Friday 25th June 2004

Gravesend in good shape for next season

GRAVESEND & Northfleet chief executive Glenn Aitken is confident the club is in a great position to improve on last season’s 11th-placed Nationwide Conference finish.

He said: “We have 17 players signed and ready to go, which is much better than this time last year when pre-season was largely spent trying to find the right players.

“Our squad is virtually in place, so we can concentrate this pre-season on what matters, training and coming together as a team.

“That’s not to say we wouldn’t make additional signings if the right player became available at the right price, but we will not be making rash decisions.”

With the signings of Margate pair Graham Porter and Jay Saunders, Manny Omoyinmi and Lee Protheroe putting pen to paper on permanent deals and Jimmy Jackson’s return to the club, Mr Aitken is looking forward to seeing the new-look team in action.

Talking about Porter, a central defender who scored seven goals in 35 appearances last season for Margate, and Omoyinmi, he said: “We have a good combination of youth and experience.

“Porter is a great addition because his experience stands him in good stead, just like Saunders and players who are already here like skipper Steve McKimm. Manny frightened defences last season and we expect the same of him again this season.”

Meanwhile,  top women’s football will be on show at Gravesend & Northfleet's Stonebridge Road stadium next season thanks to a deal with this year’s FA Cup finalists Charlton Athletic.

At least 14 league games will be staged away from The Valley, giving fans of the ladies’ game in North Kent the chance to see the best that there is in women's football.

Aitken sees this as another step in the development of the club. He said: “Charlton are a great example for football clubs everywhere in every aspect of the game. In women’s football, in particular, they are without doubt a leading light in the game.”

Following the deal, Charlton could start with a friendly against Manchester United on August 10. Mr Aitken said: “We are just awaiting confirmation of this fixture, which will undoubtedly attract a lot of interest locally.”

Send in your club's news to Stephen McCartney:
Email:  stephen@mccartney2000.fsnet.co.uk
Telephone: 07979 418 360