Canterbury has a cathedral for the tourists but it needs a football club, says manager Ben Smith

Thursday 23rd July 2015

CANTERBURY CITY joint-manager Ben Smith says he wants to build a team to be proud off in time of their emotional homecoming in the future.

The club are looking forward to playing on Ashford United’s new artificial pitch at Homelands Stadium this season.

They begin their Southern Counties East Football League campaign with a trip to Croydon on Saturday 8 August, before hosting Rochester United on Wednesday 12 August.

Smith is looking forward to his first game in charge of the club following his switch from Ryman League Division One South neighbours Herne Bay, where he was manager of the under 18s.

“I’m happy with how it’s gone so far,” said Smith.

“There’s a couple of areas that I need to look at. I’ll give everyone a chance, which I’ve done and it’s up to the players. It’s not personal. It will be just purely on merit and if they deserve a shirt they’ll get the shirt.  They know that, they’ve brought into what we’re trying to bring to the club.”

Canterbury City have finished in 12th place in their last two seasons.

“Last year the club survived and that was its aim and this year you want to build and push on because with the stadium around the corner we need to be in a position where when the planning goes in, we’ll have a real push at it to get a promotion,” said Smith.

“It’s not going to happen overnight. I’m a young manager coming into the men’s game. I’ve got experience coaching at Herne Bay.

“I look at last season, you’ve got Tim Dixon and Darren Beale going in at Hythe, experienced guys, great coaches, know the game inside out and it took a long while for them to change the philosophy at the club and that’s the key for me.

“It’s not a short term fix. What we’re looking at, the club has to evolve and the squad has to evolve. So far the players are a real credit to the club and hopefully that continues.”

Smith is relishing the opportunity watching his side express themselves on an artificial pitch at Homelands Stadium this season.

“Yes, that’s absolutely perfect,” he said.

“I look at the league, I’ve looked at some of the games from last year and a lot of sides prefer a direct style of play.

“With the money they’ve got, they can bring in experienced players and that can really work.

“We haven’t got the luxury of having that money at the minute. We’re groundsharing, so a lot of our money goes to that.

“I feel there’s no pressure on us to win the league so let’s try and build something for two years’ time and let’s be exciting and keep the ball on the floor, so having a 3G pitch there suits us completely down to the ground.”

Smith though can look at the bigger picture and wants to be the man that leads the club back in the iconic city.

“When I looked at possibly moving back to Canterbury, I wanted to get reassurances that the ground was likely to happen because I’ve been there before,” said Smith.

“The hard work the committee puts in, the board members, do deserve a ground.

“Canterbury City does deserve a football club. It’s got fantastic teams, you’ve got the cathedral for the tourists but it needs a football club.

“There’s people that if it was back in Canterbury would go back down there tomorrow watching.

“It’s a City and it deserves a football club and hopefully we can get them a club that they can be proud of and a team that they can be proud of.

“I’m sure someone like Jay Saunders a few years ago was groundsharing thinking is it going to happen?

“We might not be the same as Maidstone and emulate what they’ve done but we may be on a smaller scale but hopefully we can push on and emulate some of the stuff that they’ve done.”

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Croydon  v  Canterbury City
Southern Counties East Football League
Saturday 7th August 2015
Kick Off 3:00pm
At Croydon Sports Arena, Albert Road, South Norwood, London SE25 4QL