Thursday 02nd June 2005

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

Celaire is the centre of attention

THE ROW over the services of defender Mario Celaire rumbles on today with both Beckenham Town and Maidstone United insisting he will be playing for them next season, writes Stephen McCartney.

Celaire is a highly mobile defender who, at over six feet tall, is strong in the air, has pace and is extremely comfortable with the ball at his feet.  He is equally at home as a defender or midfielder.  And it was his all-action performances for Beckenham against Maidstone last season that has sparked interest from the Stones.

On the last day of May, Maidstone United issued a statement on their website saying that their "management duo of Lloyd Hume and Alan Walker have made further significant early summer moves in respect of playing signings over the course of the Bank Holiday Monday.

"Adding to the previous signing of Mo Takaloghabashi from Ramsgate, two further players of proven quality have joined Maidstone United.

"Lloyd Hume had recently promised the signing of a quality Kent League centre back and true to his word, he has been able to secure the signature of Beckenham Town's highly impressive Mario Celaire and will be a tremendous asset to the club on the field."

And the Stones have signed the much-travelled left sided midfielder/defender Garry Kimble from Tilbury but its the Celaire "signing" that is causing a lot of interest in Kent League circles.

It is alleged that "Super Mario" has signed for both clubs, in the same league, as both Beckenham Town and Maidstone United are insisting the defender will be playing for them next season.

Although the Kent League fixtures have yet to be compiled for next season, you can picture the scene at, say, Eden Park Avenue.  With his kit back in toe, Celaire walks into the dressing rooms and asks which shirt he should pull on - the red of Beckenham or the amber of Maidstone?

Because at this moment in time, even I'm not sure of the answer!

Even reading both club's websites this morning and speaking to Beckenham's secretary Peter Palmer and Stones' duo of Hume and Walker, I'm still none the wiser on which team Celaire will be starting the season with.

"He's definitely signed for us - he is definitely going to be a Beckenham Town player next season," Palmer insisted earlier today.

"They're rumours going around,  I know Maidstone were trying to sign him.  Mario is a Beckenham man through and through, there's no doubt in our minds that he was going to sign for Beckenham anyway." 

Palmer revealed the player is "going to sign a contract" and added: "As far as I know Mario hasn't made an interview with them (Maidstone United).  If he has he has been very secretive about it.  They are offering him big bucks and putting the player under extra pressure.

"The way Maidstone have handled the situation isn't to Beckenham Town's likening as they know he is a Beckenham Town player."

Stones' boss Lloyd Hume, however, insists Celaire signed a contract with them last night.

"Our understanding of it is, is that Mario is not under contract to Beckenham Town and he has signed a contract with us last night.

"On the information Mario has confirmed to us he hasn't signed for anyone else, only us.  All we can go on is what the player is telling us."

Alan Walker mirrored what everyone else said, adding: "Our secretary travelled to see Mario who signed a contract with Maidstone United last night.

"As far as I know he will be playing for Maidstone United.  I don't see any skullduggery, as far as I'm concerned Maidstone United have signed him."

Palmer, however, is relishing next season as the Eden Park Avenue outfit mount a serious challenge for promotion.

"At the moment, pitch two is being renovated with an underground drainage system so now we will have two pitches up to a very good standard," he revealed.

"We are bringing back a youth team to play in the Kent Youth League."  However, the club are currently in negotiations on how many teams, and which age-groups, will play for the club.

"We are looking forward to the new season.  As you know Bob Chilvers has taken over the assistant manager's job and let's just hope the season is slightly better than last especially our league season.

"We are aiming for top three, preferably champions and maybe have a couple of cup runs and eventually win a senior trophy."

Despite speculation over his future, Hume insists he will be at Maidstone United next season - and he too is looking forward to a successful campaign.

"To be honest I am more positive than I have been with any club," he said.  "I have been at clubs where expectations have been higher than Maidstone.

"I've started other seasons that I thought we would win the league but with Maidstone this season, with the side we've got and the players we're getting back from injury, I am very optimistic on what we should have achieved last year - winning the league."

Hume and Walker are relishing working with Garry Kimble again, having worked with the experienced player with Gillingham and Sittingbourne.

Speaking about Kimble, who played once for the Stones in their Football League days, Hume added: "He's joined Maidstone United because he had a relationship with us at Gillingham and we've known him for 13 years.

"We won the Southern League with Sittingbourne, so we've had a history before.

"He's got a couple of years let, he is a fit lad, he likes what we are trying to achieve.  He likes the players we've signed and wants to enjoy his last couple of years and win things with Maidstone."

After signing striker Mo Takaloo from Ramsgate, and possibly Celaire from Beckenham, Hume admitted he won't be signing any more players this summer - with Ryan Royston and Peter Overton both coming back from injuries - he is happy with his squad to mount a serious challenge for honours.

So Mario, the decision is yours.....