We’re not Little Old Bromley anymore. We can mix it with the best of them, says captain Jack Holland
BROMLEY captain Jack Holland says morale will be high for their trip to their bitter-rivals Sutton United on Saturday.
Neil Smith’s side are in second-place in the Vanarama National League table with 37 points from 21 games, while Sutton United are fourth-from-bottom and in the relegation zone with 19 points from their 20 league outings.
Bromley were knocked out of The FA Cup by League One side Bristol Rovers at Hayes Lane on Tuesday night, with Jonson Clarke-Harris scoring the only goal of the game inside the opening three minutes.
Bromley striker Michael Cheek had an equaliser controversially ruled out for offside in the 42nd minute, despite Bristol Rovers’ defender Alfie Kilgour playing him ONSIDE.
Bromley travel to Sutton United and then Woking next Tuesday 26 November before hosting Yeovil Town on Saturday 30 November.
“The next two games are tough,” said centre-half Holland, 27.
“Sutton, obviously, it’s a big rivalry. It’s always a massive game for us. I think it’s called el-Plastico or whatever it’s called now but we’ll go there, we’ll recover now. The FA Cup is gone our full focus is on the league and we’ll come back to another two hard games.
“I think, especially this year, it’s looking positive for us at the moment in time. Every game is massive. Everyone’s sort of seeming to beat everyone. No one can sort of get away from anyone but it’s all about the consistency now. I think that’s something that we need to get ourselves to really push on this year.”
Bromley took 521 noisy fans to Bristol Rovers on Sunday 10 November for the first game and Chris Bush scored a late equaliser to set up a lucrative home replay.
The game was selected for live coverage for BT Sport and Hayes Lane was sold out and 4,558 fans packed into the old stadium to see Bromley put in a good fight against a tenth-placed League One side.
Bush gave the ball away to Ollie Clarke, who whipped in a great cross from the right towards the edge of the six-yard box and Sam Wood, Holland or Joe Kizzi couldn’t prevent Clarke-Harris bundling in his ninth-goal of the season.
Crowds of over 2,000 are now a regular feature at Hayes Lane nowadays as Smith’s men target promotion into League Two for the first time in their 127- year history.
However, back in 2001-02, Bromley finished in the bottom four of the Ryman (Isthmian) League Division One table with 42 points from 41 games and things were a lot different back then.
Bromley’s traditional Isthmian League rivals Dulwich Hamlet are now regularly drawing crowds of over 2,000 in the Vanarama National League South but both club’s lost supporter numbers during this period.
The Boxing Day clash between the two clubs at Champion Hill that season attracted 305 and the April clash at Hayes Lane drew 261 people.
Bromley’s largest league attendance that season was 308 for the visit of Wealdstone and 315 watched Bromley’s FA Trophy tie against Tooting & Mitcham United.
You now have to pinch yourself at Bromley’s steady progress since then, climbing up three leagues and are now level on points with leaders Barrow.
“I think the mentality this year, especially the boys the gaffer has brought in, I seem to say it week-in-week-out we’ve got a special bunch of boys here,” added Holland.
“It is a pleasure to come in every day and work with them and I know when I walk onto that field there’s 10 other men, not even 10, there’s the whole squad that are ready to die for each other and I mean that and I think people are starting to see that and when you’ve got that sort of mentality out there special things happen so hopefully we take that into the league.
“We’re not Little Old Bromley anymore. We can mix it with the best of them. I’m proud. I thought we gave it everything out there against Bristol Rovers.”
Holland insists Bromley travel to Gander Green Lane in high spirits despite their FA Cup heartbreak.
“I think we’re quite good at being disappointed until Thursday rolls around and then we’re quite good at forgetting that game and moving onto the next,” said Holland.
“The gaffer and the management are massive about putting things to rest and then going onto the next game. You can never affect what’s already been so we’ll dust ourselves down and full focus on to the league on Saturday.
“We’re on the verge of doing something special this year and it will take every one of us, not only the club but the fans, the fanbase is right behind us as well, which is massive.”
When asked if The Lillywhites can go on to win promotion at the end of the season, Holland replied: “It’s whispered at Bromley at the moment and I know it sounds cliché but we do take every game as it comes. I don’t think any of us are looking that far forward. As soon as we look that far forward that’s when you slip up. We’ll look at it as one game at a time and see where we end up.”
Smith has called for crowds of between 2,500 and 3,000 when Yeovil Town visit Hayes Lane at the end of the month.
“We’re now averaging over 2,000 a game. I want that to be 2,500 and 3,000 as early as we can because I think this club can accommodate it. I think we’re ready for that support to get behind us and show what we can do,” added Smith.
Every Bromley game just seems to be bigger than the last one and Smith is keen to bounce back from their disappointing result against Bristol Rovers, having been the better side over two games but their wait for FA Cup First Round glory continues, having last won at this stage of the competition back in 1945.
“Their all biggies, while we’re up there everyone wants to beat you. It’s amazing,” said Smith.
“This time last year we were just below midtable and drifting through games and now there’s something to play for in every one of them so they’re all going to be massive.
“Sutton United is a local game. They’ve picked up results, you never know what you’re going to get. They’ve got some great individual players and we’re playing against Omar Bugiel again.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re ready and take the disappointment but be proud of what you’ve done. I know their parents and family would have been proud of everyone of those players but the bigger picture is the league.”
Smith is relishing the trip to his old club Woking.
“I’m actually going to a Legends night for them as well on the 29th, they’ve asked me to go down there. They’re a fantastic club and I’ve got some great memories down there. I’ve got good friends down there but obviously I want to beat them!”
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