The way forward is to fight to return to a traditional Kent Premier League, says Beckenham Town chairman Paul Faires
BECKENHAM TOWN chairman Paul Faires says he is keen to see the return of a powerful Kent League.
The League rebranded its name to the Southern Counties East Football League in 2013 and the Eden Park Avenue chief calls for a rethink due to a lack of sponsors and regular crowds of less than 100 at most member clubs.
Mr Faires grew up in the area and has been a Beckenham Town supporter since the age of eight.
“For me it has been a boyhood dream come true to be involved in the club that I grew up supporting from the age of eight, having been brought up by my wonderful parents in Eden Park,” Mr Faires told www.beckenhamtownfc.com.
“The early days (watching the club play) at Stanhope Grove have fond memories and some of the players can be found on our wall of fame in the clubhouse.
“Mum knitted me a red and white club scarf, which I proudly wore to all the matches and Dad made me what was known as the loudest rattle ever and it used to drive everyone mad!
“In those days we had two match reporters from the Beckenham Journal and the Beckenham and Penge Advertisers along with two photographers at every home match.
“Away matches were great fun trips on the team bus to Whitstable Town and Herne Bay were favourites for me, it was like a trip aboard.
“The bus would rattle down the newly-built M2 with the radio blaring out of the speakers.
“Eric Jarvis, our club captain, would offer me two shillings not to talk for the entire journey.
“Home matches against Cray Wanderers or Crockenhill were my favourites as they would bring a couple of hundred away fans along with plenty of chanting and banter, which brings me to this day and age.”
Mr Faires says he misses those days of large crowds at league games and calls for a change.
He said: “The club has many ambitions for the future, which I would like to briefly address.
“At present, we are stuck in what I would call a fake made up pyramid League where half the clubs are ambitious and the others just making up the numbers, in my opinion.
“The way forward is to fight to return to a traditional Kent Premier League.
“Can you imagine the amount of great local derbies that will create? Sheppey United v Sittingbourne, Whitstable Town v Herne Bay matches week in week out, against the likes of Deal Town, Tunbridge Wells and Canterbury City.
“Potentially we can even create a YouTube channel to show one match a week LIVE, which would drive gate revenues up and attract new sponsors.
“The current system is not financially sustainable. The smaller clubs are being forced into a league that they cannot afford to be in and top clubs are being left in a league that hardly anyone is interested in.
“What is the reward for being promoted (in to the Isthmian League)? It’s being kicked out of The FA Vase. We would be forced to enter The FA Trophy, a competition we would have no chance of progressing in.
“North Eastern club’s have for years refused promotion (in to the Northern Premier League) and have a vibrant (Northern) League with a fantastic fan base that what I am certain we can achieve with a new Kent League over the coming weeks.
“I will be talking to like-minded progressive clubs and chairmen to see how we can take this forward and will update on any progress.”
The Beckenham Town chairman revealed he has plans to build a new clubhouse at their Eden Park Avenue base.
He said: “The main goal over the next 12 months will be to start raising funds for a new clubhouse consisting of changing rooms, bar, VIP area, boardroom and offices along with other facilities.
“Progress is already being made. In fact, it has to be made because our current clubhouse was built in the 1920s and is nearly 100 years old.
“What a fitting tribute it would be to name a new clubhouse after our wonderful sadly missed club secretary Geoff Ward.”
On the pitch, Beckenham Town are in second-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with 45 points from 22 games. They are a point and a place behind their bitter-rivals Fisher, who have a game in hand.
Beckenham host bottom-three side Hollands & Blair on Saturday, 5 January 2019 (15:00), before they travel to Bayliss Avenue in Thamesmead on Monday evening (19:45) to play Sporting Club Thamesmead in the last sixteen of the Challenge Cup.
Visit Beckenham Town’s website: www.beckenhamtownfc.com