We'd like to know when the clubs can start training, says newly-appointed Bearsted goalkeeper coach Mark Irvine

Thursday 28th May 2020

BEARSTED’S newly-appointed goalkeeper coach Mark Irvine says he’s feeling frustrated with the lack of updates from The Football Association about when non-league clubs can prepare for the new season.

The 56-year-old parted company with K Sports nine days before the start of last season after manager Kris Browning resigned after 10 years’ service to the club.

Irvine has been appointed as Kevin Stevens’ new goalkeeper coach at Honey Lane.

However, plans to prepare for the 2020-21 football season have been left in limbo, especially after The Football Association declared the last campaign null and void and expunged records due to the coronavirus outbreak that swept the world.

Reflecting on his time at K Sports, Irvine said: “It was good.  Obviously, a bit disappointed that Kris Browning and Graham Martin resigned and I resigned with them, which was a massive shame after all the work Kris and Graham had done there but hey-ho, that’s football.

“The board had different ideas to what they had so you’ve got to go along with it, that’s the reason why I left the club, I left the club with them.”

Irvine, like hundreds of other coaches up and down the country, want the opportunity to get back on to a football pitch and prepare for next season.

The Football Association or the Southern Counties East Football League haven’t revealed when the new season will begin and that has frustrated many, especially as the Premier League has been given the go-ahead to restart with two games on Wednesday 17 June 2020.

“It’s just very frustrating isn’t it,” said Irvine.  “Nobody knows what’s going on! Until you get the green light from whoever, it’s just a case of hanging on and waiting to get the season going again.

“I met all the management team and coaches at Bearsted and we sat down and discussed about moving forward.  I think we’re like every club, until the lockdown is over we can’t do anything, can we?

“We’d like to know when the clubs can start training, when those guidelines can slightly be lifted.

“The professional clubs (in the Premier League and Championship), they’re back training but obviously measures have been put in place so I’d like to think that why can’t they pass some of those measures down to all the League’s, the Southern Counties East Football League, whatever league that may be.

“I know at this time of the year everything would be finished by now so there will be that period of clubs not doing anything but if there was a little bit more news coaches can get together and put a plan together but it’s just frustrating but when will the lockdown be over? Who knows?”

Irvine has big plans for Bearsted, who were in seventh-place in the Premier Division table at the time of the football shut-down.

He said: “It’s nice to get back into football again.  I’m just lucky for the opportunity. I met Kevin at Bearsted and the other coaches there and it’s a good club.  I know Bearsted, I know the chairman there.

“They’re a club I think will be pushing to get out of the Southern Counties East Football League and that’s what’s attracted me, their ambitions and I’m glad to be a part of the coaching staff.”

Meanwhile, well-wishers have donated £3,392 of a £10,000 target to raise funds for the club during the football shut-down.

A club statement said: “Our club celebrates our 125th anniversary this year. We have been a significant part of community sport in Bearsted and the surrounding areas since 1895. 

“From our development squad of four to six year olds, through to the vets, not forgetting our hugely successful first-team, our club supports over 500 boys and girls to play football.

“Our club costs over £125,000 a year to run, from team entry fees, training, coaching courses and maintaining our ground at Honey Lane, Otham.

“Twenty-five percent of the income required to meet those costs come from our fundraising events.  These include our annual tournament, summer ball and quiz nights.

“As we all socially isolate it is not possible for us to hold these events and so we have a dent in our finances.

“We need your help to keep us going so we can come back ready to go when we can resume our beloved football again.”

To donate, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/bearstedfc

Visit Bearsted’s website: www.bearstedfc.co.uk