My aspirations are to sort it out and get the club in a better place than it is at the moment, says newly-appointed Bermondsey Town manager Dean Harrison

Monday 09th January 2023

BERMONDSEY TOWN’S newly-appointed manager Dean Harrison says it’s going to be really tough to turn around the team’s fortunes after replacing Stuart Wilson last Thursday.

The club are based at Fisher’s ground at St Paul’s Stadium and their first season in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division has been a chastening experience for the amateur outfit.

The club are rooted to the foot of the table, having collected just a win and a draw from their first 18 league games, conceding 65 goals and they are nine points adrift of the side immediately above them, Lewisham Borough.

Harrison, 46, performed miracles during his successful spell in charge of Fisher, guiding the club to their highest ever finish of third-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division in his final season in charge (2018-19), after winning promotion as third-placed finishers in the First Division and going up alongside Punjab United and K Sports a year earlier.

However, Harrison dropped Fisher a bombshell by handing in his resignation on Friday 3 May 2019, stating that he had taken the club as far as he could and has been out of the game since.

Harrison took his first training session on Thursday and was in charge of the 5-0 defeat at league leaders Snodland Town on Saturday, which was the beleaguered side’s seventeenth defeat on the spin.

“Why Bermondsey Town?  There were a couple of reasons.  One of them was it’s a good opportunity to get back into football.  I’ve been out for three or four seasons now,” said Harrison.

“I had a chat with the owner Ozzie Kebapci, who is a really lovely man. He’s got a plan for the future and how he sees things, this is their first season at Step Six.

“I liked him. He’s a genuine person and he actually cared about the club so that was really important to me and also the fact that they play at Fisher, which is a ground I know well.  I know the surface, how to play on that. There were a couple of reasons.”

Harrison has put his old Fisher band back together, with Neil Hunter leaving his first-team manager’s job at Danson Sports to become his assistant manager again, with Richard White (head coach) and Jason Birchall (goalkeeper coach).

“To turn things around are going to be very difficult, let’s make no mistake about that,” admitted Harrison.

“They’re out of their depth as a club and a team clearly so we need to go in and have a look at things and how we can make things better off and on the pitch, firstly going in and making things as professional as they can in the dressing room and in training and behind the scenes.

“Secondly and the most difficult thing is trying to get players in when you’re bottom of the league with no money, that’s going to be a tough one but what we have to do is strengthen.

“My management team is back with me so the team that I had at Fisher have all come back in with me. It was good to be back with them all on Saturday.”

Snodland Town are at the summit with 35 points from 17 games, level on points with fellow big-spenders, Larkfield & New Hythe, who have a game in hand.

Reflecting on their 5-0 away defeat, Harrison appreciated the task that he has got upon his return to football.

“My first training session was last Thursday, so we met the squad and went to Snodland on Saturday and not knowing the team or any of them. 

“It was a tough one because I’ve only been there Thursday, so I didn’t know anything about the players so we set up the best we could with what we had and my little knowledge.

“First half we got pumped (3-0 down inside 31 minutes), we were all over the place with our shape and at half-time we had a good chat and the boys responded and I thought second half we did ok.  The game was done.

“Snodland are a very good side. We didn’t give up.  We had a couple of one-v-ones and we hit the bar from a corner so the boys responded.  They didn’t give up and they kept going until the end, which was all I could ask from them.”

Harrison’s second game in charge is against seventh-placed Greenways on Saturday at St Paul’s Stadium and he is looking forward to returning to the home dressing room and dug-out with another club to replicate Neil Smith, who took over tenants Cray Wanderers after his parting of ways with home-town club Bromley.

“What are my aspirations? Trying to get some players in? Can we win a couple of games and get some points on the board for them?

“I don’t know if we’ll be able to do enough to stay up, that’s going to be a really tough ask,” added Harrison.

“I wish I had the job five or six weeks earlier, we might’ve had a chance but it’s going to be really tough but my aspirations are to sort it out and get the club in a better place than it is at the moment and can we win a couple of games?

“It’s going to be nice to be back.  I had a great time at Fisher and the fans were great to me and it’s a great club so just nice to be back down there, it’s going to be nice.”

Bermondsey Town  v  Greenways
Southern Counties East Football League First Division
Saturday 14 January 2023
Kick Off 3:00pm
at St Paul’s Stadium, Salter Road, Rotherhithe, London SE16 5EF