Binks: We?re still in with a chance to sneak into the play-off places (EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW)

Thursday 30th March 2006
Chatham Town manager Steve Binks hasn’t ruled out one final push to get into the play-off’s at the end of the season, writes Stephen McCartney.

Describing their 1-0 win at Arlesey Town last weekend as “gutsy”, Binks will be aiming for all three points when sixth from bottom side Uxbridge visit Maidstone Road on Saturday.
Although the Medway side are tenth place in the Southern League Division One East table, they’re only five points behind Waltham Forest who occupy the final play-off place.
But talented midfielder Mark Nicholls, has been earmarked as the man that could end Chatham’s play-off aspirations.
The former Chelsea star impressed for the west Londoners during their win at Stonebridge Road in February, where he assisted in inflicting Dartford’s first home defeat of the season.
Binks, meanwhile, knows what Nicholls could do to his side.  “Mark Nicholls is a dangerman, very experienced and they’ve just signed Sammy Winston, an experienced striker, whose been around a lot of clubs so another one to watch.”

He added: “Every side has these players but if we can play as well as we have done and perform - this is a big game for us.
“If we win we’re in the mix again, but if we lose we’re a bit adrift (of the play-off’s) with only six games to go.”
Binks was “delighted” that Simon Austin got on the scorehseet in Bedfordshire last weekend, scoring his first goal for his new club, having netted seven goals for his previous club, Maidstone United.
Reflecting on only their third league win on their travels this season, Binks said: “It was a really gutsy 1-0 win.  We showed a good attitude, defended really well at a hard place to go and play.
“I’m delighted that Simon Austin got on the scoresheet, with his first goal for the club.  He took his goal superbly to give us the three points and a really good display from Luke Mortimore, a 19-year-old reserve, in his second start.”

Can Chatham keep their season alive by getting a vital victory?  “Uxbridge have beaten us the last three occasions we’ve played them.  Maybe it’s our turn – it will be a great three points,” replied Binks.

Only five points separate the two clubs, but Binks feels Uxbridge should be higher in the table.
He said: “They’ve beaten the top sides home and away and lost to the lower sides.  They are capable of beating anybody and losing to anybody.”
One thing is for sure, a certain Jermaine Beckford won’t be doing any damage.
The striker, who recently signed for Championship giants Leeds United from Ryman Premier League side Wealdstone, impressed against Binks’ side last season.
“I said in my programme notes at least they won’t have Jermaine Beckford playing for them.  He was on loan at Uxbridge last season, playing against us and was quality,” recalled Binks.
But Binks strongly feels Premiership and Football League clubs should look at non-league football to find the next Beckford and DJ Campbell.
And Chatham Town is a club that gives talented youngsters a chance in the game.
“There’s a lot of youngsters that are released from pro clubs at 17 or 18 and come to clubs like us,” said Binks.
“George Boyd played for me for Chatham’s under 16-18’s and now playing for Stevenage Borough after he was released by Charlton Athletic.
“He left to go to Stevenage Borough and there’s a lot of big clubs looking at him.”

However, since their promotion from the Kent League in 2001, Chatham have progressed every year.
“I think it’s been a roller coaster ride this season,” admitted Binks.  “Injuries to big players that have been playing well.  Throughout those ups and downs we’ve kept battling and given ourselves something to play for.
“Since getting promoted from the Kent League in the five seasons we’ve been in the Southern League we’ve been midtable or fighting relegation, but we’re still in with a chance to sneak into the play-off places.”
Chatham’s last home game, against promotion chasing Enfield Town, attracted a crowd of 284 to Maidstone Road – their highest attendance of the season – but the club have an average of 174 at their matches this season.
Binks would like this figure to rise above the 200 mark for their remaining games this season, but he’s pleased with the progress made at the club.
“I think we are perceived as smaller than other clubs in Kent because of their histories but over the last five years this club has progressed from the Kent League and has now reached a level compared to where a lot of the bigger clubs are playing,” expressed Binks.
“There’s a lot of people behind the scenes that work their socks off to try and build this club - gradually.
“The gates have been reasonable again, if we should make the play-offs or finish on a high note – we’ve got a good hard core support –but the top four averages in the division.”
Binks is relishing many local derbies next season, as Chatham Town, Dartford and Sittingbourne are expected to move across into the Ryman League first division after two seasons in the Southern League.
“If the restructuring happens next year we’ll play more Kent clubs and that will be fantastic for us, with bigger gates and more local derbies,” admitted Binks.
“There’s a lot of people working behind the scenes to improve the ground, obtain sponsorship and the club is built on a good youth policy with some good cracking players coming through the club at all levels.
“I’ve seen good players leave the club and go onto play at a higher level, having been given an opportunity to play for Chatham – Danny Kedwell and George Boyd.
“I just want to keep that policy going, there’s some good players in the Medway towns.  We are now attracting players, they want to come to Chatham and given a chance.”
Sat 1 April:  H  Uxbridge
Sat 8 April:  a  Stamford
Sat 15 April:  a  Dartford
Mon 17 April: H Sittingbourne
Sat 22 April: H Ilford
Sat 29 April: a Wingate & Finchley 
Meanwhile, midfielder Steve Searle (calf) is back in training and is expected to play some part in their remaining games.

Dan Larkin (broken foot) and Matt Solly (broken leg), meanwhile, have had their casts removed but Larkin should return to the side at some stage in the last month of the season but Solly’s campaign is over.

Nineteen-year-old striker Luke Coleman, formerly of Folkestone Invicta, has signed on loan from Nationwide Conference club Gravesend & Northfleet.

Chatham Town v Uxbridge
Southern League Division One East
Saturday 1st April 2006
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Maidstone Road, Chatham