Sunday 01st May 2005

Please credit this article to Stephen McCartney - www.kentishfootball.co.uk

Ashford need everyone to pull together in the same direction

A BOTTLE of champagne will be heading it's way to Whyteleafe's Church Road ground in the next couple of days sent by Tim Thorogood, the chairman/manager of Ashford Town, writes Stephen McCartney.

Despite his side getting thrashed 5-0 at third placed Horsham, they were spared relegation into the Kent League as Whyteleafe's 3-1 win over Dorking sent them down instead.

Ashford finished a very traumatic campaign just one point above the Ryman League division one drop zone and Thorogood insists everyone at The Homelands club must pull together to improve matters on the pitch to make sure a repeat of this season never happens again.

Speaking about how he felt after their sorry defeat at Queen Street but maintaining their Ryman League status, Thorogood said: "It's a kind of mixed feelings because we were dreadful.

"To have a game of that importance and play so badly makes you wonder why?

"But at the same time after the results against teams like Metropolitan Police (0-0) and we should have beaten Walton & Hersham (1-2) then we go to a side playing for our lives and we fall over it's unbelievable.

"I just feel really let down if I'm honest by the players.  I felt sorry for the fans, some of our fans I think are very rude and very critical of the players but the supporters yesterday were good, but we let them down yesterday and it was embarrassing."

Thorogood, however, questioned the commitment of a number of his first team squad and insisted they will be thrown out and replaced with players with some heart.

"We are fighting for our lives and only seven players turned up for training on Thursday night," he revealed.

"We need to win to stay up and I turn up for training,  I'm the first person there, and we've got seven players out of a squad of 18.  It's always the same players that turn up and the same players that let us down.

"Training is part and parcel of football at this level and I can name 10-15 players that have missed several training sessions this year.  

"They know who they are because they won't be here next year."

Ashford Town have used 68 players this season and results have been poor.  Thorogood began the campaign as manager and collected only one point from their opening three games before handing the reigns over to former Welling United manager Tony Reynolds, who failed to pick up a point in three outings.

Then came former England star Terry Fenwick and he picked up 12 points (2 wins) from his 16 games in charge.  In fact it took Ashford 12 games to win their first league game.

After 22 games the club had picked up only 13 points but Thorogood has turned it around and having collected 23 points (6 wins) in 20 games they have only just maintained their Ryman League status.

"This club this season has been a farce," he admitted.  "And from a football perspective that's no way to run a football club.  

"I inherited a side to keep us in the league.  John (Cumberbatch) and I had to clear out the players and bring in players I felt would give us stability.

"We were poor and were absolutely rubbish at Horsham but we are still in this league.

"This season has been the most difficult - this isn't good enough."

Thorogood and his assistant John Cumberbatch are discussing their plans for next season but he insists the club needs the help of its supporters and local business so they can compete with the other clubs in the Ryman League first division.

"We are chatting today and we have already spoken to players," he revealed.  "We are meeting early this week and we'll have eight to ten new players to go with the better ones that have done things properly with us.

"People don't realise, it's not easy when we are running a team, third from bottom on a budget we can't even afford.

"They think Ashford should be successful but for Ashford to be successful we need to be supported form the terraces and money from the local community and businesses and people to get involved."

In the 20 games Thorogood has retaken over the reigns, those 23 points has only just kept the club in the Ryman League and he feels the fans should recognise that.

"With John Cumberbatch, we have managed to turn the club around and managed to keep the club where we should be.

"Instead of ruining us, they should moan at Terry Fenwick and Tony Reynolds - they have put is in a mess and we have got us out of it.

"People might say that I installed them as managers, yes I did, but I don't read the website, people are too rude but what I've heard from others is no-one condemned Terry or Tony for poor results but I've had no good words about us for saving us and that shocked me.  

"These two managers, have far better credentials than me, and between the two of them they managed only two wins."

Thorogood has plans to shut down the club's fans' forum on their website so fans can express their feelings about the club face to face instead of abusing him in cyberspace.

"If anyone of them have got something to say, make an appointment to speak to me and I will see them at the football club.

"It's easy to criticise people but what people don't realise, but they should, we are one of the clubs, I think, that have under achieved, but at a massive cost.

"If you look at what we have spent this season and got in return is dreadful.

"Next season John and I will be staying at the club and build stability.  We are not good enough to win it, we cannot afford the wage bill but if people start supporting the club and stop rubbishing it maybe they can have a team worthy.

"Ashford is a big town so support it.  We won't be the greatest side in the league but we will work hard to get into the play-off's."
Thorogood admitted he cannot afford players like Jamie Taylor, the striker who scored four goals for Horsham on Saturday.

"Taylor yesterday, who I think is the best player in this league, he will come at a large price, which we cannot afford.  We've got to do it with raw talent, coaching and a lot of hard work.

"Since the new year we've had to make up a massive deficit to keep us in the league.  This year we've survived, we need to work and build on that.  John and I will work hard and turn it around.

"We could make the play-off's next season but we need stability, organisation, discipline and a good attitude."

So what Ashford Town need for next season is for everyone to pull in the same direction - both on and OFF the pitch.