Saturday 29th May 2004

Bromley bring youngsters back home to their roots

Lee United merge with Bromley as club aim to move to neighbouring school

BROMLEY Football Club’s youth section is entering its fourth season but following a merger with local cub Lee United, it will be their biggest by far, writes Stephen McCartney.

Bromley’s youth section was formed only three years ago by Dave Cairns and George Leggett.  Both were left frustrated by Thamesmead Town after their championship winning under-15 team, that clinched the Bexley A Division, were denied entry into MUSH Kent Youth League football for the following campaign by the Bayliss Avenue club.

However, all was not all lost, and Derek Parnham, who was sent on a UEFA B Course, was introduced to Alan Seamons, who at the time, was involved with Bromley.

As the Hayes Lane outfit had no youth structure, Seamons knew the importance of having one, and the trio were invited to start one at the club and fulfilled their ambitions for their championship winning team, as they turned out in the MUSH Kent Youth League under 16 Northern Division as Bromley playing at Hayes Lane.

The youth set-up at the Ryman League Division One outfit has steadily grown since then.

In season 2002-03 the under-16s were runners-up in the Kent Youth League and in 2003-04 the under-15s finished only six points behind league champions Maidstone United.

However, pride of place goes to former Crystal Palace chairman Mark Goldberg, and his under-eleven team.

They clinched the Tandridge League championship on the last day of the season and it is hoped that hot-shot youngsters Bane Dundavan and Bradley Goldberg can progress through the club’s ranks and become stars of the future in the club’s first team.

Dundavan scored an amazing 78 goals last season in league, cup and friendly matches with Bradley Goldberg netting 54.

Next season, Bromley will be fielding seven teams at youth team level – the highest number of teams ever at the club.

The club will also be fielding a reserve team, playing at Cray Wanderers’ Oxford Road ground in Sidcup, playing in the reserve division of the Go Travel Kent League, and a newly formed under-13 girls team so their will be TEN teams representing Bromley FC at all levels next term.

The under-11s will be playing in the Bexley & District Junior Football League, and Goldberg’s title winners will remain in the Tandridge League,  moving up to the under-12 division.

The MUSH Kent Youth League will introduce an under 13 division next season, and Bromley are fielding a side in the new division.  The club will also be fielding teams at under 14, 15, 16 and under 18 in Kent’s premier youth football competition.

In season 2003-04 Bromley fielded a team in the FA Youth Cup after a long absence.  With only nine men, brave Bromley fell to an injury time goal at Havant & Waterlooville.

First team manager Stuart McIntyre also saw the importance of blooding youth team players at Ryman League level last season.

Derek Parnham, the club’s under 18 manager last term, was also  first team coach, and youth team players John Butler, Dean Cairns, Andrew Alphonso-Dalhouse, Jamie Leggett and Nigel Pearce progressed into the first team squad.  Also, after making a handful of first team substitute appearances, midfielder Chris Hill scored a goal on his full first team debut.

Meanwhile, in three short seasons, and with only three teams, Lee Untied have experienced success that most established clubs would envy.

Their success to date include the London Football Association Cup, The Bexley League Challenge Cup, The Bexley League Under 11 Championship, as well as three Divisional titles.

Their success has come partly as a result of the well-organised nature of Lee United Football Club and this will now be an integral part of the Bromley FC Youth Section.

Although Bromley’s youth teams played outside the borough last season, in Mottingham, Lee Green and Catford, the club are currently in negotiations with a local school, which is only 200 yards away from the club’s stadium in Hayes Lane, to play all their youth matches and use their impressive floodlit Astroturf pitch for midweek training sessions.

Richard Kemp, who joined Bromley from Lee United, and will be joint-chairman of Bromley’s youth structure with Dave Cairns, said: “What we are hoping for is to provide football right up and past the age of eighteen.  At our old club, Lee United and only being a junior club, we had to say goodbye to our players when they were eighteen.

”This opportunity with Bromley FC means we can encourage the kids to progress right through the age groups, under 11-18, and hopefully into reserve team football right through to the first team.

”We are very keen to promote the integration between teams both on the managing and playing side and to encourage the players to the best of their ability.”

Dave Cairns admitted he was excited the merger with Lee United.

He said: “This merger with Lee United is really pushing us on a good three years.  Even though we have grown to a situation where we had under 14s, 15s, 16s and 18s in the Kent Youth League and under 11s in the Tandridge League we have now got teams right the way from under 11 to under 18.”

But playing at The Ravensbourne School in Hayes Lane, some 200 yards from the club’s stadium, will not only prove beneficial to the club’s youth teams but to the entire club as it strives to improve it’s footing within the local community it serves.

Cains added: “We are in the late stages of negotiations with The Ravensbourne School.  All our youth teams will use their pitches on a Sunday and their Astroturf facility for training in midweek.  The school only want one club to use their facilities and we have got a good venue, which is very near to the club.”

Cairns also admitted it is up to the youth structure to produce players for the first team.

With Bane Dundavan and Bradley Goldberg scoring the goals at under-11 level last season, the club hope they will continue their development at Bromley and progress into the first team at Hayes Lane.

Cairns added: “We want players to enjoy their football.  We want players to want to play for Bromley but the ultimate aim is to produce players for the first team.

”If every year we can produce four or five players, which is quite a good target, that is what we are all about.

“If you have players from under 11 right through to under 18 they are Bromley through and through.  And we want them to be with us through thick and thin.  That’s something the club hasn’t had for a long time.

“This is the start of the beginning.  I think over the next two or three years you are going to see a situation where our youth section will be one of the biggest and best and most powerful in our level of football.” Cairns added.

Cairns and Kemp and the hard working youth section committee, will be raining money through social events and sponsorship.

Cairns was full of praise for club chairman Jerry Dolke for all the hard work he has put into the Hayes Lane club.

Dolke, a former Bromley player, put the club up for sale last week.  However, he will never leave the club he loves in the lurch but he will be re-shaping the club behind the scenes during the close season.

Cairns added: “The people within the first team have worked really hard to get the club to where it is now.  I know when I came here three years ago the club was in a hell of a worse position to what it is now.  It’s a lot more healthier now to what it was then.  The club has moved.

“This is only the start and I think it’s very exciting.  I am excited by it and I am starting to see what the next couple of years will be like – and I like what I see!”

Bromley are also looking for girls to play in their new under thirteen team in the West Surrey/ Tandridge League. Anyone interested, should telephone Peter Rix on 07973 727 873.

Meanwhile, Bromley Football Club’s youth section have bagged their first sponsorship deal for next season.

www.kentishfootball.co.uk   has agreed to have it’s name on next season’s under 18’s home shirts.

To sponsor the remaining teams, please contact Dave Cairns 07801 235 967 or Richard Kemp 07787 505 024.