We'd like to be at that level where Gillingham are, says Bromley Ravenettes boss Steve Payne

Thursday 05th June 2014
BROMLEY Ladies manager Steve Payne says he has a five-year plan to get his team to the top-flight of women’s winter football.

The Conference South club fielded a ladies side for the first time in their illustrious history last season and Payne’s side produced an excellent run of form.

Bromley entered the second tier of the Greater London Women’s Football League and they won the Division Two title at the first attempt.  They won 13, drew four and lost once in their league campaign to win the title by four points from fellow Conference South club Hampton & Richmond Borough.

The Ravenettes, as they are affectionately known, also reached the Kent Women’s Plate Final, but were outclassed by higher-league Herne Bay, who won the showpiece final 7-1 at Sevenoaks Town’s Greatness Park.

But they made up for that disappointment with a 3-1 win over Headstone Manor to win the Russell Cup.

“It’s been exciting. It’s been really good to be fair,” said Payne, 44, who has been managing this group of players for nearly three years now.

“It’s been a learning curve. It’s been a challenge.

“This season we got to two cup finals, one of them were a bit above our league so we know where we need to get to and the other one we managed to scrape through and we won the league.

“We wanted to win the league at the start of the season and just have a good cup run.  The girls’ surpassed themselves to be quite fair.”

Payne says the main club that they represent has been supported to women’s football, allowing the side to play at Hayes Lane on occasions.

“It was very supportive.  They’ve supported us in every each way they could and went to watch us when they could and they’ve backed us 110% and me and the girls’ couldn’t be more pleased how they’ve backed us.”

The Ravenettes regularly watch Mark Goldberg’s side in action.  The Ravens recorded their best ever finish in seven Conference South seasons by finishing in third-place before losing 4-1 on aggregate to Ebbsfleet United in the play-offs.

Goldberg has made many high-profile signings this summer to ensure last season was not a one-season wonder.

“The girls’ go and watch them on a regular basis every time they’re at home and I think they go to one or two away games as well,” said Payne.

“They look at the men and see how they warm up and see how they play and they support them very well to be fair.”

Looking ahead to the Ravenette’s second season, which will see them ply their trade in the top-flight (Division One), Payne is looking to consolidate and keep learning.

“Well, that’s what we’ve got to talk about,” he said.

“We’ll be looking to finish top five. We’re not going to say we’re going to win the league but we’d like to finish in the top five.

“It’s Bromley Football Club and the girls know when they’re going out there that they’re playing for Bromley. They’ve got the badge on their chest and that’s what we’re playing for.

“It’s about getting Bromley as high as we can get them.

“Promotion? That’s what we’d like to aim for but in terms of the new league we’re not setting the bar too high.

“We’ve had a great season, so we’re not going to beat that. It will be nice to have another good season like that.

“We’d like to go as far as we can. We’d like to get promotion but top five will be good.”

But Bromley’s main aim is to challenge Charlton Athletic and Gillingham in the top flight of women’s winter football – The FA Women’s Premier League South.

Gillingham were runners-up in the division last season and retained both the Kent Women’s Cup and Ryman Women’s Cup after beating Charlton Athletic (Reserves) and Haverhill Rovers.

Charlton Athletic, meanwhile, finished their campaign in fifth-place and also beat Queen’s Park Rangers to retain the Capital Cup.

“The plan is, I don’t know how long, there’s a five-year plan. We’d like to be at that level where Gillingham are without a doubt,” said Payne.

When asked how his side will climb the leagues to get there, Payne replied: “If we can stick together, obviously we’d have to add to the squad. One or two players are getting a bit older and their bones are starting to creek so we have to get a few more new players in and stuff like that.

“Bromley have supported us fully and at the moment all we can do is keep working hard and keep learning.  Me and the girls are learning.

“We played in the Kent Final and we had a harsh (time). We’ve learnt from that and we took that into our Cup Final but we’re learning and we’re progressing slowly.”

Visit Bromley’s website: www.bromleyfc.net