I haven’t had the same application and the hunger from my players with the league being cut-short, admits Croydon boss Liam Giles
CROYDON manager Liam Giles says he wants to guide the club towards promotion out of the Southern Counties East Football League First Division next season.
The Trams currently have no chairman and were in seventh-place in the table when the season was curtailed so will be playing in the tenth-tier of English football for a third season when the 2021-22 campaign kicks off in August.
Croydon have fallen on tough times since being relegated from the Isthmian League in 2006. Regular local fixtures against Bromley, Sutton United and Dulwich Hamlet, clubs that now play in the National League and National League South are in the distant past and Giles is keen to bring the good days back to the Croydon Sports Arena.
In fact, Croydon spent two seasons in the Isthmian League Premier Division while Bromley were struggling in Division One during the 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons.
Bromley are now a full-time outfit and in sixth-place in the National League table and Sutton United are in third-place, both playing one level below League Two, while Croydon are now an amateur outfit in the sixth-step of non-league football.
Croydon suffered a humiliating exit in the Second Round of the London Senior Trophy yesterday, going down to a 3-0 defeat to 10-man Peckham Town, which saw Giles issue an apology to his supporters for the defeat as his players’ fitness was questioned, having not played a competitive fixture for 130 days when they were dumped out of the Surrey Senior Cup after losing 7-1 at Isthmian League South Central outfit Ashford Town (Middlesex).
Mary Phillip’s Kent County League Premier Division outfit had holding midfielder Joe Thomas sent off in the 49th minute before striker David Gabor opened the scoring five minutes later before being forced off with a sprained calf before his replacement Marcus Black doubled their lead with two minutes remaining before Brian Villalba completed the scoring inside injury time.
Peckham Town now travel to Bridon Ropes in the Quarter-Finals on a date to be arranged by the London FA, while Croydon can now look forward to next season.
“I’ll be taking a very long rest,” said the Croydon boss.
“I’ve been itching to get back. I almost wished that everything had stopped and we went again next season because I haven’t had the same application and the hunger from my players with the league being cut-short.”
Kennington, Holmesdale and Rusthall have all been put forward from the First Division for promotion on a points-per-game ratio over the last two seasons.
“With all these promotions that are going on with the restructure, I think our players feel the season has been defied by however they have come to this decision,” added Giles.
“I’ll have a long rest and we’ll regroup and get back in June and evaluate where we’re at.
“We’ve got a good base of a squad, the same squad that went to Rusthall and Stansfeld and won, it’s a shame really but we’ll take stock and go again.”
On his aspirations for next season, Giles made his point clear – he wants promotion back into Step Five of the non-league pyramid.
“I always back us to be in and around it. I’m not going to hide from the fact that we want promotion. I feel that we should not be at Step Six but ultimately we are where we are so we need to improve and start afresh in August and be fighting for the title – that’s where we want to be.”