Friday 30th December 2005

Our neighbours will be shaking in their boots, insists Palmer

Beckenham Town could be mixing it with the big boys if their dream of promotion from the Kentish Observer League to the Ryman League is granted by the FA.

It would be a major step up for the club involving the introduction of long-term contracts for players, the construction of a new seating areas and the chance to challenge for the title of best team in the Bromley borough.

Peter Palmer, club secretary at Eden Park Avenue, told the News Shopper Newspaper: "We have a lot of potential here to be the best in the borough.

"I think we could beat Bromley as we have at least nine players who could get in their team, there are no two ways about it.

"We played Crystal Palace reserves earlier this season and they fielded a strong side with some first-team players. We beat them 5-1.

"At the moment we are just a runner in the old Kent League but if we went up next year we could push to go higher and in three or four years overtake Bromley as the borough's number one."

Around 100 teams, including Beckenham, have applied for one of the 30 new spaces available at the next level next season.

To qualify they need to finish in the top three of the Kentish Observer Premier League, seen as very likely considering their current dominance, and pass stringent ground-grading requirements by an April 30th deadline.

Palmer said: "We have spent £141,500 on ground improvements over the past two years and the only thing we're missing is a stand of 100 covered seats but this is in hand.

"The FA ground inspectors are coming some time in January and will accept written confirmation the work is to be done."

Palmer was recently outspoken after Beckenham were deducted three points and fined £500 by the Kent League for allegedly not being prepared to play a match.

Beckenham had arrived at Erith Town in a kit the referee deemed too similar to the home side's.

Press officer Ian Muir managed to borrow a kit from Holmsdale FC but he returned to Erith after a deadline set by the referee.

But Palmer is confident the debacle will not hinder their application for promotion.

He said: "We're appealing to the FA and are very hopeful it will get turned over.

"The rules state if you have no intention of playing you should be found guilty and we had every intention of playing.

"The penalty was brutal. I was expecting a slap on the wrist from the hearing but was knocked out."

But the kit problems are not taking away the sense of excitement around the club who are currently top of the table.

Palmer said: "If we're promoted we'd be in the same league as Cray Wanderers and they will be shaking in their boots."