I don’t think there’s going to be too many tears when Eltham Palace fold or are no more, claims manager Lloyd Bradley

Sunday 20th November 2016

LLOYD BRADLEY says Stansfeld Oxford & Bermondsey Club are continuing their fight to ditch the Eltham Palace name.

The club paid around £1,200 to effectively purchase Eltham Palace’s place in the First Division of the Southern Counties East Football League, playing in Eltham Palace’s colours and that name is the one that appears in the fixture lists and league tables.

However, it was Stansfeld that agreed a three-year deal to groundshare Glebe’s Foxbury Avenue ground in Chislehurst and are keen to ditch Eltham Palace’s name once and for all at the end of the season to ensure Stansfled are playing at Step Six of English non-league football.

However, this practice is illegal in English football.  For example, Bromley could merge with Manchester United, just to move from playing National League football into the Premier League.  It’s not allowed, but it’s been allowed via the crafty back door.

“It’s sort of difficult to talk about at the moment because it’s such a touchy-feely subject,” admitted manager Bradley.

“We’ve taken advice from the Southern Counties East Football League, we’ve spoken to the Kent FA and we’re speaking to The FA at the moment. We’re looking at a way of changing the name.  Because of the criteria you can’t use existing names so it may be a name change but it might not be the full name that we had previously, it may be a glomerate of some part of that name, if we can get Stansfeld in there.

When asked about spelling the end of Eltham Palace Football Club, Bradley admitted: “It doesn’t seem that anybody cares, which is the worrying thing about it.  If it was a club with a rich history and there were other young sides then you’d say fair enough, but at Stansfeld we’ve got three teams at senior level, two in the Kent County and hopefully one in the SCEFL.  Our history is ridiculous, it goes back to 1880, something like that and winning trophies.”

The man who virtually ran Eltham Palace on his own, Neil Proctor, left Bradley and his colleagues a kit bag and debts and most importantly a place in the tenth tier of English football.

“That’s what it was literally and that’s what we’ve ended up with and that’s all we’ve had off them as well.  All we’ve had is the kit and we’ve paid off their debts,” said Bradley.

“We’ve had no contact really with Neil, who was running them before.  We’ve not required his help but he’s shown no interest at all. I think we retained three or four players out of their whole set-up throughout our club.

“I don’t think there’s going to be too many tears when Eltham Palace fold or are no more.

“I think they’ve got a Vets side that we have no link to whatsoever.  They’ll keep going because they like playing and having a beer afterwards.

“If we were to win anything it would be tinged with a bit of bitterness.  You’re winning it for Eltham Palace and it’s not going to be a part of Stansfeld’s history.  Since I’ve come to the club I’ve won three or four trophies and if I was to win one this year it would be tinged with a bit of bitterness as it wouldn’t go down in Stansfeld’s history.

“It’s served its purpose. We’ve done what we’ve done. We’ve got where we’ve got to. Hopefully we’ll change it.  If we don’t, we’ll carry on as is. Because that was the plan, the whole plan of what I wanted to do when I came to the club was to take us to the next level.  I’ve sort of taken the club to the next level through the back door but ideally I want us to be at the next level under the club’s name so the club can then be proud and we can take it from there.

“There’s big plans but it’s all linked to the name really. We want to incorporate youth level players, certainly press for the SCEFL Premier, that should be the club’s ambition.  As long as we’ve got a venue like Glebe, if they go up and get the grading at every level, as long as they want to keep us on as lodgers and we can afford to do that, we can travel the same journey as them with any luck that will be the plan long-term.”

Eltham Palace – founder members of the Kent Invicta League - are in the bottom five in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table with four wins, four draws and eight league defeats this season.

“We set ourselves a target at the start of the season and we said ninth or tenth would be fine and then next year we’ll try to march on,” said Bradley.

“We’ll have an assessment of the league and see what was required and see if we can add some more to that. If we have a good end to the season, maybe we can progress seventh or eighth, who knows. If we end up ninth or tenth I know I’ll certainly would be fairly happy with that.  I’m sure the committee who run the club will be happy with that, that we’ve established ourselves and consolidated in our first season.”