Chatham Town can be classed as a sleeping giant, says Miles - EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Thursday 06th July 2006

Chatham Town’s incoming manager Phil Miles is “quietly confident” he can bring five or six new players to Maidstone Road as the club prepare for their Ryman League debut having switched from the Southern League during the close season, writes Stephen McCartney.

Despite losing talented youngsters in winger Byron Walker and defender Matt Bourne to their Division One South rivals Dover Athletic, Miles hopes the players he wants to bring to the Medway club will enable them to consolidate midtable - or higher.

When asked if he’s made any new signings he said in an EXCLUSIVE interview with before tonight's training session: “None as we speak but I have got five or six that I’m quietly confident will sign.

“Over the next two to three weeks I will be looking for them to put pen to paper.”

Miles, a 36-year-old, Northfleet based bricklayer, has seen the foundations built in the six years he’s been at the club as player and coach, and he’s taken over the first team manager’s role from Steve Binks during the close season, and insists the team can compete “with the so-called bigger clubs in this league.”

With Walker and Bourne joining former Chatham Town boss Clive Walker at Dover Athletic, Miles is confident he can replace the pair.

“He said: “Disappointed that we’ve lost two young promising players but the nature of the game we’re in your best players are going to be acquired.

“It’s a big disappointment but I have been looking to replace them. I am quietly confident that we’ll be able to sign people to fill their shoes.”

Miles, meanwhile, hinted at what his targets will bring to the Medway club.

He said: “Experience. They’ve played at this standard for four or five season’s or more. They’ll strengthen the squad and hopefully they’ll bring us some more success.”

Miles admitted he cannot wait for the new season to start, which will see six other Kent sides compete in the division, bringing more supporters to the club and more publicity.

And they’re other clubs outside our county, including Kingstonian, Tooting & Mitcham (managed by Billy Smith and George Wakeling) and Dulwich Hamlet that are always well supported.

“We can compete with the top sides that will be in this league,” he said. “The league has improved this year. It’s good for the club with the local sides in this league.”

Chatham started pre-season training on Tuesday night and 30 players turned up and Miles feels the same number will turn up again tonight.

“Six trialists have phoned and they should turn up looking for a way in,” he revealed. “Hopefully we can pick up one or two from that.”

But Miles has the same coaching philosophy as a manager as he did when he was coaching.

“We are trying to bring more players to the club,” he said. “We are doing the same training, which I was heavily involved in last year, and we are not doing anything different.

“I suppose we are looking for continuity during pre-season,” he added. “I will be looking for the new players that we will sign to gel with the team from last year and maybe one or two of the trialists and reserves will impress and come through.

“There’s enough pre-season friendlies for everyone to show me what they’re about. I played a couple reserve team games myself last year so I know which players are knocking at the door.

“But by the time we start we’ve picked a team that will gel and hopefully hit the ground running when the season starts.”

Has Miles set any targets? “Yes,” he replied. “We are going into this stronger league and I believe half way would be a good position to finish in.

“If we fall below that I’m not going to be disappointed but anything above then I will be delighted with that.

“I think the club as a whole has moved on in the six years that I’ve been here,” he praised.

“We’ve got a good chairman in Jeff Talbot, vice-chairman Barry Adams and treasurer Peter Enright.

“They’re all working hard for the club. They’re making the club one that can compete with anyone in our league.

“Over the last few years, when I was a player, you’ve seen players leave going onto a bigger club but we are pushing ourselves to be a bigger club.

“The only way of becoming a bigger club is to be successful on the pitch.

“When people say Dover are a bigger club but they’re in the same league as us, it’s possible. People speak of a sleeping giant and Chatham Town can be classed as a sleeping giant.”

But Miles’ side will be looking to play the attractive football - and winning football matches - to persuade fans, especially ones that support neighbours Gillingham, to flock through the Maidstone Road turnstiles.

He said: “I do firmly believe if we can attract the players that we’re after we are going to get bigger crowds.

“It will be hard for me and the club to compete with these bigger clubs, some budgets are higher than ours, but we have to work with what we’ve got.

“But we can compete with anyone on our day. And we need to believe that we can against the so-called bigger sides in our league.”

He added: “I think we deserve more support. It will be nice to see more neutrals coming to our games especially if Gillingham are playing away.

“We would like them to see Chatham Town play and we will try to give them as much entertainment as possible.

“We would like to see more Gillingham fans support their local team when Gillingham aren’t at home.

“We can’t wait for those derby games. If 30 neutrals turn up to see a cracking game, we will get those 30 turn up again.”

Chatham Town’s pre-season programme:

Saturday 15th July (a) Ramsgate
Saturday 22nd July (H) Tunbridge Wells
Saturday 29th July (a) Thamesmead Town
Tuesday 1st August (H) Margate
Saturday 5th August (a) Tonbridge Angels
Monday 7th August (a) Folkestone Invicta
Saturday 12th August (H) Harlow Town

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