th place with 43 points.

"We were asked to go to Greenwich Borough in October and they were bottom but we finished a creditable ninth position," Kasapi reflected.

"We've got no budget at Erith Town but what we've got is a much better structure, better training facilities and the possibility of playing on the best pitch in the league.

"It's a step forward and the chairman has got plans to put a cover over the stand and trying to get sponsors into the club.  Once we've got the ground sorted we will be looking to push on.

"I think it's a positive move for us and looking to be in the top six and compete."

Kasapi, however, is convinced he can bring players into the club - for no financial gain but the prospect of having good training facilities and an excellent pitch to play on could attract them to the club.

"I tend to think there are players out there that have said to me that they are not fussed about money."

Despite a few calls to O'Sullivan's mobile this morning, we are sadly unable to get his version of events.