I think we've moved on a bit too quickly, says Faversham Strike Force manager John Goodwin

Wednesday 13th May 2015

FAVERSHAM STRIKE FORCE manager John Goodwin admits the club are moving quickly after claiming promotion to the top flight of the NRG Gym Kent County League.

The club has sealed back-to-back promotions after winning the Division One East title last season, finishing two points clear of Ashford-based Kennington.

PROMOTED: Faversham Strike Force will be playing in the NRG Gym Kent County League Premier Division for the first time in their history next season.
Photo: Faversham Strike Force FC

They have secured a deal to move to Sittingbourne to play on the artificial playing surface at Sittingbourne Community College next season.

“We got promotion last year from Division Two, ourselves and East Kent College,” said Goodwin, 39.

“We’ve improved from last year. The team’s improved, the squad’s improved, players’ are a year older. 

“Fortunately we’ve gone on to win it. It’s been a tough year with some good sides with Kennington. East Kent College had a bit of a blip half way through with the Luke Williams’ situation.

“We’ve done well. I think we’re the first Faversham side to win a County title – my assistant Andy Payne told me that, he’s been around long enough to know that.”

Goodwin is relishing managing the club – which were founded in 1999 - at their highest ever level of football.

He said: “It’s a bit of an awkward one because we wanted to play at The Mount. I think we’ve moved a bit too quickly actually so we’re not going to have time to get that done.

“We’ve tried places like Abbey School but we’re playing at the Sittingbourne Community College next season.  We got that by the skin of our teeth. That was the last option we had - we tried Bredhurst.

“We wasn’t allowed to go up with a groundshare so you have to have your own ground in the first season you go up, so we’ve been a bit fortunate to find somewhere.

“We’ve managed to get up. We know it’s going to be tough next year. We’ll have to add one or two. We’re not looking to win it, obviously we’re looking to consolidate. If we can maybe have a cup run and see where it takes us and hopefully we can move back to Faversham a year after.”

Goodwin admits the club are not looking to gain entry into the Kent Invicta League, which will be one level higher than their position next season.

APM Contrast, who finished their Premier Division campaign in fourth-place, have sealed promotion into the Kent Invicta League.

There’s speculation that Forest Hill Park – who finished in fifth-place in the Division One West table – will also go up too, owing to their groundshare deal at the Ladywell Arena with Lewisham Borough.

Goodwin said: “Faversham Strike Force is prominently a junior football club. We came in to keep players involved in the club when they come out of 18s and 21s to keep them playing.

“Faversham Town are now Ryman South, nearly went into the Premier this year but were unlucky again (losing on penalties in the play-off semi-final to Merstham, who beat Folkestone Invicta to win promotion).

“But the step up from that is such a big step up now and an age gap at 24 when players’ have nowhere to go that’s why we got the team together and it’s been working well at the moment.”

Goodwin admits to be playing a waiting game as players’ try to find clubs higher up in the food chain and will invite them to pre-season training on 7 July should they not be picked up.

“We’ve got some friendlies coming. We’re hoping to get a friendly against Faversham Town – we played them on a yearly basis when we were Faversham Harlequin but we didn’t play them last year.

“We’re looking to play some good sides this year, including Canterbury City, to test ourselves.

“Hopefully I’ve got some new players coming in – I’m not going to mention them – at any level you need players’ there playing for you and with us you’ve got to play the waiting game really.

“A lot of players want to play higher – Southern Counties East League - or 21s clubs coming in for them.

“We’ve got to wait for ones not getting a game there and we have to be a bit patient at times.

“We can’t offer them money and stuff like that - we can offer them football - so hopefully we’ll get one or two willing to come along.

“We’re looking forward to starting pre-season on 7 July. We’ll probably have six sessions and we’ll get straight into the friendlies.  Last year we had a long pre-season of over two months and it dragged on a bit.  This year we’re trying to do a bit shorter to be ready for the end of August, I think we start 22 August.”

When asked whether managing at Kent County League level was a tough job, Goodwin replied: “Is it a tough job? Obviously I’ve managed Milton for a couple of years, Faversham Town reserves.

“To manage a club like Faversham Strike Force is pretty easy.  You’ve got Gary Axford and his wife Tracey and there’s other people, the Sunday teams. Everyone mucks in so it’s not as difficult as I’d imagine other teams are.

“It’s a well-run club. All the facilities are there. We’ve got our own 3G training pitch that we can use a couple of nights if we need to.

“It’s just players.  It’s different from when I played. You have to beg, steal and borrow to get players to come to play for you. I’m sure every manager will agree with that unless you’re paying them money when they want the world.

“Hopefully we’ll consolidate ourselves next year and move back to Faversham and hopefully we can push on from there.

“It’s going to be a tough season. I’ve noticed it’s 28 league games instead of 18, which is a long season for us and players’ have to get used to that as well.

“There will be times when we lose two or three on the bounce and we have to pick ourselves up. We’ll be ready to go anyway come the end of August.”

Goodwin has ruled out promotion to the Kent Invicta League, simply because the club do not have the money to make the step up.

He said: “If you look at grounds at Otford and places like that, they’ve done a good job there. It can be done but everything costs money, doesn’t it?

“I know Kris Browning (the manager at APM Contrast) and this year they got promoted (to the Kent Invicta League) and it shows you what a tough league it is because they’re a good side and they finished fourth!

“They’ve managed to get up but it’s all about money and what facilities you can get.

“Maybe some Roman Abramovich will come out of the sky but I don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see.

“We’re not concentrating on that. We’ll just wait and see how far we can go next year.”

To contact John Goodwin for details on pre-season training, please call him on 07833 248 970.

Meanwhile, Sittingbourne-based outfit Park Regis, who finished at the foot of the division, begin the search for a new manager after Jimmy Eason stepped down from the role after ten years’ at the club.

Visit Faversham Strike Force’s website: www.favershamstrikeforce.co.uk