I believe we are building something special at Lewisham, says chairman Ray Simpson
LEWISHAM BOROUGH chairman Ray Simpson says he is saddened after parting company with his management team last Saturday.
The club showed the door to Kevin Harris, Ray Bagnall and Jamie Leggett after only eight games into the season with the club sitting third-from-bottom (fourteenth-place) in the Pain & Glory Sports Kent Invicta League table with two wins and six defeats.
Harris’ last game in charge of the club was their 4-0 defeat to Bearsted at Ladywell Arena last weekend, which sees them two points clear of basement side Kent Football United.
Mr Simpson has taken time to reflect before issuing a statement this morning.
“Kevin and Ray, due to health related matters, have not been able to commit the necessary time towards looking after football matters at the club,” he said.
“The load fell very much on the shoulders of Jamie Leggett, as first team player-coach and under 21 manager.
“Jamie has also now decided that he does not fit into the new management team plans for the club and I am also saddened to see him go.
“I would like to thank Kevin Harris, Ray Bagnall and Jamie Leggett for their efforts and wish them well for now and the future.
“I had to take the management reigns for the local derby fixture against Bridon Ropes on 3rd September due to the unavailability of management where we managed to secure a 2-1 victory for only our second win of the season.
“I have and always will give managers and coaches time to build a structure and to develop a strong base.
“The departures were never down to results. I want a management team who are prepared to commit themselves and work with a club format and bring fresh ideas and energy to the club. It should be remembered are only in their eleventh season.
“We have many talented young players at the club who need to be nurtured and developed and then to express themselves at fantastic levels of football and Leagues (Kent Invicta and Kent County Under 21) and may have committed themselves to the club and I hope many others will stay.
“There are many rumours out there about me, the club and my board of directors, but we all remain focused, passionate, dedicated and committed.
“Of course there will be times when tough decisions have to be taken and this time was no exception but when this happens it is never personal and I still have a good relationship with many previous managers and coaching staff.
“We have strong backing by the Mayor of Lewisham (Sir Steve Bullock) and several sponsors have been impressed by the energy, vision and enthusiasm of the club.
“I myself have a strong personality which I pride myself on and those who know me well want to be around me and my club.
“I have formed great relationships over the years with many other chairmen, directors, players, supporters, match officials and League officials at all levels right up to the Conference level.
“I believe we are building something special at Lewisham and with the dedication of the fantastic team behind me (all volunteers) we can only succeed.
“Plans are already in place for the Academy to be up and running from the 2015-16 season and seating is expected to be in place from March 2015 which would allow us to play in The FA Vase and then FA Cup.
Mr Simpson has unveiled his new management team, which will be led by former Bridon Ropes manager Ben Kotey.
Martin West, who was in the Lewisham Borough team that won the Kent County League Premier Division title in 205-06, will come in as assistant manager.
Ex-Barnet professional, Philip Simpson, was the first manager of Lewisham Borough guiding them to win the Kent County Division One West title back in 2003-05, also joins the coaching staff.
Highly-rated young coaches Ebun Thomas and Kenny Graham will also join the coaching staff with Graham operating as under 21 manager.
Meanwhile, Tony Simpson, who has done many great things with youngsters in the area as youth coach at Moonshot Football Club, will come in as Academy director.
Chairman Mr Simpson said: “I have had to move quickly to assemble a team of personnel which I believe can take these plans forward on the field giving the club the possible chance to succeed and to match the great work which is going on behind the scenes.
“I would like to thank the many people who have sent me good wishes over the years and helped to keep me and the club going especially in the difficult times which we have had over the last few years.
“Many personnel, players and volunteers, have remained loyal to the club and are committed to helping me develop something special here in Lewisham.”
Bagnall, meanwhile, read the statement from the club, insisting that he isn’t suffering from ill-health.
“All I want to say it wasn’t health issues. Kevin knew from day one that I would help him out through pre-season because I was on holiday when the League started and then when I came back I was going to go with Terry Malin at Johnson & Phillips Football Club.
“I haven’t been to any of their games and the last game I went to was a friendly against Sevenoaks.
“It was never ill-heatlh, which has really upset me. Kevin, the manager, knew the situation.”
Meanwhile, Lewisham Borough’s reserves/under 21’s are in action tonight when they welcome West Wickham to Ladywell Arena in the Kent Intermediate Cup First Round (Sponsored by Darenth Design & Print), kicking off at (7:45pm)
Kotey’s first game in charge of the club will be away to Rusthall in the Pain & Glory Sports Kent Invicta League on Saturday.
Gary Sharman’s side are three places higher than Borough in eleventh-place with two wins and a draw from their six league outings.
Rusthall v Lewisham Borough
Pain & Glory Sports Kent Invicta League
Saturday 20th September 2014
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Jockey Farm, Nellington Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 8SH