Lloyd Bradley: The key will be changing the name because we’re a club with a huge, long history going back
LLOYD BRADLEY says he’s in an awkward situation managing Eltham Palace in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division – instead of Stansfeld Oxford & Bermondsey Club.
Eltham Palace have been struggling on and off the pitch in recent seasons as they were run solely by Neil Proctor and they faced an uncertain future at Glebe over a lack of finances.
Stansfeld got hold of that and agreed a deal to play at Foxbury Avenue so they could take their place at Step Six but they missed the deadline so decided to take over Eltham Palace to take their place in the division.
However, The Football Association rules state that a lower division club cannot take the place of a higher division club in a merger so it’s Eltham Palace and not Stansfeld that are playing in the Southern Counties East First Division this season and Bradley’s side are wearing blue shirts and not the yellow and blue stripes shirts of Stansfeld.
Stansfled have a side in the Andreas Carter Joma Kent County League Premier Division, while their reserves play in Division One West.
“They key will be changing the name because we’re a club with a huge, long history going back,” said Bradley.
“It’s really awkward, We’ve tried our hardest to do it, it’s not a simple thing just changing your name.
“It’s really hard for all the committee, they’ve been what they call Stansfeld boys, they’ve been there as young men and boys that played for the club for years and years and to shift your allegiance and call yourself Eltham Palace, even shouting it out on the pitch, it’s very hard to shout Eltham Palace when it doesn’t come out right!
“The main thing is the sponsors. A lot of our sponsors are old Stansfeld boys that played football for the club or have been members of the club in Bermondsey or are still members of the club. They freely give and made good for themselves as business men of various levels and they’re very generous in their sponsorships but they’re sponsoring Stansfeld, they’re not sponsoring Eltham Palace and we’ve really pointed out to them it is Stansfeld, it really is! We desperately need that sponsorship but it’s made it very awkward for us in that respect alone.
“The boys still consider themselves as Stansfeld but you have to say Eltham Palace.”
Only one Eltham Palace player from last season, left-back Corey Knight has made it into Bradley’s squad so far this season, while most of last season’s squad have left.
“He’s done very well Corey. I’ve been pleased with him. He trains well,” said Bradley.
“A lot came down, we didn’t just turn them away. A lot of them came down and have not showed too much desire and have not forced themselves into trying but within the group there are two or three others who are playing for the reserves so I never turned anyone away. We came down with a full team already so we didn’t need players and I didn’t expect to get much from the Eltham Palace players anyway. I thought they would actually all leave but we did say you’re all welcome to come down and train. Some did come, most of them didn’t make the grade, I don’t think they were good enough, not being cruel.
“I didn’t want to lead them along and just dump them at the end. I made it very clear to them that they weren’t up the standard what I’ve got unless you were, it would be very difficult.”
When asked his aspirations for the season ahead, Bradley is aiming high.
He said: “Midtable mediocrity would be fine really. I’m under no pressure from the committee, who have been really supportive.
“I’ve been driving this, I wanted to come in to this league for as long as I’ve been at (Stansfeld). I said that at my interview when I took the job. This is where I wanted to take us.
“It was always about the ground. You did need a certain level of success but it’s all about getting a ground and they backed me. It's a big investment to groundshare with Glebe.
“I’m under no pressure but at this level you will have people sniffing around for your job so if I do fail someone will want it because it’s easier nicking a job in this league than the Kent County League!
“Our aspirations will certainly be to finish midtable or above and hopefully higher, top six will be what we should be looking at. Higher than that would be rather blasé finishing in the top four or top two.
“There’s teams now who are set up to try to be successful and are set up to be in the Premiership (SCEFL Premier). This is a learning season for us. If we can scrape in fifth or sixth I’ll be over the moon with that.”