Friday 13th August 2004

Fisher aim to rediscover road to success

After a disappointing season in the Dr Martens League Eastern Division, Fisher Athletic start life in the new Southern League Division One East looking like a club going places on and off-the-field.

The first major change is that all home fixtures will be played at Champion Hill, home of neighbours Dulwich Hamlet. This will continue for two years, whilst the club purchases and redevelops the Surrey Docks Stadium.

Behind the scenes too, changes have been made. Fundraising and public relations committees have been established to try and raise the profile of the club as a playing and commercial force back towards the glory days of the late 1980s when the Fisher graced the pinnacle of non-League football, the Conference.

Inspired by returning director Sami Muduroglu and the funds and organisational skill he has brought to the table, Fisher are swimming back towards the good times.

Muduroglu's money has allowed the squad to be rebuilt during the close season, with several quality acquisitions.

Mark Warren, with 270 Football League appearances under his belt, joins to partner loyal club legend Steve Aris in the centre of defence.

Former England semi-professional international Anthony Riviere was a major coup from Nationwide South side Welling United, and his pace and trickery should create chances, and entertain the fans.

Chris Piper has been signed to partner his brother Lenny in the heart of the midfield, and it's hoped the injury he sustained in the excellent 3-1 friendly win over Bromley shouldn't sideline him for too long.

Prolific striker Steve Watts returns to the Fish via Leyton Orient, who famously gave him a contract after a "Search for a Striker" competition in The Sun newspaper, and St Albans City, and has already proven his goalscoring ability in the pre-season programme.

Warren Hackett is the new player/assistant-manager to help manager Wayne Burnett.

Muduroglu is encouraged with the early progress made, and said: "Wayne and myself have been very active in the close season and the players, new and old, have responded very well to the expectation that surrounds them."

Aside from the firsts, there are real efforts being made to integrate all of the teams in the Fisher family.

Increased prominence will be given to the under-16's (who as the under-15's won their league handsomely last term) and the under-18's.

The Rotherhithe club has also made arrangements with Go Travel Kent League side Greenwich Borough to effectively become the reserve team, and it's hoped that the players will benefit from dual-registration and always playing competitive football.

Muduroglu said: "Any success that we have will filter through to the junior sides and ultimately lead to the formation of a full youth programme."

There is a huge amount of promise and potential in the club, and promotion up the non-league pyramid - whilst never a formality - is surely in the Fisher sights this year.

Muduroglu added: "If we can avoid too many injuries through the season then there is no reason why we should not be able to give a good account of ourselves in the league and cups."

A lucrative cup run would also bring huge benefits to Fisher as they look to balance the books.

Success on the pitch will hopefully be matched by commercial success off it, and just as importantly an increase in the supporter-base ready for the return to their spiritual home in 2006.

Muduroglu said: "All our plans, coupled with the positive steps for the regeneration of the stadium at Salter Road, will help create the foundation for growth in the coming years."