Within five years' there will be no more Thamesmead Town, fears ex-boss Keith McMahon
KEITH McMAHON believes Thamesmead Town will no longer exist within five years after the club were forced out of their town by their shameful landlords Peabody Trust.
The Mead have announced a five-year groundsharing deal at Princes Park Stadium, eight and a half miles away in Dartford from next season after chairman Paul Bowden-Brown decided it was a necessity to move away from SE28.
Ironically, Thamesmead Town played their local rivals VCD Athletic yesterday, a club that McMahon now manages after spending 11 years of his life at Thamesmead Town, where he was assistant manager, manager, director and still clearly holds a lot of love for his old club.
Thamesmead Town attracted their second largest crowd of the season for the game, which saw 124 fans watch a 2-2 draw, which leaves both clubs sixteenth and seventeenth in the Ryman League Division One North table on 50 and 44 points respectively.
McMahon is listed as an honorary vice-president at Thamesmead Town in their match day programme for his hard work both on and off-the-pitch during his 11 years at Bayliss Avenue.
When asked about Thamesmead Town’s decision to quit Bayliss Avenue, McMahon said: “Shocking! That hurts, that hurts! The amount of work that myself, not really myself, but Albert Panting and Peter Tiernay, who founded the club 43 years’ ago, Alan Martin, Terry Hill, Dave Joy, but we go back to Nick O’Keefe, Brian Norris, we go back that far, Barry Stoakley, Mark Lee, all the people that stepped up and really worked hard here, must be gutted.
“The reason why I left was because of Trust Thamesmead and they shafted the club and seeing Paul’s article in the week thanking them was absolutely outrageous and I told him and he knows!
“I think the truth needs to come out why they’re leaving here and that’s down to Paul - but if he won’t then I will!
“I was at every single meeting to build this place. I designed most of the changing rooms and all that and they said they needed the community.
“Not to have one Thamesmead team, not even a youth side in Thamesmead next year, is a joke and I said this to Paul.
“Paul’s done a job and he’s taken over and I’m not knocking that and he’s mentioned about people saying at the club that the club is going to die and I’m one of the people that have said that - and within five more years there will be no more Thamesmead Town, within five years, it’s a disgrace!
“Trust Thamesmead need looking at. There have been people that have lost their jobs in the last three weeks – I’m over the moon about it! They should have lost them three years ago!
“You can’t tell me the amount of money that Paul’s hard to shell out or the club’s had to shell out in the last couple of years that there’s other clubs paying here for not even a quarter of that and it’s a total disgrace and I think the FA and the Football Foundation, they need to do an enquiry on this and they need to look in and see what they’ve done with the money.
“The Peabody Trust and Thamesmead Trust was set up to look after the community and how can you have a football club down in Dartford? They’re not Maidstone United (with 2,000 plus crowds). They’re not ever, ever coming back to Thamesmead!
“I know Paul has decided to do what he’s done. I knew he had a year deal but for me personally they should have taken it because new people coming in here that at the end of that one year becomes another year.
“I just feel really sorry for Albert, Peter, Alan Martin that started this football club up 43 years ago.
“It ain’t about money, manager’s, players come and go, ok. Football clubs are about being loyal and I said this in an email and I was copied in with Paul in the week.
“I met a family over here that I loved and would do anything for and these people are hurting at the moment and no one would ever question Paul’s decision because he’s entitled to do that. I’m not blaming Paul for going. He could have held out but he thought he had to do that but I just think that the people who painted goals over in that field when it first started and worked here with their families and they’ve been loyal for 43-44 years, deserve better.
“And you see one person who’s not here, Albert, and that breaks your heart. He won’t walk into his own ground. When you’re 63-64 and you’ve been here for 43 years and you’ve given a lot of time and passion. They should be up for rewards from The FA. Colin Boswell has got an award for being at the Kent FA for 50 years. Sorry, I like Colin right, done a great job. He’s not done a quarter of a job that Alan and Peter have done here bringing untold kids in the community, thousands of kids’ they’ve looked after when this (ground) wasn’t even here, even when the old ground wasn’t even here, in containers over on the pitch over there.
“I’ve done my time here. I done it for them. I didn’t do it for me unfortunately.
“A football club means more than the first team and that’s what people forget. You don’t get a first team without youth because all those players have to start playing football somewhere at the age of eight, nine and 10, they just don’t start playing football at 23 and if you don’t nurture them you’ll lose them and that is the saddest thing.
“I know there will be a few tears shed and I know they’re hurting because I’ve spoken to them and I think people should be ashamed of themselves.”
Seven Acre & Sidcup, who changed their name at the start of this season to Sporting Club Thamesmead have now got their wish to become top dog at Bayliss Avenue, despite playing two leagues lower than Thamesmead Town in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division.
The main pitch will also stage Kent County League football next season as Welling Town have signed an initial one-year deal to play at the venue next season. They currently play in the Third Division West, the lowest tier of English non-league football, but wish to gain election into Step Six football.
“I left here because I would have done something sill and I really, really think someone at The FA or Football Foundation needs to do an enquiry of why a football club in its own town isn’t playing in its own ground,” continued McMahon.
“If it’s down to money, let’s see what the others are paying? Why should Thamesmead Town have to pay say £20,000 to play here at their own ground and then let another club play here for £3,000? It’s an absolute disgrace!”
McMahon was asked whether he would return to Thamesmead Town in the future.
“Listen, Paul’s come in and needed to do a job when he needed to and no one can knock Paul, his drive and his work-rate and everything but Paul’s an elderly, not a well man and god forbid it anything happens to Paul Bowden-Brown this football club is gone, ok.
“It’s not being nasty because anything can happen to anyone but if the football club was still here and even if they don’t pay players and they drop down to the Southern Counties East Football League Premier or First Division, the football club is still alive.
“Listen, my allegiance is to VCD and I will never and I owe Gary Rump (VCD Athletic chairman) a lot of loyalty because he’s been very loyal to me and I wouldn’t look to say yes I would come back here but let’s say 10 years down the line, there was a football club here and I decided I’ve had enough with my management or whatever and VCD needed something bigger and better over the years, who knows, and wanted a change, I would always be here, not to take over Paul because I don’t mean that, if anything god forbid and the club was still here. Now the football club has left here then everything’s gone. All the people, like I said, the Nick O’Keefe’s worked tirelessly and people forget that.
“I used to be here every night on this pitch, even when it was just that building and those people done it and we were a family, a big family and they would have come back and helped the club and I don’t mean financially. They would have got the youth teams here, they would have meant something and they’ve just had it all ripped away from them and everyone could see it.
“It’s not Paul’s fault, not at all, it’s the Trust’s fault.
McMahon claims: “I’ve got documents to prove fraud here, what the Trust’s done and I don’t care and the whole club has.
“You walk into the changing rooms, this building is like three years old. My picture’s up there when we opened it with Trevor Brooking. It’s disgraceful, it stinks, the drains are knackered, the fire alarm goes off.
“The Football Foundation put millions in this. They should be here looking round, what the hell is going on? What is going on?
“And that is the biggest thing. Help out people like Albert Panting and Peter Tiernay and The FA need to look at that service to football. There ain’t two or three better people than them that I’ve known in football and this is why I carried on doing it and I hope they do sort something out.”