Sunday 08th May 2005

www.kentishfootball.co.uk - For all the reaction from Queen Street

Bromley look forward to Premier challenge

WADE FALANA couldn't hide his joy as he helped Bromley secure promotion into the Ryman Premier League on Saturday, writes Stephen McCartney.

The 34-year-old target man gave George Wakeling's side a 26th minute lead at Horsham in the Ryman League Division One play-off before the West Sussex side drew level after 43 minutes through Jamie Taylor's 31st goal of the season.

Allan McLeod quickly responded when his 30-yard cross-come-shot sailed over Hornets' goalkeeper Luke Burton moments later and Bromley wrapped up a deserved victory when Colin Luckett's 77th minute 35-yard free kick sailed over Burton and into the top left hand corner.

Falana has now scored 19 goals from 63 games in three spells for the Hayes Lane outfit and was well pleased with the victory - and promotion.

"I've had a few promotions before but this has got to be the most important promotion of my life," the much travelled striker admitted.

"Bromley supporters are really good to me and they're the best supporters in non-league football as far as I'm concerned.

"Also the chairman Jerry (Dolke), he's a personal friend of mine - I'm just glad we've done it for him really.

"We've been a sleeping giant for too long, we've got to get out of this league, we've done it and we'll do allright in the Premier," he predicted.

"We've got some good players here, maybe add a couple but we'll be allright in the Premier - no worries about that."

Falana, however, praised his team-mates effort - in which they remained unbeaten in their last eleven outings and fully deserved to beat Horsham - a side that finished one place and three points above them in the table.

"They've all been tremendous," praised Falana.  "Tutu (Henriques) and Sam (Okafor) at the back, everyone's done a good job in there, Potts (Steve Potterill), Gary Drewett they've all been tremendous but Andy Walker, for me has been outstanding.

"We've been scoring goals at one end but to be fair he has saved us many times," Falana said of the former Colchester United, Charlton Athletic, Doncaster Rovers and Exeter City highly-rated Welling based 23-year-old goalkeeper, in his first season at the club having signed from Wingate & Finchley in the close season.

"Today the penalty, that was a great save and that changed the game, to be honest with you.  

"If they go one-nil up with that penalty (Lee Carney 21st minute) it could have been a different game.  He's been tremendous and without doubt he's been the best goalkeeper - and I've been playing non-league football now 13-14 years - I've played with.

"I really do think a few clubs will come in for him, whether Bromley can hold onto him is the thing because he's really that good honestly."

Falana, however, is unsure if he will remain at the Hayes Lane for next season.

"I've been thinking about retiring for a long time.  I said that last season and I really do feel at my age, I might call it a day as my best days are gone, but some people say I could still do a job but I'll talk to George (Wakeling) and Billy (Smith) in the summer and we'll see what we can come up with."

Falana, however, has two things close to his heart in Bromley.

"You know Bromley's my club - everyone knows Bromley's my club.  I live in Pimlico but my girlfriend lives in Bromley, right round the corner from the ground.  So if I do retire I'll always come down to watch them."

Falana admitted which games he thought the club could seriously consider themselves as promotion candidates and join AFC Wimbledon and Walton & Hersham in the higher level.

"Maybe when we played Cray, we beat them 3-2 and that was a big game.  And to be fair the Whyteleafe game, when I came back (from Dulwich Hamlet) and scored a couple of goals that was a big game too because Whyteleafe were still in the hunt.

"But we've put in a good run and that shows we're one of the best sides in the division and I think we deserved it today.

"I feel sorry for Horsham because they finished third and we finished fourth but they know the score.

"They knew if you didn't finish in the top two you go into the play-off's and it's anyone's from there.

"Today we were the better side and we deserved to win so we're up."

Steve Potterill, Bromley's 28-year-old, skipper added: "A brilliant experience.  The boys did well, we definitely deserve to go up.  We've played some good football this season and today just rounded everything off - a good game."

The South African praised the club's passionate and vocal support, that made the trip to Queen Street to cheer on their heroes' return to Ryman Premier League football.

"It means everything to them.  You can see today the crowd have turned up today away from home, a good hour and a half journey from Bromley and we had a good 300 people here, which is brilliant.

"They obviously love the club so it's good for them and the people of Bromley."

Potterill is looking forward to testing himself in the Premier League.  "We'll do well because we like to play football and the higher we go the more football you play so I think it will be good for us - we are looking forward to it!"

And Bromley's highly rated goalkeeper, Andy Walker, praised his goalkeeping coach Derek Parnham for helping him collect 21 clean sheets this season.

"I've played my part but as I say everyone has.  Everyone's got a job to do and I think because you save a penalty or two it puts a bit more glory on things than it should do but I'm just happy we've all done the job, we've all dug in and we've got our rewards."

"I think goalkeeping is quite a specialised area and I think our goalkeeping coach Derek has done wonders for me this year, he's worked very close with me and it's been really enjoyable as well as hard work."

Walker - who saved two penalties in their 4-3 penalty shoot out win over Metropolitan Police in Tuesday night's Play-off semi-final, after the game finished 1-1 after extra time, praised the club's fans for their support - even when things weren't going as well, and he reflected on their 3-0 defeat at Fetcham Grove at the end of January.

"I remember when we went to Leatherhead and got beat 3-0 there were 50-100 fans behind the goal still cheering us.

"They travelled a long way and I think they've showed real support for the club - you expect it when we're doing the things that we've been doing recently but that sticks out in my mind - that showed character."

Walker, like many of his heroic team-mates are looking forward to next season.  "I think we'll do well.  It's much harder to get out of a league than it is too do well in the league above.

"So I'll think we'll be allright.  Obviously it could be a different squad next year, so we don't know what's going to happen but whatever happens, I'm sure we'll be fine."

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