We’ll be challenging a lot better than what we did last year, says Beckenham Town coach Billy Walton
BECKENHAM TOWN coach Billy Walton says he is expecting a much better season ahead.
The club escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth as they escaped their first relegation by just one point as 29 points from 38 games was enough to keep them in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division.
Jason Huntley takes his side down to Tunbridge Wells to contest a FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie on Saturday.
“It’s always difficult down there,” said Walton, ahead of their trip to Culverden Stadium.
“They’ll be fired up, they’ve got a big crowd behind them. We’ve got to go there and do a job and be very, very professional in every department, otherwise we’ll get beat. I’m expecting a tough game from them.”
The winners of this weekend’s Extra Preliminary Round ties collect £1,500 but Walton insists more money should filter down to the clubs that need a shot in the arm financially.
The Premier League club that wins at Wembley Stadium next May will scoop £1.8m, while the runners-up will collect £900,000.
“What annoys me is they get that for winning and it’s normally Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United that win it and they don’t need £1.8m! Why don’t they get a million and put that money down to our end so we get £5,000 for winning on Saturday and if you lose, you get £2,500.
“Two thousand pounds buys tracksuits for the year, footballs for the year, something’s got to be done about that!”
No club should start their campaign with a FA Cup tie with so much money at stake on the opening day of the season – they wouldn’t ask a Premier League giant to start their campaign with a Champions League tie!
Walton said: “It’s ridiculous what they’ve done this year and last. The FA Cup means a lot to all our clubs and to throw it in straight away, it’s ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous!”
Walton played a key role in keeping Beckenham Town in the division and Fisher and Erith & Belvedere were the relegation casualties and will be playing in the First Division this season.
“Most probably the point we got down at Tunbridge Wells (kept us up) so as I’ve said to you, I’ve never been relegated in my life – it never happened,” said a relieved Walton.
“This year we’ll be at the other end of the table, we’ll be challenging a lot better than what we did last year!
“We haven’t got a lot to improve on have we? I’d like to see us up in the top four. We’ve got loads of talent, we’ve got loads of characters this year, we’ve got everything for us.”
With two clubs getting promoted at the end of the season, Walton wants Beckenham Town to be one of them. The club after all has the playing surface and the ground to host Bostik League football. It’s just getting there that’s the stumbling block.
“They’ll be eight teams, it’s a bit like the Premiership, seven or eight teams that can all win it,” predicts Walton.
“A lot of teams are throwing, what I believe silly money for this level. That’s down to them. That’s their owners of their clubs to pay that money but I think there will be eight teams that will be up there and I’m hoping we’ll be one of them.”
Beckenham Town open their league campaign with a trip to Gillingham to play Hollands & Blair on 12 August, before newly-promoted First Division champions Glebe arrive at Eden Park Avenue on 15 August.
“That will be another tough test for us so we’ve got two tough games to start with, it could’ve been a bit easier,” admitted Walton.
“Hollands & Blair will be a decent side. They’re well-organised. At their place, same thing. They’ll get a decent crowd there. We’ve got to go there and be professional and sort out a good performance.
“Glebe is a local derby. I know Rocky (McMillan, their chairman) myself personally. I don’t know their manager (Ben Young) that well. They’ll come to our place, on our pitch and they’ll want to play.
“All the games are going to be hard, all difficult. I expect Glebe to be a real difficult team to beat.”
Walton added: “I love my football and I love being involved in it. I’m looking forward to it this year and I’m just hoping we’ll be a lot better than last year!”
Visit Beckenham Town’s website: www.beckenhamtownfc.co.uk
Tunbridge Wells v Beckenham Town
The Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Saturday 5th August 2017
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Culverden Stadium, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 9SG