It will be a long, hard journey ahead, says FC Elmstead boss Fabio Rossi

Friday 14th June 2013
FLEET LEISURE manager Lee Richmond says he can now start preparing for the club’s inaugural Kent Invicta League campaign after gaining promotion via the back door.

The club finished in fourth-place in the Haart of Kent County League Premier Division last season, nine points behind champions Hildenborough Athletic.

They were given confirmation of their promotion at last night’s Kent County League Annual General Meeting at the UK Paper Leisure Club in Sittingbourne.

Club Langley, East Kent College, Faversham Strikeforce, FC Elmstead, Hawkinge Town, Little Sharsted, Newpark, Old Road, South Darenth and Woodstock Park were all elected into the League.

In addition, four member clubs have added reserve teams and the League welcome Farnborough Old Boys Guild, Guru Nanak, Hildenborough Athletic and Metrogas’ second strings.

Fleet Leisure are traditionally from Northfleet, but have been groundsharing Rochester United’s Rede Court Road ground and applied for Kent Invicta League membership.

Richmond is delighted with the club’s promotion.

He said: “Great news! Very excited about the new challenge. It’ll be nice if we can attract some better players.  I have put my feelers out and will have to see what develops over the summer.”

APM Contrast manager Kris Browning, meanwhile, cast a frustrated figure after his side missed the boat.

Traditionally based in Aylesford, the club secured a groundshare deal with the owner of Bearsted’s Honey Lane ground in Otham last summer, but the team finished in sixth-place in the Premier Division, sixteen points behind Hildenborough Athletic.

“I was expecting to still be in the Kent County League and to be honest it wouldn’t have been right to go up in sixth-place,” admitted Browning.

“It’s been a good season if I’m honest as it’s our first season playing at our new ground in Otham, so next season we will be looking to better our league position and hopefully be in a better position to apply to go up to the Kent Invicta League.”

Browning added: “Good luck to Fleet Leisure, who are going up to the Kent Invicta League, as like ourselves took the gamble in moving grounds and it’s paid off for them.

“I will give it a week or so and then I will be back on the phone trying to improve the team and get new players in.

“On the coaching side, I’m pleased to announce that Dennis Overton will be joining the club as first team coach.”

Sheppey & Sheerness United have been elected into the Premier Division after a merger between the Island’s two teams.

Sheppey United, who were formed in 1890 and were founder members of both the Southern League and the Kent League back in 1894, have merged with Sheerness East, who were formed in 1932 as a Sunday side.

The merger was carefully crafted with the purpose of developing the one football club into a senior graded football club with every player working to their highest potential from junior girls and boys through to senior men’s and women players.

The new club is committed to long-term player development in both recreational and competitive programmes whilst cultivating a lifelong passion for the game of football on the Isle of Sheppey.

This truly will be a club constructed from the community for the community, having all sides of the community represented.

The club will play at Holm Park, Queenborough Road, Sheerness.

A club statement, which was published on the club’s new website said: “Both clubs came to the decision to merge because combining resources would give each club the best player development environment, training facilities (Holm Park), and provide the entire Sheppey community the opportunity to compete at the highest playing level possible and utilise the entire football club and its network of activities fully. “

The new organisational structure of committee shall be finalised.  However, the chairmen of the new football club shall be ex local business man who now resides in Gibraltar Ernie Batten and existing Sheerness East FC chairman Matthew Smith.

Mr Smith told the club’s website: “This union between the two biggest clubs on the Island has come about after months of hard work behind the scenes. I cannot thank the current Sheppey United committee enough for all the work that has been put in to make this happen.

“I cannot wait to get the works underway internally at Holm Park in order to get the dressing rooms up to standard to allow the entire community an opportunity to utilise the facility fully.

“The new club needs to be self-funding and we are appealing to all local business’s to get on board with the new football club and sponsor us via the existing Sheerness East FC website.”

Mr Batten added: “There are plans ahead for the new club.  We will enter four youth teams next season both girls and boys, one disabled team and continue with the senior men’s and women’s team.

“Our overall goal for this project is to create a football club for the community from the community.”

Meanwhile, Mr Smith announced that the club has received confirmation that the Holm Park ground has been graded and approved by the Kent County League.

Bromley groundsman Ian Jordan has been working on the playing surface to get it ready for next season.

“This is fantastic news for the club and whilst the league chairman wishes to review the pitch in August, he is more than happy with all of the works completed to date,” said Mr Smith.

“This announcement is testament to all of the off-the-field works that continue in the close season to give the club a fantastic home for years to come.”

Next season, the Premier Division will contain 15 clubs next season, with Division One being split into two regional divisions – 12 clubs in the East and 12 in the West.

Bexlians, who finished in third-place in Division One last season, finishing seven points behind promoted Dartford-based champions Fleetdown United, have failed in their bid to clinch promotion.

“Obviously disappointed, but rules are rules,” said manager Danny Hill, who also scooped the secretary of the year award for the division for the second year running.

“We didn’t finish in the promotion places, so I can’t moan!

“Division One West will be just as hard to win next season with some strong clubs in there, like AFC Mottingham and Long Lane.

“I’m sure we shall have a good chance of finishing in the top two.

“Ninety-nine percent of last year’s squad are staying and there’s four or five lads who are interested in joining us who have played in the Premier and Invicta League’s before.

“As far as I know, I’ve only lost one player. Roll on 7

Meanwhile, Division Two East will contain 12 clubs next season, with Division Two West having 13.

The Haart of Kent County League has introduced two new divisions – Division Three East and Division Three West – with 11 teams in each divison.

FC Elmstead have been elected into Division Three West – much to the delight of former Holmesdale boss Fabio Rossi.

The Chislehurst-based club will play their home games at Coney Hall’s Tiepigs Lane ground.

“We are happy that we have been accepted into the Kent County League,” said Elmstead’s manager.

“It will be a long, hard journey ahead.  We will be having a right go to gain promotion.

“The aim remains to work our way up the pyramid system and at some point in the future to be a senior status club.”

The Haart of Kent County League Constitution 2013-2013:

Premier Division (15 clubs):
A.P.M Contrast, Bredhurst Juniors, Bromley Green, Chipstead, Erith 147 Sports, Farnborough Old Boys Guild, Fleetdown United, Greenways, Hildenborough Athletic, Metrogas, Sheppey & Sheerness United, Snodland Town, Stansfeld Oxford & Bermondsey Club, Staplehurst Monarchs United, Tudor Sports.

Division One East (12):
Borden Village, Deal Town Rangers, Guru Nanak, Hadlow Evolution, Kennington, Malgo, Milton & Fulston United, New Romney, N.K. Aces, Otford United, Park Regis, Sevenoaks.

Division One West (12):
AFC Mottingham, AFC Sevenoaks, Belvedere, Bexley, Bexlians, Coney Hall, Forest Hill Park, Halls AFC, Holland Sports, Ide Hill, Long Lane, Peckham Town.

Division Two East (12):
A.P.M. Contrast Res, Bearsted Res, East Kent College, Faversham Strikeforce, Hawkenbury, Hollands & Blair Res, Larkfield & New Hythe Wanderers, Lydd Town Res, Otford United Res, Platt United, Tenterden Town, Woodstock Park.

Division Two West (13):
Bexley Borough, Blackheath United, Crockenhill Res, Dulwich Village, Fleetdown United Res, Greenways Res, Halstead, Newpark, Old Bromleians, Old Roan, Phoenix Sports Res, Seven Acre & Sidcup Res, Sutton Athletic Res

Division Three East (11):
Borden Village Res, Bromley Green Res, Fleet Leisure Res, Guru Nanak Res, Hawkinge Town, Kennington Res, Little Sharsted, New Romney Res, Sheppey & Shearness East Res, South Darenth, Staplehurst Monarchs United Res.

Division Three West (11):

Bexlians Res, Club Langley, Farnborough Old Boys Guild Res, FC Elmstead,
Hildenborough Athletic Res, Long Lane Res, Meridian Res, Metrogas Res,
Orpington Res, Stansfeld Oxford & Bermondsey Club Res, Tudor Sports Res.