Croydon 3-2 Horley Town - I need financial help big time, says Croydon chairman Dickson Gill

Wednesday 22nd January 2014

Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Premier Division
Wednesday 22nd January 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Croydon Sports Arena

CROYDON chairman/manager Dickson Gill says he needs help to keep the club in business.

The Trams leapfrogged over Badshot Lea, Hanworth Villa and Hartley Wintney into eleventh-place in the Cherry Red Combined Counties League table after defeating second-from-bottom side Horley Town.

Horley Town, with five wins from 24 games, arrived at Croydon Sports Arena with a familiar face among their coaching staff in the shape of goalkeeping coach Alan Rogers, who has been with the club for over two years following his departure from Maidstone United.

Horley Town opened the scoring inside the opening ten minutes when central defender Charles West was given acres of space to head home a corner.

But Croydon equalised through striker Dan Jupe’s seventh goal of the season, before Horley Town regained the lead just before the break through Karl Parker.

Croydon skipper, Steven Cox, lead by example to equalise with fourteen minutes remaining, before Marcus Jones slotted home the winner five minutes later.

“Well, I’m happy for a win to be honest with you, considering we had five players missing today due to injury and one not being well,” said Gill, 61.

“It’s important that we win games, especially in the position that we’re in.  We want to get up as high as we can.”

Gill added: “I thought they were a better side than us – until the second half.  They passed the ball well. They took their goals well but I think because we haven’t got a settled side it takes time to get going.

“Second half we got back into it but again we gave away silly goals all the time but second half I thought we were a little bit more secure at the back and we were a bit more adventurous up front and we went on to do well.”

Croydon have now used 63 players in 32 games this season.

“This is a trend now,” explained Gill.  “A lot of people have this problem.  I don’t know about Kent League but in the Combined Counties League players don’t even turn up Saturday morning before the game.  Not only us, it’s happening with other clubs as well.  I’ve spoken to quite a few chairmen and they all say the same. 

“It’s a trend now. If they can’t get a game they go to work at the last minute or something goes wrong.  They’re not responsible enough and unfortunately as you saw today we only had two subs and one of them was injured so that’s what we’re up against.   You have to put a side out and if you use 60 or 160 it doesn’t matter – you have to field a team.”

Croydon, with 9 wins from 24 games, created the first chance of the game inside the opening six minutes.

Steven Cox clipped a fine diagonal pass to release debutant Dean Roye down the left and he cut the ball back towards Jones, who miss-controlled the ball and Steven Cox blasted his first time shot high over the bar from 20-yards.

Jupe, 21, who along with his strike partner Jones was plucked out of Sunday League football, turned to drill a right-footed shot towards the near post from sixteen-yards, which was caught by visiting keeper George Hyde.

But Gill blamed central midfielder Ben Makelow for switching off to allow Horley Town an early opener.

John Eldred swung in a right-footed corner from the left and West came up from the back to plant his free-header into the top left-hand corner from six-yards.

Gill said: “It’s a monster coming at him, he’s a big lad, massive and really our lad should have actually got his head in the way but he wasn’t really brave but I’m sure he’ll learn from that Ben Mankelow.  It was his job near post and unfortunately that big guy did cause a bit of a problem for us in aerial threats.”

The Trams squandered an excellent chance to restore parity when Jones whipped in a left-footed cross from the right but Jupe glanced his header sailing past the left-hand post from eight-yards.

Horley Town, who performed much better than their position near the bottom of the table, should have doubled their lead in the 25th minute.

Keeper Hyde launched a big kick straight down the middle of the pitch and striker Nathan Jupp headed the ball on for man-of-the-match Ashley Nadesan to crack a right-footed volley straight at Croydon keeper Francis Ameyaw from 22-yards.

Nadesan was then released down the left, making a 40-yard run into the penalty area, but his left-footed dink was caught by Ameyaw.

Horley’s other winger, Mark McGough, then cut in from the right to curl his right-footed shot around the far post.

But Croydon equalised in the 38th minute, courtesy of a fine three man attack.

Left-back David Cox clipped a searching long ball to release Jones down the left and the striker won a foot race with Horley Town right-back Jack Poplett.  He cut the ball back to Jupe, who took a touch before drilling a deflected shot into the back of the net from six-yards.

Gill was pleased with the goal and said: “Very good build-up.  Juppy’s come out of Sunday morning football and he’s scoring now. He’s scored seven goals now so he’s done quite well and he’s learning all the time.  His partner next to him (Jones) has only been with us three weeks and he’s another one from Sunday morning because we’re not paying budgets.  You’ve got to work with young kids and they’re doing well.”

Gill admitted central defender Vince Kanon was still feeling the effects of an earlier alleged elbow on him from Jupp, as Horley Town took the lead in the 44th minute.

Kanon failed to deal with a long ball and Parker punished the mistake by running through the Croydon defence and slotting his right-footed shot past Ameyaw into the bottom left-hand corner.

“He (Kanon) was a bit upset about it because he felt the guy elbowed him on there and we felt that on the line,” said Gill.

“Vince blows hot and cold as you noticed.  He got a little tap, he went down injured and when the ball came to him he’s still feeling his head, he says.

“He’s missed the ball completely on his left foot and he let them through.  People make mistakes at this level, at any level and you get punished for it - and he made it - but the good thing was he got better second half.”

When asked his thoughts at half-time, Croydon stalwart Gill replied: “Unfortunately today we sort of fell sorry for ourselves quite a bit at times didn’t we? 

“The important thing is we’re learning from it and we came out second half to win 3-2 from being down like that twice. That shows the character is there.

“I said you have to stand up and be counted.  You can’t let people just kick you and push you and bully you around. You have to make sure you compete with them pound for a pound, which we did.”

The second half started with Horley forcing a free-kick from 28-yards, which resulted in Parker stroking his right-footed effort into the wall and behind for a corner.

Croydon linked up well down the left channel with Roye and Mankelow before the ball was played inside to Steven Cox, whose right-footed drive sailed harmlessly wide of the left-hand post from 30-yards.

However, Croydon’s best chance to level proceedings came in the 55th minute.

Jupe laid the ball off to Daryn Goodwin and his shot inside the penalty area was blocked and the ball came out to right-back Jeff Kimoto, whose angled drive was blocked by Hyde at his near post.

Horley Town almost increased their lead within the minute when Nadesan played the ball into Parker, who laid the ball off to the unmarked Jupp and his right-footed angled drive was held by Ameyaw at his near post.

Despite that flurry of early chances the game died down and Horley were to rue an excellent chance to put the game to bed with 20 minutes left.

Poplett clipped a precise diagonal ball forward from the half-way line towards substitute Luke Ragetti, whose right-footed chip from eighteen-yards sailed over the keeper and crossbar.

Horley Town were made to pay as Croydon turned the game on its head with two goals within five minutes to win it.

Gill brought on substitute Luke Turner – who played for Bromley’s Academy side against Maidstone United this afternoon – and the youngster played a big part in the Trams’ 76th minute equaliser.

Turner whipped in an outswinging corner from the right with his left-foot and Steven Cox was given time and space at the far post to turn before stroking his right-footed shot into the bottom left-hand corner from 12-yards.

Gill was full of praise for Turner, who played the whole game for Bromley Academy earlier in the day before playing 16 minutes for Croydon.

“Luke’s been good for us. He’s come to us and we played him left-back,” said former Crystal Palace coach Gill. 

“His passing is excellent, probably a lot higher than this level but he’s learning about defending. He’s only a young lad, 17 or 18, so he’s learning and he doesn’t defend that well. He had an injury today so he couldn’t play so I asked if he could play the last fifteen minutes. He went on and done well and we got two goals out of it and made it 3-2.”

Horley missed another decent chance when McGough cut the ball across the penalty area towards Ragetti, who blasted his right-footed shot over from the edge of the box.

But life at the bottom is harsh and Horley Town threw away all their hard work when Croydon won it through Jones’ first goal for the club.

Mankelow pumped a long ball forward from inside the Croydon half to release Jones through on goal and the striker maintained his composure to slot his left-footed shot into the bottom left-hand corner when he only had Hyde to beat.

Gill said of his match-winner, “He’s another guy who made two goals for us a couple of games ago and today I’m glad for him he’s scored. He worked very hard, but I want a lot more than what he’s giving me at the moment but again he’s not played at this level. He’s going to learn and learn quick.”

Horley’s last chance to salvage a vital point saw McGough deliver an out-swinging corner from the right and Poplett’s free-header from fifteen-yards was caught by Ameyaw.

Croydon, meanwhile, have fallen on hard times since spending a couple of season’s in the Ryman Premier League (2000-2002) and are struggling to attract crowds to watch them – as only 52 people watched tonight’s game.

Gill revealed that it costs the club £220 per match to hire the ground from landlords Croydon Council.

When asked how the club can survive on such low gates, Gill replied: “We don’t!  We’re struggling all the time, that’s why we haven’t got a budget. 

“I didn’t have no intension of wanting to be a chairman. I told them from day one but there was nobody else to put the money in so I put it in and they put me in as the chairman.  I have offered to resign several times because I have got lots of other things going on. My mum is seriously ill. My brother’s on his way out even by tonight. I’ve got lots of other things.  My business is taking up a lot of my time.

“I’ve been in love with Croydon since I was here in 1982 but until someone else comes in and take over responsibility, I suppose I’ve got to go along with it.”

When asked whether he has received offers from parties to move the club forward, Gill replied: “No-one wants to put money in. There’s a recession out there and people don’t realise at this level, in my opinion, all level step five players shouldn’t be paid anyway.  They’re not really good enough. They’re only park players. They all think they’re better than what they are.

“People that are paying big budgets are running away with it, but occasionally they lose a game as well, so it happens.  It’s one of those things.  In life you’ve got to go with what you’ve got.  You can’t really go anymore and make our club in debut because that will be the end of Croydon Football Club.

“We’re not in debt. We’re no more in debt than anybody else. We’re always running month-to-month.  You always run a little bit behind but you catch up.  I wouldn’t call £5,000 in debt. If it has to be paid by tomorrow…

“To be successful, we worked it out the other year, if you’re paying a good budget, you’re looking at about £60,000 to make it.

“We have to pay £220 for a game at home, that’s just for the pitch.  Then you’ve got to pay for the referee’s which is £130 per match. Then you have to pay for your sandwiches and electric in the club. If you weigh that up, every time you’re playing a game here you’re looking at around about £400-£500 a game, so if you did have to play that and the budget it would be up to at least £800 to a grand.”

Croydon switched to the Kent League for three seasons between 2006-2009, finishing third, 12th and ninth, and took the League Cup outside the county for the first time in their last season.

The League (now called the Southern Counties East Football League) has seventeen clubs and Croydon will be first choice to make the switch owing to their location on the Kent border.

When asked whether the club will be returning next season, Gill replied, “I don’t know about that one. It’s kind of difficult.  I had no problem with Kent. I thought we had some very good friends in that Kent League when we came there and we left by winning the Kent League Cup and bringing it to Croydon.

“If we had to go back in it, it wouldn’t bother me because I only live five minutes away (in South Norwood) so I only have to go ten minutes that way (towards Beckenham).  But to get players from the Croydon area and further out the other way towards Surrey it’s going to be difficult. We have to recruit Kent League players which we had to do before but it’s going to make us suffer another year in the Kent League to make us settle down again.

“There is rumour we are going in the Kent League. It’s not what we can control so it’s not even worth worrying about where you will be because we’ll be in the same sort of position where we are now.”

Gill has issued a plea for help, both financially and the day-to-day running of the club, where it seems a handful of volunteers are keeping the club going.

“We’re trying to recruit a commercial manager and as you can see the whole ground is empty (without adverting boards).  I can only do so many jobs. I’m doing too many jobs as it is,” said Gill.

“I need help big time, not only financially but manual workers. I’m doing that as well.  I’m only doing it for the love of the club. If you can get someone else who wants to put money in and make this go forward I’ll be more than happy to meet him.

“I’ve always been a realistic person. If you go in the Ryman now, say we get promotion next year and go up, it’s only going to double what you’ve got (expenses wise).  It ain’t going to happen, unless all of a sudden you’ve got a good fan club and bar takings go up. 

“It’s not the entrance fee that’s going to take you. That will never happen.  I was told that by (former Crystal Palace chairman) Ron Noades years ago when I was a coach down at Palace.  People think the gate money keeps the team going – it never does.  It doesn’t even get nowhere near it!

“Unless you’re getting 250 people here every home game that would help us tremendously. That would help but that would not pay everything.”

Croydon:  Francis Ameyaw, Jeff Kimoto, David Cox, Steven Cox, James Jordan, Vince Kanon, Daryn Goodwin (Elstrom Die 59), Ben Mankelow, Dan Jupe, Marcus Jones, Dean Roye (Luke Turner 74).
Subs: Aaron Smith, Raymond Freeman

Goals: Dan Jupe 38, Steven Cox 76, Marcus Jones 81

Booked:  Steven Cox 67, Ben Mankelow 88

Horley Town: George Hyde, Jack Poplett, Harry Banks (James McElligott 90), Tom Winsor (Asa Curtis 83), Charles West, John Eldred, Mark McGough, Ben Herdman, Nathan Jupp (Luke Ragetti 67), Karl Parker, Ashley Nadesan.
Subs: Kevin Gee, David Tshibanju

Goals:  Charles West 10, Karl Parker 44

Booked: Harry Banks 52

Attendance: 52
Referee: Mr Amadou Jallow (Brookwood, Surrey)
Assistants: Mr Mark Ford (Sutton, Surrey) & Mr Aidan McNulty (Wallington, Surrey)