I would love to see 3G/4G pitches everywhere, says Bexley Borough boss Liam Kelly

Thursday 30th January 2014
BEXLEY BOROUGH joint-manager Liam Kelly says the club are going for promotion ahead of their clash against fellow tenants Seven Acre & Sidcup Reserves on Saturday.

The club are sitting proudly at the top of the Haart of Kent County League Division Two West table with 30 points from 13 games.

They go into the clash against Seven Acre & Sidcup Reserves with a 100% home record on the 4G pitch at Thamesmead Town’s Bayliss Avenue ground.

Seven Acre & Sidcup’s reserve side go into the game sitting at the foot of the table, with one win from their seven league games.

Despite every game involving our non-league clubs being postponed this midweek, the game will go-ahead as planned (2:45pm), due to the game being played on an artificial surface.

“Saturday we are at home again,” said Kelly, 32, who runs the team alongside Richard Dimmock and Jamie Leggett.

“It seems we are always at home! It generally suits us.

“We are up against our partners Seven Acre & Sidcup Reserves, who we share the 4G pitch at Sporting Club Thamesmead.

“Despite our opponents sitting at the foot of the table, we are fully aware that a revolution is underway at Seven Acre.

“We will be treating the match as if we are playing any of the teams around us.  It’s almost impossible to guess who they will put out against us as they have 113 players to choose from.  This is mainly due to having three senior sides from the first team in the Invicta League, the reserves in our division and their very talented new U21’s, who are doing well in the NRG Gym Under 21 Division.

“Our side generally picks itself with its core players, but we may have a new addition for Saturday, let’s wait and see.”

Bexley Borough are one point clear of Phoenix Sports Reserves in the table.

“So far it’s been my best season since forming the club as OPK back in 2006,” said Kelly.

“People are talking about how we play and it is only a good thing.

“Although we have lost three league games and two cup games this season there is definitely room for improvement.

“Our biggest plus, however, is the improvement in player retention. We’ve only used 27 players but have a core 18 players we generally use.  This is a vast improvement on previous seasons.

“We’ve some issues but what club doesn’t? Managers Dimmo and Leggett have given this club a massive boost. Both are in their first real managerial roles. They add so much to the club, Dimmo with his experience and general respect and Leggett with his technical and coaching skills.”

There has been a lot of talk this week about 3G pitches after Conference clubs voted against artificial pitches being allowed in their three divisions next season, which is a blow to Ryman Premier League club Maidstone United.

Bexley Borough, Seven Acre & Sidcup Reserves, Ide Hill (at Wrotham School) and Halls Athletic (Community pitch at Dartford’s Princes Park Stadium) all play on artificial pitches in the Haart of Kent County League.

“The 4G pitch at Thamesmead is outstanding,” said Kelly.

“We are really blessed to be using it as our home ground and results show how it favours the more technical and skillful players.

“Just look at our result against Fleetdown away, we lost 3-2 on a dreadful pitch but two weeks later with both sides using very similar line-ups, but this time on 4G we win 9-0!

“It makes better players excel in my opinion and takes the unpredictability out of the game.

“I would love to see 3/4G pitches everywhere as it would lower training costs as demand decreases and availability increases, plus we will end up with a better technical game from grassroots upwards and eventually help the national game.”

With his side in a prime position in the league table, Kelly wants his side to clinch promotion at the end of the season.

“With the restructure of the league to meet full Step 7, hopefully our facilities and promotion would get us into the Premier Division of the Haart of Kent County League, but if it gets filled from the existing teams in this season’s Division One, then so be it.

“Dimmo, Jamie and I believe we have the players to cope at either level.  We are continuously trying to improve the squad, but also develop players who have been at the club for some years through thick and thin.”

The club pulled off a major transfer when they enticed much-travelled striker Ross Cable to play for the club.

“Most of our players have played higher than they are currently playing with the exception of a small handful of youngsters,” added Kelly.

“Attracting players like Danny Beszant, Steven Turner and lately Luke Roberts and Ross Cable, is really down to Jamie Leggett introducing them to the club.

“It’s the way the lads are treated that keeps them here.  We are a small family and like every family there’s up and downs but generally the lads know that they are onto a good thing at Bexley Borough FC.

“We have an open book with the lads, they ALL pay subs and know exactly where the money goes.

“We’ve got a few gems outside of these players, the likes of Jack Weatherley, 20, makes the team tick. Honestly without him we can sometimes look lost. 

“Then there’s Danny Gannon, 21. He’s been with me for a few years now and I cannot tell you how good this kid is.

“I think the players who have played higher see these talented kids and just love to be in a team where they know they can trust every man in the side.

“Also guaranteed matches help the side and keep the players.  We know our games are going to be on. The rain doesn’t’ stop play at the Borough.

“We are still on the look-out for a centre back to add to the squad.”

Bexley Borough used to play their home games in Bexleyheath, but Kelly says the club are happy where they are at the £4m re-developed Bayliss Avenue.

“We will stay at Thamesmead as long as we’re wanted,” said Kelly.

“We’ve built a strong relationship with Thamesmead Town already, as Dimmo and a lot of our lads have played under (Thamesmead Town manager) Keith McMahon in the past.

“Who know maybe if push comes to shove and we need somewhere in order to go up we may try sit round the table with the powers that be, but for now Bexley Borough FC are just taking one game at a time.  We won’t make no ridiculous five-year plans for us anymore!”

When asked how the club survives, Kelly replied: “Essentially it boils down to finances.  We have recently benefited from the League’s headline sponsor Haart. Basically clubs can be rewarded by recommending Haart to friends or family when they are thinking of selling their home.  We recently got £100 as Haart were instructed to sell and Bexley Borough FC were the referee.

“There’s details on the Kent County League website but this kind of sponsorship is invaluable to clubs and credit to Haart for investing in grassroots at the Kent County League.

“Club’s survive on spirit and hard work and people willing to put their hand in their pocket.  Without sponsors like Bugler Developments and Haart, Bexley Borough FC would have already folded.

“The players pay subs of £25 per month but that doesn’t cover that much when you consider it takes over £650 per month to run a club even at this level.

“Even if we had more volunteers to run a match day programme just to generate some revenue it would help – but for now we are surviving.”

Kelly added: “I would just like to publically thank Dimmo and Leggett and all the players for their hard work this year so far. 

“I’ve never been proud to wear my club’s colours and whilst we don’t always see eye to eye we’ve all got the best interests of the club at heart.”

Meanwhile, Seven Acre & Sidcup take to the Bayliss Avenue 4G pitch on Friday night (7:30pm) where a win over basement side Lewisham Borough will take them to the top of the NRG Gym Under 21 League. Admission prices are £2.

Visit Bexley Borough’s website:  www.pitchero.com/clubs/bexleyboroughfc

Bexley Borough  v  Seven Acre & Sidcup Reserves
Haart of Kent County League Division Two West
Saturday 1st February 2014
Kick Off 2:45pm
At 4G Pitch, Bayliss Avenue, Thamesmead, London SE28 8NJ