Please credit this article to Stephen McCartney - www.kentishfootball.co.uk
Wells pushing for honours next season
PROGRESS has been made at Tunbridge Wells this season, writes Stephen McCartney.
The Culverden Stadium outfit, who finished last season in 15th place (third from bottom) shocked many people in the close season when they said they were going to finish in the top six.
So manager Kevin Metcalf was pleased his side finished in seventh place in the Go Travel Kent League this season and enjoyed good times in both the FA Cup and FA Vase.
"All along we wanted to finish in the top six so I think we were there or there abouts really," said Metcalf.
Metcalf who called their campaign a "marvellous season," added: "The plusses have been working with first class players and a first class management committee. The attitude of the players has been first class and as I've already said, as far as I'm concerned, we've got two of the best coaches in non-league football in Martin Telford and Dave Rice."
Eyebrows were raised when Metcalf plucked Ben Hilden out of Maidstone League football but the tall defender went on to star in every game this season at the higher level and has won the managers' player of the year award.
"Ben is an ever present, never missed training and was always there," praised Metcalf. "This was his first year at this level and I think he's done realty well. He played for The Rose in the Maidstone League.
" I've known him since he was a young lad and to be honest it was possibly one of the hardest decisions I've made in football to sign him."
Highly-rated Tonbridge based goalkeeper Matt Bromby, who spurned moves to both Sittingbourne and Maidstone United during the course of the season, has, like the rest of the first team squad, pledged their futures with the club.
Speaking about the supporters' and players' player of the year winner, he said: "When we looked at the situation from last year there was about five or six players I wanted to keep and Matt was obviously top of the list.
"We've spoken to Matt, we know clubs have been looking to sign him, but he's pledged his loyalty to the club. I think he's a man to his word and we look forward to pre-season with him.
"When Sittingbourne and Maidstone came in for him during the season, Martin (Telford) and I spoke to him and he wanted to stay.
"That shows where the club is going. Any club that can keep their top players must be doing something.
"All our players have said they wanted to stay, everyone of them have said they will be at pre-season training," announced Metcalf.
With such a talented squad of players at the club next season, and with additions in the pipeline, Metcalf is predicting a top three finish next season.
"We've said from day one that this season was to bed the youngsters in and get them, and the players that have played at a higher level, used to Kent League football.
"We are looking to address the situation next season and I am looking forward to the pressure of perhaps finishing in the top three.
"Let's put the cat amongst the pigeons - with the coaching staff and the players we've got, perhaps with one or two players coming in, I believe we will be pushing for honours next year."
It is the management team of Metcalf, Telford and Rice that has brought the good times back at Culverden and Metcalf cannot wait to get started again next season.
The club finished the season off on a high note, beating runners-up Herne Bay 1-0 in their final game of the season.
Metcalf added: "What was important only one team got six points off us, which was Maidstone.
"We wanted to beat Herne Bay and in beating the top two sides at home we've now made the Culverden a hard place to come.
"It was a very difficult game, not many chances and I know Herne Bay had a couple of youngsters in there trying to get a place in the (Kent League Cup) Final.
"We also had a couple of youngsters trying to show us what they can do and it was a good game for the Kent League."
Metcalf, however, will be sad to see the back of Ramsgate boss Jim Ward. The Southwood Stadium outfit are awaiting on a decision from the FA to see if their ground is good enough to host Ryman or Southern League football next season.
Metcalf added: "Jim Ward is a legend as far as I'm concerned, alongside Tommy Sampson and Alan Walker.
"They are managers I look up to and Jim Ward deserves it (promotion). Whatever club he goes to he does well and I wish him the best."