Wednesday 30th November 2005

We're in pole position, insists Beckenham stalwart

There has been plenty of interest leading up to the Kentish Observer League's biggest showdown of the season when the top two club's clash in an eagerly-anticipated crunch game at Eden Park Avenue on Saturday, writes Stephen McCartney.

Leaders Beckenham Town have a six-point gap over Maidstone United going into the game, and although Saturday's result won't determine who will clinch the title at the end of the season, whoever wins this game will have the bragging rights on fans' forums until the two sides meet again at Bourne Park on 25th March, which by then could be the title decider.

However, speculation has been rife this week as fans' forums have been discussing affairs at Eden Park Avenue. But in an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk, Beckenham stalwart Peter Palmer remained tight lipped.

This speculation, however, has been fueled as their official club website has been shut-down and the webmaster hasn't been updating the Kent League website either.  A Kent League official insisted tonight that they're very close to finding a replacement for their website.

This has led to supporters drawing their own conclusions, but Palmer who has "resigned" from his position as club secretary, if reports on fans' forums are believed, insisted he was still at the club that is very close to his heart.

"I didn't say I weren't or I didn't say I was (secretary), he said.

"Beckenham Town are keeping themselves to themselves because there is nothing to say or tell," insisted Palmer.  Maidstone fans are making up gossip on an unofficial forum.

"We shut our website down as there was a load of rubbish on it."

But going back to the football, Palmer is relishing the game, which is expected to attract a crowd of over 500 flocking through their newly built turnstiles.

"Big game - I'm expecting maybe about 500-600 there," he said.  "I'm not saying the winners will be champions but if we win it will be a good stepping stone for us in the league and a good way forward.

"We're prepared but the pitch isn't looking too good but other than that I don't have any info.  I'm tight lipped at the moment."

The ambitious club have already built new turnstiles at their ground and a newly installed public address system will keep fans informed of events on the pitch.

"We are just in the process of looking at new stands now, hopefully we'll have drawings on Saturday," Palmer revealed.

But will the ground, just around the corner from Eden Park train station, pass Ryman League ground grading?

"At the moment, no," replied Palmer.  "But we are hoping it will be.

"We need a stand and a covered walkway for the players and officials and a few little bits but not much after that," he revealed.  "The little things like exit signs on doors etc but the other things are quite big."

Beckenham are without a game over the festive period, but Palmer feels Maidstone United won't be able to catch them up - despite the Stones playing Lordswood twice over this period.

Palmer said: "Too early (to say) but it will be a big step (if we win Saturday).  That will take us nine points clear putting us in a good position leading upto the New Year. 

"Maidstone are playing over Christmas but they won't be able to catch us if we beat them Saturday.  That takes us into the new year still in pole position."

Meanwhile, back on the pitch, Beckenham are still missing former Bromley central defender Dean Forbes (work commitments) and former Lewes star Junior Kadi, who was injured in their recent win over Sevenoaks Town.

But former Dulwich Hamlet goalkeeper Robert Tolfrey (knee ligaments) is likely to be risked, but 17-year-old stopper Tim Roberts is on standby.

Beckenham Town v Maidstone United
Kentish Observer League
Saturday 3rd December 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Eden Park Avenue, Beckenham