Wednesday 22nd June 2005

Wells ready to take the gamble

FANS from other clubs are taking Tunbridge Wells seriously and some are tipping the Culverden Stadium outfit to mount a challenge for honours, writes Stephen McCartney.

Kevin Metcalf's side finished last season's Kent League campaign in seventh place and with the aid of a new sponsorship deal, the Tenterden resident is putting his faith into last season's squad of young and eager players.

"We've got a major sponsorship. which we aren't naming at the moment, but it was important to get the sponsor to keep the young squad together," he said in an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk

"A lot of these young lads have been approached by higher league clubs so it was important to get the sponsor.

"The players have showed us loyalty so now it's time to show them some."

With Tunbridge Wells ready to take the gamble, Metcalf is gunning his hopes on last season's squad.

And coach Martin Telford is running his eye on potential new signings - and last season's squad - in Maidstone during the close season to keep the squad in fine tune.

Saturday is the final "fun football" day for the squad.  It's back to the rigours of pre-season training on the first Saturday of next month.

"We are looking forward to the new season," added Metcalf.

Metcalf is quick to praise his management team of Telford, Dave Rice and Alan Bird and his squad - which have all been retained.

"I think it's all down to the coaching staff and players," he said.  "They worked really hard last year to take Tunbridge Wells where they were last year and let's hope we can improve on it this year," said a modest Metcalf.

And if his side secure promotion into the Ryman League - Metcalf will be looking at their former Kent League rivals, Cray Wanderers as a benchmark.

Ian Jenkins' side finished their debut campaign at the higher level in sixth place - losing in a play-off semi-final at Horsham - but were in third place before a loss of form at the tail end of their campaign damaged their automatic promotion chances.

"Basically my honest opinion is a lot of clubs are looking to progress from the Kent League and Tunbridge Wells are one of them.

"Cray Wanderers did very well in the Ryman League last season, coming from the Kent League, so it's not a frightening experience."

Metcalf is delighted his club have lured FA Trophy winners, Grays Athletic to Culverden Stadium for a pre-season friendly next month.

The Nationwide Conference side open Tunbridge Wells' pre-season programme on Thursday 21st July.

"Grays is a big game," admitted Metcalf.  "There the sort of clubs that we are attracting and they have said they'll bring a strong side over.

"It's a massive coup for Tunbridge Wells and hopefully we'll have the support to go with the game."

One thing that plagued his side last season was the lack of discipline but Metcalf is confident his players have curbed their problems.

"At the last game of the season we played, at beat, Herne Bay 1-0, and we told the players that we can beat the big boys if we keep all our players healthy and on the pitch and not sitting in the stands - we'd rather see them playing.

"And we asked the players what their thoughts were, and they said the same.

"If we had better discipline we would have all our players on the pitch and not watching the game in the stands with the supporters.

"Last season was a learning curve for these young lads and by their attitudes on the last game of the season they realised that discipline is a big factor."

Metcalf admitted that he has: "Got the best squad, the best coaches and they are working hard to take Tunbridge Wells Football Club forward.

"We've all got the one goal - to take us where we should be."