We're making massive progress behind the scenes and the future is bright for us, says Lewisham Borough boss Ray Simpson

Sunday 14th August 2016

LEWISHAM BOROUGH chairman Ray Simpson says he is celebrating the progress that rival clubs have made in improving their facilities since the Kent Invicta League kicked off five seasons’ ago.

The Kent Invicta League has now merged to become the Southern Counties East Football League First Division – or SCEFL1 – and clubs must be praised for improving their facilities, seating accommodation and floodlighting.

Mr Simpson says The Ladywell Arena is soon to meet ground grading criteria.

“Seating will be in by the end of August, a 100-seater stand,” said Simpson, who is also manager and secretary of the club.

“That’s on the railway side where the current spectator rail is, on the half-way line, so if you go down there the concrete base should been done by the end of the week.

“It should’ve been in, in April because I applied to play in The FA Vase. That wasn’t possible because there has been a bit of a delay but we’re almost there.

“We’re having significant work done to the pitch. This is why we’re not able to play any home games until the beginning of September so we’ve got five away games in August.

“We’re making massive progress behind the scenes, we really are. I’m confident, along with my other directors, that the future is bright for us.

“We get the seating in and making progress with the pitch, players will come. We’ve been in a position where nobody wants to come to Lewisham Borough. Everyone thinks we’re a bit of a joke, we’re a bit of a laughing stock. That will change. I’ve seen elements of change this season already. I’ve got a group of people who believe what I’m trying to do and what the directors are trying to do and they’ve remained loyal from last season and they want to stick with it.”

Every club in the division, apart from Crockenhill and Orpington, who are extremely lucky to still be involved as they don’t have floodlights at their grounds, have worked wonders to get ground up to scratch in the last couple of seasons.

“It’s unbelievably impressive,” said the Lewisham boss. “You look at Glebe, incredible. You look at a lot of the stadiums and teams that have gone up, Bearsted, Sheppey’s stadium you’re talking about a Ryman League ground, it’s probably a Ryman Premier ground.

“The progress that has been made by a lot of clubs is quite outstanding and I include our club in that.

“I mean, five years ago we didn’t have a clubhouse. We still had the worst pitch as everyone kept reminding me. Yes, we had lights, now 13 years’ hard work we’ve got the seating going in. That’s significant for us and we’re going to have a real big celebration., so that’s going to be quite a big occasion for us, it’s huge. It’s huge progress for this level and it’s a real compliment to the management committee and all concerned to create a Step Six League at The FA and look at how many teams that have responded so fantastically to that and I’m proud to be a part of that.”

Simpson, meanwhile, faces a battle to turn around the fortunes on Lewisham Borough’s vastly-improved playing surface.

The club have suffered defeats in their opening two league games of the season – going down to a harsh 4-1 defeat to title-favourites Glebe on opening night and Alex Ball’s second half goal was enough for Crockenhill to beat them yesterday.

Lewisham Borough have finished rock bottom of the table for the past two seasons and have only Phoenix Sports Reserves below them after a couple of games.

Lewisham Borough have now lost 57 of their last 70 league games up until now and Simpson says hard work is key to improve that depressing statistic.

“Thanks for reminding me, the last two years we finished bottom in the Kent Invicta League,” added Simpson.

“It’s simple. Hard work. We’ve got to stay together. We’ve got to believe in each other. I know these are old clichés. We’ve got to put the work in on the training ground. 

“We’ve got to get in people’s minds that you have to play to a plan. I’ve been emphasising this all season. We have to play to a plan, believe in each other. We have to believe in what the management are saying, the coaching staff and we have to go out and play to a plan.”

A good way to start will be beating Phoenix Sports Reserves in the basement battle next Saturday in Barnehurst.

Phoenix Sports Res  v  Lewisham Borough
Southern Counties East Football League First Division
Saturday 20th August 2016
Kick Off 3:00pm
At Mayplace Road East, Barnehurst, Kent DA8 3BJ