Maidstone will attract better players in Ryman League, says Hume (EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW)

Thursday 30th March 2006

Maidstone United booked their place in the Kentish Observer League Cup final on the day chairman Paul Bowden-Brown announced he had signed the £90,000 MOD Lease Premium and possesses keys to the club’s new stadium at James Whatman Way in the County Town, writes Stephen McCartney.

Manager Lloyd Hume was a happy man when his side defeated Hythe Town 4-2 on aggregate to book their trip to Folkestone Invicta’s Buzzlines Stadium on 29th April, where they’ll meet Martin Ford’s VCD Athletic.

“I think the cup final’s fantastic but anyone involved with Maidstone United Football Club, the news about the ground and the lease being signed and us owing the keys now is the biggest bit of news now you’ve had for probably the last twelve years with Maidstone,” said the proud manager.

“I’m delighted about that but equally delighted about being in the cup final. I really want to go on now and try and win the league.  We’ve got five games left and I believe if we win the all we will win the league on points and the cup final’s going to be an interesting end to the season.”

Hume, whose side travels to Greenwich Borough on Saturday, will be hoping Jason Lillis - a former Stones star - and his Herne Bay side will be able to take points of leaders (on goal difference) Beckenham Town.

But is Maidstone’s trip to Harrow Meadow a banana skin or a chance to improve on their goal difference?

“Both!” replied Hume. “It could be both. I said to the players sometimes we look a big Jekyll and Hyde in the last couple of weeks and it depends which team turns up.

“But I’ve got to believe we’ll turn up in the right frame of mind and we’ll go on and win that game.

“Beckenham have got a truly tough game but they’ll know that and they’ll raise the game for that.

“I can only hope my old mate Jason will do us a favour and get something from Beckenham, but Beckenham are a good side, and their more than capable of winning their last five games as well.

“So they’ve just got to perform, we have just got to perform and whoever stays the strongest will go on and win it but I’m sure someone will drop points before the end of the season.”

With Sittingbourne’s Bourne Park already staging Southern League football, Maidstone United will be allowed to stage Ryman League football at the same venue next season, and all they need to do is collect eight points from their last five games to secure a long-awaited promotion.

But Hume and coach Alan Walker are relishing the opportunity to delve into their long list of contacts to improve the playing squad for their Ryman League campaign.

“To be honest we’ve been looking for next season, in terms of the next level of football, since we joined the club,” said Hume.

“We know a lot of players at a higher level, we’ve not hidden that fact, and we’ve worked at a higher level for eleven years and that’s not saying we’re better at a higher level, it’s just we know more players at that level that can come in and do a job.

“The Kent League is always going to be tough for us and it’s still proving that way because some of the players we know won’t drop down that one extra standard but when we’ve gone up we’ve spoken to a lot of people over the course of the last two years, they’ve always given their word they’ll come and play for and there will be some new faces at Maidstone next year when we go up.

“I’m looking forward to that day because the football will improve as well.”

One player who will be staying will be striker Mo Takaloo. The former Ramsgate striker joined Maidstone in the summer, when he decided not to stay at Southwood Stadium to play Ryman League football.

But Hume insists his 37-goal striker will remain at the club - and that the striker has surpassed the manager’s goalscoring expectations.

“Mo will follow us. He’ll be a big part of our club,” insisted Hume. “We signed him with that in mind, he’s done absolutely fantastic for us this year. I signed Mo hoping he’ll get 25-30 goals, he’s already got way above that.

“He’s a great lad, he’s a great signing for us and he’ll be a part of this club for a number of years yet - as long as he wants to be.”

With Beckenham and Maidstone in a five-game shoot out to see which club secures the Kentish Observer League title, wouldn’t it be great if both clubs were promoted at the end of the season?

“I firmly believe that Beckenham firmly deserve a higher grade of football - they're a great footballing side, their a well run club in terms of management team and players and they’ll do well at a higher level, as I believe we would,” said Hume.

“I think this year both teams have run away a little bit in terms of the league from Christmas onwards. It’s been obvious who are the top two.

“I think had Erith & Belvedere had a better start they would be one of the teams as well.

“The Kent League, potentially, if we were out of it would be a little more even next year, which wouldn’t be a bad thing for the but all I can look after is our club at the moment.

“Hopefully we’ll win the final and the league but even if we end up finishing second, that I don’t expect us to do, as long as we get the promotion that’s the main aim.”

Hume and Walker, meanwhile, lock horns with Martin Ford and his VCD Athletic side in the final.

“There’s a lot of rivalry between us and them, there’s always has been and it hasn’t helped with the fixture pile-up at the end of the season,” said Hume.

“But it’s a game we’ll approach exactly the same way as we do every game. We expect to win as long as we perform but we know if we under perform against any of the better sides in the Kent League, we’ll get beaten.

“So it’s a case of us turning up to that game as we do. We’ll know our fate by then in terms of the league and we have to go out and win that for the fans because they deserve it.

“They’ve come week-in, week-out, they’ve come to the cup games to support us an they deserve to do well.”

When asked that the Ryman League needs Maidstone United next season, Hume replied: “Any of the old clubs that have gone out of the Football League for one reason or another and that have come back through the ranks have always been well supported, and are always looked at by all people around the country.

“So Maidstone United deserve a higher grade of football. The fans do, the chairman does and certainly most of the team do - the majority of them would be with us next year.”

* Meanwhile, Stones’ under eighteen side play their Gravesend & Northfleet counterparts in the PLAAYA Cup Final this Sunday at Bourne Park, Sittingbourne with the game kicking off very early at 10:30am.

* Stones fans can let us know how they feel about their return home - click on “Contact us” and let us know your name and your views and we’ll publish them.

Greenwich Borough v Maidstone United
Kentish Observer League
Saturday 1st April 2006
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Harrow Meadow, Eltham Green Road, Eltham