Sunday 04th July 2004

Timing is perfect to turn to management, says Silk

ANDY SILK has admitted he is excited about the new season having returned to Bromley as reserve team player-manager, writes Stephen McCartney.

The utility player, 32 years-old in August, rejoins Bromley after two successful campaigns at Cray Wanderers’, where he helped them to back-to-back Go Travel Kent League championships.

And now the Postman from New Eltham hopes to deliver a promising crop of youngsters into Stuart McIntyre’s first team squad, as the club look forward, for the first time in their 112-year history, providing football from the under 11 age group to under 18s and the return of a reserve team to help blood players into their Ryman League Division One squad.

Silk, and the rest of the club’s first team squad, returned to pre-season training last Thursday, and Silk will be player-manager of the second string, assisted by another Bromley player, Gary Hewitt.

Silk admitted it’s the perfect time to get his teeth into management and return to the club that helped him launch his career in 1992, having initially turned out for the club’s reserves and he went onto make 148 first team appearances.

However, in 1996 he left Hayes Lane to join Leyton Pennant, where as club captain, he made over 200 appearances for the East London club before rejoining Bromley in the summer of 2000 for one season before enjoying success in the Kent League with Cray Wanderers, who groundshare Bromley’s Hayes Lane home.

“Yes, I am glad to be back at Bromley!” admitted Silk.

He added: “The timing is just perfect for me.

“These are exciting times at the club under Stuart McIntyre (manager) and Jerry Dolke (chairman).

“They have done great off the pitch and its time we got it right on the pitch.  Now we have the reserve team we’ve got teams all the way through every single level from under 11 to under 18, reserve team to first team, so it can only be good for the club to have a continuation.

“The youth team would get to a certain level and if they didn’t get into the first team you would lose a player – but now we have that continuation.” Silk explained.

Silk, however, will still be playing and is going through his paces at pre-season training to play a key role on the pitch with another former Bromley player, Gary Hewitt, coaching from the sidelines.

They will play in the Go Travel Kent League Division Two and play their home matches at Cray Wanderers’ Oxford Round ground in Sidcup.

This is part of the deal set up that allows Cray’s first team to continue to play at Hayes Lane in the same division as their landlords following their promotion from the Kent League.

Silk admitted: “The job ties in with everything I want.  It’s a big job managing Bromley’s reserves but I am also going to be playing at Oxford Road.  At the age of 32 in August, I’ve got to be playing every week.  Gary Hewitt is going to be a big help off the pitch as well.”

Speaking about management, Silk admitted: “Football is all about timing – and it’s probably the right time.”

Silk leaves Cray Wanderers on good terms, and the loyal club man has nothing but praise for key members at his previous club.

He said: “I had two fantastic years at Cray.  I can’t speak highly enough of everyone from Gary Hillman (chairman), Ian Jenkins (manager), Joe Francis (assistant) right down to everyone, the supporters, the committee and the players were fantastic!”

Silk, however, played down suggestions he joined Cray after leaving Bromley because the two club’s play on the same turf at Hayes Lane.

He revealed: “I think joining Cray was a natural progression.  A lot of Bromley players did it – Frank Coles, Ian Rawlings, David Gray and Joe Francis.

“It was just not convenient, but it was all about timing.  I went down and spoke to Ian Jenkins, who I knew already, and he asked me to come down.  I was 29 years-old and as you are pushing towards the end you want to be playing.”

Silk will be looking to add to his 148 first team appearances at Bromley and will be signing Ryman League forms.

He said: “Stuart has asked me to sign on.  You could be down to the bare bones so I am doing every single pre-season training session to get myself fit and just see how it goes.  There is life in the old dog yet!”

Silk has seen the improvement at the Hayes Lane club from the very first time he walked into the club.  He appreciates the hard work and commitment put into the club by McIntyre and Dolke.

Silk praised: “You have just got to look at the surroundings – the advertising – the dressing rooms.  You can’t speak highly enough of Stuart or Jerry – they are so ambitious, and everything is just set up here.

“We heard about the ambition of the club when I first joined, but now you can see things happening and the final piece of the jigsaw is to do the business on the pitch.

“I think bringing the reserve team back at the club will help that!”

Silk and Hewitt will have the backing of first team manager Stuart McIntyre.

McIntyre added: “I think it’s important to have a reserve team as it bridges the gap.

“It’s very important for me to get Bromley people involved, ex players, as it gives them a lot of creditability and we’ve got to give them a lot of support.

“It will be difficult for them initially at Oxford Road because it won’t feel like Bromley Football Club but we will work on that but it’s an important step.

“It allows us to blood some young talent and allows me to bring first team players back from injury as well via the reserves and that’s the important bit.

“It was my decision totally to appoint Andy Silk and Gary Hewitt because of their personalities, enthusiasm and their knowledge of the game.”

  • Bromley are inviting players over the age of eighteen for reserve team trials.  Anyone interested should meet in the away dressing room at Bromley Football Club, Hayes Lane on Tuesday and Thursday at 7.00pm.

Meanwhile, Bromley have confirmed six pre-season friendlies as they prepare for their Ryman League Division One campaign, which gets underway on Saturday 14 August.

They begin their warm up with three away games at Tilbury (Saturday 24 July, 3pm), Fisher Athletic (Monday 26 July, 7.30pm) and Thamesmead Town (Saturday 31 July, 3pm).

Premiership newcomers Crystal Palace are the visitors to Hayes Lane on Tuesday 3 August (7.45pm) for the official opening of the new floodlights at Hayes Lane and the club are expecting a four-figure crowd for the match.

Newly appointed Erith & Belvedere manager, Barry Lakin brings his side to Hayes Lane on Saturday 7 August (3pm) before Bromley finish their preparation at home to Kent League neighbours Beckenham Town on Tuesday 10 August (7.45pm).

Bromley’s road to Cardiff in the FA Cup begins with a trip to Chessington & Hook United in the Preliminary Round (Saturday 4 September) and if they are successful they travel to Fisher Athletic or Eastbourne Town in the First Qualifying Round two weeks later.

Bromley were handed a home draw in the Preliminary Round of the FA Trophy, against Chatham Town on Saturday 9 October.

However, if Stuart McIntyre’s men get past that hurdle, they travel to Maidenhead United in the First Round on Saturday 6 November.

Ian Jenkins’ Cray Wanderers’ side, who embark in their first Ryman League Division One campaign this season, entertain Epsom & Ewell in the FA Cup Preliminary Round.

If they beat the Surrey side, Cray will travel to Walton & Hersham or Leatherhead, who they will be playing in league action this season, in the next round.

Just like Bromley, Cray have also been handed a home draw in the Preliminary Round of the FA Trophy and host Aveley.

A mouth-watering clash at home to Ryman Premier Division outfit Folkestone Invicta will be their reward if they beat the Essex side.

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