When you see there’s 17,000 Bromley supporters you just hope some of them come down and watch you every week, says Bromley boss Neil Smith
BROMLEY manager Neil Smith says he wants crowds of over 2,000 to watch his side in the Vanarama National League next season.
At least 17,000 people purchased tickets to sit in the Bromley end at Wembley Stadium seven days ago, as Bromley suffered a heartbreaking defeat to Brackley Town in The Buildbase FA Trophy Final.
Bromley scored inside 19 minutes through Omar Bugiel’s finish after a run and inch-perfect pass from Adam Mekki.
Both sides created and missed chances during the rest of the game before part-time Brackley, snatched a cruel yet deserved equaliser just 19 seconds from the end of the game.
There were 10 Bromley players (including Bromley keeper David Gregory) behind Matt Lowe’s drive (and seven of his team-mates) but somehow the ball bounced off the far post and was flicked in by Bromley defender Roger Johnson, who was the man standing in front of Gregory at the base.
The ball trickled into the bottom far corner and Bromley striker Bugiel had the chance to win the Trophy with his penalty, which he skied over the bar and captain Jack Holland struck the right-hand post and it was left to Andy Brown to shatter Bromley’s dream by rolling in the winning penalty for the third-placed Vanarama National League North side.
It was not in the script as Bromley failed to emulate the heroes of 1949 who defeated Romford 1-0 to win The FA Amateur Cup for the third time, the first Final played underneath the iconic Twin Towers.
Smith said: “I’m a Bromley boy and I’m a bit devasted that I couldn’t bring the trophy home to them.
“They came out in their numbers and I think they showed what this club could be.
“We were averaging 400 people, 200 on a Tuesday night (in Conference South), we’re now averaging (just under) 1,500 and we’d love it to go up.
“I think we’re establishing ourselves as a club. We try to find a nice brand of football for people to come and watch as well.
“When you see there’s 17,000 Bromley supporters you just hope some of them come down and watch you every week.
“We’ve made massive strides in the last two years and competing at that level at Wembley, I’m proud of them and as distraught as I am, everyone of those boys need a pat on the back.”
Bromley won the Conference South title in April 2015 and have improved year-on-year since then, finishing in the top-flight in fourteenth-place, tenth-place and ninth-place.
Smith has already lost the services of talented Louis Dennis, who left to sign for League One Portsmouth on a free-transfer on a two-year deal.
Holland, Gregory and Jordan Higgs are the only players, at present, who are tied down under new contracts next season.
“It’s been a brilliant season and if we can get anywhere near it next season, it will be another one but the bitter sweet pill is the fact that we reached the First Round of The FA Cup (losing 4-0 at League One side Rochdale) and the Final of The FA Trophy, just missed out on the play-offs.
“If someone said that at the beginning of the season everyone would’ve laughed!
“I think the expectation levels will go up. Everyone will expect it again and we know it’s going to be another hard season.”
Meanwhile, Bromley are one of ten non-league clubs that are staging the CONIFA World Cup, which starts next Thursday.
Bromley’s Hayes Lane stages the opening ceremony (19:00) of the tournament for the Confederation of Independent Football Association, which is the football federation for all associations outside FIFA.
Hayes Lane will then stage the Group A clash between Barawa and Tamil Eelam on Thursday, 31 May, kicking-off at 20:00.
All but one of the club’s that are staging the tournament play on artificial pitches, with National League pair Bromley and Sutton United, the two biggest venue clubs.
It seems ironic that you can play a World Cup fixture at Hayes Lane and Gander Green Lane but Bromley can’t host Sutton United in League Two due to the League’s stance on 3G pitches and that has to change next season!
Purchase tickets for the CONIFA World Cup: http://www.conifa.org/en/wfc-2018/wfc-2018-tickets
Visit Bromley’s website: www.bromleyfc.tv