Monday 20th June 2005

Deres focusing on youth development

IT MAY be the close season but a lot is going on at Erith & Belvedere, writes Stephen McCartney.

The Deres sadly suffered their first relegation in their 83-year history last month but are looking to bounce back out of the Kent League at the first attempt, and meanwhile the club are working hard behind the scenes to become bigger and better.

First of all, the Deres will be holding trials for their under 18 section this Saturday, 25th June.  Experienced players, who are up to playing Kent Youth League football, and are interested in joining the club should telephone 07719 712 151 for more details.

The senior squad, however, return to pre-season training on Saturday 2nd July after their close season break, which seems to be getting shorter every summer.

Manager Mick Acland and his assistant Wayne Baldacchino are keen to ensure that a strong quality set of players will be representing both the first team and second string next season.

There will be a mixture of current players and new signings and a strong contingent from the Deres' championship winning reserve side.

Having won the Kent League Division One title last season and the division two title the season before - quite an achievement considering the average age of the squad was just 19 - it's a side which have grown up together. 

They have lost only eight league matches in two seasons and had the best defensive record by far for both title winning campaigns.

Although the Kent League first division is a reserve division and there is no promotion, many of these players, who won the title, will be playing in the next league up.

At least six of them will have the chance to show their worth by taking the place in the first team squad this season.

Meanwhile, it is hoped more players than ever before will be coming through the club's ranks.  The Deres have extended their youth section for the third consecutive season by adding under 8's, 9's and 10's.

Just three years ago the club only have a first and reserve side but it now operates no less than ten teams in total with plans to extend it even further in the near future.

Fans can keep up to date of their progress by visiting the club's revamped website: